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Fear and Loathing of Boob Lights, a.k.a. Justifying my Home Improvement Obsession

July 11, 2013

Three years ago this month, I moved into my very first house. The only reason I remember that it was three years ago and not more like five or seven or 10 (because sometimes it feels like it’s been that long) is that my dog is 3 years, 2 months and 3 weeks old, and we moved in when he was a mere 10 weeks along.

Now, before I go any further, I have to say I love my house. I do. It was everything I really wanted. When I started looking for a place, I knew I wanted:

  1. Craftsman charm built in modern times — after living in San Diego and San Francisco, I knew that I liked the older style houses, but I didn’t want the upkeep of a turn-of-the-century home
  2. Wrap porch — It didn’t have to wrap all the way around, but I wanted a large porch from which I could watch the world
  3. A garage tucked to the side of the house — I know most houses are built with the garage on the front of the house these days, but I didn’t want a house in which the garage was the most prominent feature

House 1

I found all of this and more in my house. Finished in 2008, it was modeled after a Craftsman home built near downtown. The covered porch (while still unused) is wide and beautiful, and the garage is at the side of the house, away from the road. The only thing that would make it better is if it was positioned in the middle of 40 secluded acres and my closest neighbor was a Starbucks.

That said, the house was built by first-time builders, so some things are — well — a little strange. First, there’s the cat room. Yes, I have a dedicate cat room in my home. It’s a walk-in closet-sized room just off the hallway, sandwiched between the living room and the master bedroom. When I met the builders, they claimed it was an office, designed specifically for the needs of people who wanted a small space to pay bills, but didn’t plan on actually working from home (like I did). I countered that if that was the case, why did they bother putting a desk in the kitchen?

They didn’t have an answer.

Then there’s the staircase. It looks like a normal staircase. Seven stairs, a landing and a turn, followed by seven more stairs. The problem is that the landing is just a few inches shy of a normal width and the ceiling tilts in that particular spot. So, while the second floor boasts a large — albeit oddly shaped — family room, there is no way to get a standard-sized couch up the stairs. I know because we tried.

Then there’s the small number of vents with no duct work behind them, the hallway alcove that seemed to be designed for a large wine fridge except that someone forgot to put an electrical outlet on that side of the hall, and the outside faucet installed right over the dryer vent. The latter may not seem like a big deal, but it’s the only faucet on the north side of the house, so I have to use it. Needless to say, each year I find myself replacing 20 feet of warped and blistered connector hose I use to unite the faucet to the hose reel that is tucked safely away from the dryer vent.

The list of general weirdness goes on and on.

All of this brings me to the real point of this post: The never-ending money pit which one calls home.

I don’t mean the normal wear and tear. I was prepared for that. At least most of it. After many years of listening to others lament the downside of home ownership, I knew that the costs would be higher than I ever encountered when renting because I would be responsible for every broken appliance, pipe or toilet.

Yeah … that’s really only the half of it.

On top of the list of must-dos are all the need-to-dos to keep up a house. I’m not talking about run-of-the-mill decorating (although, if someone has a recommendation on a sea-themed or sea-glass-inspired soap dispenser for my guest bathroom that won’t break within 10 months, I would really appreciate it). I’m talking about things like installing a fence, exterior and interior painting, and replacing carpets. It also includes my latest rabid obsession: boob lights.

Boob Light 1

Boob light — what else would you call it?

Yes, I said boob lights.

I can’t be quite sure who coined the term (I’m pretty sure it was my friend, Michelle), but it is probably the best way to describe these types of lights that mount flush to the ceiling. They are pendular, hanging heavy from the ceiling, and end in a … well … a nipple. OK, it’s the cap that screws onto the fixture to keep the globe in place, but it still looks like a nipple.

Needless to say, I find them to be hideous.

Unfortunately, in roving through the aisles of Lowe’s multiple times, I have realized that I might be stuck with the general shape of these types of lights. Why? Because other ceiling lights are designed to be opened by reaching a screw  or multiple screws near the base of the fixture. Given that the ceiling on the first floor of my house is so high and I am so short, I would have a hard time changing a light bulb in these types of fixtures even on top of a step-ladder. In other words, those nipples are actually well placed for someone vertically challenged.

That said, the boob lights in my house still need to be replaced, if for no other reason than they don’t match anything.

Fixtures

Bronze fixtures as far as the eye can see — unless you are looking at the horrid orange lights

See, the builders of my house were obsessed with making sure that everything in the structure — the faucets, the door knobs, the mirrors, the draw pulls — sported the same oil-rubbed bronze finish. They were so obsessed with it, in fact, that they even replaced the handles on the toilets with oil-rubbed bronze ones. Unfortunately, the handles stuck out too far from the back of the toilet, so the only way you could use it was by physically holding up the lid (honestly, this wasn’t a big issue for me, but male visitors to the house were in for a rude surprise).

Instead, the lights are this strange orange-coppery color that don’t look like anything else in the house. I don’t know if they just found a great sale on these lights (the builders took such care in the initial construction of my home that they were running out of money toward the end and cut a few corners, including installing some of the cheapest carpet I have ever encountered in my life) or if they really thought they would match. I suspect the issue is the former rather than the latter. Regardless, the oil-rubbed bronze obsession did not extend to the lights.

The problem I now face is that it will not be cheap to replace the lights. The ones I am drawn to at Lowe’s run between $35 and $50 each, without factoring in installation costs, and I have 14 of these suckers in my house. And that seems to be the economical end of the spectrum. I tried finding less expensive ones on sites like Lamps Plus and Build.com, but the Arts and Crafts or Mission style lights that would match my house run anywhere from $129 to a whooping $1,999 each (to be fair, the bowl of the $2,000 light is 36 inches wide, which I can’t even begin to fathom in a lighting fixture, but that’s still a lot of money for a single light).

Based on the range, I would be looking at anywhere from $490 to $3,500 (I factored in $250/light for the high-end because I don’t even want to think about paying $2,000 for one light fixture … although, I really don’t want to think about spending $250 a light either … or $129 … or $35 …) to replace these lights before installation charges.

Ouch.

Until I can figure out what I am willing to spend on lights for my house, this investment will have to wait. In the meantime, I will focus on other issues I need to address, such as replacing the grungy and holey carpet on the stairs and the second floor, power washing the outside of my house and repainting all of the exterior trim.

It’s going to be a busy summer. And it looks like I need to make another trip to the home improvement store …

Boob Light 2

Boob light in full glory

From → Observations

2 Comments
  1. cara clark permalink

    I call them boob lights too, because they look EdZachary like boobs!

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