You win some…

… and some wins you have to give away.

Notice I didn’t say “you lose some” because, when it comes to home design, I count a lose as an ‘it wasn’t meant to be’.

Rolan and I enjoyed an afternoon bike ride through our new city yesterday and were pleasantly surprised to find out that the shops were open. (They are usually closed on Sundays here.)

I noticed that one of the home design shops, LifeStyle, was moving its store across the street and selling everything off at incredible discounts.

We are on a major spending freeze given my current lack of employment, but I tugged Rolan’s arm in that direction anyway. I’m a glutton for punishment.

Really awful, terrible super bad punishment.

We fell in love with these globes, but couldn’t justify the purchase since we don’t have anywhere to display it.

We watched the store disintegrate before our very eyes. People were snapping up deals left and right. I started thinking maybe our spending freeze wasn’t the only reason we would go home empty handed. Pretty soon there wouldn’t be anything left to buy.

But then I looked above the cashier station and gasped. The most beautiful basket pendant lights were just hanging there with a 70% off sticker and nobody was grabbing them.

It’s actually the same light as seen in one of my favorite office inspiration pins:

But even with 70% off, that beautiful baby was still way out of our price range. So I closed my eyes, grabbed Rolan’s arm and politely asked him to escort me out of the shop.

Just as we were heading out I saw another young couple examining the light. I just hope whoever got it loves it as much as I do.

If you love it too (and your budget is bigger than mine), I found it on their web site — still on sale!


A dandy chandy

My man Rolan is 2 for 2 on great thrift store lighting finds. If he weren’t already a great catch, I’d be keeping him around just for his keen eye for lighting.

When he found this beauty, I initially had my reservations. I wasn’t sure the mixed metals candelabra look was going to jive with our contemporary minimalist decor.

So we made a compromise. We would get the lighting fixture, but we’d have to make it less shiny.

Enter some matte white spray paint.

We taped off the light stems so that no spray paint would get into the bulb screw base and so they would remain black. Then we gave it one coat of primer.

We were already starting to like it better. So we went forward with two more coats of paint.

We are so happy with the final product. It’s got classic, timeless elegance yet it’s updated to fit in with the sleek lines of our brand new apartment.

I’m also really happy we chose to leave the glossy black light stems. I think it helps keep the light from disappearing into the ceiling.

It looks really cool from below too.

I can’t believe just how much a couple coats of spray paint did to update this light’s look. And did I mention the light’s low price tag? €2!

If Rolan keeps up like this, I can see a lot more spray painted thrift store finds in our future.

Save the Maskros!

You guys already know that I love me some Maskros. And its rise in popularity did nothing to hinder my obsession.

It’s a relatively inexpensive lamp for its size. The small one is only €50. However, given that it’s made of paper, I was holding out hope that someday some crazy person would decide they’d had enough of its flowery nonsense and offer it to me for less than the retail price. The longer I held out, the more unlikely it seemed that there was a crazy person out there for me.

Ultimately, though, crazy never lets me down:

As I was strolling through the Utrecht Ikea As-Is section with my boyfriend’s mother, she picks up this sad, white blob and starts picking at it. “This could be a nice lamp” she said as she showed it to me. When I finally realized what it was, I said — probably WAY louder than I should have — “This is it! This is the one! The one I’ve been searching for!” And then I hugged it. I hugged the lamp. In the store.

Maybe I’m the crazy one.

The fact that I could not tell what it was at first should give you some clue as to how badly this baby had been treated. It looked like someone had thrown it or kicked it or something. Most of the paper flowers were bent every which way.

The beauty of this light fixture really is in its simplicity, though. Even if it’s all messed up and already assembled, it can be fixed. The paper flowers can be removed. You can rebuild it. You can make it stronger.

Well, maybe not stronger, but you can at least make it pretty again.

I am here to tell you that fixing an as-is Maskros is as easy as popping off all the little flowers and smoothing the heinously bent petals by just running your fingers across them while they are laying on a flat surface. Once you have smoothed out every bent petal, place all the flowers in a big pile, making sure that there are no rogue petals being bent. It helps if you stack them in piles of 5. Then simply place something flat and heavy on top of the pile and let it sit overnight.

