How to Install a Lutron Maestro Occupancy Sensor on a 3-way Switch

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Teaching kids to turn off the lights in a room they are no longer in is a tough job. No matter how many times I try to explain that leaving the lights on wastes electricity, it just doesn’t seem to sink in. In their defense, they are like little wind up tops flitting from room to room playing with trains in one; reading in another and barely stopping to use the toilet in the bathroom (putting the lid down is a whole other issue! Ugh.)

When Lutron approached me about giving my kids a helping hand with the lights, I was immediately intrigued. It turns out that Lutron has just introduced the Maestro occupancy sensor dimmer that can be easily installed in place of an existing light switch. (Single pole switches are easiest. Dual or Multi-location switches may require a little more wiring and programming to work properly.) After some thought, I decided to try the Maestro in our art & craft studio. This is the room that we least notice when the bulbs are burning (it is over the garage and is separated by our guest room from the rest of the house.)

Follow along to see how to install your own. Your attentive nature may be rewarded at the end. ;-) [Read more...]

How to Install a Hard-Wired Pendant Light {and $200 Giveaway}

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You may have noticed that pretty little seedy glass pendant light over our sink from my video the other day. It was a breeze to install, so I want to share with you the tutorial. BUT…before we get down to the step-by-step, I have some awesome news for you. GoldenageUSA.com has offered to give one of you lucky ducks a $200 Shopping Spree on their website! GoldenageUSA gave me the seedy glass pendant light in exchange for mentioning them on the blog. If you haven’t heard of them, they have an online store FULL of the most amazing light fixtures. They work with a lot of high end stores and even custom design light fixtures for clients upon request.

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I put together the graphic above with just a small sampling of some of their products. They sell every type of light imaginable. Plus, they have ceiling fans, rugs, mirrors and much more. If I won the $200 I’d have a very hard time deciding what I’d like to buy with the winnings. If you think you can chose, be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of this post. [Read more...]

How to Install Recessed Lights

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Kitchen progress is definitely moving along (hooray!!!) We now have recessed lighting in our ceiling and it really helps even out the lighting in the kitchen. Plus getting rid of the semi-flush light fixtures makes the ceiling feel taller.

We debated about installing new construction recessed lighting:

or remodel type recessed lights:

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We could have installed either because our ceiling was already full of holes. Ultimately, we decided to install the old work (or remodeling type) lights because they clamp tightly to the sheet rock for less vibration. They also have a built in junction box with easy to wire connectors. (Did I mention that my son’s bedroom is right over the kitchen and there is a lot of jumping and bouncing that goes on up there!)

 

My electrician let me pal around and help him install the recessed cans after he ran the wiring. You know I took careful notes so I could share with you how to install your own recessed lighting fixtures. [Read more...]

How to Create Rope Light Word Wall Art

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how to create a rope light word wall art sign

I really appreciate all your kind comments about my arts and craft studio. Don’t forget to enter to win the Flow Wall organizational system, the giveaway ends Wednesday, Nov. 21st at midnight EST.

The boys and I christened the art & craft studio yesterday by creating ornaments. We had creative clutter strewn everywhere! It was wonderful to be able to spread out and not stress too much about the mess (although I did end up cleaning up and vacuuming last night.) But enough about that, what you really want to know is how to create your own rope light art sign. The possibilities of words are endless. I bet your child would love to have their own name in lights!

The germination of the light sign came from this installation I did at the Habitat house I worked on with GMC. [Read more...]

Habitat ReStore Talk on Saturday, November 17th in Cary, NC

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Things have been hoppin’ around Pretty Handyville, so forgive this late notice:

It’s been a while, but I’m excited to be giving another talk at one of our local Habitat ReStores.

I’ll be sharing some amazing lighting transformations that you can create for less than $10. I hope you can make it to the Cary ReStore, 181 High House Road, Cary, NC 27511. The talk will start at 1pm. Get there early because there will be some great lighting deals and steals ;-).

 

5 Minute Light Upgrade – Converting a Recessed Light to a Pendant

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This post really should be titled: How to convert a can light in 5 minutes or less (if you aren’t shooting tutorial photos every 30 seconds), and why did it take me 6 months to do this?! But, that would be a looooonnggggg title. I’ll spare you the extra word count and just get right down to it.

Do you have can (or recessed) lights in your ceiling? Do you have enough to have a full line up of gals doing the can can?

