Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Show & Tell: DIY Vintage Lighting


I <3 vintage lighting. I love school house lights and barn lights. When we moved into Ugly House, there were brass fixtures as far as the eye could see. Well, to be fair, some of them had been "sort-of" updated with more a modern hammered brown colored, but mostly brass remained.

How do you update light fixtures, keep some vintage charm and do everything on a budget?

I have found some hints that I can share with you today.

1. Keeping Existing Fixtures

My first tip is if it ain't broke, don't fix it. We had two simple, but ugly, lights in our hallway and office. They worked just fine, but the glass shades were dated. This was the glass in our hallway light:

Not exactly charming, huh? I wanted something that would be quick, cheap and wouldn't require me to rewire anything. I can always do that later on, but wouldn't it be easier if I could just buy new glass for now and then worry about the entire fixture later on when I don't have an entire kitchen to destroy?

Enter the Habitat for Humanity Restore. I had recently used the Restore to replace a broken shade on a light in our rental. They had a pretty good selection of glass shades and even had school house style shades.

So, I guessed and bought two shades on a whim one day. One large and one small. I figured if they didn't work, I could use them for something else. I think I was out a total of $10.00 for both shades.

What do you know, since there was some flexibility with the screws that kept the shades on, both shades fit. Here is how they looked at that point:

Not bad huh? Nothing overly exciting, but in literally minutes, I had a more vintage feel. They still felt a bit boring though. The brass light fixture is getting a makeover in the form of some Rub n' Buff on the brass. Basically it's a paint you rub in to change the color of metal. Shiny brass no more!

The smaller hall light needed some more color. I was obsessed with this light from Barn Light Electric:

At $116.00, I was going to have to pass. But I thought it was possible to use some left over spray paint to create a smaller brighter version.

Not bad, huh? Now just ignore the popcorn ceilings and ancient smoke detector. We have a plan for the ceilings (project this winter), and we have replaced the smoke detectors with some from this century. So, two more modern lights for around $12.00.

2. Look at Multipurpose Lighting Solutions

The next lights all had different purposes before I decided to reuse them as indoor lighting fixtures.

Barn Light Pendant

This lighting solution came from much Pinteresting and Googling. Once again, I was inspired by my love of Barn Light Electric. However, the lights I was falling in love with were around $229.00. My husband almost exploded when I told him I wanted one. I needed to find a cheaper solution. This is what the light over my sink looks like. Oh and it is about 4 inches off center too. Lovely.

My solution came in the form two different items at Lowe's. 1) A clamp light and 2) A pendant light fixture.

A clamp light is around $5.00. (I got a smaller one) and the pendant fitter was only $10.00 on clearance. When you go to the store, get the clamp light first (found in the section with the other spotlights and shop lights). Take the shade off and go to the pendant aisle. Now try your shade on different pendants until you find a fit. My shade fit perfectly on this pendant. The two looked like this:

That's fine and dandy. I decided I wanted a pop of color, so I spray painted the shade inside white and the outside a light blue color. Another idea is to get a ceiling fan extender pipe. You can fit the cord through the pipe (you may need to paint it to get it to match) and voila, you have a more clean looking hanging pendant that doesn't have a wire showing. Here's what my shade looks like painted (not attached to the hanging pendant. More to come on why I chose not to use the pendant):

Barn Light

Once I had my pendant light all ready to go, we went to remove some cabinets, and we discovered that they had screwed the cabinets to the soffit, from the inside of the soffit. Yes. The inside. So the soffit had to be removed in order to remove the cabinets, which means my light went from hanging from the soffit to coming out from the side wall. I had actually preferred that. I had fallen in love with this barn light from Lowes which was only $29.99. This is an exterior "Dark Sky" light. (Dark sky since the light is focused down and leaves the sky dark).

I still wanted a colorful light. My kitchen is very bland. White cabinets, white back splash, and butcher block counter-tops. I wanted to add in some color with less expensive accessories. So I decided to spray paint this light with the same color combination: blue outside, white inside. With spray paint, this light was $35.00 compared to it's $177.00 Barn Light Electric counterpart. It will look great above my new farmhouse apron front sink.

Here's my light after the spray painting:

Multipurpose Lights & Sales

Our bedroom doesn't have overhead lighting. I am sure we'll eventually want to add it in, but until then, we needed a lighting solution. This light was on clearance at Lowes and was an outdoor chandelier. Perfect plug in lighting solution for our house. I hung the chain in the back part of the our room so when you peek your head in, you don't see the chain immediately.

We also had a seriously ugly old florescent light in our kitchen. I'm not particularly a huge fan of florescent lights, but my husband liked how much light it put off. I decided to replace that particular light with another on clearance Lowes light. Might need to touch up the ceiling where the old light hung. (Or I may wait since we're planning on covering up the popcorn this winter). The old ugly florescent light was moved to our garage and wired in there. It's been fantastic for projects post bedtime.


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