Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Living Room Renaissance

Last weekend, Jen's dad came up to lend a hand with a variety of tasks. While our contractors worked on completing the subflooring upstairs, Kenny and Jay worked on tracing the path of the living room light fixture.

Backstory: After moving in, we noticed an unused electrical box with a cover on it in the center of the ceiling. Not too surprising, right? Well, the surprise was that there was no switch to be found on any of the walls. Even shining a flashlight up along the wall to look for signs of obvious patching yielded no clues (although it did show us that the arches were added after the walls were built - probably in the 50's when that was a big remodeling movement).

While we had guessed where the switch might be, we never really knew until the floor upstairs was removed. Jay was then able to trace the conduit down to one joist bay, in the wall between the living room and the foyer. We also found that this light was one of the three gas-electric lights in the house, along with the Kit and DR. How cool! (The gas lines had been removed in the basement long ago). Now we knew where the cable led to, so we just needed to find the old switch box that some Previous Owner (PO) decided to cover up.

However, it turned out that our detective work was not quite finished. To locate the box, we drilled test holes at the right height for a switch box. Didn't find anything. One of us went upstairs, shook the electrical conduit like mad while the other tried to "hear" if the box had just been pushed into the wall and was floating around in there. Nothing.

We began to question ourselves. If some PO had removed the light, there must have been a good reason, right? I mean, you don't just go about removing lights from your house, do you? Was the light leaking gas (when it was gas-powered light) or something? Was the electric line broken somewhere? Were the wires even properly taped or capped off?

Finally, we decided to start cutting a hole about 4 feet off the ground in the wall. But from the backside (our entry closet) - so at least the living room side would appear okay. Still nothing. Where could it be? We peeked upwards from the hole and were shocked to see the electrical box - about a foot up! This means that the original switch was nearly 5 feet off the ground! No wonder we found no trace of it. We can only assume the Original Owner must have wanted this for some reason. Maybe so kids wouldn't play with the gas-lights or something. Or maybe they just ran out of conduit.
Anyway, we eventually got a new box installed at a normal height, tested the circuitry (it was all in good shape), patched our holes, and attached a vintage-looking light fixture that Jen and I had found at a demolotion sale last year. And guess what? It fits the style of the room perfectly! Which leads me to wonder, why did some PO remove the wall switch?


(Click for larger image)