My attention to detail is a bit like a politician’s promise – short-lived and unreliable. So whilst I could dance around in a big, draughty cow-dung filled barn, getting madly excited with wild ideas of what it might eventually look like, I wasn’t really that great when it came to checking all the details on the plans.
I mean, yes there were lots of light fittings and sockets on the plan, but I never really tried to envisage what that meant in reality. That’s just plugs and lightbulbs – all ‘stuff I can deal with later’. But of course, all the necessary wiring in the first fix electrics goes in long before you get to actual light fittings. And once all the plasterboard is then put in place, it becomes a bit problematical to make major changes. As a result I do have a couple of unnecessarily dark corners. Hindsight is a wonderful thing – I do wish I’d paid a bit more attention. Hey ho! Guess I’ll just have to buy a few extra floor lamps!
The one place where I did actually intervene was in the music room. As a result of the irregularities of the stone wall and the way I decided to frame them out, I’ve ended up with a ledge half way up the wall. I decided it would look quite cool to put some uplighters on the ledge. And it does give a lovely wash of light up the wall.
But it was also almost the cause of me burning the place down.
The sparky had put the fittings in place; I was just adding the finishing touches. I decided to use up some of my leftover oak floor boards to trim the ledge. So I cut a hole through the boards to fit the first light. Then moved on to the second. And wandered off to get something, without realising I’d put a piece of floorboard over the top of the light fitting. And also without realising the lights were on. And got a bit distracted. (Yes, I know – attention span of a kitten in a wool shop..) A while later, at the other end of the house, I thought I could smell burning. I got back to the Music room to find the oak boards smouldering and the light fitting melted. Oops!
So I’ve steered clear of getting involved in the rest of the light fittings, which is maybe just as well!
As a result, for the most part I’ve ended up with downlighters (about 100 of them in total) as the Mr Sparky’s failsafe-total-lack-of-imagination-fallback option. In the one room that I said I want proper pendant lights of some sort, he has put in a bog-standard plastic ceiling rose and left bare bulbs hanging. OK, to be fair, he’s a sparky not an interior designer, and he didn’t know what else to put up there, because I hadn’t managed to find my dream light fittings at the time.
But these bare bulbs are suspended from a cable that is about 10cm long in a room that has a 5m high ceiling:
To say it looks ridiculous is being polite!
So this weekend I’ve decided to do something about it – though hopefully without burning the house down this time.
I found my perfect dream to-die-for lights on the internet ages ago. Unfortunately they were a couple of thousand squids each and I need 2 of them. I’ve been hunting everywhere for an alternative that doesn’t need a second mortgage, but without success.
So I have come up with a cunning plan. Baldric will be proud of me. I’m going to make my own by buying a couple of bog-standard chandeliers and creating some large globes around them using hula hoops (the gymnastic kind, not the ones you eat!) OK, it probably sounds a bit weird and hideous, but I know what I’m trying to get to. Trust me. It’ll work.
And for anyone who wants to try this at home, in true Blue Peter style, here’s what you will need.
- A bog-standard chandelier
- A couple of random spare bits of oak (I used leftover worktop)
- Some wooden gymnastics hoops
- Some metal chain
- A large hole cutter
- A small hole cutter
- A router
- A ball of string
- A couple of 4 inch screws
- Sticky-back plastic (just kidding)
- The patience of a saint (not kidding)
First problem is that most bog-standard chandeliers are made for bog-standard houses, which have bog-standard ceiling heights.
To make them long enough to look even vaguely sensible in a room with 5m high ceilings, I needed to make the drop longer.
So I went out and bought some chain. Fortunately there was quite a bit of extra cable, so a bit of nifty handiwork with a pair of pliers, and my ‘chandelier’ was a foot longer. (Could have done with another 3 feet to be honest, but there wasn’t enough cable length.)
Then to make the ‘globes’. Cut out a large circle of wood. Route it round the edges to give a more professional finish. Then cut a smaller circle out of the middle of it. Saw a few notches round the edges of each circle. Now all you need to do is cut the hoops in half and slot them in to the notches. Easy, right? Well in truth you’ll need a maths degree to figure out how much to cut out of each hoop to ensure that they still create a perfect circle when you join the whole thing together.
In the absence of a maths degree, I made do with a ball of string and guesswork….
How simple is that???
Now all I need to do is get it up to the ceiling and wire it in. How hard can that be?
The original light fitting was a mere 4 kg. And although individually the wooden hoops weren’t particularly heavy, by the time I’d added half a dozen of them to each light, the weight had doubled. Bear in mind that in order to be able to secure it to the ceiling, I would need to be able to hold the fitting in one hand whilst wielding screwdriver in the other.
But hey. I’m a gym bunny – I can lift 8kg in one hand no probs. I think my PT would be insulted if I couldn’t. But the problem is, that one-handed 8kg lift has to be whilst climbing a step-ladder. And such is the height of the room, that I’m going to have to ignore this:
The only way I can reach the ceiling is by standing on the ‘paint-pot shelf’…
And if it all becomes too heavy, or I lose my balance and have to let go of the light, well underneath it is my lovely hand-carved teak, glass-topped dining table – which is too heavy to shift out of the way. So dropping the chandelier is really not an option…
And finally, this was fairly late in the evening. Obviously I’d need to disconnect the power to the lights before I started playing around with the electric fitting.
So, carrying a rather bulky 8kg in one hand up to the very top of a large step-ladder in the dark with just a head torch to see by…… Well why make things simple????
I made it. But I’ll confess to feeling quite shaky when I got back down to earth!
Well that’s one done. One more to go. But I’m bored with this now – I want a different ball of wool to play with……….