Yup, that’s what we have, a full half dozen cans in the bonus room ceiling. I decided to break up the monotony with a little lighting rebel: meet my new bronze sphere cage pendant light. [Read more...]

How to Solder Metals Together – Tool Tutorial Friday

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Wheee, it’s another episode of Tool Tutorial Friday! Do y’all miss TTF? I do too, but this handy gal only has so many tools in her toolbox. I added a new one a few weeks ago, a soldering iron.

When I was in college, I took a stained glass elective (one of the benefits of going to art school.) I really enjoyed the course, but once the semester was over I didn’t pick up a soldering iron again. That was 20 years ago. Just this month, someone in our neighborhood posted online that they were selling a soldering iron. I immediately jumped on the chance. But, this time I didn’t have stained glass in mind, I had these DIY farmhouse lights on the brain!

As promised, here is the tutorial on how to solder. [Read more...]

Circle Diamond Pattern Light Fixture – Updating a Brass Light Fixture

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I have been dying to share this tutorial with you! This project was inexpensive and it made such a big impact in our mudroom. It started with a few Habitat ReStore light fixtures and some NEW! Martha Stewart glass paint and ended up adding some major “WOW Factor” to our entry.

[Read more...]

Update Your Ceiling Fan with Paint

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I’m back, but only for a minute  because I’m working hard on transforming our pinky-beige bonus room into an art and craft studio fit for an art show! This is compounded by the fact that the room has many angles and dormers. Who knew that such a small room would take FOREVER to paint! Gah.

Do you have a brass ceiling fan cluttering the view on your ceiling? It is hard to imagine getting rid of a perfectly good ceiling fan. Especially if you live in a hot climate like we do. Ceiling fans are our salvation in the heat of the summer. But, they aren’t always the most attractive things.

I encourage you not to rid your home of a perfectly good fan if it still works. Instead, why not paint it? AND, even if your blades are white, I’m going to show you a trick that will help make that fan almost disappear on the ceiling. ;-)

[Read more...]

How to Make Farmhouse Style Metal Pendant Light

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I admit it, I believe in UFOs. I’ve seen them, honestly! I even captured a picture of two of them, see:

Yup, we have two UFOs that are frequently seen in our kitchen. Why did I purchase and install them when we first moved in? I’ll never know. Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t horrible, but they just don’t go with the casual country vibe I want in my kitchen. [Read more...]

How to Spray Paint Brass Light Fixtures

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The other day I showed you how to swag a chandelier. I think many of you fell in love with my sunny yellow light fixture (painted Summer Squash by Rustoleum.) Admit it, you fell for her!

I will tell you how you can get your own! It shouldn’t cost you more than $20 with materials!

Jump on over to Parentables to see how you can easily transform a brass chandelier (or any metal light fixture for that matter.) Beware, you may be spraying all of your home’s light fixtures after you see how easy it is.

If you haven’t entered, today is the last day to enter to win the Flow Wall Giveaway. Be sure to go through the Rafflecopter widget at the end of my laundry room reveal post.

How to Swag a Light Fixture

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Do you have a chandelier that is a little “off” in your dining room? Do you curse the electrician that didn’t bother to think about centering a hanging light fixture? Yeah, me too! I  had this problem in our laundry room.

Granted, “most people” don’t hang chandeliers in their laundry room, but I wanted to do it. Except there was one problem. The confounded light fixture box was no where near centered on the room or the washer and dryer. Grrrr. [Read more...]

Demolition Day

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This past weekend I was able to make some serious progress on our laundry room. Yeehaw! Sometimes in order to make a room pretty, you have to make it uglier first. That was certainly the case with this project. If  you are just joining me, a few weeks ago the nice folks at Flow Wall sent me a custom wall system to install in the laundry room. The FlowWall system of storage will look something like this: [Read more...]

Nope, It’s Not a Pier 1 Lantern

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Thanks to my Facebook fan, Heather H., for the ultimate compliment on this lantern. She asked if I got it at Pier 1! Nope Heather, I got it at the Habitat ReStore and it found its way into my hands in this condition:

After a Women Build meeting at the Habitat ReStore a month ago, I spied that dusty relic. An old discarded hanging light fixture. I grabbed it and promptly paid $5 for it. Then I got to chatting with the clerk at the ReStore and absentmindedly walked out without my lantern. By the time I remembered, the ReStore had already closed. It was sad… it was tragic… I didn’t know when I’d be reunited with my light fixture because the ReStore is about 25 minutes away from my home. But, there is a happy ending to my story, my mother-in-law (who gives a good name to all MILs out there) offered to swing by the ReStore the following day to pick up my lantern for me. Hugs to her for reuniting us. But, I had to laugh at the look of skepticism she gave me as she handed over the dusty light. She couldn’t see its true potential, but I could.

