Sunday, October 17, 2010

Concessions, Splurges and a Preview

Doing a renovation requires a lot of decisions that involve money.  Sometimes there's a fine balance between what you want and how much it costs.  One of the things I've found helpful, as I did with the Louis XVI chairs, is to study the details of expensive options and then look for something with similar details that's more in tune with my budget.  You may remember this light fixture from my Chinoiserie for your Porch post.  I'm glad I didn't fall in love with the light because at $1200, it wasn't even a consideration.

You may also remember this entry set on the left with the crystal knob on the inside.  This would have been a splurge at nearly $400 but I found the Schlage entry set (on the right) at Home Depot for $144.   It doesn't have a crystal knob on the inside but it looks very similar on the outside and gave me an extra $250 to work with.

You may also remember these $24 lights I bought for the front and back porches.  Last week I had a friend hold up one of the lights on the front porch.   The large beam supported by the columns... 

...covered up half of the light so all you could see was...

...this big udder hanging down between the two columns.  It looked REALLY silly.  Sometimes you just can't plan these things.  So I went back to the drawing board to find a light that was a short pendant.

It's fairly easy to research details for a historical house; there are plenty of real-life examples and/or books to look at.  But deciding on a light fixture for a house that was built before electricity was invented is a more difficult task for me.  There seems to be a big gap in styles between what I perceived as Colonial (think Paul Revere) and later styles such as Victorian and Art Nouveau.

After my visit to Marblehead where I saw a lot of these onion lanterns, I did a little research on them and found they were used on whaling ships and as a work light into the 1800s.  The round glass helped shed water and protect the flame from blowing out while the cage protected the glass from breaking.  If you've ever been Cape Cod, you probably saw them everywhere.

So I traded in one of my $24 lights for this onion lantern pendant. I hope it works out better than the udder light.  I do think this round light works better against all the straight lines of the house but I also think this choice is a little bit of a copout.  You see these lights quite a bit but you'll see in a minute why I chose it.

These Baldwin house numbers sell for about $10 at Home Depot but I've been looking for something really unique.  

I've been looking for something vintage like this French enameled house number found on Etsy...

...and they run about $20 to $30 each, but I haven't been able to find my house number and I wasn't sure I wanted to add blue to four paint colors I'll have right at the front door.

But on my search, I just happened to come across this company in Denmark called Ram Sign...

...where I found these enameled house number in black.  They're made custom in four days.

This was a splurge compared to the Baldwin or vintage French house numbers at $69 (shipping is free) but I'm still within the money I saved not getting the crystal doorknob.

And the thing I love the most about the onion lantern and the house number is... well they work together.  The clear glass with the black ring of black metal is almost the reverse of the black circle with a white ring around the edge of it.  I think they look great together.

*** House Preview ***

The weather cooperated a little bit this week and the house is just about all primed.  All of the raw wood, white primer and old brown trim have been reduced to just a few colors.  The problem is none of the colors seem to be the right colors.  I'm a little scared.

The primer on the front is very brown and the paint on the shingled side of the house is a blueish gray.  I took out my original sample cans of paint and none of them are the same.  The primer on the front is closest to what I chose, but the final paint color should be darker and grayer.  I have a call in to them to make sure there's no confusion.

Here's a closeup of the tongue-and-groove siding so you can get a better idea of what it looks like.  It was hard to see in the photos when it was unprimed cedar. 

And here it is up on the attic pediment all primed and ready for paint.    I'm really pleased with how it turned out.

Hopefully the weather will continue to cooperate.


  1. What classy choices! Can't wait to see it all together. You must be so excited.

  2. hi steve,

    i love those onion light fixtures and i think they look amazing with the house numbers. i can't wait to see it all together w/the paint. did you say each number is $69?

    everything is looking quite handsome.


  3. Janet,
    The round house number sign is $69. Up to three numbers will fit on the round sign but there are a lot of different shapes and sizes. S.

  4. I wouldn't worry too much about the primer color. Sometimes they tint it so it's not white, and the actual paint will cover better over a primer that's a similar color. That was quite the tease, just showing us a tiny glimpse here and there of the house. I hope you have better weather this week. I really like the house number plaque. So much better looking than the generic ones you can order at home improvement stores. Great price too!

  5. Great choices! I look forward to seeing the final porch reveal!

  6. Your onion lights and house numbers are brilliant. I love them. Sometimes primer doesn't tint correctly so I wouldn't worry about it yet.

  7. I like your choices, specially enameled plaques which are my favorites. Hope the painting turns out exactly what you want.
    Your comment was sooo great, it makes me think if you ever have been in Chile or what?

  8. Well, you know what I think about your dedication to this renovation so far...your choices are impeccable. The lanterns are beyond fabulous! I don't know if I would have thought to test the lantern at this point. I'm glad you did because the udder light wouldn't cut it!

    Don't worry about the paint just yet. Unless the colors are just plain wrong, I'm sure once it's totally covered, it will be more true to what you were expecting. Either way, I like the blue gray color. With the white trim and columns, I think it will look stunning.

    Here's to another week of your reno!

  9. I love the house numbers. I honestly can't wait to see this all come together. Karin

  10. Your colors are fantastic! Lovely! I have the same entry set from Home Depot. We have the antique brass finish.

    Amy R.

  11. Most primers are white tinted with the desired should be fine. Eveything is looking fabulous and I am soooo jealous!! I cannot wait for an interior and exterior tour. You will do that for us, won't you?

  12. Steve, you and your home are really impressive, this attention to detail is creating a wonderful house. (And our black and white ceramic house number plate is old and cracked so I'm pleased to learn of the Danish firm where I can buy a replacement.)

  13. Steve, I think they look perfect together, good choices!!

    I have a new Giveaway from Metis Linens, do come and enter!!

    Art by Karena

  14. Hi Steve!
    Several months ago I bought that very Ram sign number (sans the white outline border)in the black. It's very nicely done- I think you'll be really happy with it. I did that same route- looking on etsty/ebay for enamel numbers and couldn't find mine, and really didn't want to go with blue for the house.
    So, will the onion light be smaller and you won't see any of it hanging down behind the beam? I, too, first considered the onion, but in the end decided it was too coastal for the house. I do see it a lot around here though.
    Don't worry about the primer- it's just a tonal color to get it close to the paint, so their not painting over white-white.

    I bet your getting lots done on the house this week with this gorgeous Fall weather!

  15. You found a great resource for the house numbers. I think your choices are going to look great and can't wait to see it all together. So glad the weather has co-operated for you.


  16. Love the lantern and can't wait to see the number on the house. I repeat what everyone else said on the primer -- it's never done in exactly the same color. Good luck, it's coming out so beautifully.