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Light Em Up Up Up

clamp lights (2)

Show of hands – how many of you live in a house built in the 60s? Or maybe you grew up in the 60s? Help me figure this out. Why are there no light fixtures in my house? Or is this a California thing?

In my house growing up, every room had a light switch that connected to an existing light fixture, except the living room, where the switch was wired to an outlet. (Since I can practically hear my electrician brother groaning, I’m going to say “receptacle” this one time, but no one besides an electrician actually uses that word, so I’m going to call it an “outlet”. Sorry, Keith.)

In our house, almost no light switches connect to lights – they are wired to outlets. This made for a fun little game when we moved in – “Let’s See Which Outlet This Switch Goes With” – where we ran around with a lamp, testing each one. Some of them made sense, others didn’t. (“Why would you put a light THERE??”) It wasn’t such a fun game after all.

In the den, which continues to be a (slow) work-in-progress (see here and here), there are sliding glass doors, no other windows, and one switched outlet. We are still working on how this space will be used, but for now, it’s where the computer usually lives and where I have my crafting workspace. And it is DARK. (Even darker because we painted the walls a charcoal gray, which we LOVE and which will fit into my grand scheme of a cozy den to curl up in and watch movies, which might be a reality by this time next year. Not holding my breath.) So we needed more light.

clamp lights before

Back when I painted the Hoosier cabinet to make it my workspace, I pulled clamp lights to illuminate the space. I loved how they looked, but I didn’t like them clamped to the shelf, meaning I had to unclamp them when I wanted to close the doors. I needed a way to attach them up higher and out of the way.


I started with a configuration of galvanized pipe. I liked the industrial look, but clamps did not secure well to the round pipe.

So, I googled square pipe and fittings, and sketched up a new idea.

glorified towel bar

When I finished, I realized that what I had just drawn – using about $60 worth of supplies – was a glorified towel bar.

towel bar


So I went to the hardware store and bought a $10 towel bar.

drill guides

I used the handy-dandy drill guide that came with the towel bar to place the holes in the top of the cabinet. (I KNOW! Paint and holes! Don’t call the antique police.)

towel bar

Easy peasy.

nuts and bolts

The bar came with screws, but with the bar attaching to the top of the cabinet (instead of a wall like it usually does), I swapped out the screws for bolts and nuts that I could secure to the top of the cabinet.

clamp lights

I clamped on the lights (and added one more, because ODD NUMBERS).

workspace at night

Ta-da! Lovely lights that provide great task lighting for projects and that can be rotated out of the way to access the cabinet doors.

clamp lights up

And that provide crucial uplighting for after dinner dance parties.

Because our kids love to rock out to Fall Out Boy. “I’m on FI-YAAAAAAAAAAH!”




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