Stocking Up On Legrand Adorne

In a previous post, I mentioned that I would have to keep my eyes out for clearance or discounts on a lesser-known, very expensive brand of electric switches, the Adorne collection from Legrand.

Well, I certainly didn’t expect to be rewarded so quickly.  Just today, I was out driving on my own and saw a store that had intrigued me for a short while.  I’m no stranger to pawn shops, thrift stores, and flea markets, so I don’t mind a little sketchiness when shopping.  This store was tucked way back in a plaza with poor signage and somewhat outrageous claims, like “never pay retail ever again!”

The store was essentially a dumping ground for Home Depot scratch-and-dent, overstock, and returns.  That’s not exactly a bad thing.  It’s not a bottom-end Chinese import store that reeks of hazardous chemicals.  And it was packed full of everything.  There was some really nice stuff in there and the prices were generally about 50% of the best price I found new.

And that’s where I found the Legrand pieces.  I saw one and lunged for it.  Then I saw there were more in the same bin.  So I pulled them all out onto the floor and started sorting them.  At first, I was disappointed that there were so few in the color I wanted: magnesium.  Then I realized that the majority of them were in a pretty close tone: brushed stainless steel.  Not only that, the brushed stainless ones were the same price.  So I snatched up all the magnesium and stainless they had.

So how good of a deal was it?  Well, I got one 1-gang magnesium plate for $15.  That’s almost double retail price.  Uh, wait.  That’s a good deal?  Hear me out.  I also got eight more 1-gang stainless plates for $15 each.  Those retail for $38 a piece ($32 on Amazon).  Ok.  Not bad.

I also snagged a few 2-gang plates.  Two in magnesium, which retail for $15 (inexplicably, $21 on Amazon) and one in brushed stainless, retailing at $62 ($48 on Amazon).  Each for $7.  Yup. $7 for a $62 wall plate.

I made a return trip because I needed to share this store with the GF, who ended up getting a great deal on three Husky tool chests.  On that second trip, I found a few more Adorne pieces: pop-out outlets!  These were priced at $30 and retailed for $62 ($55 or so on amazon).  I was able to get three of those in magnesium.

So, I’ve spent about $270 for today, but I have well over $600 in stuff for my project.  Excellent!  Reviewing my purchase list, I have more than enough 1-gang plates, and three of the four needed 2-gang plates.  I need five 3-gang and one 4-gang, yet.  However, reviewing my purchase list exposes a fail on my part.  I way overspent on wall plates.  I budgeted $9.18 per plate and I paid $15.  Yes, I did get stainless plates, which are very cool – a definite upgrade from what I originally budgeted. I’ll need to maximize their placement in the house to ensure they make the biggest impression for what I paid for them.  I shouldn’t waste them on electrical outlets, except for maybe kitchen counter outlets.


Still.  It was a good day.

Product: Alico Lighting

In a previous post, I mentioned I purchased a ceiling light (specifically the Alico Lighting FML2030-10-16M) that felt rather expensive.  Yes, it did seem that way, and when I casually asked a co-worker how much he would pay for a new light fixture in a closet, he said $20.  I then informed him that fixtures are more expensive that he might think.  So he upped it to $50.  Then I explained how anything I was looking at was at least $75 and told my story.  He wasn’t all too impressed by my final decision.

But, I think I am.  When I got the package in the mail, I opened it up and was very impressed with what I saw.  The light base was solid.  Nice thick metal.  The globe was nice and uniform, smooth, and made with thick, solid glass.  So far, everything is built very well.

I mentioned the light is LED.  Check out the LED arrays installed in the light.  There’s two of them, each with an elevated glass diffuser plate to scatter the light throughout the globe.


Here’s a close up of one of the arrays:


Pretty nice design, I must say.

Of course, all the required hardware is included and a small allen key for the set screws that hold the globe in place.  Mounted, there’s not really much to say about it.  It’s damn bright.  In a small closet with white ceilings and white walls, it’s more than fully sufficient.


This light is the 9” version and I will probably buy the 6” version for another bathroom ceiling light when the time comes to redo that room.  I’m very satisfied with the quality of these lights.  Yes, this light was $150 and the 6” version is going to be $70, but I am fairly certain they will last for many, many years and look great doing it.

