Junk hunting or antiquing is one of my favorite pastimes. I love searching for old treasures, especially finding ones that need a small bit of TLC to make them shine. Plus, for me the thrill of the hunt is quite addicting.
A few weeks ago we flew to Missouri to visit my husband’s family. In California, you might find one or two antique shops in any given town with the goods being quite pricey. In Missouri, they have antique shops everywhere, which makes it one of my favorite places to go junk hunting!
While there, I found a treasure trove of goods that I was dying to bring home to the ranch. The only thing standing in my way from bringing home all of the goods from stores we visited was a little thing called shipping! In the end, I was able to bring home six light fixtures, an old dough bowl, one large tornado speaker that will be transformed into a light fixture, a copy of Lonesome Dove and a Route 66 sign. I consider it a huge win.
I was eager to jump into the light restoration project as soon as we returned home. I purchased vintage pendant farmhouse lights for $40 each, with comparable pricing for new look-alike items being in the upper $100’s. All they needed was a little love and to take their place in our farmhouse!
Light fixture updates can be on the scale from very simple to quite complicated, as every restoration project is unique. These particular fixtures only required light sanding, removal of corroded wire and rough edges, and painting. Since copper wire is not supposed to be green, we had to remove the corroded “green” wire and use only clean wire. This is when you find an electrician who is willing to give you some pointers or even jump into the project with you.
***Disclaimer: I am not nor have I ever claimed to be an electrician. Make sure you check with an experienced electrician before using antique fixtures. Always use SAFETY FIRST. Proceed with this project at your own risk.***
Here are the steps I took to restore my vintage farmhouse light fixtures:
Find an old light fixture that captures your heart and needs a bit of TLC. Ensure the wiring and base (place where you screw in the light bulb) are good. If it looks old or corroded, have an experienced electrician look at it. As a side note, anything that you buy new is required to pass safety testing, this does not apply for antiques. So, if you are unsure, it’s always best to replace the base and wiring with new materials.
Assess the light fixture and take it apart for sanding and painting if necessary.
Sand off any old paint, rough edges and/or rust as desired. I used a Dremel with a grinder attachment, purchasing options here.
Wash fixture with warm soapy water and an old rag to remove sanded debris.
Paint the fixture in your preferred color. I chose a flat black spray paint by Valspar for my fixture. Let dry completely.
Reassemble light fixture, replacing old screws as necessary.
You are ready to install! Please follow safety precautions, i.e.; ensuring both the breaker and switch are off. Seek professional help to install if necessary. Again, please always put safety first!
Walk around like the badass you are, bragging about your DIY light fixtures every chance you get! Obviously this is the most important step.