It’s Electric (Boogie, Woogie, Woogie)

Yes, that’s an electric slide reference. And I’d bet money that it’s cracking my mom up while my brother is rolling his eyes and vowing never to read this blog again.

After last week’s post about our four new outdoor sconces, we mentioned we had some other electrical work done inside at the same time, so here’s the rundown on everything we added, where it went, and how much it all cost. Let’s start with the prettiest result so far – the new light in our bedroom.

We had the electricians add ceiling fixtures to all four of the upstairs bedrooms, since we like the look and convenience of overhead lighting, but all the bedrooms were without it. Thankfully there was no drywall-disrupting work necessary other than the hole in the ceiling for the fixture box because they could takeover the existing switches, which used to just operate various wall outlets in each room. So not only did we not have to add additional light switches, we no longer accidentally turn off random things like the cable box or the sound machine as we leave those rooms.

We don’t have fixtures for the kids rooms or the guest room picked out yet, so we’ll just add white metal covers to minimize the whole blue-circle-with-wires-in-it look until we find some. But we did have the master bedroom light ready and waiting. It’s this Large Lotus Pendant that we ordered from World Market waaaaay back when we bought our hallway lights. It was going out of stock and we got the same 25% off deal on it as the other three lights, so it was $112 instead of $149 with free shipping.

Our only gripe upon receiving it was that it didn’t include a light kit (we somehow missed that bullet on their website). Then we noticed that World Market’s light kits only come in black or silver, so we hunted down these two bronze options from Home Depot and Lowe’s. They’re the kind they make so you can pair them with their decorative glass shades (like the ones they show on the packaging) but we thought they could work for this application too (fingers crossed). We liked that they had a few finish options and came with all the other hanging hardware (and a ceiling canopy) that we’d need.

The “aged” finish of the Portfolio brand pendant from Lowe’s (it was $18) was a better match to the fixture, which was lucky because it was the only one that ended up fitting. The ring on the capiz fixture was slightly too small to screw it on normally, so instead it rests on the flared part of the light kit like so:

Once we realized that nesting the cord and shade that way would work, the installation process was pretty straight forward. In fact it might be the quickest light install we’ve done here so far, clocking in at under fifteen minutes yesterday morning. Bingo. Bango. And not once did John poke himself in the face with a metal flower petal. I was not so lucky.

It takes one 60-watt bulb so it’s nice bonus lighting on top of the two bedside lamps that we’ve been surviving with so far in this room (since we’ve lived with only those for over a year, we knew anything on the ceiling was just icing on the wattage cake for us). But can I just tell you how incredibly novel it feels to walk into a bedroom and flip the light on from the doorway. Seriously, it’s almost akin to living without a dishwasher forever and then getting one. Suddenly you feel like royalty.

But let’s switch gears to a quick overview of the whole electrical job. Here’s everything that was accomplished in the three mornings they were here (it was too hot to be in the attic or crawl space later in the day, so they spread out their work across the cooler morning hours):

Update: You guys are asking for more office floor outlet details, so here they are: it was a really simple addition since they could come up from the crawl space. Didn’t take them too long at all. They just wired it up from below and drilled a small hole in the floor from above and popped the outlet cover on. You can see the finished result below:

We got the bill this weekend, which totaled around $1,500. The breakdown was $270 for materials and the rest was labor/time. It was definitely one of the larger electrician bills we’ve received, but we paid around $900 for the lighting in our first kitchen, so getting nine fixtures across six rooms and three new outlets was a lot more work/time, and we were pleasantly surprised to realize that it calculates out to an average of about $100 per item, not including all of the switches they converted or the intercom they terminated. If we had electricians come out to tackle these rooms individually instead of bulking them all, it would likely have been a few hundred bucks per room each time (they’d be in and out of the attic a bunch of times instead of being able to do everything all at once). So efficiency = saved money, especially when you’re paying by the hour.

