Our exterior light situation is a little ho-hum, as evidenced by this tiny fixture outside the back door on our garage (don’t mind the grimy green brick that’s screaming out for some scrubbing).
And yes, I realize the door itself is looking a little rough. It originally sported a rusty, loudly-banging storm door (not just a medium bang, this was SCARE-YOUR-NEIGHBORS LOUD) that we removed. So we’re getting ready to repair some of the trim and prime/paint it white to match the door in the
sunroom veranda that we already updated.
But let’s turn our attention back to the light. It was too small and very weather-worn, so we decided it was time to make an upgrade. Choosing the fixture to upgrade it with proved a bit more challenging than we expected. Maybe because we’re not really used to shopping for them. I think we might have bought three exterior lights in the course of seven years. So after hitting up a local outlet and some big box stores without anything screaming “I’m perfect!” at us, Sherry took the hunt to a few online sites to see what she could come up with. After about an hour of clicking around (and waaaay too many windows being open at the same time which led to not one, but two browser crashes) there were eight contenders:
- Black lantern $69 here (inspired by the ones here)
- Seeded glass lantern $75 here
- Outdoor wall lantern $87 here
- X-Lantern $37 here
- Bronze cross-cross sconce $35 here
- Bronze lantern $79 here
- Antique copper wall light $219 here (purely just for eye candy, since it’s way above our budget)
- Bronze lantern $117 here
Making that mood board didn’t give us a eureka moment either. But what did was strolling through the lighting aisle at Home Depot and Lowe’s again, and discovering that Option #1 had gone on sale (down to $59). It had been my favorite all along anyways (Sherry was really into #6, but it was significantly smaller) and my argument for #1 was that we were looking for something large and in charge, and it was the second biggest of the bunch while also being among the three most affordable ones in the roundup. Sherry gave me one of those “hold on I’m thinking” faces and then said “ok, let’s do it.” And into our cart it went.
Installation was just like installing any other fixture:
- Step 1: Turn off the power
- Step 2: Remove the old one after staring at the wires to see how they’re connected (or even grabbing a photo of them with your phone if it’s your first light-switching job)
- Step 3: Connect the new one to the same wires the old one had been connected to
- Step 4: Tuck all of the wires into the backplate and use the provided screws to adhere the light to the house
- Step 5: Turn the power back on and make sure the light is connected well and working correctly
So installation went nice and smoothly, and you can see from this photo that it’s a big improvement. Well, not the door. Or that green wall. But at least the light is no longer rusty and small.
You think I’m joking about the size difference, don’t you? Here’s a side-by-side with the old fixture so you can see just how much more substantial the new fixture is compared to the old one.
We personally like an outdoor fixture that has lots of visual presence, so this guy is doing the trick for us. Just imagine this with a freshly painted door and non-green bricks and a nice welcome mat and some plants on either side. I know… that’s a lot of imagining. We have a long way to go back here.
I like this shot the most, since it helps to show the size of the light, along with the traditional shape, which we think is pretty fitting with the exterior of our house (we’ve admired it on a lot of our neighbor’s homes, and also were inspired by this photo of an outdoor space with similar ones). At one point I suggested that we put them in
The Artist Formerly Known As Prince The Veranda Formerly Known As The Sunroom (we’re looking for four sconces to go on the posts in there to provide some eye-level light) but after holding them up they didn’t look right – so we’re still on the hunt for what might work in there.
I’ll share just one more “after” photo of this guy because when I came out to take this picture I opened the door to find a herd of deer standing right outside. Of course they ran away at the sight of me.
But they didn’t go far and still make an appearance in the background of this picture.
Here they are, just giving me the ol’ deer staredown, when I stepped a little closer. If you’re on the edge of your seat for more of my stellar wildlife photography (or are just a fan of Where’s Waldo: Deer Edition) we’ve got this post on Young House Life for your deer-loving pleasure.
Sorry I keep getting sidetracked. Lights. We’re talking about lights. And obviously that back door isn’t our only outdoor fixture. We’ve got one more wall-mounted one above our garage. It was also looking a bit worse-for-wear and was also on the diminutive side.
