Light It Up, Up, Up

We’re finally done refinishing and replacing the last of our brass lighting fixtures in the house! Not that there’s anything wrong with brass at all, and I know it’s gaining some popularity again as of late, but the fixtures we have are all builder grade and just not as warm and cozy as I’d like them to be. Plus I had already switched out all the brass hardware on our doors, so updating the light fixtures ties everything together nicely. There were five fixtures total – the dining room chandelier (which was covered with a DIY drum shade since I have yet to find a fixture we like), three ceiling flush-mounts in our hallways, and one pendant fixture at the bottom of our second-floor stairs. Replacing all five fixtures would easily be over $1000, and I’d rather spend that on an international plane ticket! Plus the dining room chandelier would have required an electrician’s assistance. So we decided to DIY four of the five fixtures, and splurge just a little on the pendant light. Here’s what we did.

The three hallway ceiling fixtures were all the same – this octagon shaped flush-mount seen below. We will probably replace them eventually, but I don’t hate the shape and I wanted to see what bronze fixtures would look like everywhere, so in the meantime I decided to just spray paint it with my favorite Rustoleum oil-rubbed bronze paint. It says it’s a primer and paint all-in-one, but I wanted good coverage, so I also used a primer spray as my first coat.


Before all the spray paint though, I taped the heck out of the glass panes and cut pieces to fit with an x-acto knife. Now listen, this isn’t a quick project because of the tape, and maybe there’s a better method. (Maybe you could cut pieces of paper to fit in over each area of glass?) But I already had Frog Tape, and a free afternoon (for each light – I didn’t do them all at once), so I went with this method and it works fairly well. I say fairly well because some spray did get on the other side of the glass underneath because of the hole in the top. I easily scraped any excess paint off with a razor blade. Oh and to do the mounting plate, I stuffed little bits of rolled-up paper towel in the light bulb sockets so as not to get spray paint into the sockets. I did three coats total – one coat of primer, and two coats of the bronze. I allowed the recommended dry time in between each coat, and then I let it dry for a full 48 hours before reinstalling the fixture. But before the final coat dried, I carefully peeled off all the tape.


The results are great! It’s still not as fun of a statement piece as I’d like, but I think it’s an improvement over the brass. P.S. The little “hello” sign in the photo below will get painted soon. I’m still trying to decide on a color! And sorry for the clutter in our organizing station. There’s an oxymoron for you – cluttered organizing station! (The wire bin is for paper and mail recycling if you’re curious.)


The beauty of spray painting the ceiling flush-mount fixtures was that from any vantage point the new finish looks like it was purchased that way unless you stand and study it. The inside shows sort of a bare metal (not brass) because I didn’t try to paint over it, but it’s not shiny and it’s enclosed so you really can’t tell. The pendant lamp shown below posed a different issue. The fixture isn’t enclosed, and standing beneath it you can easily see inside, so I’d have to tape (and tape and tape) both the outside and the inside in order to paint the whole thing. And that would be in addition to the chain, the wires, and the mounting plate cap. The fixture is in a prominent area of the house as opposed to the foyer and hallways where we just pass through, so I wanted the lighting to look nicer than my DIY skills.


So, ta da! I had been searching for a suitable fixture that we’d really like, and this one showed up at Pottery Barn just recently. Here she is all installed thanks to my super patient and handy hubby!


The fixture came with one of the cool hipster filament bulbs, but I felt like it was actually a little too small for the lantern and didn’t quite give off enough light, so we just used the big globe we had in there before. I like it.


I’d especially like to reiterate how patient Chris is because this was not an easy installation. We have the electrical part down pat at this point, but this fixture was on a sloped ceiling at an awkward angle in a tight spot next to the stairs. Our ladder has a big footprint and would barely fit in that area, so getting the mounting plate screwed in nice and tight was a challenge. Not to mention I had to find somewhere to stand and hold the lantern part while he connected wires and attached everything. It was a good shoulder workout! But we like the results, and other than one more (chrome) fixture in the master bath, we should be done with lighting for a while!


What do you think? Are these an improvement over the brass fixtures? (We think so!) Do you have any lighting projects coming up? Let me know – I’d love to see your results!

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  • Theresa - Wow, the new fixtures look great! And your home looks lovely, I love the natural light and the modern decor! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Susan - Thanks so much, Theresa! We’re sloooowly getting things to how we like them. There’s a lot more to do, but the little things help!ReplyCancel

  • Blinded by the Light » Susan Solo – VA/DC/MD Photographer - […] topic, but in the meantime, how about a short and sweet house update? Remember when I said we were done updating the brass light fixtures in the house? Well, spray-painting those three octagon-shaped builder […]ReplyCancel