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


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  1. 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

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