A vintage Lightolier for my dining room — Finish What You Started Week #5 weigh in — Upload your photos, too


vintage lightolier ceiling light

In the past week, I finished two projects that have gone unfinished for more than a year. First, a big deal:  We installed a vintage Lightolier chandelier into our colonial-modern living room. This replaced a simple colonial reproduction purchased as a placeholder for the space when we moved in 10 years ago. I am so happy with this gorgeous Lightolier — it evokes exactly the colonial + modern = coolonial look that I want, and it’s an amazing piece of midcentury modern American craftsmanship.

colonial wrought iron chandelier

The dining room has a fundamentally colonial vibe, with cherry built-ins and wrought iron hardware. A wrought iron light always made sense for this space. The sellers had a crystal chandelier, not original, and took it with them. To fill the gap, we quickly bought the light, above, when we moved in, in 2001, for $60 from a big box store.  Meanwhile, I thought I’d keep my eye out for something with a modern personality, yet which would fit the colonial vibe. Ummm, nearly a decade passed… because as you all know, there are always a multitude of other urgent projects and live-your-life demands that get stacked up.

vintage lightolier chandelierFinally, one day last October — 2010 — I saw this light on ebay from sellers Peter and Grove. Yes: It was modern! Yes: It referenced colonial! Perfect! The price was also right — $150, Buy It Now — which I thought was terrific for real deal vintage Lightolier. The thing was, I had to pick it up, in Essex, Mass. Now, that’s just three hours over to Boston, and I thought I would be getting over there soon enough, so I went ahead and BIN’d.

Alas, weeks, month, a year… I never did seem to get over to Boston… I was in touch with the folks at Peter and Grove… they didn’t seem to mind…. But, enough already.

Finally, after I launched the Finish What You Started campaign, I contacted them with an idea: Let’s have the UPS Store do it all. Bless their hearts, they agreed to take the light to the next town over, where the UPS Store packed the whole thing and shipped it to me. Yikes, the UPS Store would not take my credit card by phone, so Peter and Grove agreed to bill me via paypal and then pay UPS direct. Packing and shipping $160, and I paid Peter and Grove their gas money and a little time. These guys were saints — I would have been seriously annoyed at me! I love you, Peter & Grove!

UPS Store packed my lightolier lightUPS did a great job with the pack and ship: The base went in one box, the shades, in another. Many styrofoam peanuts gave their life. Tip: Want to make sure your precious cargo arrives safely? Have the UPS Store both pack and ship it — it will cost you, but they don’t want the stuff to break.

vintage lightolier chandelierOnce the light was here, I took it to the local lighting store, and they checked to ensure the wiring was sound. I bought new bulbs from them. Note, this light is super fantastic in that it has light bulbs at the top, under the round, handblown seeded glass shades, and, there are bulbs underneath, too! There is a switch on the fixture than enables you to cycle up, down, or both. The light store also helped me specify the wattage up and down, to be safe.

DH and I installed the light. Many curse words — many many many — were uttered. I think there was even screaming — mine — with this one. It all turned out fine, though. We kissed and made up and were very proud of ourselves, with me secretly committing to myself that next time, I’d pay the lighting store to come install the light while DH was at work.

repainted dining room ceilingWhile I had this project in process, I also repainted the dining room ceiling. The painter last summer mistakenly painted this ceiling in a semi-gloss finish, rather than a matte finish. Ack! It took me four coats to get the semi-gloss covered — I kept missing spots. And truth be told, there are still a few very small spots where I haven’t covered the semi-gloss. I couldn’t take it any longer, though: The Retro Decorating Gods do not demand perfection.

vintage lightolier chandelierWhy does it take so darn long to get these projects done? Because it’s all one huge can of worms. For example, I now have two more things to do — each with many more multiple steps –which revealed themselves in the aftermath of “completing” these projects:

  • (1) The light is not sitting low enough. Now we need to take measurements, take down the light, haul it to the lighting store and have them extend (likely this will mean: replace) the wire to drop it down, and add some black chain. As mentioned above, given cursing and screaming incident, I will ask the lighting store if they can re-install it.
  • And (2) I now need to repaint another square of ceiling further down in the adjacent living room. (My living room and dining room are open to each other, with a step down into the living room. The 45′ x 15′ ceiling is separated into section, by beams.) The painter also had “touched up” a spot in a nearby section. But again, he used semi-gloss. However, now, when I went to paint over his paint, I could see that my paint did not match. This doesn’t show when I do the entire section (vs. just a spot) so now I really need to paint the whole section. Which means I may need to paint all five sections, if the difference starts to show section-to-section.

It never ever ends.

Week #5 of Finish What You Started. Upload your photos and show us your productive self –>

What project(s) did you complete in Weeks #4 and #5?
Comment and/or share a photo with the uploader, below


  • (1) PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE set your camera to no bigger than “medium” images, so files aren’t too large — large files really slow down the slide show and over time increase my costs to run this website. 
  • (2) Uploader DOES work but message you get on screen *may be* funky and confusing. Upload ONCE and trust the image it there — I just need to “set new photos free” from my control panel and will be checking hourly to do so. 
  • (3) Terms of Use apply.

[ngg_uploader id = 208]
Tips to view slide show: Click on first image… it will enlarge and you can also read my captions… move forward or back via arrows below the photo… you can start or stop at any image:


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  1. Jeanne says

    Pam, I uploaded my NOS porch light, but forgot to put my name on it.

    LOVE your dining room!! It’s gorgeous! Do I spy a birdcage? I have two parakeets, also.

  2. lynda says

    Just lovely. We had that same fixture in pewter finish in our 1974 split level home. I loved the down lights. I did not bring that one with me to the new house but I did bring a white painted metal Lightolier to the new house and it still hangs over the kitchen table! If we move again, I would take it with me to the next house.

