Showing posts with label lighting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lighting. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ready for insulation

I'm also ready for my nervous breakdown. I don't know why, but this upgrade-the-electrical-and-insulate-the-house project has broken me. Oh wait, I know why: it's really freaking expensive and disruptive. Again, I would never survive a full-scale remodel.

I'm going to apologize in advance for how whiny I'm being. Break out your tiny violins.

I mentioned a while back that Greg was going to invest in the house and pay for electrical upgrades and insulation, but that changed. Everything is fine with the two of us but it left me scrambling to apply for financing and it annihilated my savings to pay the electrician. As expected, everything took a bit longer than expected, if that makes sense.

The financing took place with Umpqua Bank with a really obnoxious man who kept asking, "No husband? You're doing this by yourself?" Then he slowly explained how a checking account works and what would happen if I "just had to have that diamond ring" and overdrafted my account. I am not making this shit up.

Have I mentioned that I've been having insomnia so I cut alcohol out of my diet? It's like I'm not thinking sometimes.

Anyway. Our electrician finished all the work in the attic! Instead of wires hanging out of our living room ceiling we have this super cheap Ikea fixture.

I'm not sure this is an upgrade.

I want something beautiful and dangling in here eventually but I have no money right now. So a cheap Ikea fixture it is! Yay, throwaway culture. The good news is that my electrician redesigned the wiring so things make a modicum of sense. Everything's up to code! If we die in a house fire it probably won't be due to sketchy wiring!

I also had him put in a new receptacle in the hallway so we can better see how badly we need to vacuum.

I grabbed these $39 schoolhouse fixtures from Lamps Plus, then went into a shame spiral over how they were made in China and I should have bought real Schoolhouse Electric fixtures and supported a local company.

We really need to vacuum.

Then Greg came out and said, "I think the scale is wrong and they're too big for the space," which made me start worrying about that. But you know what? I'd rather they be too big than too small. And everyone is going to be distracted by the fact that we need to vacuum so badly in here, and then they'll be noticing that our rug is the wrong length for the hallway. So it doesn't matter.

If you need me I'll be here, waiting for my waaahmbulance and reminding myself that things could be worse. I'm not destitute, nor do I live in a country where I could be punished for being a woman and driving a car. I can put up with stupid loan officers. Also: my mother sent me this:


She's the best.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

And lo, there was hyperbole!

Guys, these lights almost killed us.

I came home from the gym last week after attending one of those classes with an oily bohunk who makes you lunge and lift and squat, all the while yelling, "faster! faster!" while he flexes his enormous, hairless muscles at you. It felt like I was part of a movie montage where the nerds try to get in shape but they're hopelessly flabby.

Anyway. I got home from the gym and the electrician had wired up the receptacles we installed and Greg was like, "Should we hang up the lights now?"

I was like, "Um, of COURSE we should hang those right now. But let me go throw up first and then I think I'm supposed to drink a glass of egg yolks."

There were a series of errors, beginning with the fact that the sun was going down, so we were working by headlamp. Next: Greg was hangry. He's a very sweet man until he gets hungry and then he gets mean. Third: At some point I dropped one of the nuts that attaches the fixture to the ceiling and it rolled away to parts unknown, laughing most likely. Remember how Greg was hangry? This was not our best moment. And we couldn't install the last light fixture.

Also: at some point I misplaced one of the Edison bulbs that came with the light fixture and we didn't have a replacement. We spent 20 minutes tearing the house apart looking for it.

I went and took a shower, during which time Greg located the missing nut! I came out from the shower and we finished the last light installation. Thank freaking goodness.

Nine hours after we started this project I flipped the breaker back on and hit the brand new dimmer switch . . . and nothing happened. Sonofabitch.

There was nothing to be done except go to dinner (at 9:30! so European!) and bemoan our lack of a proper reveal. We assumed the problem was in the dimmer switch, since our electrician seems to know what he's doing. After dinner Greg decided to swap out the new dimmer switch with the old one and voila! it freaking worked. FINALLY.

We were missing a bulb but it was still pretty glorious. To celebrate I promptly got a migraine that lasted four days.

But I'm fine now! And lights! Such pretty lights! Such pretty holes in the ceiling that need to be patched! Boy, I don't feel like doing that at all!

But if I've learned anything from movie montages it's that my muscles will soon be huge, I will get the girl, and you will find me either yelling Adwian!Adwian!* or singing We Are the Champions with my buddies** at the end of all this.

