It wasn’t really about the lights themselves but more or less about defining a space with a little style and grace. The dining room started with an inset ceiling light that didn’t really give off the kind of coverage or warmth you really want in a dining room, especially a centrally located dining room that connects to every other corner of the house. Jen and I went through a lot of different hypothetical styles for the hardware and permutations for the orientation and layout, and in the end the simplest option turned out to be the best. Read on to see how we made it all happen.
So the original light in the dining area was about as minimal and plain as it gets. Although I did appreciate it’s utter utilitarian appearance, we really needed something to add a little personality to the house itself, rather than just populating rooms with our objects to make it feel homey. I think overhead lighting can be an extension of a room’s personality, and you’ll see here that the room needed a bit more personality indeed.
On an easy stroll through downtown Durham one afternoon this past Spring, Jen spied some metal orbs hanging from the ceilings in Morgan Imports. We picked them up with big plans for redoing the dining room. This was 8 months ago. So during our last bout of house work when we installed the living room fan, we also had a little help getting the dining room light out, and prepping the spot for a new track light.
The hard parts of this were moving junction box in the ceiling to house the wires, and then patching the hole around the new junction box. Having never done anything like this before, it was hard to visualize. But Jen’s dad knew exactly what to do and made it look easy.
This patch had plenty of time to setup as Jen and I deliberated over what type of fixture to get for our orbs. For awhile I had the idea of doing this without a track and instead 3 long wires that could be run to a series of hooks in the ceiling. We also entertained the idea of some type of custom box rack, which still could happen in the future, but we settled on a really simple and versatile track in the end. We picked up a Portfolio track and floating power feed, minus the lights that are shown in the kit. We instead grabbed 3 pendants that we could affix our orbs to. Along with that stuff we also had to get some Homax wall texture spray to blend the patch with the rest of the ceiling.
The patch was inset a bit so we needed to add some more drywall compound and sand it flat before anything else.
One thing to note about sanding drywall compound, is that everything within a 30 foot radius becomes dusty. I wore a mask to avoid inhaling too much dust, but in the future, I may tape plastic up around the space where I’m sanding to seal off the area, just so I don’t have to vacuum the dust out of the bed in the other room next time. When sanding by hand, I’ve always had the experience that I tend to do too little, so even when I think the surface is flat, I step back, check it again, and keep sanding. If I’m not sure it’s flat, I’ll sand a little more. Since the ceiling is textured though, there was a little more room for error than on a completely smooth surface.
Once everything was covered in a nice fine white dust, and the ceiling patch looked to be about as smooth as it could be, we cleaned up a bit and then taped some plastic sheeting over the nearby walls in preparation for the texture spray.
That stuff did a great job. It was a little bit messy but was exactly what we needed to blend the patch. Jen then repainted the entire dining room ceiling white to make it look like nothing ever happened.
The paint dried, and I got the track and floating power feed ready to wire up. I put the track up in place where I though it should go and with Jen’s help made sure it was straight. I marked the the places in the ceiling where I needed to drill, and then made the holes so that the drywall anchors could fit through.
The next task was to attach the mounting bracket to the junction box. Then I wired up the power feed and seated it into place in the track and then attached the track to the ceiling and mounting bracket.
On with the cover and immediately we tossed a pendant into the track and turned the power back on to see if we had in fact done it right.
At this point there was only one thing left to really do before we finished. Make the wires the correct length. This involved a little bit of wire cutting and stripping, but was actually pretty straightforward.
These pendant lights are designed to be easy to modify. If you didn’t have the special wire stripper tool, you can strip the small wires carefully with an exacto knife, or a sharp wire cutting tool.
With the wires all shortened up it was finally time to put some round, clear 60 and 40 watt bulbs in and attach our metal orbs to the pendants.
The orbs look great, well at least I think so. But I am partial to random circles. These orbs have a presence in the space. A gravity if you will. The track and pendant lights are so simple and plain that there is no competition with the orbs themselves. They stand alone, almost floating. Jen and I are happier with the way these look than we thought we would be when we first got them. These lights seem like a natural addition to the house and now we have a warm intimate space to share stories and food with family and friends.