how many tools does it take to hang a light fixture?

answer: mostly every single one that you own, as we learned on monday. but only if you’re us — the least handy people to ever have a mortgage. i imagine the rest of you might have been able to do it with a screwdriver and some common sense.

we had agreed we were all done with projects around the house for a while (because painting our dining room, getting our table set up, and sewing a table runner, all in a two-week time span, seemed like enough to earn us a break), but then i got a chandelier for christmas. and i thought: how long could it possibly take to paint a 30 square foot room and hang a light fixture?

the daily double: a lot longer than one (me) might think.

the paint on the walls went on just fine. roughly two hours to get two coats of benjamin moore’s sugar cookie in eggshell on the walls, with a break in between coats for brunch at hammersmith’s. we were loving the paint colour even more than expected; it looks a lot different in the foyer than it does on the dining room trim. it’s probably got something to do with light (read: the dining room doesn’t have one).

at 9:30 the next morning, up pierre went on a ladder (1), down came the light fixture in the foyer. i was really pleased to discover (as i always am when we remove a socket cover or a fixture) to find wiring that looked tidy and new. it seemed like it was going to be an easy swap of our old fixture for our new one.

the first issue we encountered was the fixture strap wasn’t sitting flush with the drywall. paul had used some nuts to level everything out, but it’s not too easy to try and hold six nuts in place with one hand while you use your other to screw (2) a fixture strap into the ceiling — especially in a room that’s barely five feet wide, with your wife looking helpfully (annoyingly) on.

we got the fixture hooked into place and then i had the sinking realization that the chandelier was just way too big for the space. our ceilings throughout the house are 8′ or 8′ and change, depending on where you might be standing. while the chandelier certainly looked foyer-size in the store, it is actually deceptively large: 3 feet in length. you do the math.

pierre suggested he might be able to eliminate the metal rod in between the fixture and the fixture base and gain six inches, but i wasn’t too into the idea. i was all set to return the fixture, sweetly ask pierre to please put back up the fixture he just spent an hour taking down, and go on the hunt for an impossibly small chandelier over the coming months, when pierre had an idea.

“unless…we install the fixture [now down from the ceiling, back in its box] where the wiring is, and then screw another hook into the ceiling and hang the fixture directly from the ceiling.” great idea! right?

off to home hardware for some e-z anchors (3) (wasn’t too sure about hanging a chandelier from a wimpy hook screwed into a thin layer of drywall) and some lightbulbs, then out came the measuring tape (4) to figure out where we should place the hook. smack in the middle of the ceiling seemed like a good place for it — or it would have been, if we hadn’t thought to test opening our front door to see if it would hit a chandelier hanging dead centre in the foyer (it would).

it was decided (by me) to hang the hook on the opposite side of the wiring, closer to our interior door. out came the screwdriver again, in went the e-z anchor. at least in went the e-z anchor partway. we tried using our drill (5) before realizing that, of course there was a stud exactly where we were trying to screw the anchor in. i ran downstairs to get the pliers (6) and pierre used them to gently pull the anchor from the ceiling and then to trim the anchor in half. then he screwed the anchor in, screwed the hook in, and hung our chandelier. it seems pretty sturdy, but, clearly, i don’t really know what i’m talking about.

a mere five hours after we started, a light shone in our foyer.

our new kristaller light from ikea

then, just because we’re suckers for punishment, we hung our coat rack — a completely unique and incredible wedding gift from my cousin’s family, which we are ashamed to say has been languishing in our mudroom for the past year. we were waiting to renovate before going through the trouble of removing the perfectly functional coat rack that was in the foyer when we moved in. since we’re no longer renovating (and so no longer waiting to hang things), we’re pretty pleased to now have this up where it belongs.

made of tree bark and railroad spikes

next, i spent four hours painting trim and baseboards (so, clearly underestimating the amount of time it would take to paint this teeny space); rehung our photos; and threw down the antique mat i’ve been saving for our foyer since our end-of-summer trip to prince edward county.

the photo on the left was taken at the end of our street in 1956 and is from the toronto archives. the photo on the right is the cover image from my favourite book, 84 charing cross road. pierre obtained the photo rights from the australian family that owns the original.

and now we have a finished foyer! except that there’s some blood on one of the walls, which i’ll have to touch up. neither of us have any idea as to how it got there, but it seems likely that it belongs to one of us, and that there is a direct correlation between the blood and our complete and utter ineptitude.

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