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Diary of a Mad Renovator: Rewired For Greatness

Written by Jaqui Lividini

This week I want to talk about antique light fixtures. There are five antique light fixtures at our beach cottage. The first two are located in the laundry room and in Calliope’s bedroom. These two were original to the house; we saved them during the demolition. I wasn’t sure at that time where they’d go, but I knew we’d find a special place for them. 

Original to the house light milk glass pendant light will now be in Calliope’s bedroom. 

Unfortunately, as beautiful and authentic as they are, like all antique lighting they had to be rewired. I had to transport them to Manhattan, find a reasonable restorer, and get them back to Haycock in one piece. They are so fragile (100-year-old glass) we had to make sure the wires they are hanging from were reinforced. I didn’t want chain link, too modern and heavy for such delicate fixtures, which resulted in a search for an antique canopy. In the nothing-is-ever-easy category this was top of the list. My contractor Jeff Thomas, my designer Charles Riley, and my project coordinator Teri Carey were all on the search. Finally, Charles struck gold and found the canopy—new—on eBay! Success. What would we ever do without eBay!

Original to the house milk glass pendant will now be in laundry room. 

The next two antique light fixtures are ship lights and they’ll be located in the hallway and the stairwell. I think they originally came from a submarine. We found these two in Manhattan at a turn-of-the-century antique shop with lots of nautical pieces—which is absolutely in line with my design aesthetic and especially perfect for this project. They too have presented an electrical nightmare. These ship light fixtures, though extremely beautiful, are cast iron and very heavy. We’ve already had them rewired, but unfortunately they were done incorrectly, so our electrician and Jeff are trying to figure out how to make them work. More $$$ to come!

Antique lantern form Southwest Harbor, Maine 

The final antique fixture is from a small, long out of business antique shop in Southwest Harbor, Maine. I fell in love the minute I saw this beauty and although I had nowhere to hang a nautical light fixture at the time, I knew one day I would have the perfect home. And now I do! This fixture also needed updated wiring, but a far easier project then the others. This nautical lantern will get the premiere location in our house, the vaulted ceiling of the master bedroom. 

Blue-and-white lantern is for the Master Bedroom, heavy fixture iron is for the stairwell.

Vaulted ceiling where antique lantern will hang. 

Although there is much pain in restoring authenticity to a home, I feel the final result will be well worth the effort. Now I’m in search of the perfect light bulbs. UGH! 

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