Saturday, January 30, 2010

Globe Lights 101

First of all let me say that I am NOT an expert on mid-century modern lighting. I'm just a frustrated homeowner that's trying to renovate/restore his home without breaking the budget on every project.
With that disclaimer in mind, let's talk Globe Lights. If you're a fan of mid-century modern design, you're probably a fan of globe lights. They were a popular option with many many architects and home builders, probably most famously with J. Eichler and the 1,000+ homes he built in California. Mr. Rummer stayed true to this design and used globe lights in most of his 400+ Eichler-styled Rummers in the greater Portland area. Our home had them originally, but a previous owner grew tired of them and tossed them in the rubbish bin.

As close as I can tell, most globe lights original to Rummers were 10" diameter globes with low profile dome shaped bases (or canopies... the part that mounts to the ceiling and covers up the wires) with either a heavy-duty cord or pipe connecting to the glass globe. Most were painted white, but some were black.

NOTE: I could be wrong about the diameter... I've seen some that are 8" and other that are 12" or even 16"... but proportionally, I've been happy with the 10" globes in our house.

Although they are not in-stock at Home Depot or Lowe's, for those of us looking for replacements, we have options. Some expensive, some cheap... but they are out there. Here are a few options I've found.

Rejuventation Sfera
These are relatively new to the Rejuvenation line. They currently offer 8" and 16" versions of the classic globe light. They look great, are available in white or brushed aluminum. All the products made at Rejuvenation are top notch quality, but we needed about nine for our house and at $140 each $1,260 seemed kinda high. And we wanted to go with 10-inchers anyway.

They have 8", 10", 12" and 14" options... but their descriptions aren't the best, I don't know about their quality or what the canopies look like and their 10" ones are of the cord-hung variety. And it looks like they only come in white. Their 10-inchers are $88 each... $792 for nine.

They have 16" globes hanging on cord, and some 10" globes that look pretty good... except their canopies look like upside down tea cups, they hang down too far, and every Ikea light fixture I've tried to install is weird.

Craigslist/antique stores
If you only need one or two globe lights, or aren't worried about how well they match (or don't match), this might be your best bet. Many are of the "Hung by cord woven through chain" variety, so you would need to be able to do a little rewiring. But who konws... maybe you'll get lucky and find someone like the previous owner of our home that's looking to rid his Rummer of 9-10 mint condition globe lights. Hey... it could happen.

Ebay/Eichler Forums
Much like Craigslist, it's luck of the draw here. Happy hunting!

Here's what we did
Ikea is close by, affordable, and it was no problem finding 9 that would match. So that's what we did. BUT in my view, there are problems with the Ikea Fado globe lights. Haley and I try to be problem solvers, so here's what we did to alter them so they looked closer to the originals.

1- Take 'em apart.
NOTE: There's a sliding stopper thingie with a tightening screw that's attached to the stock teacup-ish canopy. You'll need to detach it in order to use it with the new configuration. I used channel lock pliers and my awesome, herculean strength to tear it away. (It was really pretty easy. Here's a pic.)

2- Cut 3-inches off the pipe with a pipe cutter (brilliant name, huh?).

3- Buy new canopies. This can be tricky. I wound up going to the lighting department at Hippo Hardware in Portland, rummaging through a few boxes of old light fixture parts and found three that were exact matches, and two more that were close.

4- Mask off and paint everything. As I said earlier, many were white, some were black. We decided we liked black more.

5- Put everything together, connect the wires and the first thing y'know old Jed's a millionaire! (Beverly Hillbillies reference for our non-American-pop-culture educated friends.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Let there be light!

One of the major complaints about the old kitchen was the lighting... or more to the point, lack of it. There were four 80s style "modern" fluorescent lights that worked okay, but it always seemed like we were working in shadows. We designed in a few different lighting solutions into the new kitchen let's take a look... shall we?

Globe Lights
These iconic light fixtures are a must have for any Rummer. They were in virtually every Eichler, and Mr. Rummer knew they were crucial to the nearly identical styling of his modern homes. The previous owner of our home threw away all the original globes and replaced them with ordinary fixtures (?!!!). She told us people were always bumping into them and that they didn't put out very much light. The kitchen had four, the family room had two. We've already replaced one in the loggia and two in the hallway. So far no one has bumped their heads. (Except for all our friends who are 7 feet tall.)

In order to have the kitchen globe lights centered between the beams, we had to move two existing wiring boxes (and figure out a way to cover up the holes they left behind), and add one in front of the fridge & ovens.

Our daughter came up with the brilliant solution of just using a smoke detector to cover one of the holes, and a carbon monoxide detector to cover the other one. Brilliant, simple and we needed them anyway.
I'm in the process of writing up a post about tweaking Ikea Fado globe lights so they look more like the originals. Stay tuned...

Cabinet Up Lights

Since the area above the wall cabinets is kind of encased between a couple of beams, it always looks kinda dark up there. So we wired in some fluorescent lights and wow... what a nice dramatic lighting effect. It's kind of an ambient look that is great in the evening. (Don't be fooled by what looks like white hot magma on top of the cabinets in this pic... the camera setting was wonky. It's really quite soothing.)
Notice you really don't see anything weird about the beam at the left in the two above pics, as opposed to the lights on the beam in the pics below. Keep reading to see what's up with that.

Task Lighting
These were really needed! I wish we would have thought ahead a little more and accomidated the light fixtures in the hanging cabinets so they would appear more recessed, but they work well, they look fine, and they make it a LOT easier to see what’s happening on the countertop.

NOTE: These seem to generate quite a bit of heat, so much so that the cabinets get fairly warm on the inside. We may be switching out the bulbs for something cooler. Maybe LED?

Spots in the Faux Beam
Haley is the genius mastermind behind these lights. Aesthetically we knew we needed to put a beam over the cooktop, but after talking with our construction guy, there wasn’t anything structural needed, so a false beam would suffice. We figured the area over the cooktop would need some extra lighting and neither one of us is crazy about track lighting (usually looks like an afterthought). Why not recess a few can-lights into the false beam?
It seemed like a simple idea, but it took a little extra encouragement and problem solving with our electrician and construction guy to make it happen. Just look at how much light they throw out. These lights are in my top 5 things I like about the new kitchen. I married a genius.

Here are a couple of our favorite shots.

Countertops. The countertops you see in these pics are temporary; sheets of melamine. We are hoping to get solid surface counters. Probably white. Hopefully much less expensive than what we've been seeing lately.
Backsplash. It desperately needs color under the hanging cabinets. We're thinking of a mosaic made from 2-inch square tiles, mostly white with random turquoise, grey & brown accents.