We are a family of readers. Now we are a family of middle-aged readers. Meaning, we need MORE LIGHT.
The main room of the Schoolhouse has three distinct areas: the kitchen, the dining area, and the living area. When we first installed lighting, we followed code and installed ugly fluorescent features in the kitchen area to pass inspection, and then switched them out for fixtures we liked. We hung a cool vintage chandelier I found at Elray of Delray while we were visiting Steve’s Mom in Florida over the dining table. And in the living area, we hung the two fabulous snowball chandeliers I found at Ikea when we first bought the Schoolhouse. They looked great – still do. But especially now, as we head into the dark days of winter, it’s just not enough light.
Here’s what the lighting looked like when we started. See that looooong expanse between the vintagey chandelier on the right and the snowball on the left? That was over the couch, meaning it was virtually impossible for anyone to read on the couch after 3 PM. Or, really, anytime, if they’re middle aged.
We talked about more light a lot last winter, and then guess, what – Spring came, and we kind of forgot. When Fall came again, and we found ourselves racing each other for the one chair with decent light, we decided it was time. We thought about getting the electricians back, but Steve’s learned a lot about pretty much everything over the last few years and he decided to do it himself. And I say “himself” advisedly: our ceilings at the Schoolhouse are 12 feet high, which means I, with my aversion to ladders, was pretty much useless. And so it began…
First, we needed a new, taller ladder. Here’s how Steve painted the ceiling, months ago:
Now, is that itty bitty ladder a good idea? Even for someone with the sense of balance of a mountain goat? NO – clearly not. And painting is nothing compared to drilling, sawing, and wrestling light fixtures, when you really need something to brace yourself against. So we bought a new ladder. This one’s a beast: when you stand it up its feet are about five feet apart. But it meant Steve could stand on the third step from the top rather than ON the top, which is much safer.
Next step: the fixtures. We looked at everything from track to linear suspension (those fancy cord-y things everyone has now) but we finally decided on cans. With white trim we thought they’d be pretty unobtrusive plus they match what’s in the bedrooms. We spent an hour or so at Lowes learning about remodel vs. new construction (they’re different) and IC rating (IC rated cans can just be poked up into the insulation, which is important if you have insulation, which, now, we do) – and then I went online and ordered everything: 5 inch remodel IC rated cans from Lowes, and 5 inch white eyeball trim from Amazon. It all arrived promptly, and we hauled it north, and everything was going swimmingly until we opened the box and saw this:
That part where it says “CFL required”? Kinda worrisome, don’t you think, if you don’t want CFLs? We did. Here’s where things started to get a little hinky. I called Lowes’ customer service and explained the situation. The nice lady said that they only put the specs that the manufacturers provide them online, which must have been why there was NOTHING in the specs online that said anything about CFLs, but that if the box said CFLs and I didn’t want CFLs, I should bring them back. I left Steve up on the ladder and drove the hour to the closest Lowes. I returned the seven cans. Then I went to the lighting department, where I talked to the same guy who’d explained can lighting to us the week before. He said he didn’t have 5 inch IC rated remodel cans in stock but he would show me what to order. Then he went online and pulled up the exact same cans I’d just returned. I explained that the box said CFL only and he said no, these would take up to 75 watt and I ended up making him come over to the customer service area to look at the damned things to make sure. He didn’t have a good answer as to why the box said CFL and not 75 watt but apparently if you want to you can get some kind of insert to convert these into CFL. Whatever. I bought back the seven cans and drove the hour back home, past the river and sunny vineyards and golden rolling hills – not such a bad way to spend part of a weekend, actually. And when I got home, Steve had already started drilling holes in the ceiling.