  3. Stacy says


    Love your dining room. I have a similar Lightolier, and have a question for you. The globes on my light are open at the top and collect a ton of dust. A friend suggested “frosting” the globes. Yours appear to have some kind of pattern or frosting-or is that just the camera? I’ll feel more confident about altering mine if I know I’ve seen something close that was actually made by Lightolier.

  4. gavin hastings says

    I think I’ll beat out everyone this week…..

    Not to be a downer, but on October 27th I went into new onset of Atrial Fibrillation. As luck would have it- it took place in the hospital ER in which I work….LOC, some of the Michael Jackson drug….a couple of seconds with paddles, and I was brought back to life.Released just in time for the devasting storm that hit Western Mass..no electricity, heat, cable or phone- making me wish I could go BACK to the hospital.

    Weak, tired and basically filled with doom…..I used my 21 days off to call every charity or admirerer of every piece of stuff I had stashed way in this house. Things I really liked…but really intended for another life. Some else’s, preferably.

    I cannot tell you how much better I feel, without boxes and boxes of dish sets, orphan sewing machines, beautiful fine furniture (only lacking thousands of $$$$ in upholstery) and dulplicate/triplicate sets of minty vintage Revereware. I look back just a few weeks and realise that I was walking around like Jacob Marley……

    I still feel like crap….but FREE crap. Stuff happens in life- I don’t want to stick someone else with dumpsters filled with my legacy. Tours of my toothbrush clean basement and attic begin daily at 2pm.

    • Lynn-O-Matic says

      Gavin, I’m so sorry to hear you were ill, but I’m delighted to hear that not only are you better, but that you’ve purged some of the clutter, too. (Boy, do I wish I could have been around to take some of it off your hands! However, I’m at the point where I’m probably going to start doing a booth at the local antique mall. Our house overfloweth.) It sounds like a wonderful feeling to have let go of some treasures and opened your house up to fresh energy.

      Lately when I find a tsotchke for my mom at an antique store or yard sale she graciously says, “You know, you’re going to have to get rid of this when I die.” I don’t mind getting rid of her stuff, but I wouldn’t want to have my kids saddled with getting rid of mine when the time comes. Paring down and simplifying sounds so healthy right now. I tip my hat to you!

    • jeanne says

      Whoa, glad you are ok, Gavin! I think I’m about the same age as you, and that’s some scary stuff! Please stick around. 🙂

    • pam kueber says

      Holey moley. Gavin! I’m so shocked and sorry to hear this — but so happy that modern medicine was there for you. What you have to say is truly inspirational. Yes: Letting go of the things we don’t need is liberating. Clutter in our attics and closets and basements = clutter in our heads. I, for one, need to keep hearing this message. Thank you. And TAKE CARE!!!

    • AmyEbbertHill says

      Get well soon, Dear Gavin!

      I had to down-size, too. It’s not an easy thing to do. You went through quite an ordeal, and purging the old makes way for the really important things in life. Making time for friends and family, or traveling to new places, instead of being chained to material possessions requiring maintenance, time and effort.

      I hope you get your health back and have a great rest of your life!

      Take care, Amy

  5. gavin hastings says

    Pam….I had read once that a chandelier should hang at least 36 inches from the top of the dining table…..so that when standing in the entrance of the room the bottom 3rd of the fixture is at eye level. But I think it depends on the person and fixture. I have a copy of a fixture from Historic Deerfield….and it is 26″ from the table. In the museum, it hangs a very low 17 inches.

    ( I measured it when the guide wasn’t looking…..as most Museum Rooms are considered copywritten!)

  6. Lynn-O-Matic says

    Congrats, Pam, and all the other finishers this week. Is there a way to put people’s names in the captions? Whose deco kitchenette is that?

    Also, whose blue & green light fixture? I want to see the rest of your lights!

  7. Michael says

    Your dining room is totally charming, Pam! It’s so spacious– and I love the built-ins!

    Oh, and thanks for teasing me with this week’s eBay carrousel. That round-base chrome and glass 1970s lightolier fixture was perfect for our powder room (which we plan on having finished by the end of this month)– but it’s SOLD! Don’t like the square-base ones as much. Now to search for another…

    • pam kueber says

      Wow, those sold quick! They were still for sale when I posted the carousel around noon. Hope someone from the blog got them. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

  8. Deb schum says

    Pam – r u sure u need to take the light to a store to extend? I just installed a 1960 hanging light in my bedroom and my handy man replaced the cord and worked with me to get the length just right. Total cost = $75.

    • pam kueber says

      hmmmm. My lighting store said they could extend it just from the middle, up. I also think they quoted less than $100….We’ll see. Like I said in the comments, I might just consider this “done”….

  9. JamieK says

    Pam, I also forgot to put my name to the picture of my exterior project. I shrunk it a few times, so I do hope that it wasn’t too big of a file! Love your dining room, those built ins are to die for!

  10. Jay says

    Great dining room! Love the built-ins with the black hardware. I remember when chandelier lights of all styles incorporated down lights. Very practical because it put light on the table as well as general lighting above.

    • Christa Chockley says

      Hi Pam!
      The clock would be me ( I have stuff on your Flikr group under Choctod72) The hardest part of the whole clock was getting the balls even while perched on the ladder above the stairwell…it’s a good thing that heights don’t scare me, but the hubby was more than a little nervous!)

  11. says

    Hi everyone,
    This week I had my water heater repaired, my kitchen sink installed, my bedroom painted including base boards,and I installed the shoe molding with my new pneumatic pin nailer (pow! pow!). If you are interested, details are here: http://boongoggle.blogspot.com/.
    Next up: Painting the kitchen and master bath.
    p.s. Does anyone have tips for removing glue and/or thinset from laminate countertops?

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