Do you know what’s awesome about having a father-in-law that lives right across the street and is an electrical expert? He can come over and help you hang your new dining room light fixture on a Wednesday night. I would say that I don’t know what I’d do without his help in this sort of situation, but I know exactly what I’d do: end up with several holes in the ceilings, electrical burns and maybe some bumps and bruises to boot. All joking aside, this process wasn’t really rocket science, but it was extremely helpful to have his know-how to guide me through it – and his muscle power was completely necessary for this beast of a fixture.
We went with the Eldridge Rectangular Chandelier from Ballard Design. This light fixture isn’t technically “new”; Ash’s parents gifted it to us the Christmas before last – as in Christmas 2012. It has been sitting in a box in the corner of the dining room, waiting patiently until we had a new table. Even though Ash hasn’t decided on chairs, we wanted to go ahead and hang the light so we can get this ball rolling a bit more quickly toward to the finish line.
The issue with hanging this light fixture – and why we had to enlist my father-in-law’s help – is because the previous light fixture in this room (which we just replaced with a plain light bulb when we removed the 1970’s ceiling fan), was about two feet and a few inches over from the center of the dining room table. That meant it was going to take a bit more than screwing a new bracket onto the box and hanging the new fixture.
To start out, we first had to decide where exactly to hang the light. We used a combination of a laser level and a tape measure for the majority of this process. (Step 1) The first thing we did was measure the distance from the wall to the middle of the table. (Step 2) At that point, we moved the table out of the way and measured halfway between the two windows. (Step 3) Then, we used the laser level to make a mark on the ceiling that was perfectly centered between the windows, then placed the laser level on the ceiling to make a mark in the middle of the room. (Step 4) Next, we made marks on either side of the ceiling exactly the distance we measured in step one. (Step 5) Finally, we shot the laser level across the room, lining up the two marks made in step 4, across the mark made in step 3, and made a faint line with a pencil on the ceiling to guide our placement of the new bracket.
After the measuring was done, we used a 2 inch hole saw to make a hole where the wires would come through the ceiling (the rod in the above photo is the vacuum attachment to catch some of the dust). Since (with this particular fixture) we were making the junction inside the new bracket, we didn’t use an actual box. In retrospect, I’m not sure if that was the proper way to do things, but it worked really well for us. If you’re hanging a light fixture without a bracket, this is where you would install a junction box. Here is a great tutorial on how to do that.
Once we found the studs, we realized the bracket’s pre-drilled holes weren’t going to line up exactly on one side. That being the case, we drilled two new holes using a titanium drill bit. Titanium drill bits are high-speed steel drill bits (sometimes called HSS bits) that have a titanium oxide coating and are great for drilling through metal.
Rather than using the provided mounting screws, we decided to use some heavy-duty 3-inch screws that would really hold tight to the ceiling joist. Seriously, we could probably hang an engine block from this bracket.
The fact that the old fixture was so close to the new one really helped us out with this next step. We were able to take down the old box and push the same wires over to our new hole. Of course, this left a nice, round hole in the ceiling where the old light was. I laid a plastic shopping bag inside the hole to keep the blown-in insulation from falling through it. We just hung this light fixture last night and haven’t gotten around to patching it up just yet but I’ll explain how in a later post next week for anyone curious.
Here’s when it started getting dark outside so the photos look a bit wonky – but Ash is calling the above photo of me “artsy”. After putting the fixture together, all that was left was the usual wiring and screwing the fixture onto the bracket. I’d say this was the easy part, but this fixture is heavy. I ended up standing on the floor with the fixture resting on my chest/shoulders while Kevin put the screws in and Ash held a flashlight so we could see what we were doing. Once it was up, we actually had a hard time getting a couple of the screws in all the way, so we placed the card catalog and the packing material from the light fixture underneath for safety while we backed the screws out and put them back in.
Once the heavy lifting was done, we cleaned the glass and screwed in the light bulbs. Considering how much of an undertaking I expected this to be, I don’t think things could have gone better – mainly due to the help of Ash’s dad. We read some reviews of this particular light fixture (after we bought it out of curiosity) and some people mentioned that it look 3 people to hang it. Well, they were not wrong. So, if you’re planning on hanging this light fixture, or one similar, make sure you have some extra help.
Aside from my love of cup pull handles, I’m not much of a “decorating enthusiast” (I leave that to Ash), but I really like the clean lines and how it doesn’t take up too much “visual space” but still makes a statement. The vintage-looking bulbs really help “make” the fixture.
Speaking of the bulbs… We purchased these from Restoration Hardware the same time we ordered the table. The bulbs are 60 watts, which means this fixture puts out a pretty decent amount of light. They’re very much on the “warm” side, which means the light they cast is pretty yellow (Ash mentioned it was a lot like a “candle light glow”). It’s a great, vintage look, but it’s definitely a mismatch for the rest of the lighting in our house (most of our bulbs are halogen or LED). We’re going to keep our eyes out for a vintage style bulb that matches our existing lighting a little better, but in the mean time, we’re happy with these.
Ash and I both love the new light fixture. When we first got it out of the box, we’re a little concerned it wasn’t big enough for the table (which is 112″ long). Now that is up, we think it’s the perfect size and will look even better once we hang curtains. The addition of art, etc it will also balance everything out accordingly. In the meantime, we now have a proper light fixture and this place is looking a little more like a real dining room. Now, if Ash would just decide on chairs…