Besides passing along the try-to-combine-lots-of-jobs-if-you-can tip, this was also a good reminder that it helps to be available if at all possible when this type of work is being done. In this case, it saved us from lots of unnecessary holes in our office ceiling. Thanks to being there, we were able to put our heads together to come up with an alternate wire route than the first one they proposed, which ended up causing a lot less drywall destruction:

Instead of going through multiple joists and making tons of ceiling holes, we realized if the wires were run parallel to the fixture box joist, it could be snaked down that wall, and fed over to the wall switch via the crawl space instead of the ceiling (they’d be down there anyway adding that floor outlet). That option only required one small hole in the ceiling (near the tip of the blue arrow above) instead of nearly ten holes had we gone with the first method. It also meant there would be a few down the wall, but those would have been made near the light switch if we went with the other method anyway, and patching walls holes feels much less perilous to us than ceiling ones anyway (ceilings just tend to catch the light more and show every last imperfection, whereas wall ones are more forgiving).

Another little bonus that we came up with after putting our heads together was gaining this outlet right under the surface of John’s desk:

When the electrician told us a hole would end up around that area as he snaked the wire down, I asked if we could place that hole below the desk line and put an outlet there to fill the hole (instead of having to patch yet another area). He said no problem, and now John can keep his cords out of sight better (the original outlet he was using was behind one of the shelves that we anchored to the wall, so a big power strip had been resting on the floor beneath the desk).

We did the same thing on the wall under the light switch where he was going to have to make a hole anyway. That extra hole-filling outlet meant we could plug in our printer and that lamp without the cords having to snake out to the outlet under the window. So being home and talking through options might add up to more functional outlet/switch placement and less spackling & sanding.

Oh, and that’s a painting of a monster that Clara brought home from art camp last week. I think it’s our new favorite creation of hers, so it might just get a permanent home there eventually. One that doesn’t involve masking tape.

So obviously you’ll be getting some light fixture updates for the office and the rest of those upstairs bedrooms sometime in near (ish?) future as we find fixtures for those spaces. Now if only we could punch our ceilings up a foot or two to give us more options. #8ftceilingproblems

 

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Photo Finish

Our master bedroom has moved leaps and bounds over the last few days in terms of not looking like a big empty room with a bed in it. And by leaps and bounds, I mean frames and curtains. And more frames. Plus a few more frames after that.

 

Before we started putting a bunch of holes in our walls, this is what the room looked like (and what it has pretty much looked like since we painted it nine months ago). It was in desperate need of curtains at the very least, but we’re not done with those yet, so just ignore those and let’s talk about the frames.

 

We had long talked about doing a gallery wall over our bed, and after stewing on it for a few months we decided we wanted to go with big dark frames (gasp! not white ones?!?) with nice mats. We have a gradual goal of amassing nicer frames in the house as we go (some real wood ones with nice big mats with glass and not plexi) so after shopping around at a few frame places, these large wood ones from Michaels fit the bill best. At $39 each for the biggest ones and $29 for the slightly smaller size, they weren’t cheap – but thanks to a two-for-one sale, it took the average down to $15 to $20 each, which is closer to what we spend for cheaper frames of that size.

 

Once home with our original frame haul, Sherry cut a bunch of templates out of leftover rosin paper that we had from projects like this and this, and we taped up a rough, mostly-symmetrical arrangement.

 

Neither of us was totally sold on it. It just felt a little too perfectly lined up. So Sherry took a stab at loosening up the rows and columns a bit. Kinda the gallery wall equivalent of unbuttoning the top button of your dress shirt. It instantly looked more relaxed and casual than the more formal/balanced arrangement that we had tried first.

Next it was frame-hanging time. Considering the number of them (at this point we had 17), it wasn’t too bad. These frames hang nicely on one or two nails each (there’s a groove on the back lip of the wood frame) and since we had worked out their placement with paper templates it was pretty simple. Since the arrangement is somewhat mirrored from one side of the bed to the other, we used a laser level to make sure the frame on the left side was at the same height of its sister on the right (and we used a yardstick to make sure our side-to-side gaps between frames were about the same).