Project: Replace Cabinet Hardware

This is such a minor project, anyone could do it.  But, I am hoping it has an impact larger than the effort required.  They say changing the hardware on cabinets can completely change the feel of a room.  I’m going to find out.

Ever since moving into the house, the cheapness of the cabinets has always irked me.  The cabinets are simple laminate, white in the kitchen and master bath, and kind of a plum color in the guest bath.  The handles are cheap plastic, either black or white, rounded or square.  I can live with the cabinet material and the colors (the plum will be the first to go), but those handles…

So I quickly chose some nickel metal pulls and will be installing them shortly.  I have 37 pulls in the kitchen, 8 in the master bath and 7 in the guest bath.  I bought 45 pulls, since that’s the best multipack purchase available.  That means I can do the kitchen and one bath.  More than likely, it will be the white cabinets in the master bath and I’ll find some black pulls for the plum cabinets.  My investment so far is just under $70.  That’s less than half what I’m spending for the ceiling light in the master closet (which was the original order; the pulls were an impulse add-on).

I have been trying to keep in mind that I need to consider the entire house when making changes.  The end result is that I want the whole house to look like a freshly-built house.  You don’t get that look when upgrading one room at a time over a long period.  When a new house is built, the entire houses’s hardware is purchased at once and it makes the house appear consistent throughout.

In the case of the pulls I purchased, I have had them in my wish list for a while.  But serendipitously, the curves in the pulls echo the lines of the replacement door handles I purchased – and had evaluated completely separately.  That’s fortunate, because the pulls I chose aren’t exactly the ones I would have purchased on first sight.  The pulls I ended up with have a little embellishment at the ends that isn’t as sleek, modern, and minimalist as I normally like.  But, like I said, they tie in with the door handles, and I think that’s a really good thing.  It may actually influence the bathroom hardware choices I make when that time comes.

But of course the screws are too long, so I either need to cut them down or buy new ones in the proper length.  Probably will be the latter.

I went to Home Depot and couldn’t find the size screws I needed.  I did learn that the screw heads had different names.  Cabinet screws are called Truss head screws.  So I decided to cut the existing screws down.  But then, I learned an awesome tip.  While I was searching for the best way to cut screws while not messing up the threads, I read a comment about wire strippers.  That’s not what I expected.  Apparently, most wire strippers have screw cutters built in for some common sizes of screws, in my particular case, I was dealing with 8-32, which they supported.


That part labeled “E” is the screw cutter.  The holes are threaded and you thread the screw in there to the depth you want it cut at, then squeeze and cut.  Because my hands couldn’t handle cutting 50+ screws, I ended up putting the pliers on the ground and hammering them closed with a rubber mallet.  but it worked extremely well, with no messed up threads.  So much easier than the first three screws I cut with a dremel.

With the success of the screw cutting, I was able to install the pulls in the kitchen.


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And after:

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For the guest bath, this is what I was working with there (phone camera+fluorescent light=blah):

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With about $18 in new pulls, here’s the before and after:

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Moving on, I got to the master bathroom with the spares from the kitchen.  Wait. They don’t fit.  Damn it.  These cabinets have 3.75” pulls.  Arrgh.  Now all three rooms are going to have different cabinet pulls.  That sucks.  As far as the leftover pulls, I can probably use them when I install cabinets in the laundry room.  Then I can have the kitchen and laundry room match.

But now, what to do with the master bathroom?  I should keep the color scheme the same: nickel on white, while the guest bath is bronze on plum.  Off to Lowe’s again…

After being disappointed at the selection of 3.75” pulls, I compromised and spent another $34.  That night, I finished the master bath.  And finally…


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And after:


I’m underwhelmed by the master bath result, but it doesn’t have to be permanent.  This project had a total cost of a little over $120.  On to the next project.

Cleanup: Day Z

This weekend was the final straw.  After a few weeks of slowly disposing the excess leftovers from the move-out, I decided to clear it all out at once.  There isn’t any reason I couldn’t do it other than a desire to be kind to my garbage folks.  But I made the move, and 10 large contractor trash bags were piled up on my curb, in addition to my normal garbage bin.  It wiped me out.