How about you? Would you have passed this light fixture by? Or would you have seen the potential?

Well, next time you see a light fixture like that, grab it and I’ll show you how to transform it.

Materials:

  • Old lantern style light fixture
  • Pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Two screwdrivers (at least one needs to be flat head)
  • Damp rag
  • Sandpaper
  • Plastic drop cloth
  • Kilz spray primer
  • Rustoleum Lagoon spray paint
  • Rub n’ Buff Gold Color
  • Paper towels
Difficulty: Easy
Step 1. Disassemble the lantern by unscrewing all the parts.

Step 2. Use wire cutters to cut the wire to the light housings.

Step 3. Pull the light sockets, bulbs and lighting out of the lantern.

Step 4. Remove the finial from the bottom of the lighting and set it aside with the lantern. Discard or keep the lighting parts for some other project.

Step 5. If there is a chain attached to the lantern, insert the two screwdrivers into the link attaching it to the lantern. Rotate the two screwdrivers in opposite directions as shown to pry the chain link apart.

Step 6. Pry up the tabs on the lantern that are holding the glass in place. Remove the glass panels and set them aside.

These are the parts that I kept for the lantern:

Step 7. Wipe all the parts with the damp rag to remove any dust and debris. Then scuff the lantern parts with sandpaper and wipe off any remaining dust.

Step 8. Set the lantern and parts outside on the drop cloth.  Spray them with Kilz primer, flip the pieces over and spray again.

Step 9. When the primer has dried, inspect the lantern for any paint drips that need to be sanded smooth.

Step 10. Spray paint the lantern and parts with Rustoleum Lagoon. Flip everything after the first coat is dry and spray a second coat of paint.

Step 11. After the lantern has dried thoroughly, reassemble the lantern.

Screw the finial onto the inside of the lantern where the lighting used to attach.

Step 11. Wipe a small amount of rub n’ buff on a dry paper towel. Rub it on the cross bars of the lantern.

Step 12. Clean the lantern glass with windex and a clean rag. Then insert the glass panels back into the lantern.

Admire your new aqua beauty!

The hardest part of this project was trying to decide where to display my lantern. I could see it in every room of our home!

But, ultimately I gave it a place of prominence on our mantle. And included an old picture inside it.

Have you seen these old light fixtures? Could you ever guess that they could be turned into beautiful decorating gems?
Have a great weekend y’all. I hope you make a trip to your local Habitat ReStore and search for your own lantern.

I hope you’ll join Heather and some other friends on Facebook so you can see what I’m up to next!

Sharing with Tater Tots and Jello Weekend Wrap Up Party

 

Show Stopping Beaded Chandelier Makeover – Guest Post by Modern Parsonage

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Welcome to our second Wednesday in 2012! Today I have a special guest for you: Bri from The Modern Parsonage is here to show you how she created that truly fabulous chandelier you see up there. But, before we get to the tutorial, let me tell you a little about this handy gal (and her partner in DIY crime!) Bri and her husband moved into a home that was previously a Pastor’s family home. They dove head first into the process of renovating the home to be more modern and fitting for the hip couple of professors that they are.

The Modern Parsonage showcases the renovation process, from idea to finished product, tossing in snapshots of design inspiration and everyday life.You can follow them as they transform their home one room (floor to ceiling) at a time. Check out their Staircase renovation, bathroom update, and installing flooring projects.

Okay, take it away Bri!

Let me begin by saying that I started this project thinking I needed a ton of prep work, money, and time to transform a boring, brass light fixture into a show-stopping (if I do say so myself) chandelier. O ye of little faith, I say to my former self. This is a beginner’s project and requires so little skill that I would go so far as to call it a fool-proof way to jazz up even the most tired light or lamp for significantly less than the cost of a new fixture. (Read: under $75)

Start with a cheap chandelier. I found one on my local Craigslist for $25, but I would recommend scouring your hand-me-down shop of choice since these brass fixtures are often the standard for apartments or new builds.

Next, I did some research online and adopted a few misconstrued beliefs that I will now dispel. First, it is perfectly fine to spray paint the plastic-protected electrical cord that runs up the chain. I was not aware of that and wasted quite a bit of time figuring out creative ways to protect the cord while spraying the chain. Second, either fully remove the plastic “candles” or spray paint them the same color as the fixture. I did not know that these were removable and you can still see the tape lines from where I thought I had to cover parts of the plastic. Learn from my mistakes, people.

