House Beautiful

Dreamy Little Bathrooms, Part 2.5: Lighting on a Shoestring

Yesterday, we talked about how the right light fixture can COMPLETELY transform and invigorate a bathroom (or any room, for that matter).  Then we posted oodles of glimmering shopping sources…  some of which you could use as collateral for a down payment on a new Mercedes.  So tuh-DAY, we’re showing you how you can get the same lovely look for a smidge less.  Because sometimes, we have the unfortunate task of paying for things like mortgages and diapers for GusGus first, and there isn’t always a surplus of cash leftover for decorating.


  Image via Design*Sponge

Dusty or not, if you want to save some dough and go on the hunt for something unique, you have to embrace the secondhand universe.  I mean, c’maaahhhhn – I’m not telling you to wear used underwear – just hang used lighting!!  No joke, I saw a $900 Currey & Company chandelier on Craigslist last week for $20 – in mint condition.  So keep your eyes peeled for the diamonds in the rough.  Other times, you just gotta see beyond the lump of coal and imagine the sparkling diamond that lies beneath.  Remember the light I did in my bathroom from this Goodwill Hunting post?  That crusty thing was $9, and I scooped it off the floor at a roadside antique store.  


BUDGET IDEA #2 – MAKE SPRAY PAINT YOUR NEW BESTIE. Look how fun the chandeliers below are (!)  Imagine that pop of color hanging over your pretty little pedestal sink.  


The good news is, there are oodles of these things just marinating on the dusty floors and in the wheel-y bins at a Goodwill near you.  For instance, I found this oversized (30” diameter) chandelier earlier this week for $12.99.  Toss in a $5 can of spray paint, and BANG:  you’ve got yourself a new fixture for under $20.  Note: make sure to get the kind of spray paint that’s made to stick to metal / smooth surfaces.  

If it were me, I’d do a huuuuuuuge, oversized fixture in coral (and, ooh gurl! I’d paint my walls Benjamin Moore’s La Paloma Grey, and keep the linens white…  kudos on finding the perfect grey, Caitlin!  Y’old floozy!)  Anyway, since I’m a dunce and didn’t spring for that monstrous chandelier for $12 bucks, y’all should know that it’s at that massive Goodwill in Newton, NC, right off of Hwy 25/70.  Have at it.

BUDGET IDEA #3 – HIT UP RETAILERS FOR DESIGNER LOOK-ALIKES AT REASONABLE PRICES.  Not everyone has the time – or the patience – for projects.  So if you have an aversion to crafting and prefer a cleaner, more modern look, I’d consider one of these bad boys:

Ikea “Maskros” Pendant – $89

The fixture above actually makes me weak at the knees.  32 inches of sheer whimsicality for $89 is the definition of bang for your buck.  I’m currently working with a client in Ohio, and we’re putting this in her little girl’s room.  It’s simple, airy and sweet, and if you’re thinking it’s too big for a bathroom, think again – its oversized quality is just the kind of dramatic statement I’d wet my pants over if I walked by a bathroom and saw it.  Kinda like this big guy – BOOM!

via the oh-so-gorgeous, brimming-with-beauty Roseland Greene blog


Tord Boontje Garland Light $90 $65. Tord Boontje Midsummer Shade Light $90 $69.  

Don’t you imagine that there are little fairies & sprites frolicking around inside these garland lights with magic wands??  (Teeeeeeee-hee!!)  No, I did not puff the cheeba for breakfast.  Look how fun (!)  And no – they’re not too modern for you.  I once saw these hanging over nightstands in a friend’s bedroom in Charleston.  She had her grandmother’s dark, massive, antique mahogany bedroom set (with carrera marble tops on the nightstands – yum), and the juxtaposition was STUNNING.  So don’t be afraid to mix things up.  This isn’t Rooms-To-Go, yo!  

West Elm “Woven Pendant” – $199  

I imagine this honeycomb wonder chilling hard in a beachy bathroom in So Cal…  or in a spa-like, zen bathroom.  Its interesting texture means it can stand on its own as a focal point in a quiet space, but its tame color means you can also get away with going a little bonkers in the rest of the room.  (Sidenote: this fixture disappeared from West Elm’s site RIGHT before I posted this.  Apparently, they just ran out of stock, but it’ll be back in the spring – Item #1367952).  

Roost Berlin Pendant Lights – $163 each  

These glass pendants are clean and modern, but still feel warm and casual…  kind of Industrial-Farmhouse-y.  I love that.  Apparently everyone else loves them too – they’re backordered through January 2011, so if you heart them, I’d call dibs.  

Ikea “Fillsta” Pendant – $29 for the 14″, $39 for the 19″, $49 for the 31″. 

Love this dude too.  Anything in solid white always becomes more interesting as soon as it’s sculptural or has some texture.  This is almost of like a work of art, hanging there all by its sweet little self.

Remember the pic from Meg Ryan’s bathroom?  If you like that kind of quirky industrial look, why not recreate it with a few of these guys from CB2?  Glorious color, glorious price:  they’re $39 bucks a pop.  



Ahhh…  like the decorating equivalent to the perfect pair of earrings or a cherry on top of a sundae.   Medallions usually run between $15 and $45 at Lowe’s or Home Depot, depending on the size/style.  They will most likely be round, and fairly basic.  But if you’re looking for something a bit more unique (like the one below), I’d check ebay.  


McGill Design Group via Design*Sponge  

The designers in the photo above went one step past light fixture + medallion, and PAINTED the CEILING (gasp!)  This is another move to keep in your playbook:  when everything else is relatively simple or monochromatic, painting the ceiling is a killer (and inexpensive) way to kick it up a notch.  People don’t expect it, so when they look up, it’s a fun little surprise…  kinda like the bowls I ate out of as a kid that had Elmo, Burt & Ernie at the bottom.  

Ralph Lauren makes a line of metallic paints that I have been whooshing my drawers over for years.  Not only does it amp up the fun factor, but it’s subtly reflective, which looks gorgeous when you flip the light switch.  A rich gold or a deep smokey charcoal would be insanely cool on a bathroom ceiling.  And, not to go totally cuckoo for cocoa puffs, but put this in your pipe & smoke it –>  

BUDGET BONUS IDEA (CABOOSE) – Instead of painting the ceiling, you can pull a switcheroo and PAINT the MEDALLION (!) Check out this Andersonville bank’s ceiling: 

WWWWWHHHHHHHAAAAT?!  How awesome is that?  On a similar note, I was in a bistro in Paris once, and all the millwork was lacquered black.  It was almost as delicious as my croque monsieur.  

The moral of the story is, if you have a kablillion bucks – ACES.  But if you don’t, don’t sweat it, Puddin!  You don’t always need it to make your home look beautiful.  You just have to have a little imagination and ingenuity.  So when you see something in a magazine that you love, look closely at it and deconstruct it in your mind.  Sure, you won’t be able to replicate it exactly, but most of the time, you can take a few cues and get a similar look with an itsy bitsy wad of cash…  and a little elbow grease.  

Next up?  Wallpaper, spice, and everything nice.  


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