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February 16, 2012

Installing A New Bathroom Light in Mom’s 1950s Time Capsule Condo

By Sara In AZ

Well y’all, we figured out pretty quick that we would need to replace to light in Mom’s bathroom.  You see, this is what we were left with.


Yeah I know, it’s a real beaut isn’t it! With only one bulb there was hardly enough light to see in the bathroom at night. And with no shade, well, it just looked pathetic.

I was determined to find a cool retro light for the bathroom. And I knew just what I wanted, an old school light bar with the curved glass shade. Maybe I would even be lucky enough to find one with stars on it, like the Starburst Light below from seller  inventordreams that I featured in my Kool Kitsch post recently. No Pattern friend Laura from On The Doorstep was trying to buy the light pictured below for her bathroom renovation and unfortunately was outbid. Sadly, Starburst lights are not easy to come by and I had no luck either when I was looking for one about 6 months ago.


So what’s a girl to do when a new bathroom light is needed and none meet your needs??? Improvise!

We bought this off the shelf 4 Light Bath Bar from Home Depot …….


………and then hunted around at every thrift store and Restore we could find. I knew I had seen the glass Bar Light shades in these places before, so I was determined to find something.

Meanwhile, Mike got to work installing the new light!

Here he is connecting some wires.


It’s all getting wired together, the wires are all making friends now. Smile


It’s up! And Mike is checking for level.


And here is the new light. I managed to find a vintage glass shade with an embossed scroll design at Restore for around $3. It is not as atomic/starburst-y as I had hoped for, but I still like it none the less. It had no mounting hardware, which is usually the case, so we would have had to buy the Home Depot light anyway just to get the light kit. I suppose it worked out better anyway, having new wiring and all.  The vintage shade matched up perfectly with the mounting holes on the new light hardware.


Here is a close-up of the raised scroll design on the glass shade.


Yay! We have light!!!

There is another option for you vintage bathroom light hunters out there (Laura I am talking about you Smile). Eartha Kitsch, from Ranch Dressing with Eartha Kitsch, gave me the heads up about a vintage looking patterned bathroom light she is using in her own home. Check out this beautiful light!


It’s all starry, and retro looking, and all sorts of pretty! Eartha sent this picture along to me so we could all see how nice the light looks lit up. Thanks Eartha! Eartha vouches for the quality of these lights too, saying even though the cost is low, the quality is really good.

This light is made by the NUVO Company and it comes in 3 different sizes.

A smaller sconce style light #76-273.


A 2 light Bath Bar #76-276.


And a 4 light Bath Bar #76-277.


It does not appear that NUVO sells directly to the public, so just Google NUVO and the item number of the light you are interested and a bunch of options will pop up as to where to buy this. $25.99 seems to be the going price for the 4 light Bath Bar, which sounds like a really fair price to me. There is even a listing on Amazon for the 4 Light Bath Bar and it has free shipping!

This week kicks off a whole series of several bathroom posts as we deal with different plumbing issues in the condo bathroom,  we hang a new medicine cabinet, AND we finally lay some paint on those tired old white bathroom cabinets! So come back next Thursday when we literally have to cut off the tub spout, and yes I did say “Cut Off”! Smile Eeks!!!

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15 Responses to Installing A New Bathroom Light in Mom’s 1950s Time Capsule Condo

  1. RetroRuth Reply

    February 16, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Whoa, Sara!! Nice job!! I really like the way that scroll-y shade looks that you found. And it is nice to have new wiring, isn’t it? Sounds like a win-win to me!

    Oh, and thanks for the great pic, Eartha! You know I always love to get peeks at your kitsch-tastic house. 🙂

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      February 16, 2012 at 7:40 pm

      Thanks Ruth! Yeah, you are right about the new wiring – you just never know about those old lights! I really do think the scroll-y shade works well too! 🙂 YAY!

  2. sablemable Reply

    February 16, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Kudos, Saraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!! I always like it when we can find new stuff that looks retro.

