Hamptons Reno: Shoestring Lighting Buys


LET THERE BE MORE LIGHT, said the new owner of the meagerly electrified beach house, and so Tom the electrician came and upgraded the situation over a period of two days — installing dedicated circuits for the fridge, stove, and space heater; running wires for new overhead fixtures in the dining/sitting room, above; removing lamp cords that snaked along floors and walls with no regard for that thing called code; and capping and burying wires that ran willy-nilly through the half-acre property, illumination for the pool that no longer exists and trees that may be coming down.

IMG_1767Staying one step ahead of the tradesmen, as is my habit, I hopped into my car yesterday morning, a rainy Tuesday, determined to produce by day’s end a hanging fixture for over the kitchen counter and another for over the dining table I don’t yet have (and don’t know the size or shape of). This is a challenge on the far East End of Long Island, where shopping ops are few.

There’s nothing like an enforced drive up-island to make one realize how aptly named Long Island is. I hadn’t intended to go more than a few miles east if I could help it. My hope was that I’d find two marvelous fixtures at either the Ladies Village Improvement Society thrift shop in East Hampton or the ARF (Animal Rescue Fund) shop in Bridge, and then make a 12:00 yoga class. But as good as those shops are, they hew traditional, and my vision here is rustic/retro/industrial. The woman at ARF suggested I try the Restoration Hardware outlet at the Tanger Mall in Riverhead, and I decided to go for it, though it’s an hour’s drive from Springs. I stopped along the way at Revco Lighting and Suffolk Lighting in Southampton, two high-end showrooms whose prices I had no intention of paying, and also at Schwing, an electrical supply store where I picked up a bunch of landscape lighting catalogues and had an illuminating discussion about low versus line voltage — and realized that landscape lighting will have to be a low priority. Decent quality fixtures cost in the neighborhood of $200, and I need 10. And then there’s installation.IMG_1765

Ultimately I succeeded; my long day’s journey yielded what RH calls a vintage barn pendant in slate gray for over the kitchen counter, above; I paid $107 (originally $249) and it seems to be of very decent quality. There’s a West Elm there, too, to which I’ll be returning when it’s time for rugs. There I picked up a big white bell-shaped enamel shade, right, for over the future dining table, for $50.

I had been hoping they’d have the pumpkin-shaped bentwood fixture, below, I’d seen and liked in the West Elm catalogue, but they only had the long cigar-shaped one ($79 without its innards, orig. $169) and I decided the ceiling is too low for such a long fixture.


I capped my lamp-shopping triumphs with a stop at East Hampton Hardware, where I bought a $5.99 ‘jelly jar’ sconce, the kind normally used for outside back doors. I tried it in the long ship-like hall, and I think it’s just right. I’m going back for a second one. Can’t beat the price, right?502195

Some of the existing lighting in the house and yard is very Springs-arty. In the kitchen, the under-cabinet fixture is a long homemade metal panel that takes four tubular bulbs, below. Above the sink: a pair of ’70s white cubes. On a dimmer, with small floodlights, it gives abundant light. I’m keeping both.

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In the yard, there’s an assortment of landscape fixtures, below, which I now realize are vintage and not cheap. But I dislike them: there’s a pagoda, two carriage lamps, and two flowers, which I’ve promised to my contractor when I find replacements. The only one I can handle, though it’s not beautiful, is a utilitarian-looking thing that’s fallen over on its side. I’ll be looking into path lighting, but it’s not top of my list.

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There’s also a pair of nautical-style, nicely oxidized sconces on the house’s exterior, below. They’re heavy and old and I like them a lot.


Charles the plumber is due tomorrow to install the shower body, and Miguel, the contractor, will tile the bathroom next week. Hopefully I can persuade the plumber to return to install the kitchen sink, bathroom sink, and toilet, while Miguel moves on to window repair.


I spent two hours this morning researching casement fasteners, left, and I’m still not sure I’ve found the right thing. Coming up: let there be locks.

It’s All Good

WHAT A DIFFERENCE a day, and a little sunshine, make.

Since my whiny post of 24 hours ago, a slew of encouraging things have happened:

  • I discovered the source of the scary beeping. It was an OLD smoke detector I had found on top of the refrigerator the night before and tossed in the trash outside, never imagining the battery was still good and that rain (?) could set it off. When LIPA arrived (I called but was too late to stop them), I apologized and was told, “No problem – we’re on overtime.” LIPA’s rates are famously high.
  • The dumpster was removed from my driveway.
  • Marcello’s men came to tamp down the muddy mess in the driveway. They’re returning today to continue the battle against the forces of evil wisteria.

    $5 hanging basket

    $5 hanging basket

  • I went swimming at the gigantic, modern East Hampton Y, which is like the gym of a major midwestern university ($37/month!)
  • I bought two hanging baskets of annuals for the front deck for $5 each at a farmer’s market.IMG_0640
  • I discovered the Ladies’ Village Improvement Society (how Victorian is that?) thrift shop and bought a big magazine basket for $10, with promise of more to come.

    Rich pickin's at the LVIS

    Rich pickin's at the LVIS

  • I joined the East Hampton library and discovered they have an entire room of gardening books, including some of my favorites which are packed away in storage. I took out about 10 of them for inspiration and ideas as I make plans to organize the backyard into functional spaces.
  • The sun is out and the house is a temperate 66 degrees.
  • I had a good meal last night at the chic Laundry (restaurant, not laundromat) with my friend Jifat.
  • I’ve been invited to an art opening and a party but am hanging loose — not sure I want to tear myself away from the house and my long to-do list.

    My local beach (Maidstone) reminds me of the Greek Islands in its pristineness and serenity

    The pristineness and serenity of my local beach, Maidstone, reminds me of the (undiscovered) Greek Islands