Lately I’ve been working on house projects that we’ve been meaning to tackle ever since we moved in a year ago (see bathroom painting). We go back and forth between “What’s the hurry? We have years ahead of us to get this stuff done!” and worrying that we’ll get so used to the status quo that we’ll cease to notice or care about some of the things that need to be fixed up (again, see bathroom painting). The kitchen lighting wasn’t something we had forgotten about, but I just wasn’t quite sure what to do about it. As usual, though, the internet provided lots of inspiration. I kept coming across images of swagged, bare bulbs in kitchens, and was particularly drawn to industrial-looking lights like these and these. So I decided to make my own. Here’s the before and after:
The original light would’ve been relatively inoffensive, if someone hadn’t been really sloppy with their painting. I sympathize with being too lazy to tape off fixtures (it’s sooo tempting because taping sucks), but come on, at least wipe off the paint. But the other issue was that after we replaced the other ceiling light in the room, a horrible giant flat fluorescent thing, with a nice Schoolhouse Electric one (in white porcelain), the room was a bit dimmer at night than was ideal for cooking. So this thing had to go. The question I had was how.
The answer was with a recessed light conversion kit and my own homemade ceiling medallion. (The one that came with the kit was too small for our hole.)
Plus a ceiling canopy, porcelain sockets, and 18 feet of cloth-covered light cord. Yee-haw!
Yep, I wired everything up myself. I’m no electrician, so I can’t give instructions on that part. Neither can the company the sells the parts, so I had to figure it out on my own (it wasn’t like I hadn’t wired anything before, though). A little diagram with the ceiling canopy would’ve been super helpful, because after I took it apart I spent forever trying to put it back together with a piece upside-down. My own fault entirely, but it could’ve been easier.
The pipe is 3/4-inch galvanized plumbing pipe that I spray-painted black. When we were buying it we brought it to the paint department and a guy who worked there asked what we were painting, we told him, and he recommended Rust-oleum 2x Ultra Cover paint. When we got home I read the instructions on the back and it said specifically not to use it on galvanized metal. So I went back and bought this primer, which seemed to do the job. Always read the fine print before you leave the store!
You might notice that at some point in the middle of this light project, I painted the window trim. Almost all of the rest of the moldings in the house are painted white, and this was in bad shape, with random paint drips and swipes, so it was a big improvement. It did slow down the project a bit, but I just couldn’t help myself. It was super tempting to start painting the walls, too, but self-control prevailed. That would just make me want to tackle the cabinets, darn it.
After dealing with painting the pipe, I wasn’t prepared for the frustration of attaching it to the ceiling. It was heavy, and holding it up while accurately measuring and marking its location was difficult. I almost gave up mid-way through, but thanks to Steven we finished it. I’m really glad we did, because this project made a huge difference to our kitchen. It provides just the right amount of nice, warm light and a cool industrial element that contrasts a bit (but not too much) with some of the house’s vintage styling. Hooray for DIY!
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