So we purchased a second one to match the one we added to our backdoor. And… the results were a little less impressive.
Even though it felt nice to have a sparkly new light up there – and the ORB finish commanded a bit more attention than the rusty gold – the size wasn’t reading as much of an improvement between those two giant garage doors (we’ll be painting those black or charcoal if that helps you visualize where things are going). And yes, we have more green stuff to attend to on that concrete driveway pad. Yeehaw, I smell some power-washing in my future…
But back to the light.
It’s not terrible, but it’s not exactly what we were hoping for. It just looks kinda lost on that big brick wall with those big garage doors. And I’ll admit we’re feeling a little defeated because of all of the lights that Sherry mood-boarded, it was among the largest of them all (it’s about 19″ high, and the biggest – and most expensive – was only 20″). Update: We also have a pergola planned for over the double garage and we want to add shutters to all of the windows on the side and back of our house eventually (as seen on Listy McListerson) so those are things to consider for this side of the house too.
Part of us feels like we should just stick with this one for the time being and withhold judgement until we can do some other things to the garage side of the house (like the paint the doors). And the other half of us feels like we should just return it if we don’t love it there, and not settle for something that we might later end up regretting.
What do you guys think? Would you keep it or return it in the hopes of finding something better? Any tips for where else to look besides local lighting shops, Lowe’s, Home Depot, or Overstock?
As a little Friday bonus, here are four fun projects, chats, or questions going on over on the Forums. We also announced this week’s giveaway winner, so you can click here (and scroll down to the Rafflecopter box) to see if it’s you.
|by crabandfishblog||by blucas||by Gnomelover||by rentalrevival
This week’s craft project has me skeered, I’m not going to lie. For the past month and a half I’ve had fun doing a simple and quick crafty thing each week, like making a fall wreath, stenciling a pillow, painting baskets, decorating pumpkins & gourds, making vacation keepsake globes, and taking ceramic paint for a spin on a bowl full of colorful cacti. Each of those projects took under an hour, and they were pretty easy and straightforward (paint this, wrap this around that, caulk this) – so I don’t know what got into me this week and whispered “how about painting a little portrait of your first house?”
It easily took me five times as long as any other Weekly Crafty project that I’ve tackled, but I’m nervous about it. I don’t know, it’s kinda cute and simple and John really likes it (and if you see where it started – woof! – well, it came a long way) but it’s a far cry from those amazing house portraits on Etsy. This blog has always been about sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly though, so here’s how it all went down…
First of all, it’s a 10 x 10″ canvas from JoAnn (snagged during one of their 50% off sales for $4) and I used a set of acrylic paints that I already had, but I think if you need to buy one it’s around $12 at most art/craft stores (unless it’s priced higher at a place like JoAnn since they assume you’ll use a 50% off coupon).
By far the most fun slash cringe-worthy part is watching the progression of this little painting of mine. Here’s a “slideshow” of sorts with ten shots that I snapped as it went – many of which make me groan out loud – but I was channeling Dori pretty much the entire time. “Just keep
swimming painting, just keep swimming painting.”
I thought a breakdown of each step might be helpful in case anyone was wondering how I “built” the portrait in about ten different layers/stages, so…
- Step 1: I quickly spread some green paint on the bottom and some blue on the top, just for a base coat for the grass and the sky. They both felt too bright and primary for me, but I thought it was fine for the base, knowing I’d be layering paint on top of it as I went.
- Step 2: I stared at an old picture of our house and then just tried to transfer the shape of the house onto the canvas, capturing the general perspective, and including the chimneys and stuff. I ended up hating how brown/dark it was, but again, I knew I’d be layering more paint on top of it as I went, so I tried not to freak out.
- Step 3: I added the roof in black and some red paint on top of the original brick color I had chosen to de-brown it. I also outlined the edges with a thin line of black, just to give it a little dimension.
