As part of Serena’s design brief for the master bedroom (see “Bedroom, Design, & Bling”), we needed a new ceiling light. When we first bought the place, there was only a blank canopy plate that covered what once used to be a light. I upgraded it, by putting up a temporary light (and wall switch - don’t get me started on all the pull switches that were originally throughout the house).

temporary light

This may not seem like an upgrade to some, but that’s besides the point. It provided decent lighting when I used the bedroom as a workshop. Now, it’s a bedroom and hence it needed adequate lighting (read - mood lighting).

Old houses have old wiring, and thus I’ve had to work with lots of BX or the old armored cabled wires. I’ve ripped out and replaced as much as possible, but some areas still have the old BX cable. The junction up in the ceiling has new wire (Romex) feeding the power, but it’s also connected to an old BX line that services one of the outlets in the bedroom. At least when I installed the temporary light, I cleaned up the BX cable and added a ground to it.

old junction

The new Romex wire is on the left, and the BX is on the right. As you can see, the wires are not even in a box, some kind of fixture hanging thingy. I guess that’s how they did it in the old days. I removed the old junction plate and in it’s place put in a new ceiling junction box.

The ceiling boxes come in all sorts of sizes. I inherited lots of metal junction boxes and decided to use one of the smaller ones. The clamps on the box seemed to have rough edges (newer boxes have better clamps), so I decided to throw some electrical tape over them to prevent the cable sheathing from being penetrated (I also put some tape on the cable as well).

new box with tape

Then the box was installed and the wiring slipped through the openings and clamped down. All the connections were made with the exception of the chandelier. I added a pigtail for the chandelier connection to make it a little easier when installing the chandelier. It’s much easier using a small wire connector, then trying to connect the 18 gauge chandelier wire to a few stiff 14 gauge wires.

box in ceiling with wires

After screwing in the extension collar, it was time to hook up the chandelier. I seem to have gathered a lot of recent experience wiring light fixtures. And it’s not because we have a lot of lights (which we do). But it’s because I’ve had to rewire the same light fixture multiple times, as there is bound to be something that I forget. Here’s a tip: make sure all the parts are on before wiring. For example, make sure the canopy and medallion are looped through the wire before the wire gets enclosed and connected (obviously I’ve forgotton before).

.ready to go

Oh, and I had to undo and rewire this light because of course I forgot something else. The chandelier wire needed to be slipped through the hollow threaded collar. Then carefully hold the chandelier up (or prop it on something - like the top of a ladder), connect all the wires, wrap some electrical tape around the wire connectors for good measure, screw on the chandelier, center the medallion, and voila.

chandelier - woohoo

Oooh. Pretty.

The dimmer switch is what makes it cool. We used a 600 watt max dimmer because this light fixture only uses 4 25-watt bulbs (it could be brighter, but that’s enough for us).

Now if only we can find the right dining room chandelier (see “Hot or Not?”).