Baby baby baby light my way
March 21, 2016 5:12 PM   Subscribe

My flat has (allegedly) asbestos ceilings and we are not supposed to put new holes in the ceiling. Both fixtures in the kitchen/dining area are ugly and dim. Please hope.

The first fixture is shown here. The second is identical, and located about ten feet down the "trough" sort of near where my small dining table is. These areas are visually distinct: a partial wall blocks the kitchen from the living area, but you can see the dining area.

These are jackishly ugly fixtures and, worse, so dim (especially in the kitchen) as to be functionally useless. The dining room I could live with, because it's next to a sliding door that lets in lots of sun and, in the evening, you don't need a ton of light to eat by. Who are we kidding, I eat on the sofa watching Daredevil like all right-minded people.

But the kitchen is the pits, and I really need more light there. Can someone please recommend a sort of fixture that I could purchase to replace the dim orb of shame? It has to use the same, uh, wires I guess, because making new holes in the ceiling is strictly verboten.

Thanks for your suggestions! (Also, if you have a cool hanging fixture to recommend that I could put over my table, that would be swell, too.)
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
What kind of wall space do you have? Can you attach some sort of sconce or lamp on a long arm like this? Or this?
posted by Beti at 5:18 PM on March 21, 2016

Likely the hole is plenty big enough for whatever you want to hang, you may want a medalian to cover up hole. Use Liquid Nails to track it up.

Thoughts. Under cabinet lighting. Sconces for the wall. A fifties light fixture on a telescoping pole. A small, cute lamp that sits on the counter.

IKEA has a LOT of great options.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:21 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Follow-up: There is really no wall space in the kitchen... a big window and a large metal rolling pantry block everything. I'm investigating under-counter LED but need some sort of overhead lighting that will fit in that fixture. Thanks!
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 5:29 PM on March 21, 2016

There are all sorts of fixed track lighting options that attach to a single ceiling box in the center. Something like this unit or this one would also have the advantage of getting the light source down below the beam that is blocking your current light.

Be careful doing the re and re; that textured ceiling is crumbly and usually not all that well adhered.
posted by Mitheral at 5:37 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

It looks like a fairly typical fixture so the underlying electrical box and wiring should easily match most standard fixtures. The fixtures bolt into the electrical box, no drilling required. Go ahead and find something you like at a local hardware store. LED fixtures get nice and bright for low power consumption.
posted by lizbunny at 5:39 PM on March 21, 2016 [6 favorites]

That looks like a glass fitter on a base. If so, if you remove the glass and measure the diameter of the opening, you can use that fitter size to find glass for the fixture that you like better.

If it's an incandescent or CFL, swap in a higher wattage equivalent LED bulb.

I can't tell much of anything about the fixture itself or your preferred style to make recommendations. Most fixtures are going to have an opening the size of the electrical box, then extra light fixture over/around the hole on the ceiling side, in which case you can pretty much put any fixture on that mount point.
posted by bookdragoness at 5:39 PM on March 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

If you're really worried about the fit, flip the breaker to that light, take the light fixture down (the whole thing, unscrew it from the metal box and unscrew the wire grommets) and bring it to the hardware store to ensure the replacement will be compatible.
posted by lizbunny at 5:41 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

There is only one ceiling electrical box size. All listed ceiling fixtures are going fit your existing installation.
posted by Mitheral at 5:47 PM on March 21, 2016 [6 favorites]

Any ceiling fixture should work with the ceiling box that's up there, once you get the shade, old fixture, and old bracket down.

It's a good bet that the ceiling under that fixture is going to be discoloured, unless the ceiling was freshly painted when you moved in and the person painting it wasn't too lazy to dangle the lights and paint under them. So, your easiest solution is to find a light with a larger footprint, unless you like the idea of staring at a big brown halo around your fancy new light. A medallion could work, but you may get in trouble damage-wise if your landlord doesn't like it and ends up having to repair and re-texture the ceiling (ugh, painful, trust me).

I usually end up putting up these sorts of lights. Decent looking, good amount of light, and large enough to cover most older fixture footprints.
posted by CKmtl at 5:59 PM on March 21, 2016

Nthing that most lighting has standardized mounting boxes and screws.

We just bought two of these, which were apparently instantly discontinued after we bought them. However, that style of track lighting (bright bulbs, translucent shades, more omnidirectional) put out a lot of light and, IMO, look good.
posted by Betelgeuse at 6:30 PM on March 21, 2016

Are you opposed to a standing lamp in the room that you can just plug in? I know it's not exactly what you're looking for but just an idea. I also have a dysfunctional ceiling light in one room. The lightbulbs were impossible to screw out. They all burned out and I broke a couple of them while trying to remove them!

I did the, ahem, sensible thing and let the dysfunctional mess hang there and bought the cheapest floor lamp I could find (Ikea had them for under $10). Especially if you're a renter and don't plan on living there permanently, sometimes tinkering with sh!t isn't worth it.

I liked the lamp so much I bought a second one just like it for another room a while later and still use both. They barely take up any floor space.

Other than that, I think Mitheral probably has the right answer here. I would go to Home Depot or a similar store and talk to a lighting person there. In fact, you can probably bring your fixture and/or take pictures and measurements and they'll be able to hlep you.
posted by atinna at 10:46 PM on March 21, 2016

Okay, you'll take the globe diffuser cover off, and find the lightbulb in a socket mounted on a plate, held up with a few screws. You'll have to do this during hte daytime because your next step is to switch off the lights (at the circuit box, preferably) and unscrew that base plate. You should be looking at a junction box that is set into the ceiling, with two holes on the diagonal that are spaced to a standard spacing that fits pretty much any light fixture. There will be 2-3 electrical wires coming from the ceiling, color-matched to 2-3 wires that are part of the fixture base. Take a photo of the junction box. Measure how far the box sites from the ceiling beam. Take the photo and the measurements to your lighting store of preference, and show them to the assistant there, who can confirm that you've got a standard box, and maybe suggest a fixture they have that might help get light out of that ceiling box. Your best bet may be something that hangs down a bit, just enough that light can get past those baffles. The track kit ideas are pretty good, too. Having photos with you with help them help you.
posted by aimedwander at 7:38 AM on March 22, 2016

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