Let There Be Light

I tried really hard to come up with a better title. Really I did. But I’m not very clever. I got nothin’.

Update: It just hit me. “Lights. Lights would be good here.” Name that movie.

So yeah. This post is about lights. And outlets. Fun electrical stuff like that.

We previously had a three-in-one mirror/medicine cabinet/light thing going on. Pretty much a bathroom trifecta if you will. A monstrous wall unit that was functional, that’s for sure. But not so pretty.

mirror

master bath

I scoured the big-box stores, local lighting stores, and of course the internet to find lights. I wanted modern-ish, but not too much so (this house is pretty traditional). I wanted satin or brushed (not shiny chrome) to go with the hardware and faucets we already chose. I wanted lots of light, because it is a sin not to light a bathroom well, especially at my age. It takes a lot of light to reveal what I actually look like out in the world. I need to be able to see that so that I can camouflage it all, y’know?

But seriously, there were several lights here before, and I wanted at least that much light. It’s pretty easy to find lots of lighting choices with three bulbs, and there were several great options with four also, but after that it was slim pickin’.

I knew the finish I wanted, the amount of bulbs (at least five, but preferably six), a price range that would still allow me to purchase all the other elements in here, the type that doesn’t require several steps to change a bulb (you guys know from here and here that I hate enclosed bulbs), no back plate, lights go down not up. That made it pretty easy to narrow it down. Pretty sure there were like three fixtures in all of America that met my requirements.

I went with this one.

light

I know it’s kinda plain, but it isn’t the star of the bathroom. It is a simple, supporting character. Function wins out when you want more than three light bulbs.

It’s from Build.com, but I found it through the Walmart Marketplace. Did you guys know that Walmart has a marketplace? Similar to shopping on Amazon? Well, they do. The price was good for such a substantial sized light (I needed two of them, so that’s over $300), and the customer service was excellent.

One of the boxes arrived like this.

damaged box

I opened it to discover my fear…shattered glass. One of the globes was broken. Internet shopping scares me for this reason, and who the heck is Build.com? But, I trust the Walmart Marketplace. I knew they’d rectify it even if Build.com did not. I didn’t have to contact them, though, because the people at Build.com were great. Someone named Janet sent me out a new globe immediately (free of charge, of course) and it arrived within a few days. Thanks Janet!

And then they sat there for months, because of course I ordered everything I needed for my summer bathroom renovation in summer. Duh. But, let’s not dwell on the past. It is what it is and we’re moving now!

I mean, *we’re* not moving. The bathroom is moving along. I forget how jumpy those words make some people coming from me. We’re here for a few years, at least!

Our old vanities were so low. Like strain-your-back-to wash-your-face low. Know what I mean? And the lights were wired behind the trifecta thingy. We’re raising the vanities and therefore the mirrors and therefore the lighting.

This wasn’t anything too difficult, I worked up the new number and told the hubs and he marked the new spot. Then he cut it.

new hole

Barely missing the pipe that we knew was in this wall.

Whew. Close one. 🙂 I’m very happy that we didn’t have to place the lights even a teensy bit off centered to account for other things in the walls. You ever have a fan or vent or light or outlet just a tiny bit off and it annoys you? Sometimes it is unavoidable due to other things in your walls. Luckily we avoided it here. Hooray!

This was super simple. First, make sure the power is off! Then reach in and pull the wire up to where you need it to be. Simple, right?

pull through

Occasionally you won’t have enough length and will have to open the wall and rewire, but we weren’t moving it across an entire room or anything, so it wasn’t an issue here.

Use your new cut out to patch your old hole.

patch old hole

Slap some joint compound over it and you’re golden.

texture old hole

It might require a few coats to be perfect.

So then we moved down the wall and repeated that step for the second light and everyone lived happily ever after. Just kidding. What do you think this is, Utopia?

We had a stud in the way.

stud

Not a huge ordeal, but it did require more work. More drywall had to be removed so the hubs could get his hands in there and get the wire pulled through the stud and into the correct position.

right of stud left of stud

Then I had more work to do in patching it.

patched wall

But it all worked out in the end. Not too much trouble.

We used these electrical boxes from Lowe’s. They just pop right into place and the screws twist to anchor behind the drywall.

This is the point where it gets super easy. Even if you’re not doing a full gut job on your bathroom, anyone could replace a light. My children could do it. We don’t let them, but they could.

The new fixture will come with instructions that you won’t even have to read. Just switch out the old mounting bracket for the new one.

new mounting bracket

Then match up your colored wires and attach your grounding wire to the green screw. Cap them with wire nuts and that’s it. See? No need to pay an electrician $200 for that. Send it to me instead. (As always, I’m not reinventing the wheel here. I’m sure youtube has hundreds of tutorials about this simple update if you’re interested.)

This one has two white and two black (twisted together) because it is split for the other light, but if you only have one light in your bathroom, you’ll have one wire of each color.

Your new light has the same colors. Black and white. Easy peasy.

back of light

new light

Then screw on the globes.

light off

Notice that I’ve started painting (the light gray is primer and the dark gray is the final paint color). I also painted the ceiling a fresher white (which is visible on the wall because it was only primed so I wasn’t being careful). I wasn’t completely ready to paint yet, but figured it would be easier to paint behind these lights before they were installed. Now that we have good lighting in here again (we’ve been using sunlight and a plug-in work light), I can paint everywhere else.

light 2 light 1

I’m not sure you can make out the difference in colors with all those shadows. Wish I could say my four-year old took these. 🙂

Oh yeah, we also moved the outlets up by a few inches because we’re raising the vanities. I’m running long and there’s not a whole lot to say about it. Make sure the power is off, get a new box, and wire it just like it was. Simple!

Of course you’ll have to patch your old hole. This is where the self-adhesive drywall tape with the cross hatching works well. This kind is great for patching small holes. It might take a couple of layers to get it smooth and even.

mesh tape joint compound patched hole

outlet

I know I’ve said it several times now, but we REALLY are ready for vanities now. I think.

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