After you have chosen a diamond-in-the-rough light, acquire the necessary resources. You will need:

  • A drop cloth
  • A place to hang your light (I hung mine in the basement, but you can just as easily use a tree if the weather is nice)
  • Two cans of the spray paint of your choice (it is always better to have extra on hand because spray paint has tricky drying times and you don’t want to run out in the middle of the project). I used matte white and it was just the cheap Ace Hardware brand.
  • A ventilator or mask. Always necessary when messing about with spray paint.
  • 220 grit Sandpaper
  • Deglosser. (This is only if you want to be super thorough. I wiped my chandelier down with just soap and water and the paint adhesion was still great.)
  • Beading of your choice. I used roughly 750 beads and got them at Michael’s, but it all depends on your taste.
  • White string (I got DandyLine brand and it is super strong).

For the optional chain cover:

  • Fabric of your choice (double the length of chain you want to cover and 7 inches wide).
  • Fabric glue
  • Iron-on Velcro
  • Thread
  • Also, an iron, that’s pretty important.

Now it’s time to get down to brass tacks. Get it? Because it’s a brass light? Anyway, lightly run your sandpaper over the fixture. Do not press too hard or the metal will scratch. The goal here is to rough up the surface so that the paint can form a strong bond. Next, give it a good once over with a damp cloth (soap and water will do, deglosser if you’re thorough) to remove any dust, grease, or grime. Let the light dry completely.

Don your mask. You will look beautiful, I promise, but more importantly, your lungs will thank you. Find a good spot to hang your light and start spraying.

As you can see, I tried to bundle up the electrical cord in the plastic bag, but that caused a lot of problems, including bare spots of brass. I also taped off the tops of the “candles” instead of just removing them and covering the exposed wire. So yeah, just don’t repeat my follies.

Spray painting is best in short, quick bursts. Long, sweeping motions are not your friend. It will take many, many thin coats so don’t be surprised if you have to use the entirety of two cans.

Once you have your desired level of coverage, let the light dry overnight. When the paint is fully cured, the real fun starts – beadwork. This part takes creativity and is really up to you. I did a lot of window-shopping for fancy-pants lights and finally decided I wanted a chandelier adorned with clear beads and small silver accents, embellished with teardrop crystals for extra pizzazz. I would say this is the longest part of the process; it took me about four hours to get all the beads strung and hung on the light.

With the hard part done, re-install or switch out your fixture (remember, black wire connects to black wire and white to white!).

At this point, if you’re happy with your light as is, you’re done! If you’re like me and have an awful chain and unpainted electrical cord, you may want to consider DIYing a chain cover. Much cheaper, totally easy, and no sewing machine required.

Begin with your fabric swatch and fold over about a 1/4 inch on each side, ironing the edges.

Apply a small line of fabric glue inside the seams to create a permanent hem. When the glue dries (15 minutes to a half hour), sew a running stitch on both long seams. I know this sounds complicated, but trust me, if I can do it, so can you. Pass the needle in and out of the fabric down the edges, knotting each end. (It allows you to scrunch the fabric, which is important.) Gently pull the knotted ends and push the fabric together to your desired length.

Once the scrunching is done, grab your iron-on Velcro and press it on. Run the iron over the whole cord cover to ensure a strong bond. Now all you have to do is wrap it around your chandelier chain, making sure the seam is on the least visible side, and admire!

Isn’t that chandelier beautiful?! I know people would pay a lot of money to bring that chic lady home. Thank you so much Bri from the Modern Parsonage for letting us into her home for the tutorial.

Would you like to be a guest on Pretty Handy Girl? Read my open invitation here.

Best of Pretty Handy Girl 2011

It’s the end of the year and I know y’all have been busy. So, I thought I’d give you the cliff notes version of Pretty Handy Girl in 2011.

Gift Bucket Liner from Goodwill Pants

How to Paint a Dandelion Wall Mural

Fork Photo and Note Holder

Spring Paper and Button Flowers

How to Paint Doors the Professional Way

 

How to Paint Like a Pro Series:

 

Build Your Own Ladder Display Shelves

Photography Secrets for Shooting Indoors

 

Toilet Repairs Series:

 

Dream Big Butterfly Window

Backlit Cut Out Bookcase

Rustic Wine Crate

How to Replace an Ugly Hollywood Strip Light

Board and Batter Tutorial

How to Make a Branch Towel Bar

Light Bulb Comparison

How to Install Low Voltage Landscape Lighting

Ombré Paint Chip Lampshade

 

Cabinet Door Revamped to Chalkboard Message Board

Kitchen Cabinet Turned into Shoe Storage Bench

 

Dollar Tree Placemat Garden Flag

 

Beveled Glass Light Fixture Ornaments

DIY Matchbox Car Race Track

 

And Finally, A Whole Slew of Power Tool Tutorials:

Compound Miter Saw

Jig Saw

Finish Nailer and Compressor

Cordless Drill

Circular Saw

Table Saw

Band Saw

I don’t know about you, but I’m super excited for 2012! I hope you’ll stick around for some more DIY tutorials and empowerment!

Did you have a favorite post of mine this year that I forgot to mention? Do tell! Chosing from almost 200 posts makes for some tough decisions.

Beveled Glass Ornaments from an Old Brass Light

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I had so much fun at the Habitat ReStore talk this past weekend. My favorite holiday decorations were these adorable beveled glass ornaments. Would you believe me if I told you that they began life as a dated octagon brass light fixture?

Well, they did! And here is the best part, for $5 you can score one of these fixtures at your local Habitat ReStore and make 16 ornaments from the one light!

Materials:

  • Beveled glass octagonal light fixture (the flimsier the brass the better)
  • Needle-nosed pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Small flat head screwdriver
  • Gloves
  • Glass cleaner
  • Soft cloth
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Printed photos
  • Mod podge
  • Paint brush
  • Screw eyes
  • E-6000
  • Wax paper to protect work surface
  • Ribbon
  • Scissors

 

Instructions:

Put on your gloves for this first task! To free the beveled glass, you’ll need to poke, prod and cut at the brass surrounding the glass. Inserting a flat screwdriver will help to pry up the edges. As the edges come loose, cut into the metal with wire cutters, and pull it apart using needle-nosed pliers. All the while, use caution so as not to break the glass pieces.

After all the glass is free, clean both sides of the glass with windex and a soft cloth. Scratch off any dirt with your fingernail (or a razor blade).

Cut photos to fit inside the middle of the beveled glass piece.

Trace around the glass and cut a piece of scrapbook paper the same size as the glass.

Coat the back of the photo with mod podge and center it on the scrapbook paper.

Gently coat the front of the scrapbook paper border with mod podge (do not paint mod podge onto the photo or streaking can occur.)

Press the flat side of the beveled glass on top of the scrapbook paper/photo.

Flip the glass over and put a dollop of E-6000 at the top center of the scrapbook paper. Lay one screw eye into the glue, then cover the screw with a small dollop of E-6000 glue to secure the screw eye.

After the mod podge and E-6000 has dried, cut some pieces of ribbon and thread them through the screw eye. Make a loop with the ribbon and hang it on your tree!

Or give them as gifts to the Grandparents!

I made another ornament using scrapbook paper and stuck a monogram letter sticker on top of the glass. I also added a small quote on another ornament. The possibilities for this project are numerous!

I had to share with you a few other transformations that I showcased during the talk at the Habitat ReStore:

I took an old chandelier and flipped her over, coated her with primer, heirloom white spray paint and then added some distressing and finished with some antique gold Rub n’ Buff.

Now she’s a beautiful candelabra for our dining room table!

I used the canopy (round flat disk that attaches to the ceiling) as the base for the candelabra. When you take apart a light fixture, you can get creative by flipping and switching around parts and pieces.

Old lightbulbs became adorable little ornaments with a few stickers and a coat of spray paint. My favorite is this clear bulb that I added a heart sticker to. When I peeled off the sticker a little heart shaped window remained. Peek inside to see the filament.

If you’ve ever wrapped an easter egg with rubber bands before dying it, you’ll recognize this pattern.

A $2 cabinet door and some chunky cabinet handles partnered to form a holiday serving tray. The handles also got a little Rub ‘n Buff for shine.

I’m sorry I don’t have the tutorials for you right now. Most likely at a later date, I’ll post them for y’all.

I have two announcements:

#1 – The winner of the RIT dye giveaway is: Judi! She said,  ”Dye WOOD –really !!!! Can’t wait to see what all else you (and I) can dye !! Loving it !!”

RIT Dye

#2 – My son let me paint his cast like a candy cane! I used KILZ Clean Start (zero VOC) primer and a flat brush to give his cast the stripes. One of my facebook fans had the genius idea of asking Santa to sign it!


