In A New Light

February 20, 2012

As I have mentioned time and time again, updating the lights in our house has been one of the easiest ways to make the space nicer and more like our own. Recently, I tackled the bathroom. Our previous owner, Mr. Do-It-Yourself-Taking-Every-Possible-Shortcut had a real LOVE for wood. Ugh. So our bathroom has wooden cabinets and a wooden box light strip. YUCK. So I finally decided to redo it.

As you can see, wood everywhere, and I think it totally clashes with my awesome Tiffany’s blue bathroom. So after turning off the circuit (of course), I dismantled the box. You can see the two screws on the front. Because they did things like paint around it, it was stuck pretty firmly on there. So, screws off, bulbs out, then PULL and it came off. A little more dismantling, and ta-da – we were left with just the raw wiring.

I’ll have to talk to my photographer to get less fuzzy pictures (<3 you!). Anyway, as per typical wiring, you have your black, your white, and the copper wire is our ground. We picked up an inexpensive light strip from the ReStore near us, and immediately discovered that the screw holes were not at all in the same spot. So a quick trip to the hardware store fixed that. We got some toggle anchors and screws, measured, and put the new anchors in.

Once those were in, we used some long 2″ screws we also picked up and began installing the new fixture. We twisted the correct wires (black to black, white to white, ground to ground) together, stuffed it behind the fixture and screwed it in.

A quick wipe with some glass cleaner and it was all ready to go!

I love how it looks – it totally jives with our bathroom feeling. I think my next chore will be to take the cupboards apart, paint them white to match the trim, add some cute paper to the back wall of the cabinets, and reassemble, but that’s all for another post 🙂



January 16, 2012

So yeah. One of the things that annoys me the most about being a homeowner is that we inherited all the bad taste of the previous owners. Let’s just say they liked wood. A lot. Anyway, one of the small things we’ve been doing to really spruce things up and give it our flare is to replace the lighting. SO much of it was so tacky, it’s awful…and the top of my priority list was to remove the fugly fan that lived downstairs.

To set the stage, I’ll say that we probably have seven foot ceilings, so it’s kind of low to begin with. Then there was a giant monstrosity of a fan, with wicker inlay and flower-shaped glass shades. Teh awesome to be sure.


Kind of like this one.

So we decided to get a nice and compact light that would provide plenty of brightness but MUCH less visual space.

Zoomed: Style Selections 4-Light Chrome Flush Mount Fixed Track Light Kit

Now, I kind of like replacing our lighting fixtures because it makes me feel like a badass. The first step was to shut off the breaker. ALWAYS do this. It hurts to get shocked. Once you’ve had someone else touch the wire to make sure its off (just kidding..kind of), start taking pieces off. We started with the blades, then shades then the fixture, then the ring, then the remaining pieces.

After removing all the pieces, you should be left with an inset box with two to three wires. One black one, one white one, and one that is usually the ground, and is often green.

It’s a little hard to tell in this picture because the plate is in the way, but the far right wire is black, the middle is white, and the third is a copper wire on the left.

We removed the plate because it was a right pain in the ass.

Next we removed the components of the new light. We put up the initial bracket-

The dust ring is disgusting. I’m also not sure why I look so concerned. Don’t worry, I didn’t cry.

Next twist your wires from the fixture to the wires in the box. White to white, black to black. Make sure they’re secured, then twist a nut on to the end to secure it. You can also wrap it with electrical tape.

Next the ground wire, or green wire should be either screwed under a green screw (as in this case) or wrapped around part of the metal framework.

Our screw was green and said GRND so we knew where to go. The wire was wrapped underthe screw, which was then secured.

Then the fixture goes on to the bracket. Screw it on, place the shades on, the bulbs, and voila!

We wound up with a light I wasn’t embarrassed to own. I chose the moveable track lighting to spread the love since this one light covers a large space. It’s a nice way to spruce up a drab looking area.

Drawing 101

November 30, 2011

I think everyone is caught up on our latest projects, so I thought I’d tackle something new, thanks to a brilliant suggestion (thanks Ben!). One of the things I excel at is drawing. I started when I was eight and I haven’t stopped. I find it sad when people tell me they can’t draw. Truly, a large part of it comes from practice. You have to practice anything to get good at it and art is no different.

So over the next several days, I plan to break down some of the elements of drawing to help bring some perspective and information in, in an easy to approach way. I encourage you to try it out and share your pictures with us, ask questions, and do what makes your creative side happy.

So to start, drawing is essentially making marks on a surface to represent an object, concept, or idea.  Abstract drawing is drawing that does not reflect a realistic representation. It is often sketchier (in the non-skeezy way) and has strong use of color and line. I draw in a realistic style, meaning I attempt to attain a realistic representation of my subject. For example:


Whatever style you prefer, it comes down to some basic principles. I’m going to start with shading, light, and how to draw what you see. I used Photoshop to create these images, but the concepts are the same whether digitally or manually produced.

This here’s a box.

You can see here that I’ve added a light source. This tells us a lot about which parts of the picture will be bright with highlights, and which parts will be dark with shadows. The brightest areas should be where the light is directly contacting, whereas the darkest areas should be those most away from shadows. This is not always a distance issue, rather underneath an overhang will be darker than the part of the overhang farthest away from the light source. But for simplicity, we’re going to use this box.

As you can see by this picture, the lightest area is the side the light is hitting. The next brightest are the edges that touch that side, and it becomes progressively darker the further away from that side you get. The back side of the box will be the darkest area. Using a gradient, or progressive shading, you can create a soft effect of tone differentials, using just one color.

Color is an important part of shading. How you use color can impact the mood and feel of your drawing, as well as add a realistic element to it. For example, take the same box and color it green. I’ve used black to create the shadow, because black is dark. You can see from the following picture that it does hint at light, but it doesn’t quite look right.

When thinking about shadow, don’t think about it in terms of light=white, dark=black. Instead it’s about tone. A dark tone=shadow a light tone = light.

Here I’ve used a light tone green, a middle tone green, and a dark tone green. A green box will have green highlights and lowlights because it’s still a green object.

Color tone can also be described in terms of warm and cool. Warm tones are often lighter tones, including yellow, orange, and reds. Cool tones are blues, greens, and purples.

You can see in this picture that the box has become much more vibrant and dynamic. This is also a great way to “color” a white object. I used yellow and red for the warmer tones where the light hits, and purples for the cooler tones where the shadows are.

Play around with it a little bit and explore your colors. Look at the objects around you- what colors are the shadows? What colors are the highlights? How many colors do you see? Is the tone of the object dark or light, warm or cool?

Once you feel comfortable exploring color and tone, look around at the objects you see and select one to practice with. It’s important to DRAW WHAT YOU SEE. What I mean is this. We all know what a flag looks like- it’s a rectangular piece of cloth that has some kind of decoration on it.

As so:

(Ignoring the stars and stripes issues) this is the US flag. However, when drawing the flag, we don’t draw it as a rectangle because it’s likely not in that shape. They drape and fold and flutter. The flag might look more like:

rather than a strict rectangle. Okay okay, so this is a bad drawing, but I think the point is there, that you have to draw what you see literally, not what the object looks like as an object. The shape of a cup is a cylinder and the top is circular, but looking at it from anywhere but straight on, it’s an oval.

So, step by step we’ll learn to draw. Try it!