Since we moved into the house, I have been slowly but steadily replacing the old, dated light fixtures with things that are more my style. I love lighting. I really think it’s like jewelry for a room and a great light can go far to distracting you for whatever other hot mess is going on in a room (um…like my kitchen maybe?)
So far, I’ve replaced lights in the master bedroom:
As well as Knox’s room and the dining room (both works in progress…photos to come!) I made one last push to replace the remaining lights this summer which included adding sconces to the family room, replacing the playroom light, relocating the foyer light and adding a stairwell light like I covered here.
The electricians were scheduled and I counted down the days to my pretty new lights. Normally, I’d just swap out a fixture myself but the family room needed new wiring as did the stairwell and the foyer light needed to be moved.
So here was the plan -right now this pierced brass globe hangs off center in the foyer doing double duty of illuminating the foyer and throwing light up onto the stairwell. The problem is it doesn’t do either job very well. So I wanted to move the fixture about 10″ to the right so that it was centered over the front door (I’m standing on the porch looking in for this photo). A pretty flush mount would do the job.
And then I wanted to install a hanging pendant here in the stairwell to be an actual stairwell light (not some forgotten space left to get whatever light can sneak up there from the foyer).
Well let’s just say, none of that came to be. The electricians were here for all of 15 minutes before they broke the news to me that in order to do the above, they’d have to wire into existing, not up to code knob and tube wiring. If you aren’t family with knob and tube, it was the standard method of electrifying buildings from 1880 to 1930. Basically, we’re talking about wires run between ceiling joists and wall studs insulated by these little white porcelain tubes. Unlike the rubbery coated wire we’re all familiar with, knob and tube wires are encased in a flexible cloth sleeve. Over time (like 100 years in our case) the sleeves start to deteriorate and you get bare wires just hanging around. Awesome right? It’s an even bigger issue when you try to insulate your home because then you’ve got insulation coming into contact with this old wiring. It’s a nightmare and many insurance companies won’t even insure you if you have it. Others will but you have to pay increased premiums.
(images above via Wikipedia but my basement ceiling looks EXACTLY like this)
We knew when we bought the house that there was some knob and tube…it’s totally visible in the attic and basement but were told it had been updated in the main living areas (1st and 2nd floor). So in the back of our minds, we knew this was something we’d need to update at some point…but NOT last Thursday when I was just planning on updating some fixtures. And we did not know how prevalent it actually is throughout the house. A licensed electrician is not able to tap into this old wiring and do anything other than put a new fixture in the exact spot one already exists (which is what I’ve been doing in these other rooms above).
Soooo….now I’ve got some very pretty lights in storage in my basement and am an estimate for $6,000 if I ever want to see them installed. 🙁
Mr. H+F thinks we should just wait until we do the larger renovation/addition we are saving for. His logic is that many of the homes walls will be down then and rewiring would be easier. I of course want to do it now to just get it over with…it’s not like any of this work will go to waste. We have to get this wiring out of here at some point. But frankly, these arguments are moot either way because we can’t afford $6,000. And even if we could, spending that kind of money for stuff I can’t even see makes me so angry, I can’t even tell you! Yes, I know it’s a safety thing. Yes, I know it needs to get done. But I could make huge improvements with $6,000! Things you can see like rugs and curtains and painted trim and a patio, etc, etc, etc. UGH!
Oh and then Sunday we pulled into our driveway after spending the morning in the city and saw this.
The 200 year old maple tree in our neighbor’s yard with limbs hanging over our driveway picked a perfectly sunny, zero wind day to shed an 8 foot branch into my windshield.
Sorry for the pity party. Things can only go up from here right? On the bright side, the sconces in the family room for the window seat nook were installed with no problem (because they were wired brand new, no existing fixture in this spot). Starting the drawers below this window seat tomorrow so back soon with some updates to the family room!