Sunday, April 3, 2011

Adventures In Lighting

Our search for a new dining room chandelier ended in the unlikeliest of places: a shoe store. A high-end shop that a friend frequented was closing it's doors and selling EVERYTHING. "Get over there, you will love the chandeliers!" she said over wine one night. And she was right. The shop had three of these chandeliers, available for $150 each. I couldn't tell what brand it was, but it appeared to be good quality, and the look was exactly what we were searching for--silver and crystal but not too modern.

A few weeks later, the store had closed it's doors and we brought the chandelier home. And that's where things get interesting.

Something I had neglected to think about was that it had hung close to the ceiling in the shoe shop, and since it was going over our dining room table it would need to drop another 16 inches. That meant finding a new chain, and because the wiring had been cut, having this bargain chandelier rewired. Suddenly, I wondered just how much a bargain this was going to turn out to be.

I went to my favorite lighting shop and was told that their long-time lighting wizard, an elderly man who has spent his years rewiring antique fixtures and repairing the finest pieces, was on the verge of retiring anyday now.  He only worked Tuesdays and Wednesdays between the hours of 10 and 2, and that I should bring the light in the following Tuesday ("But not right at ten..." the saleslady cautioned, "because he likes to get settled in.") and if the light weren't too heavy and he deemed it worthy of his time, he would gladly rewire it. The following Tuesday, I carted the light in, just before noon, and explained what I needed. He looked it over and said he would have a go at it, not giving me a specific length of time it might take, but rather promising to have it back by "the fourth of July." I hoped he was joking, but left the shop with the sort of smug satisfaction a parent might have upon learning that their child has just been accepted at the finest preschool.

I was delighted to get a call the following day telling me it was ready, and the charge was only $28. "But this chain we had here doesn't look right to me, so you'll still need to find one of those." And he was right, the chain I'd picked out from the store looked oddly gold next to the shiny finish of my chandelier. No bother, surely it would be easy to find another one. I tried Lowe's--no luck. Home Depot had a promising contender but I took it home and next to the chandelier it looked like something that might be used to tie a stray dog up. I got online, wondering just how much a new chain was going to set me back. When I googled the chain, I ran across my actual chandelier. Turns out that it is a Quoizel, from their "Downtown" collection, and it retails for almost $900. I found the closest Quoizel dealer and headed straight over to order a replacement chain. As luck would have it, they had a length in stock that was just right. And even better, refused to charge me for it.

So, with (what we thought were) all the parts necessary to install it, we got to work. Here's a shot of the dining room with the old chandelier:
It was nice, and will find a  home in one of our guest rooms, but it just didn't work with our china and furniture. Taking the old one down was a breeze. But then the fun started.

I had to get the old chain off. Cutting it was out of the question. Bending it was an exercise in futility. My other half had the brilliant idea to heat the metal up with a candle, which softened the links up just enough that I could pry them open. That process, and bending the new chain open to install it, probably took an hour, but up went the new chandelier. Then we ran into problem number two. The junction boxes in our house are unusually short for some reason. The length of screw at the top hook of our  new fixture was entirely too long. We'd had this same problem when hanging the chandelier in our morning room, so we knew that Home Depot carried a conversion kit. I ran off to buy one, and while I was at it picked up a Lutron dimmer. Naturally, the kit was available ONLY in shiny brass, so I bought a six dollar can of spray paint to fix the $2 piece. Up went the light again, only my measurements were off somehow and it was three inches too low. Down it came. Another wrestling match with the chain ensued, but the extra links were removed. Back up it went. The new dimmer was wired, and the electricity turned back on.


We checked to make sure none of the wires had come loose. They were all fine. After many words best not repeated here, the problem was solved: the dimmer was a two-way, and we needed a three-way. (In my defense, I knew this, but the bin of 3-way dimmers, I learned when I went back for the right one, was full of a mixed bag of devices.) One more trip to the home improvement store, and another half hour battling wires, and we were in business. My photography skills not withstanding, it looks perfect! (Now, if I could only find host chairs...)

Even with the rewiring, the new junction box, and the spray paint (I may have to buy stock in Rustoleum before it's all said and done!) the chandelier still cost less than a quarter of it's retail value. Not too shabby!

I'm linking to Metamorphosis Mondays over at Between Naps on the Front Porch.  and to DIY Showoff. I wonder if anyone else over there had the sort of home improvement adventure I had?

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  1. Gorgeous! Love your table setting too! :)

  2. Love the new chandalier, it was worth waiting for it, it looks perfect, not old fashioned, not modern, but just right! Beautiful!

  3. It seems that many of our projects go like that...but are almost always worth it in the end. Your fixture is gorgeous and such a great deal!

  4. The chandelier looks stunning, Ms. Southgate, and was worth every penny, trip to Home Depot, candle burn... Lots of projects go that way!

  5. Thank you all for stopping by and for your comments! You're right...most projects end up with multiple trips to the hardware store, but in the end, they are almost always worth it!