Our Quick and Easy Outdoor Lighting


This post is part of an ongoing series presented by Lowe's. Never Stop Improving

We're making some progress on the back yard!


But first, I still get a lot of questions about our renting/renovating situation here at the brownstone, so I thought I'd clarify again.

I'm sure you can imagine how expensive it is to own a home here in New York City. The prices are crazy, as well as the maintenance fees and taxes. We would love to own a home some day soon and are saving to make that a possibility, but for the next few years or so, we're feeling really lucky that we found a comfortable house in a great neighborhood, with a landlord that lets us do whatever we want.


He's giving us a break on rent in exchange for fixing and updating the home and he's paying for a lot of the renovation work we're doing. There was a long list of projects made before we moved in that the landlord agreed to fully pay for, and the things above and beyond that, we can approach him with separately. So far he's been willing to cover most of the things we felt like were his responsibility. Then there have been other random things that he doesn't care about that we've had to pay for ourselves (like refinishing the floors - which we ended up not doing. Sad, I know). We knew that would be the case though, so we don't mind still taking on many of these projects. We'll just do them for the least amount of money as possible!

The landlord is not too anxious to put money into the yard (understandably), so we're paying for everything there. I mentioned earlier this week that we don't have any lighting in the backyard. I've ordered some globe string lights for the upper and bottom decks (hopefully they'll come next week), but I also wanted something a little brighter for the upper deck.


I found these outdoor grade (which is important to have for this project) clamp lights and extension cord at the hardware store. The largest size clamp light was only $7, so I bought three.


I took off the bowl shades and spray painted them with this really pretty Rustoleum enamel called Glacier Ice. It's a soft bluey green-gray. (how's that for a description?)



I just did the outside of the bowls because I wanted to leave the inside the reflective chrome. I love how the color is so vintage looking!


At the same time I spray painted a couple of pieces of scrap wood I had left over from the bookshelf project we did this week (pictures coming soon!!), that I cut to be about 2x3. The total length with the two pieces was about 125". I sprayed the wood and some metal L-brackets with a flat black enamel.


When those were dry, we evenly spaced and screwed the L-brackets to the wood.



We drilled some pilot holes into the brick using a masonry bit and then hung the wood on the brackets using anchors and masonry screws.




Once the ledge was installed, we just clamped on the three lights. Part of the reasoning behind using a deeper piece of wood as the ledge to clamp the lights to, was so we could hide the cords easily.


I did end up putting a handful of staples down to keep some of the cords in place, but for the most part, the system is completely moveable, so if we ever want to take down the lights it would be super simple.




Here's the view from the ground. Pretty clean!


The back doors are not centered on the building, so the lights don't line up with the door, but it doesn't really bother me. I'd rather have the lights more closely centered on the house.


We ended up sort of splitting the difference.


We used the lights for the first time last night and they worked great! We even pushed the lamp heads up to have more light out in the back of the yard.


I'm so excited to get the string lights too. I think the two will look so pretty together!




We might be ready to do something different by next spring, but for about $30 in supplies, I think this was a great solution for us right now.

66 comments:

Erin said...

Great improvement! Do I spy a fiddle fig leaf tree? Or maybe it's cousin? Ha! I want one sooooo bad.

AmytheGreen said...

My husband has these same lights in his workshop I love the idea of painting the top portion!

Krysta said...

I think it's so awesome that your landlord is on board with these updates, willing to support your vision, and actually pay for a lot of them!

My husband and I currently rent the home that we live in- he owns a small condo that we rent out, and until we sell that I'm not too eager to buy a house. We've been here for a year now and plan on staying at least another year if not two until we buy a home. So I totally understand putting a lot of effort into your rental. My philosophy is that I will be spending years of my life living here and I want my home to feel very comfortable and am willing to put in a little elbow grease to have this space feel personal and enjoyable. Thankfully for us there haven't been any major projects to complete but we have painted nearly every inch of the space and are currently landscaping a portion of the yard so the space works for us (more outdoor living please)!

I find your projects so interesting so I am very much looking forward to seeing all your progress!

Michelle Parks McCourt said...

Love your DIY style! You should have your own show!

maggie said...

Well, that's just an ingenious use of those clamp-on type lights! What a big improvement with very little cost!

Dear Emmeline said...

Love the color you chose! Looks great!

Elizabeth said...

Jenny, could you please share the link for the globe lights you bought? Thanks!

Giulia said...

This looks really great, I like how the lamp shades look sculptural. You might want to wrap black electrical tape over the plug to protect the outlet from water.

Miriam said...

Wow, what a great solution! Do you think the clamps would come off easily? I'm picturing one of these as a corded pendant lamp above my kitchen table...