Let’s just hope that he can keep this cast for more than a week!

 

 

 

Linking up to Home Stories A2Z Tutorials & Tips TuesdaysCentational Girl’s Holiday Home Craft Link PartyNot Just a Housewife’s Show Me What Ya GotFunky Junk Interiors SNS

Tea Light Centerpiece

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In my constant attempt to save things from the landfill, I came up with this nifty transformation of an old Hollywood light fixture.

Can you believe that I took this…

And turned it into this?

Materials:

  • Trim (canopy) piece of an old light fixture
  • Sandpaper or sanding block
  • Spray primer (automobile primer works best on metal)
  • Valspar java brown spray paint
  • Krylon sparkling canyon spray paint
  • Drop cloth (or plastic sheet)
  • Votives
  • E-6000 glue
  • Brown and amber beads
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Scoop or spoon to pour beads from
  • Popsicle stick
  • Tweezers

You are sick of staring at that old hollywood light fixture in your bathroom. Come on, you can admit it. It’s okay, you are among friends. If you need help, I’ll even show you how to remove that dated style offender. And hey, if you are lucky enough to live in a house without one — but you still want to replicate this project — head on over to your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I guarantee they will have plenty to choose from.

1. Start by wiping off the light fixture (unless you are a fabulous housekeeper and yours doesn’t have years of collected dust like mine did.)

2. Scuff up the metal surface with sandpaper.

 

3. Spray the light fixture with the spray primer. Let it dry. Then spray a coat or two of the java brown spray paint. After the brown paint is dry, lightly dust the light fixture with the sparkling canyon spray paint until you are happy with the color.

 

4. Try to let the painted fixture dry overnight to allow the paint enough time to harden.

 

5. Clean your votives with some soap and water and let it dry thoroughly. Squeeze a line of glue around the bottom of the votive.

 

6. Center the votive over the hole on the light fixture.

 

7. Repeat for the rest of the holes.

8. Weigh the votives down with some books while the glue sets (a few hours.)

 

9. Plug in the hot glue gun. (Have you read my Hot Glue Gun Safety post? If not, you should because your fingers will thank me.) While it is heating up, take out the beads you want to use. Set them in a little scoop or spoon.

10. Run a bead of hot glue around the votive. Only work in a small 1-2″ section at a time. This will give you enough time to arrange the beads before the glue hardens.

11. Pour the beads into the hot glue.

12. Use your popsicle stick to maneuver the beads into the glue.

13. Use the tweezers to place any singular beads and perform any detail work.

14. Glue beads around the base of the other votives. Let the glue cool and then pull off any hot glue strings.

15. Put your tea lights into the votives and set it on your table…

…bathtub edge or sideboard.

What do you think? Do you like it or I am just trying to put lipstick on a pig?

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CFLs, LEDs and Incandescents Oh My! – A review of light bulbs

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Last week when I finally  said adios to the Hollywood style strip light, I was eager to put in some energy efficient light bulbs.

While purchasing the light fixture I also checked out the light bulb display. I found myself being drawn to the bulb comparison display at Home Depot. I looked at the different lights and their color effect in the “display room”. Confident with my new knowledge, I walked out with several Soft light CFLs in my bag. But, when I got home and installed them I was NOT happy! They were harsh, bluish and just made the bathroom feel cold and clinical. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me. Those displays are so deceiving! They don’t REALLY show you what the bulbs will look like in your home. And don’t even get me started on the paint chip displays! Let’s just say you should NEVER EVER make a final decision on paint at the store!

One of my facebook fans mentioned that she really liked Ottlite bulbs, and that they were just like daylight. I promptly contacted the company and they shipped me out several bulbs to try.

It was at this point that I decided an unscientific test was in order. I started out systematically using just four bulbs, but then I bought a $30 (gulp!) LED lightbulb at the grocery store. And soon, all scientific conditions were thrown to the wind. So, I hope none of you yell at me for my lack of consistency. The test was more for myself , but I figured there might be a few inquiring minds.

One  more note on the unscientific-ness of my experiment. All the photographs were taken using the fluorescent setting on my camera (to try to give the best view of the CFLs. Which will explain why the incandescent bulbs look extra yellow. I kept the exact same shutter speed and aperture in each setting. Only the bulbs changed in each photo. These were the various bulbs I used in my test:

I hope you find this comparison as helpful as I did!