The result was pretty dramatic.  About a quarter of my garage space has opened up.  I’ll spend a little bit organizing the recently-formed clutter of rehab supplies, like paint, paint supplies, sawhorses, tools, hardware and then the future dream of returning the garage to a garage can start to form.  In the meantime, I can bring in some of the more environmentally sensitive items from the shed, like ladders.  I’ll need them for painting, anyway.

I still have a couple more items that I’m not sure what to do with.  There are a couple of entertainment centers from when the garage used to be a media room.  They’re broken down right now to save space, but maybe I need to reassemble them and take them to a thrift store.  I also have some old parts for my car that could probably be sold off that could clear out a shelf or two.

But the end result of this is good; I’m happy, and that’s the primary goal here.  Thanks and apologies to the garbage crew.

Design: Electrical Switches

One day, a while ago, I was with the GF at a lighting showroom.  It wasn’t even for me, because I wasn’t at the remodeling point yet.  My house hadn’t been cleared out yet at that time.  But anyway, this was a showroom where everything was “expensive”, like my previous design post defines.  It’s not really “expensive”, it’s just the way it is.  It more that the lights you consider normal-priced are “cheap”.  It’s a harsh reality to accept, that quality costs money and the acceptance of cheapness is the current norm.

So while we’re browsing these outrageously priced fixtures, there’s a small display of switches and outlets with the name “Adorne” by Legrand.  Legrand is a name I would revisit while I was browsing new home models.  They are pretty well known in the industry.  But anyway, the Adorne collection is a fancy set of light switches and outlets.  They have a different form factor: square instead of rectangular.  The wall plates have no visible screws.  The switches themselves come in white or graphite.  At the time, I thought, “that’s neat” and didn’t think much of it again.

One night, I was giving consideration to my future plans and that the color palate of the house would be grey and blue.  I went through the house and took inventory of all the switch plates I would need to swap out to make them fresh and new.  But then I thought how the stark white plates would look against the blue and grey.  What if I could get colored switches and plates?  Some internet research brought up the Adorne collection again and I was sold.

5softapswitch_softapdimmers_oilrubbedbronzewallplateIt’s a rather expensive commitment.  I have 37 switches to replace, plus 2 dimmer switches and I want to install timer switches for the bathroom fans.  At retail prices for these switches, that’s almost $450.  Did you hear that?  You can get a light switch for $1, you know?  So how much is style worth?  And that’s just the switches.  The wall plates are another $250.  Ok, so $700 to completely revamp the look of the switches.  The outlets are going to have to wait.  They have to.

But, all the switches will be graphite, which is like a dark grey.  They are going to look stunning and there’s not going to be anything else like it around.  I don’t even see these switches in the high-end model homes I’ve been checking out.

Because I have time and because I’m going to be doing this as I go room-to-room, I need to keep an eye open and an ear to the ground for any surplus or auctions that are selling these switches.  They’re uncommon, so that might mean I can find some where no one else would know what to do with them.

Design: Ceiling Lights

The first light fixture to be replaced in my remodeling project is in a place hardly anyone is ever going to see: the master bedroom closet.  When I was prepping to do the rework of that room – removing all the shelving, removing the popcorn ceilings and repainting – I found that the ceiling light’s glass globe was broken.  It had a hole in it.  I didn’t have any love for that tiny, basic fixture anyway, so it was decided to replace it.

It’s pretty easy to say, “just replace it”, but replace it with what?  There’s thousands of fixtures to choose from out there.  I started at the usual, obvious choices: Lowe’s and Home Depot.  I wasn’t inspired by anything there.  Firstly, it’s stuff that everyone is looking at and buying.  I want to fill the house with unique things.  Things that make people say, “Where did you get that?” instead of “Oh yeah, I’ve seen that at Lowe’s.”  Second, the things that caught my eye were all “expensive”.  I would see something, say “that’s not bad”, then say “75 bucks?”.  As it turns out, being unique is nowhere near the 75 dollar price point.  I would have to change my expectations there.

alico-fml2030-10-16m1Striking out at big box stores, I turned to the Internet.  Here, the entire world was available, for a price.  Instead of saying “that’s not bad”, I was saying, “that’s awesome” and instead of saying “75 bucks??”, I was saying “350 bucks?!”  Somewhere in the middle, I found a light where I said “that’s pretty cool” for “150 bucks.”  This light is LED, which is something I want to promote throughout the house – get lights that survive until the next full remodel.

