How to Add “Old House” Character & Charm to Your Newer Home {Step 3}


Welcome back!

I hope you are enjoying this series!





Let’s recap the first two steps in creating “Old House” character and charm in your newer home…

Step 1:  Add wood ceilings.

Step 2:  Replace your builder’s grade doors with paneled doors.


And now to the next step!


Step 3:





Replace your builder’s grade

light fixtures with ones that

possess more character and



For instance, look at this beautiful kitchen!  First of all, notice those fabulous wood ceilings.  Okay, now look at the lights!  I call those “school house” lights, although I am sure they have another name.  They add so much charm to that kitchen, don’t ya think?!

farmhouse kitchen


But let’s be honest.

Unfortunately, many of us have these on our ceilings…



The dreaded “boob” light!

(Yep, look at it.  You know I’m right.) Smile

Raise your hand if you have a “boob” light or two in  your house.   Come on, don’t be ashamed.  Own it!

I have some of these lights in my home, but slowly and surely, I am going to change them out.

Now really, there is nothing horribly wrong with these lights, but they certainly do not possess much charm and character.

So I would like to declare 2012, “The Year of De-Boobing!”

Will you join me?

Now don’t go getting’ a screw driver today and start taking all your “boobs” down. Your husband will come home and think you’ve lost your mind, and he will not like me much either!  He may want to keep the “boobs.”  (I am so sorry, I just couldn’t help myself.)

Take your time de-boobing.  Look around for the right light fixture to take its place before you start removing them.

Maybe you could score a cute light at a ReStore shop or thrift store.

I got this ugly brass light at my Habitat store for $3.00!


I cut the curly-que thingys off and spray painted it black for our previous laundry room.

pottery barn style lantern

It added sooo much character to our laundry room!  (And so did that bead board ceiling!)  Smilemud room

So much more character than a “boob” light would have. 

And it was only $3.00!!

Whenever you see a brass light at Goodwill or a yard sale, and you like the shape of it, REMEMBER it can be painted!!!

My friend, Melissa, from 320 Sycamore had this very dated light in her entry way.  


She scored a $5.00 brass light off of Craigslist and painted it black.  Here it is…


Doesn’t it look so much better than what she originally had?!  And it looks an awful-lot like this one from Pottery Barn, doesn’t it?

pottery barn lantern

But Melissa’s was only 5 bucks!  BIG difference!  You can check her post out HERE.

Lanterns are very “in” right now, and I am so glad.  I think they are beautiful, especially in a kitchen.

farmhouse lighting

They make a beautiful statement above a kitchen island or dining table.

farmhouse lighting


Chandeliers are also reminiscent of the past and add a wealth of charm to a room.

These can get very expensive.  I’ve been looking for an old one for a while now, but they have been out of my price range.

But I’m gonna keep on looking!



Pottery Barn has some beautiful chandeliers to choose from.

farmhouse lighting


Look at the charm this old chandelier brings to the room…


Although chandeliers look great over a dining table, why not change out the “boob” light over your bed for a chandelier?



Or maybe over your bathtub?…

chandelier over bathtub


Unfortunately, I am not an expert in light fixtures that were used in older homes, but there are many companies out there that sell light fixtures from all different time periods and decorating styles.  Just google, “antique lighting” and see what comes up.

Here are a few more pictures I found online of some of my favorite types of light fixtures.

farmhouse kitchen


farmhouse kitchen


farmhouse kitchen



So there you have it!

I want  you to take a tour around your home today and see how much de-boobing you are going to need to do.  Then start thinking about what type of light fixture would look better in the “boob’s” place.

Don’t go out and start buying a bunch of expensive light fixtures.  Wait until they go on sale, or maybe you will find one at a thrift store that you can paint.

Be creative!

I would have to say that besides painting a room, changing the light fixtures can make the next biggest difference in the feel of a room.

Do you have some light fixtures in your home in need of some updating?

Click the links below to see steps 4 through 6.

Step 4:  Add character to your home with new “old” hardware.

Step 5:  Add Character and Charm to your home with Finish Trim Work

Step 6:  Add Wood Flooring!





  1. Too funny!
    I wonder how attached my husband is to our ‘boob’ light fixtures….he is a typical male when it comes to boobs! LOL

  2. Loving the series!
    Maybe it’s really late, but your “boob lights” talk really had me laughing like a fifth grade boy. : )

  3. I’m happy to say that my home is “boob” free! At least when it comes to lighting. Instead we have matching frosted glass saucers…which are serviceable and fine, but way too modern and matchy for my taste. I love that brass light you painted. It’s beautiful!
    ~Joanna @ To a Pretty Life

  4. I had been looking for a chandelier for well over a year, at various thrift stores. I actually watched a pair of ladies walking to the front of a store to pay, carrying not only a chandy, but matching sconces, one time – just as I was making my way to the back of the store to look ! Missed those by about 5 minutes! However, I did find my chandy, and at the cheapest thrift store to boot. It sat on the shelf, dirty strings of crystals broken and tangled, for only $10:00. Of course I took it home! I spread out newspaper on the floor, as the chandy was dropping some gritty substance in addition to it’s grime. I got out a pad of paper and a pencil. and un-tangled the crystals, trying to see the pattern of the original design. I didn’t even know if they were all there. I made another trip out to the car, and found some crystals caught in the carpet of the car trunk. Eventually, I was able to sketch out the design, wash and polish all the crystals, assemble them and determine that I was missing ONE half inch hexagonal crystal. A month or more later I was thrifting again, when I stepped on something hard. I looked down to the dusty dirty floor and found One HALF INCH HEXAGONAL CRYSTAL! I don’t think I’ll push my good luck by trying to rewire the chandy myself. Some things are worth paying the big bucks for.
    Good luck with your search – something good will come along! Barb

