The hall light 

A tale of folly and victory told in two Instagram posts almost exactly 6 months apart. The first was from July 17th, 2016, the second from January 16th, 2017.

Right after our offer was accepted on our house, but three months before we moved in, I prompted convinced Nik we needed to stop in every vintage and salvage shop in the city, to “get ideas.” Mostly, my ideas often result in expensive, enduring obsessions. Despite my best effort, this tale does not involve either of these mirrors, although I’m still waging a campaign for a 10ft tall Kingdom mirror for our foyer.

We’re lucky to have so many great places to find vintage wares in the city, and more than one architectural salvage shop. I love all of them for various reasons, but there’s something that just gets me every time about the way Provenance curates a display.

On the first trip, we spied a gorgeous Art Deco light fixture that Nik especially was smitten with. We carried it around while we shopped, and then became sweaty-palmed at our audacity when we finally found someone to ask about the cost. While it wasn’t out of splurge-range, it was more than we could justify on a house we didn’t own yet.

Six months later, though, we stopped back in, and the light was still there. And maybe it was a lapse of willpower from heads stuffed full of renovation plaster dust, or the inoculation of sticker shock after finally writing the check for the impending counter tops, but we bought it.

To “save” some money, I employed my favorite bargaining-lite technique: choosing a second object and asking for a deal if we purchase both together. I see my fallacy here: I’m buying more and ultimately paying more than than if I just bought the one item in the first place, but I hate bargaining for real, and I do actually feel good about the money we saved from the listed costs. We have another light to install in the library when that room is ready, this one a simpler school light.  Both were rewired at no cost, which was a big help.

The before:


If you give a renovator a light fixture, she’s going to have to paint the ceiling, and if she’s going to paint the ceiling, she’s also going to paint the walls, and if she’s going to paint the walls, then she’s going to have to patch the dents, and so on. Our handsome light sat in an undignified cardboard box for a couple weeks until we found the time to prep the space. I finally started this past Saturday while Nik was out of town. We worked on it together on Sunday, and on Monday after work, we did some last touch ups and I installed the fixture. It sounds pretty quick when I say it like that, but I’m seriously burned out on painting at the moment, so I would estimate that it took a total of 500 perception-hours.

The fixture that was previously installed was one of the many generic boob lights in the house, a fairly innocuous version of the genre, but nothing special.


Why don’t I own a work light? (Likely cause I spent all my money on fancy lights.)

The walls are painted our standard Valspar Swiss Coffee, which has just enough warm grey to keep with white walls from looking too stark and provides some needed contrast with the trim and ceiling. After painting the bedroom, a third floor room, the studio apartment and now the second floor hallway, we’re actually nearing the bottom of our 5 gallon bucket. The trim and doors were painted with a semi-gloss finish and the ceiling is flat, all in a bright white.


The first fixture I changed out in the house was in the bedroom, which I have yet to blog about, probably because I still have to process the multi-day frustrating experience that required a mid-installation run to the hardware store to deal with a terribly installed juncture box. This, by comparison, was a breeze. There was a tense moment when I realized the screws to secure the canopy were too short, but that was easily rectified by reusing the screws from the previous fixture.

As with any electrical endeavor, my voltage tester (I have this one) is worth its weight in gold.

And here it is, our new-old gorgeous light, the one that almost got away, the one we couldn’t stop bringing up for six months, the one that is now installed right outside our bedroom door where we’ll get to see it every morning.

The light is an iconically Art Deco fixture, made in approximately the 1930’s, with a milk glass skyscraper shade with a bold, black, painted outline. Of course, it’s not historically accurate in our Victorian, but I am firmly not a period purist, by any means. More of a beautifully made objectist, if anything.

The hallway work is ongoing. We swapped out the switch plates and knobs, but still need to paint the stair risers and hang some art, so we’ll call this a progress post, which justifies the fact that I’m too smitten with this light to wait for the weekend and some daylight to take some better comparison pictures. But can you blame me?



  1. It looks so good!!

    1. Thank you! I’m surprised at just how much it changes the whole look of the hall.

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