Cookie said...

just love this idea. i've been looking for something to light up our lower deck area & since my husband & i can't find anything we agree on yet, this might just hold us over for what remains of Summer/Fall. have these been in the rain yet? if so have they held up well?

Casey said...

I love those clamp lights. My local hardware store had some mini versions that have scalloped shades. Very cute and super cheap! Great idea for painting the outside, too. I'm planning on getting a few once I get the shelf up on the wall in my workspace (so I have something to clamp them to).

Albert said...

what are you going to do when it rains? Did you protect any of the electrical elements from nature?

The Duchess said...

Jenny, every day you amaze me with your ingenuity. Great work!

Soul Pretty said...

I love clever ladies...success

Anelieze said...

You always have the best DIY's! I'm constantly blown away by your ingenuity and do-able projects (price and work.) Thank you!

Jenny at LGN said...

There's a little awning above the ledge that helps protect the wires from rain, but I love the electrical tape idea. Off to do it!
xx

Crystal said...

What a great, good-looking solution.

Jackie said...

Jenny, What a great project! The color is awesome and it looks so classy. I think this solution is beautiful enough to use indoors, too!

newyorkcitypainter said...

Love this idea Jenny. I wanted to get some of these lights for my terrace, but didn't like the look of them. Spray painting them is such a great idea. I'm going to give this a try.

Mrs. Limestone said...

Looks fabulous! Love the color too.

roger said...

Great concept.

I think I would prefer the lights centered on the doors.

Here is a photochop comparison
http://www.anony.ws/image/J5h

Also, I'm pretty sure the wiring would make an inspector cringe.

blue chickadee said...

What an awesome idea and I love the color you sprayed them!! Your back porch area is really starting to take shape! I know it will look amazing when all is said and done!

Jenny at LGN said...

Wow, Roger, thanks for the mock up! We put the lights far to the left so we can have some lighting over the soon-to-be-purchased grill, which will go in the corner there. I should have explained that better, but you're right that it does look nice centered. :)

Also, the lights are not meant to be a permanent fixture, but they are outdoor grade, so I think we're good for a while. Thanks for your concern.

j

Erin said...

So creative! Nicely done!

Sandy said...

What a clever way to have out door lighting that is cheap and attractive looking. I love the color too. My Hubby has used the same lights in our unfinished portion of our basement to light up two dark corners. He has them plugged in to turn on with the overhead light.

Jess@coop said...

That is genius. I might have to appropriate this idea and do something similar above our kitchen sink.

Thanks for sharing!

Laurie said...

So cool! Although the lights being off-center from the doors would drive me bonkers.

A very inspiring post!

ppppparker said...

Wow.. that is definitely pinterest-worthy. I like the idea of painting the wood dark to hide the extension cords. The lighting looks great!

The Mississippi Martha said...

It looks fantastic and so simple! I love all the creative DIYs you come up with

Kristen said...

Love it! I think I would like 4 lights so the it was a little more centered looking, but LOVE the icey blue and the retro vibe:)

Brittany said...

I'm in agreement with the other visitor-you need your own show!!

Brittany said...

Or rather we would love for you to have your own show! I know you are a busy lady so your eyes are probably rolling at that comment! hahahaha

Amanda said...

This is such a great idea! I would have never thought to spruce these guys up and I use them on every painting project I do!

Anonymous said...

Hey Jenny, Hello from Jolly old London!!! I ADORE your style and you have been an inspiration to me time and time again! I’m so excited to follow your future projects. Do you mind if I ask a quick question? Do you think the heat from the bulb will affect the new paint? I ask because I was thinking of spraying some picture lights of ours, but the metal bulb cover gets very hot and I’m concerned!!! Yours with much respect. Tom xxx

Aja said...

So cool! Great addition to your balcony. And I love that you do these projects yourself and on the cheap!

Jenny at LGN said...

Hi Tom! I would just do some quick googling on the paint you're hoping to use and see what it's heat tolerance is. The shades on these lamps are pretty wide and lots of fresh air can circulate around the bulb.

Good luck with your project!
xoxo

Tiffany Leigh Interior Design said...

Love the colour you chose! You're right, its the perfect vintage hue.
Lucky you to have such a cool landlord! :)

MARISA {Vinyasa Mama} said...

Not that I ever doubted you in the least, but this post and the envelope pillow post from yesterday really have me thinking you are beyond genius! and that you need your own HGTV show immediately!

Jenna at Homeslice said...

Oh I think it's great! Simple and it looks really clean and beautiful. The globe lights will add all the ambiance you need!

Jennifer Nichols said...

Genius! What a creative solution for lighting!!

ashleigh: said...

