Rita and I have been on the lookout for a new light for our entry and a couple for our kitchen. The ones that came with the house aren’t our style and don’t match the character of the house at all. It screams 1990’s. I wonder if the 90’s were just a decade of bad design or if the style hasn’t been aged enough to have a a retro patina? In either case the 1990’s light looked way out of place in our 1970’s home.
It appears like much of our house had been updated in the 1990’s. Most of the 1970’s charm is no longer there. All the doors, floors, trim, lights, cabinets and fixtures have been changed. We are slowly working to bring it back to something that resembles a 1970’s house. We don’t want a time capsule house. That would be too much for us, and it works against our idea of liking the house we have. Instead, we want to put things in it that reflect its 1970’s origins.
We really dislike when people take a house and try to make it something it’s not. Here’s an example from HGTV that I think really gets it wrong. The architect takes a 70’s split level and turns it into a 90’s style McMansion. I find it tragic that someone would do that to a home. If what you wanted in the first place was a 90’s McMansion there are plenty around. Rita and I are not about that at all. We really like the idea of honoring what the house is. We’re not militant about it, but we’d never try to make our 70’s home something it wasn’t. With that in mind we sought out some light fixtures to replace the Holiday Inn ones that were installed as part of the 90’s remodel.
We spent quite a lot of time looking at lights. We’ve got a few places in Portland that have tons of retro lights of different vintages. Hippo Hardware is a well known recycled hardware store. It has everything. The entire third floor is dedicated to lighting. There are hundreds of old light fixtures hanging from the ceiling.
Images via Posterous.com
We went back probably 5 or 6 times trying to decide what we did and didn’t like. We never saw one that really jumped out at us despite the millions of lights there. What this told me was that we weren’t ready yet to decide. We just didn’t know yet what we liked. Instead of rushing into something we decided to keep looking.
We managed to find the light below at the Rebuilding Center, which we told you about back in the fall. It’s a huge recycle house parts non-profit in Portland. They have a smaller light section, but the lights are way cheaper. It was a really good find. It has a nice clean, simple style and it’s appropriate for the vintage of our house. We paid $10 for it and put it in our dining/library room.
One thought we’ve had about the entry light and the kitchen lights is to get other lights like the one above. Maybe we’d find one just like it or one that was similar enough. This particular style isn’t hard to find. Every time we go into the Rebuilding Center we see a couple of new ones. The problem is that we haven’t seen any as nice as the one we bought. Here are a couple that we’ve found:
There were a few more but none of them seemed quite right. Our entry needed a big light fixture. It’s got a big clerestory window that is designed to showcase a hanging fixture from outside. The glassy brassy thing we had in there just wasn’t doing it for us.
We still weren’t sure what we wanted, so we did some more looking. Over on Hawthorne Blvd there are a few retro vintage shops that have light fixtures. There were fixtures from the 60’s through the 80’s or so. Most were the right vintage for us, but we weren’t able to decide on anything for either the entry or our kitchen/dining area. We just weren’t sure what we wanted. Here are some shots of lights that we were thinking about.
We left the store still not sure what we wanted or really liked. We tried a couple of more places and were still stumped. A trip back to the Rebuilding Center did yield these two entry-way beauties though.
Well, this is the one that came home with us. I went with Rita’s gut on this one. The $30 price didn’t hurt. I thought it would probably be OK but couldn’t quite picture it. I liked that the wood and brass perfectly matched the light we had in the dining room. Standing in the living room you can see both lights, so having them match would be a good idea.
I put the light in the next weekend and knew immediately that we made the right choice. The light really comes alive when turned on. It has up facing and down facing bulbs that cast beautiful light from the fixture. It’s exactly the right vintage for the house. It looks great from outside. It hangs perfectly in the clerestory window. I’m certain it was hanging in a split level house exactly where we have it now. It was satisfying to take something of the right vintage and put it back where it belonged. You can see this in the pictures below.
We are still on the lookout for lighting for our kitchen and dining area. We aren’t in a hurry though. We are certain we’ll walk into the Rebuilding Center one day soon and our light fixtures will be hanging there waiting for us.
Here’s a current photo of the two lighting areas we still need to address.
What do you think?
Are we on the right track with our lighting? (If we’re not, we’re only $40 into this so far, so we still feel able to change course.) If you have any great lighting ideas for these two remaining areas (or sources of lights that might work) please let us know. We’d love to hear any suggestions you’ve got.