Wednesday, May 03, 2006

You light up my life

Petunia and I are first-time homeowners, so we're on the steep end of the learning curve when it comes to home repair. For example, the first time I had to light the pilot light on our hot water heater, I made my dad stay on the phone with me so he could send 911 in case I blew myself up. We have a To Do list a mile long and it keeps gets reprioritized depending on the most pressing need. Right now, #1 on the list is figuring out a kitchen light. Ours broke earlier this week, and we need a replacement right away.

After doing some online research, it turns out that our light is probably the original fixture, a handblown schoolhouse shade and fixture made in the early 1900s. It looks exactly like this picture of a light from Restoration Hardware, only dirtier. I've always been v. attached to this fixture, but I thought the metal beehive one from Ikea would be a nice (and cheap) replacement. However, the beehive doesn't go with 7-foot ceilings. Plus, after doing all that research I'm even more attached to the schoolhouse light concept.

So I investigated our alternatives, and here they are:

1) We could buy this new one from Restoration Hardware for $99 + shipping.
2) We could buy the fixture (the metal part) without the shade for $70 from an online vintage light shop.
3) We could get our own fixture repaired by a local antique light shop for $30.

Obviously, this last option appeals to me for my cheapness and my sentimentality, but if it doesn't work we'll be out the $30. Also, it'll take a week, which stinks since exposed wires don't exactly scream "high quality child care program."

After talking with Petunia about our options, we're going to try to get our original fixture repaired. In the meantime, we'll buy some cheap-ass light at Lowe's to prevent the exposed wires scenario. However, if y'all have better ideas, I'm all ears. I barely know what I'm doing, and some of y'all have been homeowners for years.

14 Comments:

Blogger Canada said...

Hey AJWP, isn't the world of home repairs just wonderful? At least your home has stood the test of time. As for mine, and apparently, PK's, less than a decade and we're having issues!

Re: the light fixture. I think that $30 is reasonable if they can fix it. Will they give you a guarantee? Because some places will - if it doesn't work, you get money back or a credit. If it doesn't work, the Restoration Hardware fixture sounds like a good bet. They have quality stuff, and they are well-executed reproductions. For the interim, the bare wires can just be capped (with one of those little plates that cost about $2) once you cover the wire ends with the little orange or yellow thingies. Good luck!

8:28 AM  
Blogger Katie (WannaBeMom) said...

I love old schoolhouse lights. I think we're going to put one in at the new house.

Try this link too:
www.schoolhouseelectric.com

And I was going to recommend that cap too-- We cap lights sometimes when the fixtures haven't come in yet and the house is up for inspection.

Good luck!

8:36 AM  
Anonymous Jenny PP said...

Yeah, I think if the place will guarantee it works fine, but otherwise maybe get a new fixture.

I'm no electrical whiz but it is true you can just cap the wires in the meantime if you don't want them exposed. Just make sure the power's off before you touch anything. ;)

10:18 AM  
Blogger Canada said...

Good suggestion about the power being off, Jenny pp!

11:45 AM  
Blogger Clementine said...

Oh, guys, the wires are capped. When I said exposed wires, I meant you could see the wires, not that they were dangling live wires. My bad.

Katie, I LOVE Schoolhouse Electric! I found them yesterday and now I want to get some of their lights for our living room and dining room. Thanks for the tip!

12:54 PM  
Blogger M. said...

You mean I'm not the only one who makes phone calls to loved ones to get them on 911 alert before attempting things like the pilot light?

I'm so relieved.

1:16 PM  
Blogger Hashbrown said...

Are you all crazy? Don't you remember I work at a BURN Hospital??? I am wicked crazy about burn safety so there are no live exposed wires anywhere!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

2:11 PM  
Blogger Clementine said...

Poor Hashie/Petunia! She's a little nutty from what she sees/smells/hears all day at the hospital. You should have seen her the first time we replaced a light fixture--she FREAKED! She was convinced our place was going up in flames if I messed up the slightest bit with the installation. We had to call our neighbor Green Thumb (a long-time homeowner) to talk her through it.

3:55 PM  
Blogger Canada said...

I didn't mean to imply you hadn't capped - I had no idea the fixture was out already. Obviously, you would put the little thingies on, but I agree that the gaping hole and the wires looks kinda freaky, that's why I suggested the plate - just for effect. I think you're way brave - I refuse to mess with electrical. Burns freak me out!!!! Soon, you'll be starting your own home repair show! :)

4:02 PM  
Blogger Clementine said...

You're not kidding. We've done nearly everything ourselves, and I don't recommend it. If we had the money, I'd hire a handywoman in a second.

Since it's killing me to have no overhead light, I'll have to buy a cheapo replacement light tonight. Grr.

6:02 PM  
Anonymous Hashbrown said...

Sorry about my crazy rant. For a full explaination, please come to my blog and I will post about why I am a nut.

7:05 PM  
Blogger Canada said...

I totally understand about needing an overhead light. Who needs to remove a finger when chopping veggies, right? Oh well . . .you'll have a spare that can be used in a different location should you have the need in the future.

11:16 PM  
Blogger Clementine said...

Update 5/8/06: We dropped off the fixture at the antique light place on Saturday. It's going to cost $20, and the guy says the fixture's from the '30s or so. Pretty neat, eh? We should be able to reinstall in this weekend.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Canada said...

Yay!!!

8:20 AM  

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