As I’ve said in other posts, this redo of the house requires some thinking ahead, where one purchase influences later purchases in the name of consistency.  So, the unique feature of this light is its square shape.  I suppose it’s also what makes it more expensive, that a square glass globe might be more expensive to make than a round globe (plus being LED).  But anyway, now, I need to repeat that style in other areas of the house.

98% of the lighting in the house is either florescent or recessed.  There’s really only two surface mount lights I have to work with unless I intend to do conversions, which may be in the plans for the hallway.  Lighting in the other two bedrooms are provided by the ceiling fans.  There is also some pendant lighting over the bistro table in the “dining” area.  So, the initial plan now is to pick up one more square light with nickel trim.

Mini-Project: Fence Improvements

In another post, I said that I removed my chain link fence that abutted my neighbor’s wooden privacy fence.  That really cleaned up the border especially since I was able to clear out some horrible weeds between the fences.  However, this introduced a slightly new dynamic.  There was now only one fence between us.  I now have a vested interest in maintaining this fence, for my own benefit.

And the problem with that is, this fence kind of sucks.  The wood is thin, cheap, soft pine and is secured very poorly.  By poorly, I mean it’s held on with staples.  The simple warping of the wood from normal rain exposure has pulled the boards away from their mounts in multiple places.  Since I have sort of adopted the upkeep of the fence, I intend to improve this.

I approached my neighbor last weekend while he was mowing and explained the whole situation to him.  He was agreeable to everything.  I told him I would buy the screws needed to secure the slats and would secure all the boards facing my property (since I wasn’t going to go into his yard to secure his side) and I would assist in securing the boards on his side if he wanted.  He was all for it, maybe because he understood the fence wasn’t going to last much longer.

Yesterday, I bought a 5lb box of screws and stepped out in the 97 degree heat to complete my obligation.  I brought along my Porter Cable 20v drill/driver, which worked like a beast the entire time.  I ran down one battery with only about 10 screws left to go.  Flipped batteries and I was good for another hour or more.

I made a quick improvisation while working.  The box of screws was on the ground, and after only a couple boards, I realized there’s no way I’m going to keep stooping over to pick up a couple of screws.  So I got a large 32oz plastic cup from inside and cut some vertical slits in it.  I ran my belt through the slits and poured a bunch of screws into the cup.  Voila, a waist-level screw holder.

Since the existing fence material wasn’t the best, I compromised on two screws in the top beam and two in the bottom, leaving the middle beam alone.  Also, not going for the Parade of Homes, I didn’t expend much effort on making sure the screws lined up nice and neat.  I just wanted a secure fence where the boards couldn’t be kicked out by a child.

There’s so many things going on, so many irons in the fire; there’s no shortage of things I can do at any given point.  This was a quick little project to tick off the list and make myself feel like I’m making progress.

Project: Removing Popcorn Ceilings

This is one of the most ambitious projects I am attempting on my own.  I readily admit I’m not too handy, and many times, I start a project only to later call a professional to fix it all up.  But this one seemed achievable to me.

To be on the safe side, I’m going to start in low-risk areas so if I do mess it all up, or if I don’t do that great of a job, the results won’t be as noticeable.  The first attempt is the master bedroom closet.

I had purchased the recommended popcorn scraper w/catch bag bracket and I had a garden sprayer already.  I purchased paper floor covering just in case.  On a whim, I purchased an extension pole for the scraper.  After everything was purchased and ready to go, I charged right into it.

I laid down the floor paper and sprayed the ceiling.  Sat through the waiting/soaking period and tentatively tried out the scraper on the pole.  It sucked.  I took the pole off, climbed up on a step stool and scraped again.  Better, but I still didn’t have the hang of the technique yet.

