lighting the office

Recently I did a bit of bragging about my two workspaces in the house.  Having two is wonderful for mixing it up sometimes when the writing mojo is just not flowing in one space I can head to the other. We have a designated office on the third floor that we set it up as shared space.  We built a desk that has enough surface area for the two of us to work side-by-side and there are two chairs up there, but I think I’ve only seen Partner work on his side of the desk once since we built it about six months ago.  My old bed is tucked in that room as well for when one of us can’t sleep (generally me). But we also have a working space in our first floor guest/media room.

One day Partner was talking about the need for surface area of sorts for the guest/media room, some type of table or coffee table.  A few weeks later I found a fantastic solid oak, art-deco desk on craigslist for $20.  The $20 turned into $40 when we could not fit it in my 1998 VW Jetta TDI — our serious workhorse of a vehicle, but the desk is a really lovely piece, works perfectly in the space, and provides additional storage and the desired surface area. I was very happy that Partner agreed and let me bring it home.  It was not quite the type of surface area he was looking for I later found out, but he really has gone out of his way to let me do things to make this place feel more like home for me too.

In December I found myself working in that first floor space more and more because the lighting down there was better.  That is an amusing statement because the office proper has three windows, while the first floor office has one tiny window which is always covered. Still, the first floor office ends up having better lighting because the ceiling in there is flat (recessed lighting) and I have a decent desk lamp.  In our shared office the ceiling is sloped in line with the pitch of the roof, which is lovely.  But the recessed lights in that room point away from the desk, and my only other desk lamp, and the only one which would have worked in that space, got broken by the movers in the move.  Yeah… at some point I should write a whole post about our lovely movers.

For a few months now I’ve been making do with the SAD lamp acting as a desk lamp.  I am still not sure if it has been helpful or not with the very dark days of the Seattle winter season, but I think it has been really helpful in the mornings when I first stumble into the office just after waking up. Regardless, it is not a very good desk lamp as I can’t direct the beam anywhere.

When we got back from our adventures in Thailand and Cambodia I moved another lamp to the middle of the desk in hopes of brightening up that side of the room a bit more.  Still, the truth of the matter has been that I really needed an adequate desk lamp to illuminate my writing space.  Last week I finally broke down and found a really nice vintage piece on Etsy.  I do love perusing that site.

The lamp arrived two nights ago and I was super excited to see how it worked in the space.  But as I opened the otherwise really well packed box, I learned that the bulb which had been shipped in the lamp was broken.  So not only would seeing how it worked in the space have to wait, but I needed to figure out how to get the broken bulb out of the lamp.

Faced with the lightbulb that had been broken off in the socket, I recalled an episode of Mr. Wizard that I saw on Nickeloden when I was a kid.  I found it really interesting at the time because Mr. Wizard used a potato to removed a broken lightbulb from a light fixture.  I think it was the first time I had seen produce used in home repair. Thankfully we had some potatoes in the house thanks to our Full Circle CSA deliveries.

Partner was a bit curious when I wandered into the kitchen with the lamp in hand searching for a potato. Even after explaining to him that I learned the trick from Mr. Wizard he did not seem all that convinced. Still, he let me sacrifice a potato for the lamp, and probably to guarantee himself at least 10 minutes of amusement.

The potato sacrifice was totally in vain as it did not do much other than get my lamp all covered in potato gunk.  After failing with the potato it was time to get out the tools and see what I could make happen.

This kit of tools and the drill make up pretty much I that I use for tacking home projects.  


All it took was a creative use of the needle-nose pliers — place pliers inside the socket, fully open them so that they are pressing against the wall, and hold the tension while you unscrew — and the lamp was free of the broken, old bulb.

After freeing the lamp of the old bulb I took sometime to cleaning it of the potato gunk and juices.  I also grabbed some baking sode from the pantry and mixed that with a bit of water to polish the lamp base and arms to a nice shine.   The shade is a bit worn and muted, but I really like the look of it against the artwork in the office.

Hopefully I will find some time today while working on writing the conclusion to the dissertation to run out to Lowes to find a light bulb that will fit the lamp. Then I will get to see how it really looks in the office.

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About OneGoneTwo

bioethicist, cultural studies, literature, and visual cultural scholar, writer, and lover of design
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