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Watt’s up!

April 24, 2012

When we look good, we feel good.  Right?  Lighting is everything!  Do you really want to start your day by getting ready under bathroom lighting that amplifies every flaw?  I don’t.  I’ve finally solved the lighting problem in my master bathroom with a solution that I’m quite happy with.  It looks great…and so do I.  One word for bathroom lighting…diffused!  Soften it up.  Allow me to explain…

The Problem.

Not only was the existing lighting at the top of the ugliness chart, but the plastic ‘crystal’ clamshells cast harsh shadows all over one’s face.  I can’t tell you how many times I’d leave the house feeling 10 years older!  With two sinks in the vanity, I wanted each user to have his own lighting source.  But, I struggled with only one, centrally placed junction box.  I didn’t want to hire an electrician to cut open my walls or ceiling to install two light sources…therefore, I rose the the challenge of using what I have.  The lighting was hard, and the design of the room was too.

(Above:  The builder had purchased this horribly designed fixture at Home Depot for $40.  Now, it’s $0 in the recycling room!)

(Above:  The fixture, despite being ugly, casts horrible light throughout the room.  Even on a dimmer, it’s not flattering.)

The Solution.

I searched and searched for bath lighting that had the look I wanted along with soft, diffused light.  I couldn’t find much that worked for my vision, and if I did find something…it was well out of my price range.  As much as I tried to avoid it, I decided to put pen to paper and design my own solution for the bathroom.

(Above:  I didn’t exactly put PEN to PAPER…I drafted the new design in AutoCAD to realize proper dimensions of each part of the assembly.  Purchasing lamp parts and custom building a fixture can be tricky and tedious…sketching the design first is an important step.)

Ultimately, I decided on two suspended pendants installed over each sink in the vanity.  The central canopy will remain in the existing location, and I will allow the cords to be an intentional design element by using twisted cloth cord in white.  Each pendant has two levels of diffusing:  the fabric shade AND the glass globe.  This will be be the closest to Hollywood lighting that I can get!  Flaws be gone!

The Assembly.

(Above:  Nickel-plated modern canopy at 5″ diameter with white cloth-covered, twisted cord.)

(Above:  Porcelain sockets and nickel-plated parts.  The design is actually quite simple.)

(Above:  I bet you’re familiar with what a glass globe looks like.)

(Above:  The ‘bones’ of the fixture.  The opal glass globe fits onto the shade holder and the fabric shade covers it all.)

(Above:  The assembled fixture.  The glass globes get installed over the light bulb.  This prevents you from looking up into the shade and getting blinded by a bright bulb.)

(Above:  The key to making your own fixture is to design it simply and beautifully to avoid the ‘home-made’ look.  No one needs to know you did it yourself, and you certainly don’t want it to look that way!)

The Result.

(Above:  To refresh you of the BEFORE.)

(Above:  The new bathroom!  The entire look is soft…just like the light.  You feel GOOD in this bathroom.  The new rug came too!)

(Above:  I didn’t fight the traditional vibe of the bathroom.  I can’t start from scratch…so I worked with what I have.  It’s modernized (for sure!), but it’s still warm and cozy.)

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Karen Silverstrim permalink
    April 24, 2012 1:11 pm

    I love the look of your new pendant lights! You really have great ideas and when I come to visit, I am going to do the test to see if I look great in the new soft light. If I do, I might just stay and live in your bathroom!!!! Mamma

  2. jc46202 permalink
    April 26, 2012 5:04 pm

    Love the lights, but I thought putting bulbs directly over the sink was a bath designer no-no since it casts your face in the most unflatering light. Doesn’t the best light come from having the bulbs flanking the sink instead of above it?

    • April 26, 2012 5:21 pm

      Thanks for your comment! It’s an ideal situation to have lighting nearer to face level on both the left and right. Sometimes that’s not always possible. My junction box placement dictated my solution for sure. I typically don’t specify fixtures that will shine down and cast harsh shadows on the face, but this lighting is too diffused for that. There’s a ton of ‘bounce’ and general illumination that emits from the globe and shade. Keep in mind to use the mirror to your advantage and bounce light onto the face. Great question!

  3. Darlene Baresch permalink
    April 26, 2012 8:26 pm

    Looks Great! Sean what is that perfect gray on the wall? Grays are so hard to choose…either looks blue,lavendar or just dirty.I love this one

    • April 27, 2012 9:44 am

      Darlene, thanks for your comment! The color is Restoration Hardware’s Graphite. We tested several greys, but this one came out best under our lighting conditions. Had it mixed by Sherwin Williams. Test first! Best of luck.

  4. laurel permalink
    May 7, 2012 1:38 pm

    Wow! What a difference! Looks great!

    • May 7, 2012 3:36 pm

      Thank you so much! I wanted something that didn’t look like “bathroom lighting”. I needed a softer look.

  5. Stephanie permalink
    May 7, 2012 2:29 pm

    Great idea – I wanted to hang 2 lights over my kitchen island using the same idea you have here. I was told it can’t be done because you couldn’t run the two separate wires (one from each light) into one canopy – they told me they would not fit. Great idea with the “T” arm – wish I knew they existed. Question: How did you affix the canopy onto the wall as there do not seem to be any screw holes on the side of the canopy. If the “T” arm screwed into a straight socket arm after assembly – would this not twist the wires behind the wall as you screw tightened it in place? Would love this in my bathroom because nowhere on earth have I found a 2-light hanging light for each side of my wall mirror with a single centre junction box as you have here (for the perfect bathroom lighting as discussed above). Simple solution for 2 of my rooms if you give me the scoop please.

    • May 7, 2012 3:35 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment! This certainly was a challenge, and all your concerns were my concerns. Patience was the key. The T arm allowed me to push each wire through. In order to fit through the canopy, I had to strip off the cloth covering of each cord. Be careful to tape off the cloth cord so it doesn’t unravel past the T arm. From here, I straightened out the 4 wires and carefully slid them through the final hole of the T arm and through a perfectly measured threaded nipple. The nipple slid through the canopy, and eventually screwed into the brace attached to the junction box. The nipple was measured to allow about 4-6 twists of the cords to secure the canopy…not excessive. With the depth of the canopy, the wires inside had room to move a little without causing an issue. One secret? Those wires were a really tight fit through the nipple, but I used a bit of vaseline to ease them all through! Funny, perhaps…but it worked! Good luck.

  6. Lisa Rockwell permalink
    May 7, 2012 3:09 pm

    Very nice! Where did you source the lighting supplies?

    • May 7, 2012 3:30 pm

      Thanks for your reply! Thanks for reading! There are many sites on the web, but I used Grand Brass and My Lamp Parts for the items I needed for this project. Hope this helps!

  7. Baylor permalink
    June 18, 2013 7:15 am

    i want to do the same in my dinning room from the ceiling…but how do you split the main cord (ceiling) in two??? Help pls…

    • June 18, 2013 9:39 am

      You don’t. You simply twist together the two black wires and the two white wires of the pendants to combine them. Then you connect the twisted pairs to the ceiling wires that coordinate. Hope this helps.


  1. Bigger is Better. « Sean Michael Design

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