One of the drawbacks to the scraper is that it couldn’t go all the way to the wall, so I had to use a 4” putty knife anyway.  The wall edges were really difficult.  Because they are wall seams, there’s a lot of joint compound and tape in there.  It’s a real balancing act to not scrape off too much.  Since it was my first attempt, I scraped off too much plenty of times, exposing the tape and in one case, a screw.  I also gouged the ceiling in a few places and ripped up the drywall paper a few times.  All technique stuff that you have to learn as you go.

Then I had to wait a day for everything to dry before the next step.  The next step was sanding and patching.  I muddled through that and in some case, left things worse off than when I started, especially with the wall edges.  I’m very inconsistent with drywall patching.  A lot of times, I put the spackle on and it just seems like a glob.  So I sand it down and it’s no better.  So I spackle again and sand it down again and keep doing this over and over until I just give up.  The problem with that process is it takes so long for the spackle to dry (probably because I’m globbing it), so I only do one cycle in a day.

Because my stages were so long, I decided to parallelize and do a couple other closets: the master linen closet and the pantry.  Both of them had that terrible ClosetMaid shelving installed.  So I pulled out all the shelving before starting, since I was going to repaint the walls anyway.

The pantry is an embarrassment. When I first moved in to the house, I had some left-over tester paint from a room I terribly painted.  I figured I’d just throw the paint on the pantry walls to use it up.  What a disaster.  I never took off any of the shelving hardware, so they all had this dark green paint all over them.  This time around, I insist on doing things better.  So I removed all the plastic hardware and soaked it in hot water for a day.  Then I used a scrubbing sponge to remove all the old paint.  Tedious, yes, but I deserve it for screwing it all up in the first place.

Back to the ceilings.  Removing the popcorn from the other two closets was pretty easy.  I just used the 4” putty knife since the rooms were so small.  I limited the amount of destruction this time around, too.  I patched the ceilings up and waited for them to dry up.

Back in the master closet, I was getting anxious to get the project done.  I was stuck in a place of “Is it good enough?”  Yes, I could feel some roughness around the edges, but did I need the ceiling to be glass-smooth?  So, for better or worse, I jumped to the next stage – priming.  I had purchased oil-based Kilz (odorless, thank god) for this step.  Since it’s been a long time since I’ve painted, I felt like a complete idiot fumbling with all the different pieces involved: paint cup, paint cup liner, brush, paint tray, paint tray liner, roller, roller cover, paint can, paint can opener, rubber mallet, paint drips everywhere, cleaning rag, drop cloth, extension pole.  I didn’t have any logical workflow or plan to work with all these things efficiently.  So I got a little frustrated even though I tried to go slowly.

I started cutting in on the ceiling, standing on a step stool with the paint cup and brush.  Immediately, I remembered how much I suck at painting.  In my favor, I am going to be repainting the walls, so it didn’t matter if I got primer on the walls.  So, slap, smoosh, smear all over the wall and ceiling corners.  I was surprised at how quickly the primer disappeared, or at how much it felt like I had to put on.

After going around the edges twice, I poured the remainder of the primer into the paint tray and got the roller with the extension pole going.  Yup, I still really suck at this.  Whatever, it’s just primer.  Again I was surprised at how quickly the primer went and had to refill the tray.  When I finished, I was pretty fed up with the whole task, so I just left everything and took off.  Hours later, I realized I never washed the paint brush, so that’s probably ruined.  I did wash the roller, but I suspect that won’t be usable a second time.

But after those few hours, I went back to see what I had done and how badly I had done it.  You know what?  It’s not too bad at all.  Having the ceiling a uniform color really helped me see where this project was going.  With the exposed drywall and seams and patches, I wasn’t able to visualize how this would end up looking.  Now I did.  And yes, I did clearly see the spots where I knew I had more patching to be done, but I knew about those.  The part I was more worried about was the areas where I didn’t know if more work was needed.  And it doesn’t seem it was needed.  Having 8’ ceilings, you can’t see that level of detail, and further, once I have the wardrobe cabinets installed, you won’t be able to see the wall edges at all.

The takeway from this is that it isn’t all that hard to do (just really time-consuming and nerve-wracking).  So now, I can clean up the patches in the other two closets, prime them, patch up the master closet one last time and prime it, then I can actually paint the ceiling and walls for real.