Tuesday, September 6, 2011

apartment project -- lighting upgrade, part two

Last week I shared our lighting conundrum by the front door. The previous very dated, landlord-chosen sconce needed an update pronto! I explored some options but unfortunately the $100 price tags on each of my choices meant I needed to find something more budget friendly (remember I'm working on an entire apartment rather than once specific space). Over the long weekend, I was able to finish said project.

Here's a reminder of what I was working with...

To achieve a designer look, I decided a little DIY was in order meanwhile keeping few specifics in mind...

1) I was looking for something that worked with our newly painted front door (in Behr Ultra Intellectual in semi-gloss) so anything too dark was a no-go because I didn't want it to compete with the dark gray.

2) I was looking for something that coordinated with the worn-in vintage brass front door knob, locks and switches (how much do you love these vintage switches???). Most likely the original sconce in the 1930's had a brass finish.

3) And lastly, I was looking for something that stayed true to the era of the architecture. The apartment is a pre-war so I was trying to find something on the traditional and classic side.

After exploring the lighting sections of our local home improvement stores, I finally settled on this option from The Home Depot (although I must say, the lighting department at Lowe's is stellar!). And just my luck, it was on sale for $26.00! But yes, it has a silver finish and I was looking for brass. So I got out the Rub-n-Buff in Antique Gold left over from my frame project and started rubbing and buffing away. 

Tip: Use a Q-tip to get the pigment into the hard to reach areas (I used my fingers for everything else).

This stuff works miracles and it's something I always have on hand. I like it better than spray paint for projects like this because it's not as messy and touch-ups are a breeze. Look at all the colors! The possibilities are endless. I've only used the Antique Gold but am thinking of picking up the Gold Leaf soon.

The most important thing for me was to make sure this new fixture looked original as if it had been here since the 1930's and I didn't want it to look like we just installed a new, store bought sconce. So we started thinking of more ways to make this light fixture believable and decided to give the sconce more "oomph" and bought this 10" medallion from Lowe's for $8.00. I painted it the same semi-gloss white as the trim and adhered it to the wall with super glue (although there are probably better ways but this was all we had on hand! After it dried it wasn't all the way flush to the wall, so I used some caulk to fill in the gaps).

Once we saw everything installed there was something a bit off with the medallion painted white. It seemed a bit too bright and obvious that we were the ones who put it up (vs. it having already been there since the 1930's).

So I painted it the same gray as the walls and it fixed the problem making it less garish. And voila! Here's everything finished and looking great if I do say so myself!

The medallion gives some structure and presence to the sconce but doesn't overpower it or compete with the adjacent door, trim and hardware. It also anchors the fixture so it doesn't look like it's floating on the wall. The new brass finish ties in with all the other brass hardware and it doesn't clash with the door. But most importantly, it doesn't scream "I'm new!"

This was such a simple project but really adds a sense of drama to the entry of our apartment. And the whole project cost around $40! It's hard to imagine that less than two months ago this is what the front door looked like a few days after we moved in...

Visit part one of the saga here.


  1. This is so beautiful. I can appreciate how much work went into this project. You did a great job!...I like to see that every detail is considered, I make myself nuts over this stuff too.

  2. What color is the dark gray door? Looking, looking for this color.

  3. Absolutely fabulous, the whole thing. The medallion is truly inspired and looks great painted the same color as the wall!

  4. Great project! You're saving my bacon right now. I'm totally gonna do this. Thanks!

  5. Gorgeous! We are remodeling a 1920s Craftsman that has some of the original lights and some newer lights...I'm looking forward to using Rub N Buff on the newer fixtures!


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