Thursday, August 23, 2012

lighting - help!

So, as I told you, the kitchen renovation is slated to be finished by Christmas.  (Hope!  Hope!)  And by that, I don't mean that I plan to be unable to bake Christmas cookies because my stove will be covered in plaster dust.  I mean that toward the end of Advent, my kitchen will be beautiful, properly-appointed, and immaculate, welcoming to any person who should like to come by and pull up a stool while I take a batch of delicious hot cookies out of the oven. 

As it should be

Right now I have enough raw materials to keep me busy for quite some time, while I acquire other raw materials, so I'm in a good spot.  (After the party on Saturday, I'm building upper cabinet #2, stalking the weird craigslist lady for upper cabinet #3, and painting lower cabinets #1 and #2.  It remains to be seen whether there will be a lower cabinet #3.)  Butcher block and soapstone will come somewhere in there, but the critical path runs right through the farmhouse sink I am still looking for.  It will dictate countertop dimensions, and the scheduling of everything from the backsplash down.  I am really hoping to find it in September. 

As you can see (and know perfectly well if you've done any large-scale room remodels), these things have to be sequenced.  While I'm at the painting stage of one thing, I have to be at the repair/paint-prep on the next thing.  While I'm repairing that, I have to be purchasing the thing after that, and I need to be in the pre-purchase planning stage for the next thing.  And we hope they all end up in finished condition in my carriage house by the time I am ready to install them. 

Anyway, right now the acquisition planning dilemma is lighting.  I'm asking for your help, but I recognize that I may be beyond help.  So I like vintage lighting (you're shocked).  But I don't want trendy, vintage-style lighting that in ten years will look very "Oh, that was the teens, when that schoolhouse-type thing was in.  They're obviously not antiques."  So I have to pick something that really looks like it belongs with the antique stuff.  I'm not sure whether my taste is discriminating enough for that, but I have identified at least one commandment: ABSOLUTELY NO OIL-RUBBED BRONZE. 

You saw my pot rack:

It's this one, from Amazon:

This is a before photo (from the listing, actually), that shows the kitchen layout: 

The pot rack hangs on the little stretch of wall perpendicular to this window.  Under the window is (and will be) the sink.  I thought there should be a pendant light above the sink.  I have long liked this one, from Ikea:

It's $30.  That seems very reasonable.  It has an industrial vibe that I rather like, but may not belong in my kitchen.  Hmm...

This pendant is nice too ($37 at Lowe's):

It's non-descript, which is nice, but I don't know that I'm entirely in love with it.  (Also, it may be oil-rubbed bronze.)   

Then I found this:

It's AWESOME.  Look at that copper.  I love copper.  If you remember, I had my heart set on the all-copper Chambers stove.  Sigh.  Though I have laid that dream to rest (sniff), I am slowly accumulating copper accents in the kitchen.  I have some (now rather corroded - but I think that adds to the charm) copper flour canisters.  I have copper-bottomed skillets, though I need to get busy with some steel wool so you can see the copper again.  For our anniversary, my DH gave me some really beautiful things (that he would only have known how much I would adore if he had a spy inside my brain.  That person may or may not be my sister), including the most adorable mini-colander on the face of the earth:

IT HAS TINY FEET!!!  Obviously, it is hanging on the pot rack now.  And next to it could go that copper pendant light.  (It even has brass accents, too!) 


That copper pendant light is very industrial, isn't it?  All angles and bolts and utilitarian light-protect-y things.  It looks like it belongs in a (very, very pretty) warehouse.  I love that look.  I want somebody to do a kitchen with that look and adore it.  But it is not the look of my kitchen, and I don't know whether I can make them work together. 

Then I found this:

It's on a fantastic sale ($14 apiece!).  I know a lot of people don't like brass.  Personally, I only dislike brass if it is wearing a t-shirt that says, "This is the 80s calling, and we want our unflattering pants silhouette back."  I am not seeing that message here.  It's lovely, right?! 

But then it occurred to me that the pendant light over the sink is going to interfere with the pot rack, isn't it?  Even if the pots don't literally hit the light when coming on and off the rack (which would be bad), I think they might visually interfere.  A pendant would have to be centered over that window to look sensible, I think, so there's not much I can do with that.  But recently I did see someone hang an articulating office lamp from a wall, in a very cool office makeover:

I think I could do that.  And the lamp might be affordable!  And at this point it might be wise to point out something else.  As you may see in the before, formerly the cabinets on either side of the sink corner were connected by a hideous little canopy.  It came complete with a hideous little fluorescent light.  Said light was wired through the right-hand cabinet (it even has a light switch on it).  I have not yet demolished that cabinet.  If I were to run those wires through the new cabinet, and attach a light to the side of the new cabinet, I wouldn't have to run any wires through the wall; they're already where I'd need them to be.  And the light would be out of the way of the pots, without being off-centered - it would necessarily project out from that cabinet, and (I hope) look natural doing so. 