When you wake up in the morning, your pile will look something like this:

This flattening process will iron out all the little wrinkles and creases in the paper and also give the flowers a more uniform curve.

Then it’s time to pop all the flowers back into their little plastic holders. I found it was easiest to start at the top of the fixture and go down row by row. Oh and we also had a microphone stand handy to place the light on so it wasn’t resting on the little metal arms. You could just as easily tie the light’s wire to something and work while it’s hanging. Just don’t let the light rest on the newly ironed petals or you’ll be back to square one.

So you see, this Maskros just needed some TLC. For 50% off I’ll hug, rub and love on a pendant light. I’d be crazy not to!

Making an entrance

Rolan visited his parents this past weekend. Before he left, I made him promise that he would go to the thrift store.

The thrift stores in the north of the country where his parents live are just ripe with potential big scores, whereas here in the middle of the country where we live they tend to be more picked over.

I wasn’t sure if he’d come home with anything, but…

…you guys, he found a gem! I didn’t even have to threaten him or anything!

I wasn’t sure at first when he sent me this picture:

I mean, it looks kind of dingy with the glass and the cord all nicotine-y yellow.

But then he told me the price. €7.50! What the hal-ogen?!

We figured at that price, we couldn’t really afford not to give it a shot. So, with a little dish soap and a lot of elbow grease, this shiny beauty emerged:

And he saw that it was goooooood.

I’m in love…

We had a hunch this was Ikea, but I didn’t remember it from a recent catalog so I was pretty sure it was older than 5 years. After some research we discovered that it is called the Stollet and that it is at least 8 years old (based on this Flickr photo). We found out that it can easily be converted into a table lamp, which would explain the power cord that came with it. We also found a couple of eBay listings where this baby sold for €70. In Jennifer math, that means we MADE money on this purchase.

Does anyone else have this beauty? If so, did you get it for a steal like we did?!

Here comes the sun

Well, not really since it’s raining yet again. But! We do have two new light fixtures installed in the apartment. Three if you count the vanity light we “borrowed” from Rolan’s grandfather’s house.

We picked the Ikea Fuga spotlight flushmount for our kitchen light fixture because the kitchen is kind of a square with a lot of corners that need light. We didn’t want a drop pendant hanging down here getting in the way, so a flush mount fixture it was.

Maybe someday we will have some track lighting drop pendants hanging over the countertops instead, but this works really well for now and we can’t resist an affordable modern glass and steel fixture.

This is the powder room we neglected to take pictures of before we moved in.

It was kind of.. erm.. essential that we find a cheap fixture for this room quick style. Even though peeing in the dark may help avoid cancer(???), I’m a scaredy pants and Rolan is both near-sighted and over 6-foot-tall. He does not need any more handicaps while doing his business.

We spend a lot of time in Ikea recently as it is both a.) budget-friendly and b.) the only modern one-stop home decor shop that we know of in the Netherlands. While there, we spotted and instantly loved this Ottava light. However, after Rolan’s not-tall-at-all brother paid us a visit, I started to question whether we made the right choice.

In fact, Ramon’s visit made me ponder whether we can have drop pendants at all. I’m thinking in the case of the powder room, the verdict is, sadly, no. But I’ve promised Rolan to live with it for a little while. We’ll see what happens.

We also stole borrowed a light for a temporary fix for the hole in the wall above the mirrors in the bathroom. Rolan got it installed last night so now it’s actually hanging on the wall and not off the wall.

I say “temporary fix” because, like most everything else, we have big plans for this fixture in the future.

Another temporary fix in this picture is the bare light bulb you see dangling from the ceiling on the left. Yeah, we are not that minimalist. Our budget is, though.

So that is what we have so far. It’s just three little tweaks, but they sure have shed some light on the situation. Wop wop. Bad pun intended.

How about you guys? Have you ever had to resort to a “temporary fix” while you (or your budget) got prepared for the permanent solution? Or have you ever had a tall relative bump his head on a light fixture?