First up was an outdoor setting. This light fixture lights up our side door entrance. I was using the regular CFL in the fixture, but it was so cold in appearance and looked odd with the warm yellow light the lanterns by our front door emit.

I really liked the Philips Ambient LED in this fixture and was about to choose that one, but then read that it wasn’t recommended for outdoor or damp locations. Boo. Ultimately I decided on the the incandescent 60 watt bulb. In the meantime I will be on the lookout for a outdoor approved LED lightbulb.

The living room table lamp was the most forgiving light situation. The white shade and medium green walls made most of the light bulbs look good. But, ultimately I decided I liked the Sylvania CFL light bulb best in this fixture.

Our foyer is small, dark and has bright yellow walls. This is also the light we leave on all night to protect sleepwalkers who might otherwise tumble down the stairs. All the bulbs looked pretty good in this location except the Ottlite. It was too harsh, bright and cold feeling.

Ultimately I decided I liked the Philps LED light bulb here. This bulb was by far my favorite light bulb. But, with a hefty price tag of $30, I can’t be buying more than one or two of them!


Our master bedroom was the only location that I liked the Ottlite. The lamp shades have a beige color. This tones down the harsh white of the Ottlite. Plus, it was the only bulb that didn’t make my wall color look sickly brownish gray.

Finally, the room that started this whole pursuit of scientific knowledge: The kids’ bathroom, which has many requirements. The bulbs can’t be too dim that guests can’t see themselves in the mirror. And yet the room can’t be too bright to blind anyone who turns the light on in the wee hours of the night. The light couldn’t be too cold or bluish in cast. Basically I had a lot of requirements for this light fixture.

I also had our friend, Greg, model for me to show the lighting on skin tones.


I felt like Goldilocks in this room (too bright, too dark, too blue!)

1. The incandescents were not very eco-friendly.

2. The soft white CFLS were okay, but still a little harsh and bluish cast.

3. Regular CFL bulbs, these were pretty bad. They were darker and I really didn’t like the light color.

4. The Ottlite was way too bright and harsh for the blue and white bathroom. So, I finally figured out the perfect bulb formula.

That’s right, I’m a bulb mixer. We found that two soft white CFLs and one incandescent light bulb was the magic formula. The two soft white CFLs gives enough light and energy savings without being too clinical. But, the incandescent works to soften the bluish cast.

So although I can’t tell you that I found the PERFECT light bulb. And I still can’t embrace the CFLs, I work with them to try to go easy on my energy bill and lesson my carbon footprint. I mix bulbs in our multi-light (non-dimming) fixtures. I do have to warn you though, if you use CFLs in a closed fixture (like the one shown below with the dome removed.) They will not last as long as they are supposed to.

I also noticed a big difference between the “soft white” CFL bulbs I bought. The Sylvania ones were not nearly as warm as the Ecosmart ones, proving that all CFLs are not created equal.

I did find that I liked different bulbs in different locations. And ultimately I made a decision that allowed me to be eco-conscious but also be happy with our lighting.

But, I really hope that the Philips Ambient LED bulbs will come down in price. They use the least amount of energy, don’t get hot, and give off a light that is very close to an incandescent. So for those of us that still love incandescents, there is hope!

 

 

 

Disclosure: I was NOT paid by any companies to review the above mentioned light bulbs. Ottlite did send me bulbs for free, but I was not swayed to write a positive review. This post is my honest and unswayed opinion.

Changing Out a Light Fixture (Bye-Bye Hollywood Strip Light)

light_fixture_side_view

Have you had it with those ugly Hollywood light fixtures? The ones where the bulbs are lined up in a straight line staring you in the face? Did you know that you don’t have to live with them? Even if you live in an apartment, you can switch light fixtures out fairly easily. (Be sure to keep the old fixture and all the parts so you can re-install it before you move out.)

Light fixtures range in price from $20 to well over $200. Sometimes you can luck out and find some nice light fixtures on Craig’s List or eBay for less. But, wait…Apartment Guide is giving away a $50 Home Depot or Target gift card for my readers! That means that one of you lucky ducks could win the money to purchase a light fixture for FREE (or something else you might want instead.) I’ll discuss all the requirements to enter at the end of this tutorial, so be sure to keep reading.

Apartment Guide asked me to take part in the “DIY Renter Repairs and Tips” Blogger Challenge. I hope you all can benefit from this tutorial. I think you’ll agree, it is neither difficult nor challenging to swap out a light fixture.