I love movie references. I love lamp***. The end.

*see: Rocky.
**see: Revenge of the Nerds.
***see: Anchorman.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Plaster dust does nothing to cover gray hair, just FYI

Whenever I take photos of my dining room (which isn't all that often) I try to crop out the light fixtures. 

They are ugly and utilitarian and they make a terrible humming noise if you try to dim them.

Terrible photos, ahoy!

I never noticed that they're not even aligned, to boot. It took cutting holes in the ceiling for me to notice this.

Greg (an engineer) was like, "How have you never noticed that those lights aren't aligned?" and I was like, "Oh, I don't know, I've just been exploring the wonder of the natural world and worrying about bumblebees. God."

Except in reality I've been watching The Bachelorette and playing The Simpsons Tapped Out on my iPad. You know, the important things in life.


I got to use the hole saw to punch those beautiful holes in the ceiling. I wear glasses, which I thought would protect me from the falling debris but I ended up with two eyes full of plaster crud, which was awful. Our electrician went and grabbed his safety goggles for me, but I couldn't wear them with my glasses so I had to operate the hole saw blind, basically. I qualify as legally blind without corrective lenses, so I'd like a medal for getting three perfect holes in the ceiling (Greg was in the attic) without any blood loss.

Greg is in here somewhere

You have not lived until you've passed tools back and forth to your love through a hole in the ceiling while trying to discern what the other is saying.

Mumble mumble barn owls.
I said I needed a drill bit! Focus, Heather.

The house was a mess and it took multiple showers to get the plaster out of my hair, but we got the electrical boxes installed and they are ready to be wired.

This was all a walk in the park compared to picking out light fixtures. I don't think Greg and I would ever survive a full-scale remodel and all the decisions that come with it, unless Jimmy Carter was involved. We finally found one single light fixture that neither of us hated, based on this picture:

Greg worked some Photoshop magic to mock this up:

I thought they were too far apart, so then we switched it to this:

But the attic beams conspired against us, so the final placement is somewhere between the two. Hopefully our electrician will be finishing up the attic work soon so we can ditch the old lights, patch the ceiling, and hang the new lights.

Grody carpeting, I'm coming for you next.

Friday, July 13, 2012

For those of you on tenterhooks . . .

. . . I updated the post on outdoor lighting with an action shot at night. With the tiki torches to define the beds and walkways, it was the perfect amount of light.

Our yard isn't filled with smoke, I just haven't figured out how to take photos in low light.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Let there be light

Every year my friend celebrates his birthday by donning a bathrobe, inviting a bunch of friends over, and watching The Big Lebowski in the backyard. He projects the movie onto the back of his house and it's really fun. The last two years we have been lucky enough to host that party for him. It's all the fun of hosting a party with none of the stress and it's great.

Have you seen those great outdoor weddings where they have a ceiling of globe string lights? They are beautiful and I've always wanted that for the backyard.

Photo source:

In the first months in the house I had friends over for dinner and I tried to create that effect by running Christmas lights from a ladder to the roof. It looked tacky and sad. It's hard when you don't have mature trees in your yard to run lights to. I have the one mature tree in my yard, the cedar, which has a line running to it that we wrap with Christmas lights. It helps during barbecues but you don't get the ceiling-of-lights effect.  

Greg and I threw a couple of ideas around. The first was to take one of those very heavy umbrella stands that people use under their patio tables and stick a pole in it, from which we'd run lights. But we didn't think that would be strong enough. I've read that you can stick a pole in a bucket of rocks but that doesn't seem strong enough either.

Ultimately what worked was driving a 3.5 foot DWV pipe (supposedly less brittle than PVC) into the ground with a sledgehammer. 

I held a piece of wood over the pipe so it wouldn't split where Greg hit it with the sledgehammer. We left about a foot sticking out, into which we inserted a 12 foot pole we found at the Home Depot. An eye screw at the end, a couple of zip ties, and a carabiner and we were in business. We wanted globe lights for the party but couldn't get them delivered in time, so these rope lights we had on hand worked for the time being.

We tucked the pole behind the flowering currant and have plans to sink another one behind the Cryptomeria. The pole bends a bit from the tension in the rope lights so we may run a counter-wire behind it to pull the pole back a little. 

When we're done we can throw the pole in the garage and cap the DWV pipe so it doesn't fill with debris or water. Not bad for $15 and an hour of labor. The globe lights will be more expensive but I think they'll look even better at night. We're slowly classing this joint up.