This post is a bit of a blast from the past, but totally worth sharing. About a year ago I was shopping at the ReBuilding Center, which is one of my favorite stores for finding salvaged materials. On this trip I was looking for old cabinet doors I could convert to chalkboards, but I also came across a matched set of vintage/reproduction lighting that I couldn’t pass up. Lighting is one of my true weaknesses (along with cabinets with tiny drawers). I’d been looking to replace my unfortunate “boob lights” that lived on my living room ceiling and these were a perfect upgrade. Today I’m sharing a few before and after photos of our living room lighting update with my salvaged lighting find.
What are boob lights?
If you haven’t already heard this term, “Boob lighting” refers to flush mount light fixtures with a round glass shade and a center attachment piece that looks like a nipple. They are what I would consider a contractor-grade fixture. They are cheap and do provide good lighting. I’m just not into the look.
My previous lights
I previously had two boob lights mounted on my living room ceiling. I remember first walking into the house with my real estate agent and totally thinking that those lights would need to be replaced. That’s how much I dislike them. For boob lights they aren’t the worst, they had a oil-rubbed bronze finish to the metal and an aged glass look. They are really one of the more attractive boob lights I’ve seen. This is probably why I lived with them for so long, plus that I knew removing them might leave some unwanted circle marks left on the ceiling.
At the ReBuilding Center, I found the two matching (or so I thought) fixtures hanging in their lighting section. They are an all brass, mission style light. Each fixture has two bulbs, with individual switches to turn them on or off right on the fixture. With it being on the ceiling, I didn’t really see the use, but maybe I’d want to add some mood lighting in the future with only one bulb? The shades are an etched pyramid-style with simple lines. The light fixture itself is semi-flush, meaning it drops a bit from the ceiling. Luckily, we have 9′ ceilings, so a little extra drop wasn’t going to effect our head room. They really look like something you might find at Rejuvenation. The fixtures were priced at $50 a piece ($100 for the pair). Considering Rejuvenation sells one light for hundreds, (and a similar shade for $25 each) I figured this was a pretty good score. Plus, they are a little older, so they already have a nice patina to the brass.
After I got these purchased and in the car, I came to realize I should have taken a closer look at the lights. My over-excitement when I find things can get me into a bit of trouble sometimes. I discovered that these were in fact not a matched set, but a married set. The lights were different lengths, meaning one would drop even lower from the ceiling. I also discovered that though they looked super similar, they were actually made differently and I believe one is probably older. Maybe 1 original and 1 reproduction? I considered going in and returning them, but I loved them so much, I decided I could probably figure out a way to cut the tall one down and make them equal in height. Alternatively, I could also (sigh), not use them in the living room, but possibly somewhere else in the house where they would be displayed separately.
These lights sat for about a year in my basement. If I don’t act on a project right away it has a tendency to sit, plus I was in major wedding planning phase, so other projects took a back seat for awhile. I showed the lamps to my dad (a few months after the wedding), who decided they wouldn’t be very hard to adjust and make work. We set off to dismantling the pole of the longer lamp. Luckily this just involved unscrewing some items. We were able to remove the outer brass pole and the inner rod (that held it to the ceiling) in order to trim them down. We used the other fixture as a guide for the new height. With a hack saw and a blade made for metal, my dad cut off the extra height. After trimming and re-assembled the fixture, voila, we had a matched set (or at least they looked like it).
We removed the boob lights (yay!) and wired in the new fixtures. After some guess and check and a bulb swap, the fixtures are finally in place. It only took a year! To my disappointment, there actually is a ring still left behind by the old boob light, but it’s pretty subtle. I didn’t paint these ceilings originally, so I don’t have the paint to fix it. For now, we are living with the circles until I can figure out a good solution.
I am now the very happy owner of some fabulous new-to-me lighting in our living room. I love the mission-style look. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think they were original to the house (unlike the boob lights). Plus, they are far enough apart and high enough up, you can really tell they aren’t a matched set. After installing the lights, we also went in and installed a dimmer switch for these bad boys. I think great lighting makes a space, so having the ability to dim the lights is key. More light when you need it, and less when you want it to feel a bit more intimate.
What do you think?
How do you like the living room lighting update? Do you have any lighting in your house you’re looking to replace?