Instructions:

Before beginning the installation you MUST turn off the power to your fixture.


Required Safety Instruction:
Turn off the power to the light fixture you are working on. I highly recommend turning on the light you will be working on, then shut off the circuit at your circuit breaker and check to see that the light has gone out. Also note that just because the light fixture power is turned off, it doesn’t necessarily mean that other outlets or lights in the same room are on the same circuit. Always check for the presence of power before you work on it.

Tools:

  • Light Fixture
  • Needle-nosed pliers
  • Wire cutters and stripper
  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Optional: electrical tape

Unpack your new (or slightly used) light fixture. Read through the directions as some steps may vary from this installation tutorial.

Begin by unscrewing the light bulbs and then remove the collars around the light bulb sockets.

Locate any other screws that might be holding the fixture in place. This fixture simply popped off.

Untwist the wire nuts holding the wires together.

Once all the wires are disconnected, unscrew the two screws holding the mounting bracket.

Remove the mounting bracket…

…and now you should be able to remove the light fixture. Laugh at any hidden colors and wallpaper beneath the fixture. (Toile! Ah, not so bad.)

You should be left with just the junction box and three wires protruding from the box. The bare or green wire is your ground wire. The white is your neutral wire and the black is your hot wire.

If you were eagle eyed, you might have noticed a small nick in the insulation of the neutral wire. This could cause a short, so I wrapped some electrical tape around the nick.

Install the new mounting bracket that came with your fixture (if you bought a used one, you may have to use the old mounting bracket from the Hollywood Strip). Attach the screws through the bracket and into the junction box.

The mounting bracket that came with my fixture has a rotating bar that can swing 180 degrees. Position this bar so the fixture will hang level.)

Test fit your fixture and adjust the depth of the mounting screws (the “no head” screws on the mounting bracket) and the angle of the swinging bracket arm. Once the bracket is level and fits snugly with only a small portion of the headless screws poking through; remove the light fixture and tighten the screw in the middle of the mounting bracket to secure the rotating bar.

Wrap the ground wire from the junction box around the green or bare screw on the mounting bracket.

Connect the ground wire from the light fixture to the ground wire from the junction box. Twist them together and secure them with a wire nut.

Twist the black wires from the junction box and the light fixture together.

Twist a wire nut on to secure them.

Repeat the same process to connect the white wires.

Gently fold and tuck the wires back into the junction box. Try to position the white wires on the opposite side as the black wires.

Place your light fixture onto the headless screws and secure the fixture by screwing on the small ball caps.

Remove the shade ring from the light bulb sockets.

Slip the glass shades onto the socket and then screw the collar back on to hold the glass light shades.

Repeat for the remaining light sockets.

Many vanity light fixtures are reversible.

I decided to rehang my fixture facing up for less direct light and to avoid bumping into the mirror frame.

What do you think? Do you like the new look? Do you think you will try it yourself?  I hope so, it was easy!

Now for the good stuff! Do you want to win a Home Depot or Target gift card for $50? Who wouldn’t!

Apartment Guide has been kind enough to offer one or the other to one of my lucky readers. Here is how you could win:

1.        Like Apartment Guide on Facebook and leave a comment that you like them. You can also enter the Your Picks. Your Place contest for $10K while you are there! (exp. 8/10/11)
2.        Follow Apartment Guide on Twitter and leave another comment that you are following their tweets.
3.        Visit one of the articles on MovingToday.com (you can see a list of a few I found helpful below) and let me know which one you found the most interesting/helpful/other.

A winner will be chosen at random on Friday, August 12th!

Did you know that Apartment Guide is a one stop location for finding the perfect rental place to live? Of course you did.

But, I bet you didn’t know that Apartment Guide isn’t just a great resource for finding the perfect apartment. Apartment Guide is also committed to helping you in the transition from renting to owning. They set up MovingToday.com, a site full of resources from finding your home, to DIY repair and home maintenance tips for any room in your place?

Here are just a few of the helpful articles from Moving Today:

So, what are you waiting for? Get clicking! Then come comment on this post to be entered to win the $50 Gift Card to Home Depot or Target.

 

 

 

Disclosure:
Apartment Guide is owned by Consumer Source, Inc. Apartment Guide partnered with bloggers such as me to participate in its “DIY Renter Repairs and Tips” Blogger Challenge.  As part of that program, I received compensation.  They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about the products used for the “DIY Renter Repairs and Tips” Blogger Challenge. Apartment Guide and Consumer Source believe that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Consumer Source’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.