What’s up?sputnik6

Oh nothing much, just our new Sputnik! Ahh!

My mom emailed me a couple of weeks ago with a link to a chandelier from France & Son, and asked me what I thought. It was lovely, really beautiful—20 arms, just over 2 feet wide, gleaming, and solid-looking. My only qualm was that it was advertised as “rose gold,” which I took to mean sort of pink. Mom then said that if I liked it, she would get it for me for an early Christmas present. As is my usual M.O., I overthought it to death, looking at the mockups I’d made with a brass version and wondering whether the rose gold would look as good. After several days of mulling it over, I wrote her back thanking her for the sweet offer, but saying I had my heart set on the brass and would rather wait for that.

Five minutes later, I completely second-guessed myself and wrote her back again, telling her I’d changed my mind. My dear mother reassured me about their return window and said she’d get it ordered. A few days later, it showed up on my doorstep, and as soon as I opened the box I fell in love.


It turns out “rose gold” is France & Son-speak for “shiny copper.” It was a beautiful, warm color, and as soon as I held it up in the room I knew it was better than the brass ever would have been. As usual, my mom picks things out that I wouldn’t have picked myself, but that turn out to be exactly what I wanted. The lady knows me. Thanks, Mom!

I’m not gonna lie: assembling this thing was…not fun. It has 20 arms, each of which had to be tightened into place by a tiny screw and a tiny allen wrench. It was very easy to accidentally loosen the screws too much, thus sending them rolling across the floor and into a dark corner. As it turned out, one had actually fallen out when I first opened the box—meaning that when I vacuumed between opening the box and putting it together, I sucked up one of those tiny screws. This left me sitting on my kitchen floor, up to my elbows in vacuum contents, trying to sift out the teeny-tiny but very necessary piece. France & Son, if you’re listening, some extras would be nice! I did eventually find it and got it put together, and all was more or less well. Jimmy might disagree with me on that, as putting the thing up on our 83-year-old mounting hardware took hours, but I have conveniently blocked that part out. Also the part where I dropped the other tiny and necessary screw, the one that holds on the canopy, while the light was still not wired and therefore the room was dark. Searching for a 1/8″ screw in a darkened room with only a work lamp is exactly the kind of bonding exercise every marriage needs.*

At any rate, we eventually got it on the ceiling, and minus a small problem with one of the sockets (which I’m hoping France & Son will fix for me—I’ll update you either way), it’s perfect. I can’t believe how much fancier the room looks. We added a ceiling medallion while we were at it, figuring some part of the room should look its age, and I’m really glad we did—it anchors the chandelier in the space, and the combination of 20 bulbs + medallion molding makes for some lovely shadows at night. It took me until the weekend to shoot photos, because I needed it to be light out (and I’m always at work during the daylight hours nowadays—thanks, winter!). If you try to photograph this thing at night at full power, it looks like you’re making a J.J. Abrams film in our dining room.

Anyway, I know you just want to see pictures, so I’ll shut up now. Just to jog your memory, this is what it looked like when we last checked in…


…and this is what it looks like now.


So much better, right? I think the scale of this chandelier is much better, and believe it or not, the shiny copper actually warms up the light in the room even when it’s not turned on. Everything looks so much more fun and interesting in there without my crooked nemesis bringing the place down.



While I was at it, I decided to play with some table settings. The flowers are just cheap carnationy things from the grocery store (but I’m not knocking them—they’ve been going strong for nearly two weeks without so much as a wilted petal, for $4!) in my favorite Missoni for Target vase. The table runner I picked up on clearance just before Halloween, from the Oh Joy! for Target collection. I love using a runner without a tablecloth; I think it’s cute and fun without being too “fancy.” The little gold votive cups are leftover from my wedding. The large white plates are our usual dinner plates, the dogwood china bowls are family heirlooms, the avocado wine glasses are a hand-me-down from my stylish Aunt Kathy, and the blue drinking glasses were found at a vintage shop on our last weekend in Columbia. That flatware is our equivalent of “good silver”—it’s just stainless, but much heavier and high-polish than our everyday set. See how the Sputnik’s reflection shows up on every piece?


It shows up in our glass tabletop, too.



It’s harder to get a good photo of this thing at night. If the brightness is turned up too much, it throws off lens flares every which way. Fortunately, our dining room light is on a dimmer switch (as are most of the lights in our house), so we can keep it turned down to about 50-60%. It has 20 bulbs, so if you turn it up all the way, you could pretty much perform surgery in there. (Please don’t.) I also finally got around to rehanging our wedding guestbook print in the opposite corner! Hooray for putting off a five-minute task for two months!


I am a terrible, terrible creeper, and when I walk Luna late at night I sometimes glance into my neighbors’ windows. Not, like, walking up to their house and poking my head over the sill! Just looking over from the sidewalk and thinking “Wow, that’s a nice mantelpiece.” I would feel worse about this, except that I’ve noticed them doing the same thing to my house. Before, it embarrassed me that the only glimpse you could catch of my dining room was of the eternally-crooked chandelier. Now, I pull the curtains open all the way. FEAST YOUR EYES, NEIGHBORS. (At this point, they were likely feasting their eyes on their crazy neighbor standing in her driveway in pajamas in the snow to take pictures of her own windows. But whatever, all neighborhoods need gossip.)

Oh! Going back to the daytime photos, you might have noticed something else different.


The floor isn’t naked anymore! That’s right, I finished the floorcloth project I talked about previously. I had promised you I would take pictures and do a tutorial, I remember. I lied. That’s because this project, which seemed simple and easy and maybe even fun, turned out to be The Worst. It involved hours of painstakingly cutting out Swiss crosses from freezer paper (50 of them total), hours of steam-ironing this dropcloth to flatten out the packaged-in wrinkles, hours of crawling around on my basement floor gridding and ironing said cutouts to the canvas, an hour or so of crawling around painting them in, half an hour of peeling them off and wincing at the little bleeds and blobs that somehow managed to come through, and finally, hours of crawling around rolling polyurethane onto what was essentially a giant sponge. I made a good-faith effort—I took photos every step of the way—but in the end, I decided not to do a tutorial, because that would give you the impression that I think this is a thing you should do, and I do not. I do NOT. Maybe if you were doing a less complex pattern, or a smaller cloth, or you have better knees than I do—but in its current state, this project is not something I ever want to repeat. I do like how it looks and how it’s wearing (it gets an extreme amount of traffic, because you have to cross through the dining room to get to nearly any room in the house) so I don’t necessarily regret doing it, I just don’t plan on doing it again. If you really want to make your own lil’ torture mat, Google has plenty of answers for you.

At any rate, the dining room is probably the most put-together room in the house at this point. We’re still planning on replacing the chairs at some point down the line, and I have a few small projects in mind (a mini gallery of Luna’s Instagrams in the space between the kitchen and stairs, a spine bookshelf or painter’s ladder for my cookbooks, a narrow bench for under the window), but the major changes are done and we’re planning to move on to other rooms in more desperate need of attention for now. What do you think? Any light fixtures you’re stuck on lately? I spend so much time sitting on the couch staring at the shiny new light, I’m worried the neighbors will think I’ve been possessed by a Yeerk.**

*This is a lie.

**Did anybody else read Animorphs growing up? I remember a scene where one of the kids figured out their principal had an alien in his brain because he was just sitting and staring off into space, no TV or book or anything, for hours on end. Anybody? Bueller?