Hi, jenny - this is a lovely idea. I'm curious why you didn't pop a fourth up there at equal distance for the right hand corner?

Martha said...

love it! i am bookmarking that color. it's gorgeous!

Unknown said...

Your landlord knows what he is doing. I think he is a very clever man. When the day comes for you to move, he will have people fighting for this property.
So everybody wins!
You are an inspiration Jenny. I adore your blog and use it as reference on many of my little projects. Thank you!
Lilac, Sydney, Australia

Katie M. said...

Seriously, You're amazing. Every post inspires me.

Stacey Merrill said...

very clever. Love the faux enamel look the spray paint gives - very vintage vibe

ewyatt said...

The robin's egg blue is beautiful! However, the exposed indoor-grade extension cord exposed to the elements is definitely a fire hazard. Hopefully, you can come up with a modification that is safe and allows you to keep all the beautiful elements of this light fixture. There is always great inspiration at the hardware store!

Pam @ bibbidi-bobbidi-beautiful said...

Your lights turned out so pretty! I would love to add some lighting to our deck, but it's so buggy in our yard, I dread going out there. Anybody have any miracle mosquito solutions?

Kelly@Bungalow Blue said...

Love the color and the black doors! Great DIY for next to no money!

Kathy said...

You are ingenious! Those look so great.

I would also love to know where you bought the string lights.

Thanks!

Kelsey Frause said...

This is absolutely gorgeous! Very clever...

Azure said...

Nice. I would center it too. Our BBQ came with a brignt bendy light that we use at night.

CK said...

Very clever. How is this plugged in? I see the cord hanging down on left side. Did you tape or staple it to the wall so it lays flush against the wall? Is it plugged into an outdoor outlet? Lovely home.

lindsey & lewis said...

Great job on the lights! I second, or third, or 25th the idea of sharing how you are planning on doing the globe lights. We are thinking about that ourselves and wondering about if we need to string a stronger lead wire; quality of commercial grade not-going-to-break-during-weather globe lights, etc. It seems simple but I think if we don't want sagging and glass all over our patio we need to think it through a bit more...

Fan from SF, CA! said...

WOW! Attractive, inexpensive, functional. You never cease to inspire. It's so fun to see what you are doing in the new place! What a cosy stylish new nest for your darling family.

Anonymous said...

Great idea on the lights. I think it would look great if you extended them to the width of the building, maybe the door wouldn't look off kilter. Either way, it is a great inexpensive idea, love that you can adjust them to shine further out if you need to.

Elizabeth said...

Love the solution you came up with!

My husband and I are in the same situation- we live in a suburb of DC and are renting. We aren't putting as much into the property as you are, but we are fixing up the backyard (it had not maintenance in years- full of crickets) as well as replacing the screens in the house. My husband and I also do most of the routine maintenance as well. Our last landlord's maintenance team put a ladder through the side of my great grandfather's kidney desk, and having that repaired will cost a whole lot more than us doing this stuff. And it's done to our liking much faster than it would have been otherwise. It's just a choice you have to make personally.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant! Is the glacier ice spray paint from Lowes as well?

Heidi Perez said...

Love them!

regina said...

What you did to the top part of the lights was amazing. It added a boost of appeal to it. This is such an inspiring blog!

Kayla said...

Love this! Such a great idea. I've been searching for that exact color so I can spray paint my teepee poles:) but I can't find that color of rustoleum paint anywhere. Any idea where I can score it??

Kim said...

Gorgeous lights! But I would be really worried about using indoor extension cords over heavy duty outdoor extension cords. Please consider a safer alternative for your wiring!


here's a buying guide:
http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/catalog/servlet/ContentView?pn=Extension_Cords_Reels

Here are some options from ACE:
http://www.acehardware.com/family/index.jsp?categoryId=2632265

Kim said...

Gorgeous lights! But I would be really worried about using indoor extension cords over heavy duty outdoor extension cords. Please consider a safer alternative for your wiring!


here's a buying guide:
http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/catalog/servlet/ContentView?pn=Extension_Cords_Reels

Here are some options from ACE:
http://www.acehardware.com/family/index.jsp?categoryId=2632265

Annie said...

Hey Jenny,
I love that color but can't seem to find it online or in my local store--is it just such a new color?

Thanks!

alexis said...

I think you did a terrific job! Just a simple fyi- When we lit up our backyard, my husband made sure to wrap all of the extension cord "joins" with black electrical tape, just to be safe against the elements. It hadn't occurred to me, and I was really appreciative of his insight.

Bean Wagner said...

Is this 20th street? If so, I think I recognized the front of the brownstone!!! (I used to live on 20th also, now SC...)

Sherri said...

I love this so much! I may pull from your idea for our outdoor, night wedding :D

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