Light Up Room

With all this makeup-ing around I figured it’s high time I get myself some proper lighting. Being renters limits options and planning a ten day road trip at the end of the month narrows them down even more with a small budget. Sure, I could have gotten any of a handful of table-top, plug-in, mirror/lamp combos that run about twenty bucks, but there is a slew of cons.

The mirrors are typically too small. Some made even smaller because of the inclusion of a magnifying mirror; I understand the purpose of them but I will never be ready for that close up. Table top means set height, and I don’t have anything high enough to not have to crouch down, unless I sit at the dining table, and I’d prefer a stationary work space to a portable one. I find it a nuisance to move my craft project to work spaces and back to storage space, why would I want to do that with my makeup?

A sizable (bigger than 12×12 inches) pre lit mirror can run from $150 to $400 plus. The lower end could be reasonable if I didn’t have to sacrifice style, but most of the options are boring or ugly. The high end options, are beautiful but way too pricy for the current budget. All of this made it necessary to think outside of the box and put the creative side of the brain to good use.

After some googling I found an 18×18 inch mirror for six bucks that would only require a trip to Target. I found three-bulb bathroom vanity lights on Amazon and picked up three for $52. I got three plugs as well ($7) to make them plug in instead of hardwired.

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The biggest challenge after all that was making sure I had the right bulbs. Ones that cumulatively gave off not only enough light but the right kind of light. The easy answer is find bulbs that say daylight. It took a bit longer than one sentence for me to get there though. A popular blog that popped up when I asked the google machine suggested warm white light. Except they failed to define warm. Warm light is usually associated with soft yellow lighting, but that is arguably the worst type to apply makeup.

In this instance warm refers to the kelvin temperature. Soft lighting ranges between 2500 and 3000 kelvin, bright lighting between 3500 and 4000 kelvin, and daylight between 5000 and 6500 kelvin. Though, to the eye the soft (yellowish) light looks warmer and the daylight (whitish/blueish) looks cooler. It’s easy to get confused unless the right terminology is used.

Eventually I got it all sorted out and found 60 watt equivalent LED bulbs on Amazon that had a brightness of 800 lumens and color temperature of 5000 kelvin. It was a 16 count box and I paid less than $2 a bulb ($16.47 for the bulbs used in the vanity.)

Once I had all the supplies for the lights I skipped on over to Target to get the mirror, and then a second when I didn’t find it at the first. Unfortunately, when I didn’t find it at the second I went to the internet to investigate and found that the simple inexpensive mirror I wanted was not available for delivery or anywhere in my area for pickup. Eventually, I accepted the fact that I would have to put more into a mirror than I initially intended. In the end I found a 22.5×28.5 inch mirror with a clean white frame for $30. Not the shape I had initially planned for or the price point, but sometimes you just have to roll with it.

Now that I had all the supplies, I pulled apart one of the fixtures and had some problem solving to do. Would the 600v wire from the fixture be compatible with the 300v wire of the plug I was attaching it too? Yes! Would I need a separate housing unit to store the spliced together cords? Nope, they fit just fine inside the original fixture. The fixture was only supposed to be hung horizontally lengthwise, could I safely hang two of them vertically? Sure thing! (I got this.) Would I need to compensate for the cord keeping the fixture less than flush against the wall? A 79 cent investment and hot glue was the plan in the event that it was too unstable, but I made it work without attaching “feet” to the fixture.

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About an hour of measuring out and marking up a bedroom wall, and another hour wiring the fixtures and mounting them and I had myself a functional vanity light and space for applying makeup, doing hair, and maintaining the shape of my eyebrows. Though the plugs I attached the fixtures to all had their own switch, I plugged them all into a power strip we had on hand and turn them all on and off with one click at the source instead of needing to do all three every time.

The first time I applied foundation at my new vanity I applied my usual amount and realized quickly it was way too much. I popped into the bathroom to remove the excess and realized how poorly that room was lit for putting a face together, the foundation didn’t look bad at all. For the first few applications I checked everything in the bathroom just to see how different the lighting made it. It was crazy awesome to see how easily one could apply too much color and in all the wrong places.

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All together this little project cost just under $120 and it was well spent. A few notes for you and myself. First, the ribbed wire is the same as white/neutral, the smooth wire is the black/live wire. Second, I should have bought the mirror first then I would have picked out a fixture that ran the whole length of the top. Last, I am not a licensed electrician. Any wiring tips you take away from this read you use at your own risk.

 

 

 

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