Monday, June 18, 2012

Recessed Office Lighting Upgrade

There's been a serious problem looming above my head for a long time now.


See those 3 pitiful little bulbs? They haven't been providing nearly enough light for my work space—not only that but the color temperature is all wrong.

We installed that light fixture way back when we first bought the house, before I started working from home and needed sufficient lighting.

Lately I've been finding myself having to run up next to the window or even go outside in order to color match my work. Enough was enough, so I kindly asked my husband if he would be willing to go back up into the attic (his most favorite thing, especially during the summer...) and install some recessed lighting. Luckily he obliged.

We headed to Lowe's to pick out our new setup.

While in the recessed lighting aisle, I spotted this handy color chart which explained the different color temperatures, and what works best for different situations.

I immediately knew what color I needed...

It was like they wrote this description just for me. 5000K it was.

We located the only 5000k bulbs we could find...

$25 a piece.... pricey, but I guess artificial daylight doesn't come cheap.

We also had to buy the light housings, LED compatible dimmer switch, Romex wire, and a 4" arbor and drill bit adapter to cut the holes. Total for 4 lights: $255. Sigh. At least it's a write-off?

Back at home, we unloaded everything and got to work.

First up was marking our ceiling holes using a tape measure and laser. Then it was hole cuttin' time:


Here's all four holes:

Next, it was time for the wiring. We did as much of it as we could on the ground, so there would be minimal attic time.

We just followed the instructions that came with the lightsand connected one piece of Romex (with one black and one white wire) to each housing.

Here's a close up of the light:

After the Romex was connected, we pushed each one up into the hole and secured it in place using the metal clips on the side. Then we popped a bulb in each one.

After everything was in place, Brad went up into the attic and finished off the wiring. I have no idea what exactly he did up there, so if anyone has questions about this process, feel free to leave a comment and I'll make him answer.

After the attic time, he came back down and proceeded to install the dimmer switch.

And then there was (day)light...

Here's a before and after of how the room looks under each type of light:



Much better, right? No more orange cast on my colors!

One thing I learned is that the higher/cooler color temperature you go, the lower luminance output you'll get. Ideally, I would have liked the lights brighter, but the LED output at this color temperature just isn't as high as your typical fluorescent light. I may swap them out with a lower color temp or add two more lights in the future if I decide I want things even brighter in there, but for now they are working out just fine.

As for the old light fixture, I'll most likely swap it out for a simple, low profile fan in the near future.
Oh, and if anyone is wondering what happened to this rug....

Well, I took this shot right after it arrived in the mail. Unfortunately though, there was a stained/soiled area that I noticed and couldn't remove, so I went to exchange it, and found out that they were out of stock. Ugh. This was last year, and I haven't had a chance to check back up on it (or maybe I've just been too lazy/unmotivated...) Either way, I'm not sure I want it anymore because of how easily soiled it gets, and also it doesn't grip the floors and that could get annoying. I am okay with living rugless for right now.

We still want to add recessed lighting in the living room (which desperately needs more light) and our bedroom, although we'll stick to a more cozy color temp (probably in the 3000k range). Now that we have a few rooms under our belt (kitchen, sunroom, master bath, and office), we almost have the process down to a science.

So, what do you think? Anyone else considering adding recessed lighting, but don't know where to start/don't have the tools? I think it's definitely worth the cost and effort... it really updates the overall look of the room, plus LED lights are super energy efficient and you'll hardly ever have to change the bulb. If you're still on the fence, go for it!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Oarn't you glad I'm back?

Happy Father's Day! How are you all celebrating today? What did your Dads/husbands get this year? I unfortunately couldn't be with my dad today, but I did spoil him this year with something he's been wanting forever...

a 46" LCD flatscreen. I know this won't make up for me moving 3000 miles away, but it should help pass the time between visits. I hope he's enjoying a good movie in HD on it right this moment. Love you, Dad :)

Thanks for hanging in there while I took a couple weeks off to visit with my family and give the whole D&R/blogging thing a rest for a bit. It was a good break to relax & refuel.

I've returned today with a quick master bedroom update.

Remember this empty space above our headboard?

