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April 23, 2012

New Retro Bullet Lights Installed Over Our Fireplace

By RetroRuth

I hope everyone had a nice, productive weekend. I know we did. Besides being elbow-deep in spring cleaning, we managed to find a few minutes to put up some new retro bullet lights over the planters in our fireplace.


This is part of our almost continuous rehab of our living room. All the mid-century bones were there when we bought the place, but there were a lot of 80’s additions to our living room that were not so great.


If you can rip your eyes away from Tom with one of our cats on his head, you can see the lights that were up when we bought the place. Totally not the the right period for us.


Here is another before, with Tom getting ready to take the light down.

And yes, the power is off. Safety first!


And here is the installed light!


A total improvement in the view from the entryway.  The only problem is…


We still have four more lights that don’t match! We scored the two retro lights off of eBay for a pretty sweet deal ($25 for both) about a year ago, and have been looking ever since for four more. I finally couldn’t take it any more and had to change the two over the planters because that stupid white light was messing with the view of our glorious sputnik fixtures.  So we are just going to have to deal with it half-done until we can get some more.

Also – I need some decorating advice in regard to the planters, guys.  I can’t have plants (or even fake plants) in there because our cats are complete monsters who destroy everything. But I was trying to think of something else I can put in there, at least in the lower one. What do you guys think? Pottery? Sculpture? Let me know!!

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25 Responses to New Retro Bullet Lights Installed Over Our Fireplace

  1. KDA Reply

    April 23, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Did someone paint the limestone?!

    • RetroRuth Reply

      April 23, 2012 at 10:20 am

      Nope – The entire fireplace is white Carrara marble! It’s amazing! The photos are all kind of dark and it messes with how awesome it looks in real life.

  2. Queen of Fifty Cents Reply

    April 23, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Wow, that is a fabbo fireplace! We’re dealing with a lot of 80s remodeling in our 1957 house too, and needing multiples of everything really slows down the process.

    Here’s my idea for your lower planter: a pyramid of vintage bowling balls, with a bowling trophy glued to the top. I defy your cats to take those out!

    • RetroRuth Reply

      April 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm

      Thanks!! And yes, needing multiples of things IS so frustrating (and expensive, if you try to buy repro stuff).

      Oh my goodness, that bowling ball idea is hilarious!!! I am sure they wouldn’t mess with that at all. 🙂

  3. Annie B. Reply

    April 23, 2012 at 10:45 am

    What a house you have! The new lights are fantastic, but nothing beats your Sputnik fixture. Am SO jealous!

    Congrats on a productive weekend.

    Is that Midnight atop Tom? One great cat (Midnight, that is – and Tom, too, actually!!).

    • RetroRuth Reply

      April 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      Thanks, Annie B.! The sputnik really is the showstopper!

      Yep, that is Midnight up there! She loves him so, she was purring pretty much the whole time she was up there. I think he eventually had to take her down before she rattled his teeth out of his jaw.

  4. Eartha Kitsch Reply

    April 23, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Beautiful fireplace! And the lights look great! I’ll keep my eyes open for more for the other four spots. I thought that Rejuvenation might have something but they don’t have any that can be tilted that are that shape. Theirs are more of a cone shape.

    I don’t even know what to say about Tom with that kitty on his head except that it cracks me up and that if I tried that around here, I’d be going in for facial reconstruction. In related news, I have no good ideas for the planter as my cats have beaten me down so much that no cat-proof decorating seems possible anymore.

    • RetroRuth Reply

      April 23, 2012 at 1:46 pm

      Thanks, Eartha!!! With you on the job, I am sure four new lights will be found very soon. 🙂

      Yeah, it’s the little details like the tilting that are really holding up the show!

      Glad you liked Tom’s “Midnight-skin” cap. She is just the sweetest thing and is pretty much like a big stuffed animal. And yes, the planter is going to be a challenge!

  5. Sara In AZ Reply

    April 23, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Love, love, love the lights! So glad y’all finally got them installed.

    Hmmmmm, the planter……I’d say some type of sculpture probably – and a heavy one that the cats can’t knock over! 🙂

    • RetroRuth Reply

      April 23, 2012 at 1:48 pm

      Yeah! Glad you like them, considering you are pretty much the reason why we have them! I am so glad you decided to forward the link to me when they were on eBay. 🙂

      I am leaning towards sculpture as well. Now I just have to convince Tom. He thinks we should get catus plants. He said we will only have to remove a few spikes before they learn…nice, huh?