After we got the initial set of frames hung, we liked where it was going… but the whole thing was feeling a little too much like a stripe across the top of the bed, so we picked up five more frames to fill the space above each night stand for more of a full-wall-of-frames look. So when it was all said and done, we purchased five of the larger frames (they’re 11.5 x 14.5″ with an 8 x 10″ opening in the mat) and seventeen of the slightly smaller 16.5 x 16.5″ size (some of which had 8 x 10″ openings and some that had 5 x 7″ openings). Note: We later realized that the bare spot on the top left (by the curtain) felt off to us, so we inched a few frames around to make it more balanced looking (you’ll see that tweak three photos below this one).

Although we’re big fans of putting just about anything in a frame, we had been looking at our family photos and realized that we had a lot of special-to-us photos that we wanted to properly frame, so a wall of family photos was the goal here. It felt especially right for a more personal space like a bedroom, and we had never seen many of these photos printed out in a nice large size like 8 x 10. So we picked a bunch and placed an in-store pickup order on Target’s website (which we discovered was cheaper for 8 x 10s than our usual go-to, Shutterfly).

Here’s everything all framed up. We really liked going with colorful prints instead of black and white ones, especially on such a dark wall. They’re a nice balance of classic/handsome (wood frames & crisp white mats) + cheer (colorful family photos). And we like how the bolder prints tie into the colorful pillows and our headboard.

The process for picking photos was pretty straightforward: we scrolled through our family photo folders in iPhoto (we have one for each year, ordered chronologically) and flagged our favorites. That produced WAAAY too many options, so we whittled it down to the 22 we needed by choosing favorites from the favorites (for some reason it’s easier for us to pick top choices from the group than decide which ones to nix).

We didn’t keep any sort of color scheme in mind (there’s every color in the rainbow going on) but we did seem to subconsciously choose photos that looked more like a moment in time than a posed everyone-stare-at-the-camera shot. I think maybe we knew that a whole lot of eyeballs staring out at us might feel strange. So most of them feature people looking down, at each other, off to the side, etc. There are only a few with eyes that actually looked at the lens, like the Teddy beach shot in the top left corner.

It wasn’t until we had everything hung that we realized a few other commonalities emerged. We stepped back and laughed about “all that water.” Turns out around a third of them feature us on the beach or in some other form of water (the lake, a pool, etc). It’s probably because a lot of our favorite photos were from trips we took. We actually counted six different states being represented in our photos (from Alaska and Hawaii to Florida and Delaware). Another funny realization was that three of the photos in our gallery were taken on the very bed that they now sit above. So we’re apparently a family who likes to travel… or stay in bed.

After we were all done hanging and framing everything, our formerly nondescript bedroom wall had sort of morphed into a photographic celebration of our family, which has been pretty awesome as the first and last thing we look at every day. In fact, as much as we loved the frame hallway in our last house (we didn’t think we’d ever love a frame arrangement more), our new family-gallery is right up there with it.

Oh, and even though it looks like those pictures behind the lamp are impossible to see, they’re actually some of the ones we see the most from bed and/or when we walk into the room. It’s all about the angle y’all.

We hope our new family wall will encourage us to keep breaking out the camera and documenting family moments. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be the nice camera. We realized almost half of the pictures up here were from our iPhones or our old point-and-shoot.

Clara was napping when we finished hanging everything, so we stole the opportunity to give Teddy and Burger some brother time in front of the camera. And knowing our penchant for framing the photos taken on this bed, there’s a chance this shot could end up on the wall at some point. So meta, I know.

We can’t really picture the “before” of this room in our heads anymore without pulling up the actual before photos…

… but we’re certainly grateful for how far it has come. It’s looking a little busy to us right now, but we think a few other to-do list items should hopefully fix that. We’d like a better bench at the end of the bed and a proper set of end tables so we can use the dresser on another wall. We also still have to finish the curtains, need an overhead light, etc. Slowly, slowly.

Anyone else doing bedroom updates? Or hanging a collection of family frames? Have you noticed any subconscious themes afterwards, like a love of water, travel, or being in bed? What about eyeballs? Are they all staring out at you? Do they follow your every move, Mona-Lisa style?

 

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