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Over the weekend, while not celebrating my lady friend’s birthday, I was working on the office makeover with the husband. There was some Ikea shopping, furniture moving, and light installation. The longest project was replacing our old ceiling light.

When we moved into the house, almost every light fixture was a newish one most likely from Home Depot for about $15. In the room that became our yellow room, the original light fixture was still in place (barely) hanging crookedly from the ceiling. I could tell it was old. And I could tell that it was definitely hanging incorrectly, but the square of glass was frosted and had some pretty yellow flowers so I was willing to let it live another day– aka two and a half years.

When we decided that the office would be updated, it was finally time to tackle that light. I had low expectations. It needed to do the following: 1) Provide light, 2) Stay attached to the ceiling, 3) Not be a million dollars. Bonus points were also awarded for not being another square light from Home Depot, not one of those round flush mounted lights from Home Depot (that lives in our dining room and hallway) and for looking classy. So when I saw this…
I was in love. This guy is from Shades of Light and you can get 10% off if you use a code from Young House Love. It comes in matte nickle (and bronze and polished nickle) but at $145, even with a discount, it was reaching into my “costs a million dollars” range. I’m cheap. Or stingy. Or fiscally conservative. Whatever.¬† But of course next I found this one…

That is a good looking light. But this one (also from Shades of Light) is $170. Yikes. Even if it was $70 I would need to consider for a while. This is where Ikea comes in. Now that I knew what kind of light I liked the shape of, thought was classy but not overly girly (this whole office is primarily for my husband’s benefit, after all) and would work in our office, it was perfect that Ikea carries this fine thing:

Same shape, the light looks like it’s probably a bit more diffused, and sure it’s probably more cheaply constructed, but at a 14″ drum light for $30, it qualified for 1-3 above. It also comes as an 18″ size but that was determined to be too large.

Once bringing my new favorite ceiling light home, it was time to install. I have seen ceiling lights installed on blogs before (or at least I think I have) so I was pretty sure this was going to be very straight forward. My husband, being the man in the house, decided he had better do this even though neither of us had ever touched anything in the house that ever required working with wiring.

Step 1: Turn off all power to the room. That was easy. The kitchen still had power (it’s on a sub panel) so we ran an extension cord from there into the office to have the drill powered.

Step 2: Remove old fixture. Totally not that hard– it just required taking out two screws that held the thing to the ceiling and unscrewing the two plastic caps that held the fixture wires to the ones in the ceiling.

This is where we stopped. We don’t have a tester to make sure the electrical is turned completely off so my husband was worried that one of us was going to touch live wires. So I thought of the best person who would have done this before and could tell us how to avoid killing ourselves: my Uncle Steve. Sure enough, he told us that if we didn’t have a tester, to be sure that there was no electricity, we could hold the fixture wire to the ceiling wire and swipe the other fixture wire against the other ceiling wire. If there were no sparks, there’s no electricity going through the wires. I took one for the team and did the swiping — no power.

Step 3: Connect new light fixture to the ceiling wires. We needed some advice from my uncle on this as well. The two wires coming from the ceiling look super old and the same color. The new light had two wires sheathed in white plastic and one with striped plastic (the ground wire). Since there didn’t appear to be a grounding wire available in the ceiling, we just removed that from the Ikea light. And based on my uncle’s advice, we just connected the white wires, one each, to the ceiling wire, one each, using the plastic screw cap. Then while I held the fixture up, my husband went and flipped the breaker, came back and hit the light switch and we had light! Success!

Step 4: Install new metal plate that covers the old box in the ceiling. Our new metal plate didn’t fit the old one, so we made do by screwing it into one of the old screw spots and then installing a dry wall anchor and another screw. it’s a little makeshift and I’m sure the next owner is going to question our judgement, but it’s still an improvement over what was there!

Step 5: Put the new plastic piece that light bulbs screw into up and then put the drum shade over that. Done!

Sounds sooooo easy, right? It wasn’t for us. Don’t get me wrong, the next time we have to do something like this I think we will both be more confident, but my husband was not as gung-ho as I was to delve into the world of electrical things. But now we have this:

Ooo la la. I wish I had gotten pictures of the install but you should probably not take our advice on installing lights and I also was the one holding the thing up most of the time. I’m proud of us though because this definitely pushed our DIY boundaries out a little more.

Also around the house this weekend, out with the old desk (see all that Ikea construction in the background?) which will go up on Craigslist:

The new rug and desk chair should be in this week and after a little more time putting things back in their new places I’ll show off this project.

Have you ever installed a new light fixture? Any home improvement over the weekend?

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