  6. Diana Reply

    April 23, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    This crazy sculpture from Mr. Modtomic would fit in the lower planter! http://mistermodtomic.blogspot.com/2012/04/contemporary-curtis-jere-turns-out.html#more But I fear it might end up a giant scratching post for the cat(s). 😉

    • RetroRuth Reply

      April 23, 2012 at 1:48 pm

      Ha ha! Diana, it totally cool end up as a scratching post…but a nice-looking one! 🙂

  7. Tasha Reply

    April 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    At least our cat only gives a few of our plants mullets (she chews off the top most leaves and everything else stays long), but instead we have to deal with her clawing all our furniture into oblivion. I am so scared for the future lives of the two vintage sofas we’ve acquired. Ugh.

    Now for your planters, hm! I do think some kind of statement (i.e. sizeable) pottery or sculpture could work nicely… of course, unless you’re worried about them getting toppled (that would be a problem in our house). I wish I knew more about if there was a style for it then, but my grandfather he did a few metal (iron?) sculptures in the 50s/60s that were ostensibly for outside, but my grandmother had one in her yard and a couple indoors and they looked great in and out. Something like that would be considerably more cat-proof than ceramic, and I think a mix of the metal and marble could be texturally neat.

    Even if you can’t match the exact shape of the lights, if you can get a similar finish for the other 4 it could look like you did it on purpose, with the 2 on the sides as accents. They really look cool.

    • RetroRuth Reply

      April 23, 2012 at 1:55 pm

      Yes, the plant eating is a real problem around here! The furniture not so much, at least they have some kind of respect for our things. Actually, it is probably just laziness on their part, the little punks…

      I am also leaning towards a statement piece. Right now the winner in my mind would be pottery, but you are right about the metal/marble thing being neat and also completely cat-proof. Hmmm…lots of food for thought!

      Glad you like the lights! And you are totally right about matching finishes, I need to focus on that more than the shape, I think. But sometimes I just get so sick of those other lights I would pretty much go for anything! 🙂

  8. Laura Reply

    April 23, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    I’ve got a few of those very same white track lights in my house, and I cannot WAIT to be rid of them. Fortunately they are in spare rooms where replacement doesn’t have to be a priority. In the meantime for you, (and this depends on how much time you want to spend improving the sow’s ear, as they say) would spray painting them matte gold at least knock some of the uglies off them, or make them blend in a bit with the vintage ones that you have installed? If you’re thinking you’ll find others soon it might not be worth the energy and effort, but I thought I’d throw that out there if you were just cringing at the very sight of them. I know I’ve done crazier things just to camouflage stuff I have to live with for awhile.Oh, and by the way, you are so LUCKY no one painted your fireplace. How gorgeous!

    • RetroRuth Reply

      April 23, 2012 at 7:37 pm

      You know, Laura, I have been totally thinking about doing that. Tom thinks I’m nuts for wanting to do it, but who knows how long the light search is going to take? You are right, I DO cringe at the very sight of them! I will have to show your comment to Tom and try to convince him…

  9. Andrea Reply

    April 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    I am LOLing so hard at Tom’s cat hat! As for your planters, I would go for some kind of sculpture, I think, a statement piece. Of course I have no examples of what I am thinking of, so I am less than helpful!

    • RetroRuth Reply

      April 23, 2012 at 7:36 pm

      Ha ha! It’s okay, I am just you liked Tom’s cat hat!

  10. Shannon H. Reply

    April 23, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    How about metal plants? There’s an apartment lobby in my city that is done in brutalist design and the planters have plants made out of green and gold-coloured metal.

    • RetroRuth Reply

      April 23, 2012 at 7:35 pm

      Yes!!! Sounds awesome – I will have to check it out!

  11. Anonymous Reply

    April 24, 2012 at 1:14 am

    I love seeing your house and love your new lights. As for your planter, what about catnip, or cat grass? That way if the cats get into it, it won’t hurt them and it’s made to be chewed. I have cats too so know the problem well. I also wanted to say I’m realatively local to you (South Haven). We’re working on searching for our own mid century house. I have a basement full of furniture so now I need the house LOL! You photos really inspire me!

  12. Trudie Reply

    April 24, 2012 at 10:26 am

    When our cats began to eat our plants, I placed barbecue skewers, sharp pointy end UP, all around the circumference. They jutted outward and upward. The tender little paws could not deal with this and eventually they lost interest and I could remove them. Barbed wire is just too brutal.

  13. Maggie Reply

    April 25, 2012 at 2:32 am

    no idea on the plants….except maybe a statue of me. that would be cool. and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!! :o)

  14. Diane Reply

    May 1, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Hey Ruth, Have you tried a plant called Mother-In-Laws tongue? You can see it in the planters in Don Drapers foyer, under the white pendant lamps.
    It is a really tough succulent cacti type plant. so tough it looks fake but it is in every mid century and before movie set I have ever seen. Look it up. I wish I could give you some – it grows everywhere in Florida.

  15. Pingback: Installing Our “New” MIB Vintage Lights Over the Fireplace in the Living Room | No Pattern Required

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