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Diary of a Mad Renovator: Let there be light....

Written by Jaqui Lividini

While much of renovating can be (in my opinion) as gripping as a Tom Clancy novel (especially if you’re the renovator), some aspects are a little more commonplace. They’re just as important, though, because they set the stage for the entire project. So I’ll try to make this week’s story about our electrical plan as thrilling as possible.

Exposed rafters and wiring in the great room 

Charles Riley (our Design Development designer) and I traveled to Branford, Connecticut, this past Saturday to discuss a lighting plan for the house – something unexpectedly time-intensive and fraught with anxiety-ridden decision making. Our mission was to determine a number of things, such as what type of lighting would fit each room, how many outlets were needed for code (to be explained further down), and just an overall check of the lighting situation. Because the house is old and quirky, every room, including the porch, has a unique set of lighting challenges. It’s not as if there’s just one central ceiling fixture in each room - there are many.  And in order to do it properly, you need to have some idea of where the furniture is going to be placed and how much task lighting you need, etc., all while maintaining the original integrity of the house. Are you still with me?

A preliminary plan was drawn by our architect, Joe, but what Joe did not realize was that I have a fierce phobia of ceiling fans (I’m hoping he’s seen stranger things). The first course of business was to banish all ceiling fans from the plan – and there were many. It’s a lovely beach cottage touch, no doubt, but not for this Feng Shui loving chick!

Lighting is such an important consideration when it comes to ambience. In essence, it’s make or break. Dimmers and three-way switches had to be painstakingly discussed (no doubt, riveting topics). Most importantly, though, “code” had to be dealt with. Code is when the town dictates placement of certain elements of the electrical plan.

Original antique light fixture

The real challenge with this was how to reuse the original light fixtures that are still in the house.  They need to be rewired to meet code, but they are authentic and beautiful and I couldn’t, in good conscience, get rid of them. We found a spot for each of the three that remain! How? Our Design Development experts were the guiding light (no pun intended) on this; navigating the intricacies of what we could and could not do in terms of the town mandates (even renovators can’t fight City Hall).

Charles and Imre — our Design Development team

When all of this is done, I may just write a novel of my own – they need more thrillers out there that involve house renovation.

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