After I wrote about the closet light that burned my soul, I wondered, “Did I prefer the sting of a bright light in a sleepy daze, or did I prefer feeling my way through the darkness for the one sweater I needed to wear?”
My mind answered, “Trick question. Why aren’t you laying out your clothes the night before?”
That’s not what I needed to hear.
So, I spent an unfortunate amount of my Saturday trying to find a solution.
I hatched out a plan. The light must:
- Look good on the eyes
- Produce more light than a cell-phone flashlight
- Feel good on the eyes after waking at dawn
- Be inexpensive
Choosing the Light
I bought this SMYG light from the children’s lighting section in IKEA. It had two brightness settings: Slightly bright, and not so bright. It was PERFECT. The final cost for the fixture and two lights was a breezy $15.00.
There was just one problem: It had a cord.
Perfect! I can trim the cord and easily hard wire it to the wall,” I believed. “There must be so many pins about people doing this.”
I wasn’t that far off on the second part. There were some pins about people converting hard wired fixtures to corded, and corded fixtures to hard wired.
While I scored points for getting the popularity of this Pinterest project right (isn’t that scary), most electricians gave this a thumbs down.
I learned that when fixtures pass safety and ratings tests, they’re rated as a complete product. If something happened to the house and my modification of the light was to blame, I’m not sure I would have had legal protection.
Plan #1 wasn’t going to happen.
My mind wandered a little more. I wanted this lamp to work. I needed it to work. It was a shame that the nearest plug was ten feet away.
I wondered, “If I can’t cut the cord, why don’t I bring the receptacle to the closet?”
I discovered that there was a way to convert boxes into receptacles. The ever-so-savvy Mr. Google thought this was a safer idea than cutting the plug off a light fixture. It just to be done properly.
I got a cover for the outlet and made a plan.
Then, I thought a little more.
Not knowing anything about electrical code and distance between receptacles and capacities, and loads, there was no way I would have felt comfortable installing it. After all, I was the one who asked the Mr. which icon represented ‘voltage’ on our voltmeter.
I thought that perhaps this fixture wasn’t going to be the one. So, I went and looked around some more.
I quickly learned how hard it was to find a hard-wired wall light with a switch on it that didn’t look like it was from 1982.
A single, dated-looking brass sconce from Hampton Bay kept calling me back. It was on clearance for $9.00 (shocker). That’s when I thought about Pinterest again. So many people have successfully transformed their light fixtures into with spray paint.
I decided I really was ready to paint again after doing last weekend’s patio furniture flip. I got myself some brushed bronze paint and a $3.00 lampshade (score!).
This and a sconce was all that was in the box. It was so plain looking.
Here’s how I did it:
- I taped over the switch and light socket to keep the paint where I wanted it to go.
- Then, I spray painted a light coat, waited for it to dry, and repeated the process several times.
- I turned off the power to the bedroom and tested it with a voltmeter and an automatic flashlight.
- I brought it upstairs to the closet and began the installation process.
- I screwed the brackets into the wall after disconnecting the old fixture.
- I connected the wires to the fixture. I matched black to black, white to white, and copper to ground. Then, I twisted the wires twisted in a clockwise motion with a set of pliers and tightened them further under some twist-on wire connectors.
All was going to plan at this point.
Nothing seemed out of the ordinary until I lifted the fixture onto the screws and tightened the nuts.
It was impossible to install the fixture without damaging some of the paint. The paint began to chip and smudge under my fingers.
Me, the usual “prime first” advocate failed deeply on this one. It turns out, you need to use a primer/sealer/deglosser before applying the paint to the fixture.
I opened all the windows, turned on the fan, and taped around the fixture. I touched up some of the spots where the paint was peeling.
After I got a lightbulb, the two of us watched for the moment of truth. When I twisted the switch, we stood in silence for a moment.
It was so bright that the Mr. joked that I should have left the other fixture up.
I replied, “I’m not ready yet,” and promptly stuck the new lamp shade on top.
Despite the mistake in lampshade sizing, the light cast a soft glow across the closet. It had almost worked!
All was not lost though. I switched the light shade on my bedside table for this new one and rejoiced.
I went back and stuck the ugly sconce on the fixture for now.
I’ll call it a 33.333% improvement.
Note #1: This is not an affiliated post.
Note #2: Please seek the advice of a licensed electrician before doing any modifications on the wiring in your house.