Thursday, September 27, 2012

Live and Learn #1 - Exterior Lights

Designing a house from scratch is fun, challenging, frustrating, rewarding, scary, stressful, interesting and fulfilling.  Rob and I have talked about our vision and our plans for this house ad nauseum (well, almost).

How do we see ourselves living in it, how do we want it to look and how do we want the rooms to flow, how do we want to use the rooms and how do we want the house to feel to our guests?  Of course we've had to make some compromises, adaptations and changes as we've gone along.  Most of them we've been able to catch on paper - before there was any real cost involved.  As we've gotten closer to a finished house we've realized that some of our decisions, although they sounded good in theory or looked good on paper, just didn't work in real life and changes had to be made.

The following four posts are going to detail some of our mistakes, or maybe we should just call them do-overs.

Or as we've taken to saying, "live and learn".

#1 - Exterior Lights
We started out wanting the house to nod at modern / contemporary touches so when it came time to choose the light fixtures for the garage and other exterior doors we focused mainly on lights that had modern lines.  Rob really wanted them to have light sensors so they would automatically go on at dusk and off at dawn.  We found some online, that seemed to meet the criteria but the ORB finish was over $100 each and we needed SEVEN so that was unrealistic.  Then, thanks to Google, I found the exact same light fixture on sale with free shipping.  The problem was they were brushed nickel which would not show up on our house.  I'd seen enough DIY shows and read enough blogs to know that you can spray paint your light fixtures if the existing color doesn't work for you.  So, I jumped the gun and put in the order.

When they came my heart sunk.  They were so much smaller than I expected (even though I have a measuring tape).  And what looked like a cool modern design online didn't really look like much in person.

I SHOULD HAVE sent them back then and there.  But I thought, no we paid for them and once they are painted ORB they will show up better and have a stronger appearance.

So I bought some bronze spray paint, took two of them apart and proceeded to start painting.

The finish was brown (more like tan) but it was still not dark enough to show up on the stucco, but I wasn't ready to give up yet.  So, I went and bought some black spray paint thinking that if they were painted black first and then hit lightly with the bronze that would give me the look we wanted.  Nope.  The bronze spray paint covered the black and made it too light again.

So, did I give up and ship the other lights back?

NO!  That would be too sensible.

Rob and I dismantled all of them, created a spray station and proceeded to paint them all black.  Which was actually lovely until we tried to reassemble them.  We tried and tried and tried to put them back together the same way they came (until Rob cracked one).  Originally there was a ring of silicone at the top and the bottom of the glass.  We weren't sure if it was there to keep water out or just to act as a buffer between the glass and the metal, but no matter how hard we tried we could not get it together with both parts.  Rob finally made an executive decision that the top ring was the most important because that would protect the actual electrical parts from the weather.

So we put them together and took one of them up to the house to look at next to the stucco.  The black worked, but the size hadn't changed at all (hahah they were still barely 11" tall regardless of the color).  They were so small as to almost be inconsequential next to the garage doors.

Our compromise was to use them on the doors coming out of the basement into the backyard and on the man door from the garage.  I went out hunting at Lowe's and Home Depot for a better option.  We didn't have time to look online anymore because the electricians were ready to start installing our lights.

I found two possible options, sent pictures of them to Rob (who was in Orlando working at the time) and we made a decision.  I brought them up to the house and kept my fingers crossed that they would be large enough, that the colors would work and that the style wouldn't distract from the house.  It's not the vision we started out with, but I actually quite like them.  This end result turned out better than planned.

In fact, we may replace the small light fixture by the man door with the smaller matching light from Lowe's since it is in the same line of sight as the light fixtures by our garage doors.  The only thing Rob is disappointed about is that they aren't Dusk to Dawn.

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