This post has been a long time coming. Management at the warehouse changed hands last year. For the most part, it’s been a good thing. The new managers are making improvements, enforcing regulations, bringing in new and exciting tenants and generally cleaning up the property. One change they’ve made is requiring work orders for any improvements or maintenance concerns to be submitted through the main rental office. Management then passes along the work orders to maintenance and the task is added to a long to-do list and prioritized.
The new rule affected the installation of lighting in the space I occupy. I was in need of task lighting over a worktable. Steve and I had thought we could tackle the project ourselves by borrowing scaffolding from maintenance. (The ceilings are 18′ high.) But when the rule (which I realize was made to ensure the safety of tenants and address tasks efficiently) was made, a DIY installation was off the table. Since a leaky roof, a non-functioning bathroom, a needy boiler system and all the other issues that come with an old building take precedence over pretty lights, it was months before the lighting installation climbed to the top of the list. But they’re up! And they’re amazing!
They’re the Wesco vented deep bowl pendant lights from Barn Light Electric Co. I ordered the 20″ shades in textured black. Due to the 18′ ceiling height, I needed a custom cord length. Each light is made-to-order so I was able to specify a 15′ cord versus the standard 8′. The location of pre-existing light boxes dictated the placement of the pendants but, on the work order, I instructed maintenance to hang the lights 30″-36″ above the table. They look and work great! Before, there were two lonely lightbulbs on the ceiling above the table. They were so high and didn’t really do much to light the surface of the table.
Speaking of the table, it was a $250 eBay find. The seller was local so we were able to pick it up and avoid shipping costs. It’s a vintage Drexel (the same manufacturer as the dresser in the boys’ room) banquet table. It’s HUGE. With two leaves in place, it easily seats 10. Without the leaves, it seats six. It isn’t in perfect condition but it’s solid which makes it an ideal work surface. It can take abuse and I don’t worry about inevitable scratches, dings and paint splatters. I love the brass detailing on the corners. It reminds me of campaign furniture.
The bentwood chairs are knockoffs. I scored six of them at the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore last summer for $12. Total. Yes, you’re doing the math right. THAT’S $2 PER CHAIR. And, yes, that price is so ridiculous that I almost feel guilty, but I can’t because I’m too busy jumping up and down with giddiness over the score of a lifetime. Sometimes I’m in the right place at the right time.
Two of the chairs had splintered / worn places on the seats from years of use. Steve filled them with wood putty. Later, I sanded the patched spots and brushed on two coats of glossy black paint. I used Glidden’s trim & door paint in deepest black, leftover from painting the french doors at home. While it isn’t specifically meant for furniture, the trim & door paint worked amazingly well on the chairs. After everything had cured, there was a noticeable increase in the structural integrity of the painted chairs and the slick surface is super easy to wipe down. I stuck the black chairs at the heads of the table and left the other chairs in their original condition.
On one side of the table, I opted for a pair of simple wood benches. Ever since our stay in an Asheville cabin, I’ve had all the heart eyes for bench seating. It’s super kid-friendly and feels more communal than individual chairs.
Last month I hosted a co-ed wedding shower (it was more like a big party than a traditional shower) for my sister and her fiancé at the studio. I had to borrow and set up extra folding tables and chairs for 40 guests, but everyone gravitated toward the banquet table and the benches. I had “a moment” watching people eat, drink, talk and laugh around the table.
Even though this isn’t an actual living space, I hope you take away some ideas or inspiration for your own home:
*Mix-n-match seating around a dining table lends a casual vibe.
*Consider benches for kid-friendly seating options.
*When scouting furnishings, search secondhand local sources (ReStore, eBay, craigslist, etc.) first, then fill in the gaps with big box purchases.
*Think outside the paint can. Many specialty paints can be used beyond their marketed application.
*Old + new work best when sticking to a limited color palette and when pieces share similar lines.
*In an open space, punctuate zones with oversize pendant lighting.
If you’re in need of quality lighting, I can’t recommend Barn Light Electric Co. highly enough! They have a slew of residential and commercial options. In my own home, I sourced the sconces above the kitchen and bathroom sinks from the American lighting company. I’ll never forget when the electrician (our cousin-in-law) installed the kitchen sconce. He was so impressed with the quality and construction of the light that he asked for the source so he could recommend it to future clients.
Barn Light Electric Co. is kindly offering up a store credit to one lucky reader! See entry details for the giveaway below. I rounded up a few of my current favorites in you’re interested in checking them out. I prefer neutrals but many of the lights are offered in different finishes and colors to suit any style.
Sources (clockwise from top left): angle shade gooseneck / wire cage flush mount / downtown minimalist sconce / downtown minimalist brass double sconce / barnes flush mount / chateau modern pendant / downtown minimalist 3-light brass chandelier
PRIZE: $500 store credit to Barn Light Electric Co.
RULES: You must be at least 18 years old and have a shipping address (no P.O. boxes please) within the U.S. One entry per email address.
TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this post proclaiming “BARN LIGHT ME!”
DEADLINE: Enter before 9:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, March 20th. One random winner will be announced Monday, March 21st.
WHILE YOU’RE AT IT: Feel free to share your latest lighting dilemma and which light(s) you think would solve it.
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking