Sweat Equity: Fixtures

Big shout-out to Ashley at Saving Money in your Twenties for showing me how to mash photos together like a millenial 🙂  Thank you!

Ah, fixtures.  Our house was built in 1986.  And some (or many) of the fixtures looked like they might have been original.


  outdoor lights





I don’t know about everyone else on their house hunts, but we did not notice most of these things when we were house shopping.  This house was an architectural style we liked, in the price range, and most importantly, required no immediate repair.  That combination is already hard enough to find.  No, we did not go “Eww, ugly faucets.  Next!”  We figured we would deal with the details later, and we did.

Now onto the juicy DIY detail!  Let’s see…. the outdoor globes had to go because they were an odd potpourri of weather-faded fake gold, and dead bugs:

all as of 12-1=2013 008

Also, how weird is it that the light bulb poked out the top of the torch-globe thing?  This was a pretty easy replacement job (that I did not have to do) which may have included minor wiring.  Set of two was about $18 I think.

all as of 12-1=2013 012

Next there were the ugly ’80s faucets, probably from a contractor pack, shown above.  I am not sure why we targeted this item for one of the first ever DIY projects in this house… 1) neither of us knew anything about plumbing 2) stylish, known-brand faucets are expensive ($30 or so up to $150).  I could have written a whole (nasty) post just about basic plumbing, but we were both too involved to get any photos of the grossness.  If you knew what is just under the drain of your sink in your “new” home, you would want to replace it just to make the nightmares stop.

Shown next in the sequence above was a little job we did to spruce up the mirror in the guest bath.  If you look closely, the original mirror on the left is literally a sheet of glass, with the little mounting clamps visible (can you say college dorm door mirror?).  So we bought some (surprisingly expensive) lightweight foam molding for about $28 and made a little frame.  It is amazingly difficult to cut this foam material by hand and have it come out straight.  Sounds like overkill, but I recommend using a chop saw.  This is what we wound up doing after a morning going “no let me try!  no let me try!” and debating hand-saw technique.

Moving on, check out the strange light vanity that was above the bare mirror, also replaced:


I cannot even imagine seeing something like the vanity on the left at a Lowes or Home Depot.  I mean.. really.  At first we tried to find a nice new vanity with a wide base to prevent a re-paint job.  But wide is out.  The new vanity was about $35 at Lowes, not bad at all.  Re-paint still pending.

Oh, I can’t forget the most recent one:


The “old” fan is from Google; ours was like that but saggy and dusty.  The update to the 3-blade propeller style with single globe and brushed nickel was good for the space.  Fan was on a great sale for $97 I think.

And now, for the piece de resistance, of fixtures, so far: the chandelier:


This is my favorite fixture upgrade to date.  You would think that while house-hunting we exclaimed “WTF is that chandelier?” but we did not initially notice.  The old chandelier reminds me of the “Cheers” theme music.  You know, with the old-timey people and handlebar mustaches?  Anyway it had to go.  This was a team effort of Mr. Goodies doing incredibly technical wiring while I held up an incredibly heavy thing.  It is not a prime factor, but you should consider weight when buying ceiling-suspended fixtures.  Both for the shoulders of the hapless installer and the strain on the beam.  This came at the decent price at $120, all things considered.

That’s it for now – I am still making a case for replacing the old hollow interior doors with solid doors.  Modern houses look slick with those, but they are very expensive so we will see.  It is amazing how quickly you can start sprucing up a place that even seems fine on first glance.  Bringing the 1986 house into the 21st century!

4 thoughts on “Sweat Equity: Fixtures

  1. WHOA. You guys are amazing! I’m so glad you didn’t act like those people on the HGTV shows that can’t look past old fixtures when buying a place!

    I LOVE the framing you did on the bathroom mirror! It looks so… finished! And the bathroom faucet is a HUGE improvement. Our apartment has that exact same “old” faucet (for both the bathroom and the KITCHEN?!) and it drives me bonkers… I’d love to get rid of both 🙂

    • Thanks! Yeah it’s nice to look back and see what you’ve accomplished. I just signed up to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity to learn more home construction skills and help others… win-win 🙂

  2. Awesome work. I’ve found I really enjoy replacing fixtures. It’s got a great bang-for-your-buck in terms of money and effort.

    How difficult was it replacing your bathroom faucets? Mine are the same type as your old ones and I’ve been considering an upgrade for months now. As someone who hasn’t replaced a faucet before, how long did it take you to do one of them?

    • Thanks! The faucet took a few hours, probably because we didn’t know what we were doing. There is also a special type of wrench that you are supposed to use to turn the nut that releases the knobs, but we tried to use a regular wrench instead. I think that was a pretty big mistake – it stripped the plastic nut.

      Also, depending on your cabinet openings, you might want to see if your lady could do the underneath work if you have trouble fitting in under there. I don’t know how plumbers get under there, but my bf could not fit both shoulders in and was going at it blind. Then I took a try and was able to get the nut due to better posture and visual access.

      Other than that, if nothing breaks during your work, it’s not that bad. During one of the faucet replacements, the limey valve broke off and we had to leave the whole house water turned off until we could replace that valve. Unplanned, but we managed.

      If you watch plenty of Youtube videos before and as needed, you’ll probably be fine! Good luck 🙂

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