Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Electrical Work for Dummies and an Extremely Time-Consuming DIY

We've been busy little bees in our townhouse. Most of our projects are boring things that don't make for good pictures (like Zach and his dad pulling a HUGE clump of lint out of our dryer vent, letting our dryer finally work; we could have burned the house down), but some projects have turned out bea-UT-iful! This post has a lighting theme: a dining room fixture we wired ourselves and a floor lamp that I re-did.

No. 1: Awesome Dining Room Light
If you saw my initial post about the house I showed the ugly brass fixture in the dining room. Here's another look.
That's the realtor's photo. Mmm, so lovely, especially in conjunction with the birdhouse border.

So, that dude came down, and I bought this pretty from Pier 1.

This was our housewarming gift from my parents!

I've been drooling over her ever since I started working there and finally got to take her home. Zach (who is very handy but not well-versed in the ways of electrical wiring) safely took down the old fixture (with the dining room electric shut off, people - safety first). Then, I opened the box of my pretty new lamp, and... it was a plug-in. It was a stupid plug-it-into-a-wall, hang-it-in-a-corner, and turn-it-on-with-a-clicker-on-the-cord lamp!
I was SO mad, I cried. And then we fought cause Zach tried to convince me that we could RUN THE CORD ALONG THE CEILING AND DOWN THE WALL. really? People who own their own houses do not run cords along walls. They don't bend down to find the clicker to turn on the light in the dining room. I was a brat, I know.
So, the lamp sat in the corner for a week or two. I refused to return it cause I knew I'd never find a light fixture with that much impact for the price I got. This was right when Zach started third shift (Oh yeah, Zach got a sweet promotion, but it meant moving to third shift. Bummer), and he didn't have time to figure it out. So I started researching online. There were three wires sticking out of the ceiling, but lamp cord is only two wires fused together. Was it okay to not ground it? Did you need special cord, or was the existing lamp cord okay to use? Was there an order for attaching the wires?

I found out all of that! I was so proud of myself. Oh, and don't go looking on DIYnetwork or HGTV websites. Useless. I guess for legal reasons they can't actually tell you how to cut apart wires and install them into the ceiling. It was some electrician's blog that finally gave me the answers.
Sooooo, long story short, I directed and Zach installed. And with our powers combined we have a sweet new hanging lamp!

There's our cozy little dining room. Still using a borrowed table/chair set. We'll get our own someday.

The old ugly brass chandelier is still around I'm thinking of spraying the whole thing someday. Much like these beauties:
No. 2: Hemp-wrapped lamp

This other project was my buddy for many lonely nights while Zach was at work. I'd put on the TV and wrap jute, or hemp, whatever it was. We'll call it really expensive string. I started with one of those uber-lame silver floor lamps that everyone had in college. I love the upward light that it gives, but hate the look of it. So, inspired by a blog I saw once (sorry! can't find it now), I set to work wrapping the entire thing in hemp string. 

Chip clip helped when my hands were tired.

I started with a glue gun, but it was way too globby.

Then I switched to good old Aleene's Tacky Glue.

It's really easy to squeeze out, you just have to let it dry for a bit (30 seconds or so) before you stick the string to it. This was the hemp I used:

It was $12.95 a roll, but I only needed one. It would take about an hour to wrap two inches.

So this was a looooong project. The bottom was the hardest part. I knew once I started I'd have to finish the whole base at once since I couldn't use the chip clip anymore.

I finished it off and used blue painters' tape to hold it down. It was the end of a tightly wound roll, so it kept popping up. And voila! We have some nice up-lighting in our dead corner, and it's a lamp base I don't mind looking at.

We're slowly getting to our house projects. Zach has about 3 waking hours at home every day (only one of which he's alert enough for power tools), so it's been slow going. Stay tuned for our downstairs bathroom re-do!


  1. I loved your ideas to make things work and how fix what you already have. Very inspiring! Now, come down to Ga and fix my home! hehe


  2. That EXACT same thing happened to us with our hanging lamp. Stupid plug-in pendant lights!! We were going to cut the wires too but our electrical wiring is really weird and I'm nervous I'm going to electrocute myself. I'm glad to see someone made it work! :) Looks so cute!

  3. It pays to know even the basic of electrical wiring. We can't just touch, cut, or repair wires because we might damage the electrical system of the light fixture, or we could get hurt in the process. For a safe and quality result, hire an electrician to do the work for you.

    -Margert Woodcock