Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mid Century Modern Recessed Bullet Ceiling Lights

While we wait out this rainy weather pattern that rained on our painting parade this past weekend and has continued all week, I thought I'd share a small past 'guerilla' project. Before beginning please refer to my very first blog post 'Time to Begin' with a good photo of our living space. About a 1-1/2 years ago I attacked replacing some ugly surface mounted 3-way ceiling fixtures with some vintage recessed fixtures.

A little backstory, we salvaged these light fixtures out of the Woody Garber designed Moore Residence that was being demolished (long stoy). Finally a day came with the wife and then 'kid'
away. With a borrowed saw-zaw, and a full intended mess on my hands, I took to a ladder and started cutting into the plaster ceiling. Before going through the hole procedure, pun intended, I cut out for one light first to see what I was getting myself into.

The first photo shows the intial light installation adjacent to the old lights. Note the clean look of the fireplace, previously covered mostly with a brass insert. The lighting layout has three lights along the end of the room, and two lights in the center of the space. I felt best we keep the existing electrical locations. The new
salvaged lights are recessed swiveling aluminum bullet lights made by Litecraft. Litecraft made some pretty cool MCM stuff and it's worth an Ebay search to see what the current market for some of their lights is.

Second photo, project was a full go, and all the existings lights have been removed. Third photo is a closeup of my unique archeological quest. Legend has it, our house once sat for awhile in the early 80's, prior to the 'Gene it up' era, the plaster ceiling had somewhat collapsed onto the floor. The reason for this is our house had radiant ceiling heating originally installed throughout the
house. Flexible copper pipe is embedded throughout our plaster ceilings in the house, remnant of the old heating system.

Since this was experimental technology in its day, I'm sure the a lot of heat was wasted heating the sky above our house before the system was abandoned. Eventually the coefficient of expansion proved the plaster not worthy to encapsulate the varying temperature in the water lines. Nonetheless, Gene installed another layer of drywall over the damaged plaster to give a total ceiling finish thickness of 1-1/2". This would call for several more saw-zaw blades.

I should admit, standing on a ladder, holding machinery over your head and being rained on with dust is no fun task. I made a nightmare of a dust mess, and had prepared by covering all the upholstered surfaces and quarantined most of space. Fourth photo shows the post hole cutting dust mess which still makes me cringe when I look at it. The lights were somewhat simple to install with the rough holes cut out. The body of the lights fits snuggly into the ceiling cavity, and I ended up mounting the light housing into the plaster.

Fifth photo, the lights are in and wired, most of the mess was cleaned up at this point. The new lights look most period appropriate, very minimal and unobstrusive to the sloped ceiling. Additionally, with the swivel feature we are able to point the the lights straight down. Eager to test, all the lights worked and it was time to wait for darkness. The final photo shows our living room furniture and artwork back in its place. Darkness settled in and our new grid of recessed lights illuminating our living room 50's style.


  1. Dig it. Can't wait to come out there and check it out.