It starts with a walk….

Late last summer, I stumbled across this lamp on a walk around the block.

IMG_8756 (683x1024)Abandoned by the curb, it had a broken lampshade perched on top. Recognizing mid-century modern gold, I quickly grabbed it, ditching the broken shade and brought it home.  Pat rewired it, I found a burlap shade at the Habitat store, that while not ideal, was $2 and so therefore will work for the time being.  I placed the lamp in the den, which is arguably the darkest room in the house.  We took the overhead light fixture out a few years ago when we were doing some ceiling fan replacing throughout the house.  I abhor overhead lights – I find them glaring, unflattering, shadow throwing annoyances that still require task lighting if you’re going to actually do anything in the room.  I far prefer the glow of lamps scattered about a room to that glare.  However, as we learned in the den, one needs several lamps to properly illuminate a room and the lamps need to be meant for end tables.

The new mid century modern lamp took the spot of this lovely lamp:

IMG_8755Which is actually part of a set I purchased for our bedroom years ago, but Pat relegated to the den because “I didn’t marry you so we would have matching bedside lamps”.  That’s right, we don’t have overhead lights OR matching lamps in rooms. (It may have also had something to do with the fact that the lamp is pink.) This lamp got bumped to another end table in the room, where it works much better than what was there.  And the den is no longer dark – the two lamps illuminate the room far better than that last duo.

The rejected lamp was a vintage art deco metal desk lamp that ranks among my best thrift scores ever. I realized it would be better suited to a more task-lighting situation than an illuminate-the-room situation.  I planned to put it in my sewing corner, but on my way upstairs, I stopped off at the kitchen.

Now my kitchen is original to my late 1940’s home.  While it’s on the smaller side, there are some things I really like about it, namely, the cabinets.  They are plain wood cabinets, made of real wood of a measurable thickness that go all the way to the ceiling.  The shelves inside the cabinets are also real wood and quite sturdy.  Replacing these cabinets with anything comparable would be near impossible, even if the price was anything close to affordable, because they simply don’t make cabinets, even custom ones, entirely out of real wood anymore. Structurally, those cabinets, nigh on 70 years old, are still going strong. We’ve done a few facelift type things in the kitchen – replaced the floor with a colorful linoleum that wonderfully hides dirt, painted the cabinets to lighten up the kitchen and replaced the hardware while we were at it to update them just a bit, but basically, the kitchen is staying as-is.

The lighting situation however, is not entirely agreeable. There is that pesky overhead light, centered in the room.  When I’m working at the counter, I’m facing away from the light, with my body blocking it, which means that after dark, I’m working in shadows.  This means that this time of year, I’m basically chopping in the dark, or working at an angle so that I can see what I’m doing. Not at all good. I’d love to add some under-cabinet lighting or even a lamp to the counter, but we are slightly hamstrung by the electrical situation.  Which is one outlet in the wall near the fridge, one single outlet in the decorative valance over the sink (presumably for a wall clock) and one outlet just above the counter on the right hand side of the sink.  This translates to one outlet for all my small appliances and any extra kitchen lighting. The coffee maker and toaster oven, which get used daily, live on that counter, taking up the length and about half the width of the space.  Any other small appliances I might use get hauled out to be used there, with things getting shuffled as needed in order to carry out whatever it is I’m doing.  For the fifteen plus years we’ve lived here, I’ve yet to figure out how to install another outlet, usable on the other stretch of counter space around the sink, without tearing up plaster walls or the cabinets.

So there I was, lamp in hand.  I plopped it on the counter and just curious, dug up an extension cord and plugged it into the outlet above the sink.  Which looked like this:

IMG_8126Clearly, not optimal.  I suddenly had a few ideas as to how we could run electricity through the cabinets with minimal intrusion and next thing you know, I was messaging my friend Joe, an electrician by trade, to see if my idea would fly.  I knew Joe could take care of the whole thing in less than an hour if I could get him over here. IMG_8137Turns out, he was able to drill through the top corner of the cabinet to access the wiring running above the sink, then run wire down through the back corner of said cabinet and out the bottom in order to install an outlet mounted on the wall, just under the cabinet.

IMG_8215Suddenly, not only do I have task lighting, but I finally found a spot that works for one of my favorite all-time thrift scores.  AND with an extra outlet in the kitchen, I don’t have to shuffle the small appliances around on a tiny expanse of counter – the whole stretch of counter on that side of the room is now usable.  This is HUGE.  It completely changes how I can work in there.

IMG_8758Sure, it takes up some valuable counter space, but the outlet is close enough to the ‘snack table’ (aka, the additional counter/storage space we added with a shelving set and piece of plywood that I keep mason jars full of nuts, dried fruit, granola, etc on for easy access) that I can move the lamp there as needed.

IMG_8762Best of all, Joe was able to keep the outlet over the sink a working one, so I can still have my string of Christmas lights slung over a nail, with the outlet hidden by the non-working vintage clock set for just after 5:00, so that it’s always happy hour in my kitchen.

And that friends, is how a walk around the block one day led to my solving a fifteen and a half year dilemma as to how to add more lighting and gain an extra outlet in my kitchen. Thank you Joe, I couldn’t have done it without you!

12 thoughts on “It starts with a walk….

    • Becky says:

      We have overhead lights in all but two rooms (the den and the living room), but I prefer to not use them. When we added on, we had to build to code, so our bedroom has recessed lighting galore on dimmers that make them tolerable. But no, nothing in our house matches other than the dining room chairs and the candlesticks. It’s all eclectic and just flows.

    • Becky says:

      Most people are surprised at how traditional our home is when they walk in – I have some fun touches, like the different lamps, but most of our furniture is definitely traditional.

  1. Patience says:

    I literally LOL’d at your husband’s comment about the matching bedside lamps. My husband and I also don’t have anything approaching a “bedroom suite.” We have completely different, unmatching lamps, bedside tables and dressers. It’s awesome that you got some task lighting into your kitchen. I hate overhead lights too, I agree with you that they’re harsh and unflattering.

    • Becky says:

      Our bedroom is actually quite put together – we inherited a bedroom set, so we have matching dressers, but mismatched night stands. I’m pretty sure it was the matching lamps combined with the window treatments made of Toile (de Jouy) that was a little too much. He likes it, but he was pretty surprised when I came home with a bolt of it. It’s a very traditional fabric.

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