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I have never quite figured out if I am flighty, dumb or inspired in response to “we need to figure that out.” Most people mean that they will figure out how to solve the problem by getting someone who knows how to do it to help or throw money at the project and buy something that has been figured out already.

Me, I always think there must be a way to do it and that I should figure it out. Take the problem of the week. We have need for many wall sconces, about 15 to 20 antique looking brass ones. I can find perfect ones for $150 each and perfect what we wanted for $300. We have about $500 to $700 total. I purchased a sconce that looked sketchy but was within budget (barely). When it came it looked like what I paid for it. Not what we want it to look like in a home as nice as what we are building. Besides, while we plan to live in the house a good while we are also considering resale value should we want to move for retirement.


Dilemma. Study the problem. Have your “reality-a-meter” go on the fritz. Decide it looks possible to tinker something up. It a time sink looking at and trying to buy parts for things you don’t understand. It is like taking the toaster apart only to discover that you don’t even know which part is messed up so you can replace it and better (or worse) yet you cannot put the toaster back together because you don’t where any of the parts go short of the base and the outside cover.

Dear Reader, I am sure you have never faced this dilemma but I manage to get that toaster apart rather more often than not. Thankfully YouTub and Ehow exist. I decided when I was remodeling in 2010 our house that burned that I could do some plumbing. I knew some and it was Pex (flexible) pipe after all so aligning my lines was not nearly so difficult as with copper. Enter departure of my “reality-a-meter” departure. All u can say is that I DID remember to turn off the water to the area before I discovered that Pex was easy but what I was trying to do with it was not, that is to someone who was making it up along the way. This plumbing ended happily. I went and got my laptop, found a YouTube video that  liked, climbed under the cabinet and dragged the computer i with me. Viola, less than 10 hour later I emerged hungry, thirsty and jubilant.

Now, this of course begs the question of why I consider my fixes to save money. The math goes something like this: buy completed product at $75. pay professional to install it $50 including all service fees. Project is $100. My route is like this: Think about problem for a few hours. Fuss with internet research a few hours, purchase the big part I need for a good price, start tracking down the littler things I need which mount up in cost in a flash; another couple of hours gone. With the assemble parts I try to figure it out, sometimes I am successful without YouTube and EHow online. Take an hour here.

single chandelier wire back of sconce

Assemble it, another hour. Install it, another hour. Total costs of parts and labor well exceeding a professional whom you may end up having to call when you are in over your head which can happen very fast. So, my Macguyver approach takes 10  to 15 hours and the professional approach 3 hours including finding the thing itself. I usually end up with a higher quality produce since I can buy better parts if I am putting it together but the cost of the time is insane.

The idea I have come on with the sconces may actually work, or be a bust. It remains to be seen. As I was hunting for nice products we could have within budget, I scoured ebay. I discovered that nice wired products sell for $50 to $100 and up. The exact same fixture not wired is $20. “Oh, I can do that, does not seem hard, especially after the first two or three. I have just spent an hour trying to figure out the parts I need and have not even touched the stuff yet so I don’t know if it will work. I did order a box of 50 candle covers which should allow for 20 sconces and 5 screw-ups. I was being optimistic, and it was less cost than ordering 7 individual covers.

So, we shall see how I do when the parts come. I will have to find time to do it that is not in the evenings. My spouse does not like me dragging the latest project into the den where we read and watch TV. I guess it is the power tools since I am really good at cleaning up behind myself. On the other hand, maybe it is the fact that I leave the dresser I am working on sitting in the middle of the room on tarps for three days while the finish dries. Can’t imagine what is going through his head. I will leave it to you to guess. Maybe you could leave a comment for me if you can figure out what it is.

So, I am off to the next experiment in my MacGuyver mindset. Thankfully, like he, I am usually successful but I have had my spectacular failures. I suppose wiring brass wall sconces to look like they have a candle in them and to attach them to the wall could be hard. No matter what, it won’t tamp down the joy we are feeling about going home so soon. We can always get flashlights. I think with a little duck tape we can have those puppies up and working in no time.

The Sconce to Be