108. a light for your path, Part 1: never buy a new lamp again…

True confession time: in the forty plus years since I have been furnishing my own dwellings I have only purchased two new lamps.

(My sister, the decorator, would say, “Yes, I can tell.”) ūüėĄ

But I get much joy from making something shabby look good again. And you can too, here at Lamp Repair 101.

Step One: Painting/Cleaning the Lamp
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This lamp was purchased today at Construction Junction for $10. I needed a taller lamp to go with the washstand I just redid. (See post 78 for a before photo of the washstand.) I was looking for a basic lamp to paint. The top and bottom part of this lamp will be spray painted with my favorite Oil Rubbed Bronze shade of Rustoleum; the middle will be painted with the left-over chalk paint from the washstand, a pretty shade of blue green, Calico, from Sherwin Williams.

Usually I test old lamps but there were no light bulbs at the check out counter and the folks who work there are pretty much “Eh, you want it, you buy it. Ya don’t want it, somebody else will buy it…”

Lamp partsI dusted it, cleaned it with vinegar and tested the lamp. The switch was a turn knob, which didn’t click cleanly in place and the light from the bulb flickered. It would need¬†to be¬†replaced with new lamp parts from our favorite Big Box Store.

Tip # 1. If your significant other tries to direct you, ignore all their instructions and do it your way. Then if it fails, you can blame only yourself. Conversely, if it fails after you’ve done it THEIR way, you will be muttering about how you should have done it the way you wanted to in the first place…This is true in all of life.

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I was going to just mask the middle and spray paint. Instead Mr. H.C. suggested I take it apart. He usually knows best, so I did. (See Tip # 1.) In retrospect, he was right (he usually is) because the socket was going to have to be replaced anyway. I should have just taken the whole thing completely apart, instead of keeping it linked together.

Tip # 2. When you take apart a lamp, especially if you are doing this for the first time, Remember how it goes back together. Put all your parts together in a big tin can, or place them somewhere in order to help you remember what washer goes on what nut. (If I can do this, you can too; I scored 0 (Zero) on the mechanical ability tests we had to take in high school…)

 

Note the blobby spray paint

Note the blobby spray paint

Tip # 3. Don’t do your spray painting on a day that has 99% humidity and temperatures in the eighties. It takes forever to dry and then easily scrapes off.

All the DIY blog posts I’ve ever read make it all sound easy and never write a word about messing up. You will get the truth in this post. I have never had any metal not take to my favorite Rustoleum oil rubbed bronze spray paint. Last week I even spray painted a shiny metal lamp shade. It worked great. The shiny fake brass top and bottom of this lamp did not take the paint. I lightly sanded them, put a light base coat on first, and then watched as the second finish coat ¬†just scraped right off. It was disheartening. (See Tip # 3.) And time consuming.

Tip # 4. Do not use a cheap brush for chalk paint.

I already had the chalk paint for the middle of the lamp, but you can find the recipe here. The best tool I had for¬†painting a curved lamp was a small foam brush. The cheap brush that I started with left bristles everywhere and had me bristling. (Sorry, couldn’t resist — see Tip # 4.)

After I had sanded and scraped off the goopy-never-did-dry coat of spray paint, I started again. This time I took the pieces outside where there was a slight breeze, and spray painted again. I didn’t touch them for four hours, and this time they dried fine. Who knows? I’m blaming the humidity and the bad working conditions of the garage‚Ķ

Putting the lamp back together was the most fun of the project. In Part Two of this¬†post we will cover rewiring; if you aren’t into learning how to rewire, then just skip it and look at the final photos of my beautiful new old lamp.


Or maybe you like this lampshade better?

Tell me which you prefer, and in the next post I’ll show you the one I kept.

Note about the washstand: This may or may not be the way it stays. I needed it to look good in a hurry, which meant only sanding the straight parts. The pieces in between the drawers are curved; there are insets on the sides that need much sanding work, so I took the quick route and painted what wasn’t easily sanded. It fit the bill for fast, but I’m not sure if I like it; at least it will do until I decide‚ĶPlus, it’s a compromise between “Don’t ever paint oak/husband” and “But the color goes better with the room/Wife.” What do you think? Hmm. Might depend on your gender?

100. The Not-final Kitchen post

See that 100 up there before the title? I’ve spent the last few weeks wondering what I was going to write about for my 100th post. Big time writer’s block? Afraid of a number? My WordPress statistics tell me I’ve already written 100 posts, it’s just that two of them weren’t numbered. I started the numbering system after the first few posts, because originally? This blog was for me. For us. So we could keep track of what we’d done on the cottage. I wanted an orderly progression of ugly, uglier, better, beautiful. (And heaven knows, something needed to be orderly in my life.)

For a long time, I thought my 100th post would be the Final recap of the kitchen. The Biggie. 100. The Complete Cottage Kitchen Renovation for Less than $10,000.

We did stay under budget, but there are still a few things left to do, and I can’t write a final recap post when the kitchen isn’t final yet.

But I can do everyone’s favorite — Befores and Afters! (Is there anyone who doesn’t like before and after shots???)

70s kitchen

Before.
You can see the sample flooring, but that was the expensive stuff — we bought simple Armstrong VCT.

New old door $35 from Habitat for Humanity. Hardware $45 from Construction Junction.

New old door painted Blooming Grove (Ben Moore) from Habitat for Humanity. The lovely creamy white color is Sherwin Williams Steamed Milk

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Before…

And the same space now…

You can see that the subway tile doesn’t yet go around the corner. And there will be appliance shelves above the tile. Oh and real electric outlets…

This is a close-up of the soapstone countertops and sink. You can read about our soapstone love affair and adventures here.

Even after some nicks and dents and scratches, we still love the soapstone.

This...

This…

…to this!