    And Kudos to you, too, Earthaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!

    Good job, Mike! Bob said you’re a real Handy Andy!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      February 16, 2012 at 7:42 pm

      Thank you Sable! It is the BEST to find new stuff that looks retro isn’t it!

      hee! Yes, Mike is the most Handiest-Andy, I think, that there is! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Thrifting Blog Digest- #18 | Late Night Coffee

  4. Laura Reply

    February 16, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Thanks for the shout out Sara! Holla! I like your find, and it’s great you found a shade that fit the light fixture so perfectly; how often is that sort of thing just that easy? Eartha’s find is cool too. Now that I’ve had a few days to get over it, losing that auction was probably for the best. Yikes, that’s a lot to fork over for a light fixture! My sister has also done glass and mirror etching/frosting as a craft and wondered if it was possible to just create your own starburst pattern (or whatever you want) on a plain glass shade. That sounded like a lot of work but another way to get the mid-century look. I desperately need to FINISH a few other rooms before I move on to other projects, but this little adventure was just the thing to get me thinking about what I want to do in this bathroom and the one upstairs. Thanks for all the fun inspiration!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      February 16, 2012 at 8:12 pm

      No problem Laura, you deserve a shout out! 🙂

      I think the new/old light works really well too, and it was amazing that we were able to use the old shade on the new light!

      That would be FAB if you could etch your own starburst light, you will have to let me know if you ever do that and how it turns out.

      Let us know, down the road, how your bathroom renovation turns out!

      • Laura Reply

        February 17, 2012 at 12:01 pm

        Oh, will do. Check back in (checks watch) five years or so,’kay? 😉

        • Sara In AZ Reply

          February 17, 2012 at 12:15 pm

          Got it Laura, 5 years, I marked it on the calendar! 🙂

  5. Eartha Kitsch Reply

    February 16, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    I love that shade that you found, Sara! I also see the shades from time to time at thrifts but hardly ever the light fixtures themselves (which may be for the best as lots of times, they are just coated in paint anyway). And I forgot to add about those NUVO lights. The screw covers that they come with are flower shaped so we just went to Home Depot and for a few bucks, bought new smaller, basic screw covers in white because the flowers didn’t seem to suit the shades to us.

    Thanks ladies! And wow, Sara…can’t wait to hear about this tub post. Seems like it was just yesterday. You poor kids. Can’t wait to see the bathroom cabinet!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      February 16, 2012 at 8:16 pm

      Thanks so much Eartha!

      I wonder why that is, at thrifts, that the shades and lights are usually not together. So weird huh!

      Thanks for the tip on replacing the screw covers! The tub post…..stay tuned…..the bathroom mayhem continues for a few weeks girl! 🙂 eeks!

  6. Andrea Reply

    February 16, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    That was a great shade find, Sara! Love Eartha’s lights as well, they definitely have a great retro look!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      February 16, 2012 at 8:17 pm

      Thank you Andrea! We had to have that retro look! 🙂

  7. Glenn Soucy Reply

    February 16, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    I have run into a number of people who have passed on vintage lights because the ( wiring, socket, mounting) was in poor shape. Well, them passing has worked out great for me, because most of the big box stores have plenty of direct replacement part so you can take your old light, and put all new parts in it, it’ll be safe, and you’ll be the only one to know! I have done it with 14 lights in my house from the 50’s and 60’s. Very inexpensive too. I DO recommend that you take the old parts with you when you shop. Nothing like having that wire 1 inch too short!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      February 17, 2012 at 11:57 am

      Hi Glenn, thanks for the comment! I guess I could say that my Mr has no fear of vintage lights 🙂 , as he has rewired a number of them for me. I am SO glad he has the knowledge and know how to do this otherwise yes, I would have probably left a lot of vintage lights behind. And you are SO right, definitely take the old light parts along when you are buying the new light parts!

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