But I also want a pendant hanging in front of window #2, which is on the other side of the room.  There's nothing there now, but I'm planning to put a rolling work table in front of the window.  I'm not sure whether I can make an office lamp and a pendant lamp look like they match.  Does this one look like it goes with the brass pendant? 

Maybe I could ditch the pendant altogether, and do office lamps for both locations.  I could attach one to the top of the window frame, so it illuminates the work table.  (Even if I could figure out how to wire a lamp to the wiring from the old fluorescent light, I will never figure out how to hard-wire a brand new light fixture, will I?  I'm going to have to hire an electrician.  And he's going to put holes in the wall.  Suddenly I have a headache.) 

I showed all of these to my husband, who said the choices were confusing and overwhelming, and he basically really really liked the idea of having a copper one.  This morning I realized that I did, too, so the obvious solution was to ditch everything I had found so far and buy a pair of (affordable) shiny copper desk lamps and attach both to the wall.  I did a lot of searching, and the best I found was this ($90 at World Market):

It is neither inexpensive nor shiny nor copper.  Then I had another idea (I'm starting to think this is part of the problem): what about outdoor lighting?  This category includes lots of lights that are already designed to be wall-mounted.  And surely, at least one of them comes in shiny, shiny copper.

...but no.  Bewilderingly, infuriatingly, they do not have shiny copper outdoor lighting.  They do have some interesting options, however.  This is motion-sensing (and $50 at the big orange store):

How cool would that be?  I wouldn't have to worry about whether to wire it to a switch or have a little turn-off knob on the light itself (that's what I'd prefer).  Or worry about whether to wire them to the same switch.  They would turn themselves on and off!  If someone were working under them, they'd always be on.  And if someone came into the kitchen for a midnight snack, no fumbling around for a light switch.  Seriously, someone needs to look into this idea of motion-sensor lights in the kitchen. 

And it turns out that they do have antiqued copper.  It wouldn't have any special visual continuity with my other copper things, but it's nice-looking (not motion-sensing, though):

That one is $35.  It also comes in an adorable smaller version for $25.  Now I wish I needed lots of lights so I could do some in each size. 

Is this one cooler, or am I going too far?

I'm not aiming for the "I'm using outdoor lighting indoors!" look.  I'm trying to be suble here.  (No, really.)  (Although this one has a gargoyle and I can't not be a fan of that.) 

At this point, I realize, I can be sure of only two things:

(1) There are so many awesome options out there at good prices that everyone should have beautiful lighting in their kitchens.  (I know what I've shown here is a narrow range, looks-wise - thank God - but there are so many beautiful things.  If you're looking for something, let me know - I've probably seen five of it.)  I mean, if they have decent electrical skills.  (I don't.) 

(2) I am being punished for ridiculing people who have trouble making up their minds.  Just pick what you like and move on.  Is it that hard?  (Sometimes.  Yes, sometimes it is.) 


  1. I like the one from Lowe's, or the last one, or the 3rd to last one. It's odd that with all the options, there isn't one out there that is just right. I see what you mean..all of them are nice but there isn't one that's quite perfect. This might be a dumb question, but is there any way to do a DIY copper-looking finish?

    I confess I do not have beautiful lighting in my's fluorescent (ugh). I hate it but there's a limit to the work I'm willing to do in a starter house...we plan to hopefully move in about 5 years (if we can afford it) and so I'll save most of my dream features for that house. Most of my upgrades in our current house center around improving the resale value. And removing wallpaper. When we bought the house there was ONE room with no wallpaper. ONE. And it's not nice Misfit-esque pretty wallpaper, either. But I'm woefully indecisive and have NO design eye when it comes to picking paint colors. Hence my need of your expertise...I'm gonna try to take some pics this weekend to post. My next endeavor is going to be our bathroom.

  2. Here is my advice about the fixture...find one in the shape you love and then spray paint it the copper color you want. I desperately wanted a new chandelier for our dining room but it wasn't in the budget. I scored one on the side of the road with a design I liked, but it was a weird brown color. Enter one can of hammered silver spray paint and it is LOVELY. Go for the shape and the price, then alter the color.