Sunday, July 12, 2009

With the Lights Down Low....Cheap & Chic Overhead

Even Blanche Du Bois knew paper lanterns and soft lighting were a woman's best friend.

Case in point---The main room of my apartment has one overhead light, no room for lamps and no wiring for sconces. The two levels of light included, A) brightness that rivaled the surface of the sun when turned on, and B) an absolute abyss of darkness when off. Neither one was acceptable for movie watching, eating dinner, or nighttime trips to the bathroom. And, the fixture was a completely vanilla glass tray that just about every apartment comes with because it is cheap and supposedly goes with everything. So, I put my mind to work to try to save this space from the curse of bad rental apartment lighting.

Step #1 - Quick fix light fixture.
I didn't have the coin to buy an expensive light fixture for my low-budge rental and getting an electrician to install was definitely not out of the question. I just love saucer pendant lamps designed by George Nelson, so this was my inspiration. I headed down to Pearl River Mart to check out their massive selection of rice paper lamps. I found a great round lantern about two feet in diameter and with a flat bottom...perfect for an overhead light and lots of surface area to connect to the ceiling. I removed the old fixture, replaced with the lantern, and fixed it to the ceiling using 3-M Command removable adhesive tabs. The key being the ability to easily remove when I move out of my apartment.

Step #2 - Install a dimmer.
I guess all those years of watching This Old House have finally paid off. Don't feel the need to go crazy and buy a $200 dimmer like Lutron's Vierti dimmer (huge waste of cash unless you are uber rich...or a pompous ass). Dimmers will run you $20+ at Home Depot or any lighting store, and they are worth their weight in gold. Mine took about 10 minutes to install with nothing but turning off a breaker switch and using a screwdriver.

Now, my main room has an entire spectrum of brightness, and something a bit nice to look at. Seriously, one of the best "Under $50" home improvement projects I have ever done.

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