…to this!

This corner below made it into the recent post about the orange phone. (You can read that one here.)

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corner with fridge

We don’t have any before photos of the little pantry that we demolished — it was just to the right of this door below:

But we do have a lovely shot of the hole that we found when we took out the wall. These next two pics are of the same space — about 16 months apart‚Ķ I made the first picture small on purpose — no one wants to see how awful it really was.

hole in the wall

Discovering this was one of the low points…

The chalkboard was my Christmas present...

The chalkboard was my Christmas present…And the peninsula covers that hole nicely. The butcher block wood is Sapele from Hardwood Lumber Company in Ohio. You can read about it here and here.

From this above photo you can look in and see the almost finished dining room. You can see that the trim isn’t finished around the door, the crown still needs to be put up (we just finished the ceiling this past weekend!), and the mirror between the sconces still is leaning against the fifth wall‚Ķ But yes, life is good.

Dining Room before

View of Dining room into kitchen

and what it looks like now.

Just a few Post Scripts: Some of the walls you see aren’t there any longer — we took out some half-walls here and there. The only things kept from the original kitchen were the windows, the light with a pull chain above the green door, the fridge, and the built-in cupboard. Oh, and the pantry sign. We’ve still got art to hang, and finishing touches to do, and now that I see the bushel baskets on the fridge, I think they have to go‚Ķ But it is Apple Hill Cottage after all, so they’ve got to find a place somewhere…

93. Goin’ to town and buyin’ the mantel

Mr. H.C. is famous for saying “Well, as Dad used to say‚Ķ” and then he’ll pop off with some odd phrase, and nine times out of ten, my mom (or grandfather) said it too. It might be just old time country talk, or it might be real Greene County lingo, I’m not sure. But three of four of our parents were Greene County lifers (Clara always made sure to tell you that she was from California!) so this post is lovingly for them — and anyone else who loves the hollows, ridges, and idioms of Greene County.

Over a year ago we wandered into Jan’s Country Nook, a little hardware/antique/secondhand store on the main street of town. The window display drew us in — cast iron ash buckets, galvanized wash tubs, old tools, and a fireplace mantel — together with a jumble of other old and odd items led us into thinking that if we found any diamonds or rhinestones, they might not be too high. After all, we have champagne taste and a beer pocketbook.

We pooshed open the door, but nobody paid us any mind. Two old codgers in red and black plaid wool jackets and orange hunting caps were loudly discussing the pros and cons of the weather, and what it had to do with the price of eggs, and the salt situation in India. One was settin’ a spell on an upside down tub, and the other was leanin’ his elbow on a cluttered ledge. He was big enough to eat hay, and he crowded out the place. ¬†Nearby was a small, thin lady with longish gray hair and a gravelly voice; she was puttin’ in her two cents as well. They both seemed to be hollering at the man who was sittin’ down; could have been he was deaf as a stump, or maybe he just had the flaps of his hat pulled over his ears.

Mr. H.C never met an old tool he didn’t like, and I was chompin’ at the bit for a galvanized washtub, so we were in hog heaven. The wood floor creaked as I walked down the right side, Mr. H.C walked down the left side and we met in the back of the store and conferred. There was a double washtub (on a stand!) but we allowed how it was in pretty bad shape, and Mr. H.C. can be tight-fisted with a dollar. We agreed it wasn’t worth the money, switched places, and moseyed up the other sides.

Old dolls, blue canning jars, and wooden Flexible Flyer sleds mingled with hard-to-find hardware items. Mr.H.C. bought some slotted brass screws that are scarcer than hen’s teeth these days. He was tickled pink to find them.

Mantel

I found this in the archives. Proof of the date of purchase and of the fireplace soot on the finish. We were keepin’ our fingers crossed that it just needed cleaned.

Neither of us can remember who saw it first, but Mr. H.C. is givin’ me credit. It was leaning against the wall and it looked like it had been around the barn once or twice. In fact, we’d been all around Robin Hood’s barn looking at mantels in other places — in the Burgh and in little Worshington — but all the ones we had seen were for the birds, and they were too pricey to boot. We had a rough opening measurement, but not exact, so after we had given it the once-over and allowed how it might do, we had to go back to Apple Hill to be sure it would fit. We told her we only lived down the road a piece, and we’d be back if the crick didn’t rise.

What we had to work with…

Well, we had to redd up the place to make room; the area around the fireplace looked like a cyclone had struck it. But we measured it twice and determined it would fit, so we high-tailed it back to the store.

Seventy-five dollars, firm.

Seventy-five dollars, firm.

I asked her if she would take $65, but she was firm. “The price is $75,” she said.

So we followed her back to the counter and settled up. She must have felt bad for not bargaining with us, so she gave us a handy dandy little 2013 calendar book and pen to make up for it, which I just found and threw away last week.

And to think we pert’near bought one for $150 at Construction Junction down in the city‚Ķ

coal burning fireplace
The mantel pretty much looked like this for the last 11 months — collecting dust, odds & ends and serving as a tool shelf. All along I had planned on lightly sanding it and experimenting with Annie Sloan’s Chalk paint. I’ve read about it, watched You-tube videos and I was ready for the challenge. Then I added up how much it would cost. Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat! It would have been a pretty penny, and we already talked about that beer pocketbook, and Mr. H.C. isn’t the only one who can be tightfisted with a dollar. As Joe would say, “We were feeling too poor to paint and too proud to whitewash.”

So for the next month I worked like a dog — I got paint in my hair and primer on my britches. I reckon I looked like the wild woman of Borneo. Here are some pictures of it getting fixed up…

I reckon I’m gonna try to make my own chalk paint sometime soon; I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about it, and I’ve heard tell all you need is some plaster of paris. And some paint. Wait till you see the dining room chairs…