Well, originally I had decided that a long, skinny piece of driftwood would be the perfect addition. Then I realized they were extremely hard and/or expensive to just stumble upon... so I took matters into my own hands and decided I'd make my own with a tree branch I cut from our front yard.
To aid in the natural "weathering" process, I threw it in the pool and let it soak for about a month.

The next step was peeling the bark off... which I wasn't really sure how to approach.

After I took this picture, I set the branch aside and decided I'd get back to it after my family had left town.

But then my plans changed.

The day after my family arrived, I had rented a Pontoon boat for a group of us and scheduled a fun day of boating and exploring the city by river. I had this boat reserved for over a month and our whole route planned and everything.

When we get to the marina, I give the guy my name and he says "Oh... uh... yeah, the boat blew its' engine and then our backup boat sank. Sorry."

Yeah... thanks for telling me earlier.

Our neighbor/boat captain friend, Joe, who was with us tried calling every marina owner he knew to try and get us a replacement boat, but it was too short notice and our boat day was ruined.

As we were leaving, I spotted this old oar that had been rotting away in their boat graveyard. I pointed it out to Joe and he decided to take it as our parting/consolation gift.

I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it at first, but once we were back at home, it hit me: hang it over the bed!

A few pulls of the nailgun trigger later, and it was up:

I love it not only because it's nautical, but now I have a symbol of our family trip that I can look at every day.

I will call this look... "simplistic nautical romance." I like it.

This engraving is pretty awesome. I believe it stands for "really rad paddle."

And of course, Susie wants you all to know that she approves of this update.

That's all I've got this time... but Brad and I just finished a much needed office lighting upgrade, which I'll be back with tomorrow.

I'm off to bake some healthy brownies for a BBQ at a friend's house who is a new daddy. Check back tomorrow for my office update!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A 15 month ORB handle update.

Flashback to January 2011. I was just starting to accessorize our new home and began spray painting everything in sight, including all of the dated brass fixtures.



Yes... I know it's upside down  ):

That was using Krylon's ORB spray paint, with no prep other than a thorough cleaning.

Fast forward exactly 15 months later... and here's the same handle from the last pic:

Looking good, right?

Well... here's the other side of that handle:


I've been putting this off for a while, because I had much more exciting D&R projects to fill my time. But enough was enough.

Here's how every other door handle in the house was looking:

Some were fine, some had a few nicks, and others were a hot mess.

I decided I'd go by the book this time, and that meant sanding and using deglosser. I read that sandpaper (even fine grit) was just too rough for the finish, so I spent about 3 hours and 6 handfuls of steel wool trying to prep the surface as best as I could.

As you can see, the old paint didn't fully remove, which literally would have taken days (especially with this intricate style handle and hard to reach spots). So I called it a night and came back the next morning with fresh hands.

For this round, I decided to try Rustoleum's version. We had used it several months back on our guest bathroom fixtures, and those are still going strong. I also prefer the brown/gold fleck quality it has over Krylon's, which was more of a flat black indoors.

After thoroughly wiping with deglosser, I applied the first coat:

Four or five light, even coats later, these babies were ready to go:

Note: The coloring always looks lighter outdoors/in the sun.

And we're back to square one...

...for now. When I was using the drill on one of the screws, the metal on metal contact did scratch some of the paint off. I do not have high hopes for these things, quite honestly. Maybe we just have to be more careful about banging hard objects against the handles...

But the good news is, our guest bath finish still looks great!

I think as long as they don't encounter blunt force trauma with anything metal, they will hold up. But we all know life happens, and that can't always be prevented. Check back in 15 months for another update :)


In unrelated news... I've been published!

Yep, that's our bedroom wall

I'm so honored and humbled to have been chosen for an interview for Jacksonville Magazine's June 2012 issue.

But the most exciting part of this week begins in just 6 hours, when I head to the airport to see my family for the first time since Christmas. They never travel (they haven't even been east of Utah!) so this will be such a good experience for them. I can't wait to show them how the South/East Coast lives... maybe I can convince them to move here :)

Time to get back to cleaning/laundry/yardwork/grocery-ing before they arrive. Have an amazing week, everyone!