- Step 4: I used black paint to add the shutters, the chimney caps, and the lattice thing after I was sure all the red paint was dry (there was about an hour-long break just to avoid any smearing). Oh and for every single step of this portrait I used one brush, which I cleaned throughout the process. It has a nice flat tip, so I could get some good lines for things like the shutters and the lattice just by using the edge of it, so that kept things nice and simple. Although I did think about Bob Ross and his happy little fan brush. Oh Bob Ross, you were such a stud.
- Step 5: With a few shades of green paint, I added the bushes on the sides of the house, and the trees. I just sort of mixed some colors up to get a few different tones (some darker, and some lighter) to hopefully achieve something that looked a little less flat than using all one color.
- Step 6: Next I added all of the white details, so that meant the porch and the window ledges. This is when I realized I hadn’t even accounted for the porch in the roof-line, so I extended it and gave the roof a lighter layer of paint. I also lightened up the neon-ish grass that I started with by mixing a lot of white into a few green globs of paint.
- Step 7: After lightening the grass, I thought it was time to lighten up the trees and bushes, so those got the same treatment. Oh and I was just mixing all of my colors on an old plate and dabbing them on paper towels.
- Step 8: I finally added the two trees in front of the house on the left side, and since I had some gray-brown paint on my brush, I just played around with it on a few other surfaces (like the roof, the trees, the bushes, etc)…
- Step 9: … but it looked dirty and muddled to me, so I layered more light green onto the bushes and trees and realized that a lot of times the roof reflects the greenery around it, so I took some artistic license and made that an even lighter green tone. It seemed a lot more harmonious than the stark white did, so I decided that adding a little tint of color, even to the porch, would make it fit into the scene a little better.
- Step 10: Here’s where I went dot crazy. I thought that it would be fun to use the back of the paintbrush to make some little elevated dots on the bushes in front of the house since they were white azaleas. And when I did it, I loved the look so much…. that I went a little nuts. Before I knew it, I had added them to all the other bushes and even did dark green dots on the tree behind the house. BAD! So I quickly painted those dark dots out of the tree, and left just the ones in the bushes (and a few in the grass) that I thought were sweeter.
Then I stared at it for a good ten minutes and finally said “I’m calling it done.” All told, it was probably five hours of painting (spread across three days) and for the most part I really enjoyed the process. There was something comforting about knowing that I could always just add another layer of paint over something if I didn’t like how it turned out. It was like a challenge with endless do-overs.
After I was sure I was finished, I just let it dry for a good 24 hours and then I realized I should seal it, so I emailed an artist friend of mine and asked what she uses on top of her acrylic paintings to make them glossy and finished looking.
She clued me in on Liquitex High Gloss Varnish, which I think I vaguely remember using years ago in college, so I grabbed some at Michaels (yes, predictably with a 50% off coupon) for about $9 I think, and applied three thin and even coats about four hours apart. I was surprised this stuff was so much money ($18 regular price for a small size) but it’s really thin – sort of like poly – so a small bottle like this could easily last you 30+ paintings. So now that I have it I just have to try not to lose it. And to try and drum up the confidence to paint something else…
Here it is all hung up in a corner of the office. John has been earning mad husband points by saying it looks really nice there, but I think it would look better paired with another painting… maybe of our second house if I ever get the urge to dive back in and make one.
When I peer a little closer, that’s when I say “this is kinda cute” so I thought I’d toss in a little detail shot for you. I debated painting the sides of the canvas white or green or even charcoal but in the end I wrapped the image around the side by just continuing the sky/trees/bushes/grass, which I think ended up being a good call.
So that’s the story of my crafty house portrait pursuit this week. Upon further reflection, I think I wish I had done the middle tree behind the house in the lighter green tone and the two on the outside in the slightly darker green color. That might have looked a little more like the house had kind of a halo of lightness with the darker things on the outside edges.
Have any of you guys attempted a house portrait? Was it with paint? Mixed media like fabric or decorative paper? Did you do something in photoshop with one of those filters like watercolor? Or did you shoot a portrait with your camera and get it all framed up and matted nicely?