  5. Hahaha!!! We currently have 5 boobies in our home…we would’ve had 6 but…I couldn’t stand to live with the boobies over our heads while eating supper….so out it went to the garage {where it unfortunately broke..oops} and I happened to find a plainer end iron chandy on ole’ ebay for 30 bucks!! Easy to embellish! Can’t wait to find more deals like that for the rest of our boobs…lol!!!

    Thanks for making me laugh, and I enjoyed your series!



  6. I am enjoying the series. I have a white boob light in my laundry room and while I don’t hate it, a mores interesting light fixture would be great. I will add it to my list of items to be on the look out for.

  7. I would like to blame the builder for my boob lights but ahem I’m the one who put them in when we bought our 1986 house. I’ve come to hate them. I’m looking at some semi-flush lights to replace the boob lights. Long hanging pendants and chandeliers won’t work for those spaces, as beautiful as they are.

  8. We have one boob light in our house. It’s in the hallway. I saw a chandelier at a consignment shop yesterday that would have looked amazing painted for $25. But it was really big, and I think it would have overwhelmed our little hall. We don’t have overhead lights at all in our bedrooms. Is that weird? Our heat vents are right in the center of the ceiling instead. Doesn’t make much sense right? Why have a heat vent in the ceiling? Ugh. So we have to make do with floor lamps :( Much harder to find cute old floor lamps to paint than to find old hanging lights.

  9. I’m loving this series! We purchased a new home a year ago (the market was incredible where we live and it was a better buy to do it this way) and I’m thankful for it, but it’s definitely not filled with character. Your helping me to consider ways of adding some charm without breaking the bank. De-boobing is definitely going to be added to my list! You crack me up!

  10. I definitely suffer from builder grade lights, but they line our hallways and with an open floor plan and relatively small rooms, we have lights that are not far apart and I struggle with what to change them out with so the hallway lights don’t compete with the room lights!

  11. Just wanted to say that I am LOVING this series & I will never look at a “boob” light fixture the same! :)

  12. Love, love, loving your series! I’m from the South and love all of these ideas so far! I don’t have boob lights but my ain’t pretty!

  13. I think I am going to start a series entitled “How to Add Boob House Charm to your Weird Home”.

    Lol! Because I have been changing out the butt-ugliest, weird, most horrific brassy light fixtures for “upgraded” brushed nickel “boobs” in our house for a couple years now. They are a baby step in my upgrading procedure here! (Hey, they are inexpensive and beat what I used to have by a bajillion percent).

    Note to myself: don’t let any of your real-life friends read decor blogs or watch Sarah Richardson, because then they might start seeing your light fixtures as boobs and your whole scheme will be exposed for what it is: boob-friendly!

    I love this series, Traci, keep it going! I will vouch for the Habitat ReStore. The entire ceiling is covered in beautiful, well-shaped, and LARGE brass and glass lights that can be painted and made-over in a cinch. My fear is always that I will buy a new light like that to replace a “ceiling-hugger” (boob) and end up with somebody tall hitting their head on it. Or, as in the entryway, with the door swinging in to it. See! I have lots of reasons to go on with my boob world.

    So there. :-) -Angie @ Seriously A Homemaker

  14. :-( I don’t have any boobs:!!! Hehehe:) Love your inspirations, Traci, and was just thinking.. wouldn’t the “boob” look any better if spray painted black of putter? Maybe that would add a bit of style… Mind you, I suppose it would be wise to change the glass cover as well into something more stylish…
    Love from Moorland Home:)

  15. Great series and great ideas! I love the thrifty find you found and restored – so perfect! You are so right – light fixtures really do make such a difference. And I’m loving all of the fixtures you shared in your inspiration photos. Awesome series!

  16. Really enjoying your series on updating an old house, Traci! Great inspiration those in new houses, too. Builders STILL put in those boob lights! LOL! Thanks for great posts!

  17. Rejuvenation is a great source for old school lighting and hardware. It’s part of the PB, West Elm, WS, group of fabulousness. They’re a little pricey, but once you get an idea of the “period” elements and styles you want, you’ll start finding them in stores like Home Depot, Lowes, Restoration Hardware, etc.

  18. I love this series – and all of your inspiration photos are gorgeous!
    Last weekend I ordered two schoolhouse pendants to go in our kitchen that we are in the process of remodeling. I can’t wait for the finished result!

  19. I’m inspired…really, I just may paint the lamp over the kitchen table this weekend….I too love this series, and I live in a farm house!!!! :) Donna

  20. Too funny! Yes, unfortunately we have boob lights here too. I live in an old house with lots of character, but someone along the way replace all the lights. At different times. Nothing matches. Too many lights to replace and so far no luck at the thrift stores. I keep looking too! One day, hopefully soon, my house will be boob free!

  21. Love the series, love the inspiration pictures. But (and maybe it’s just me) the extensive use of your term for the builder grade lights seems a little crass, and not really what I would have expected in your otherwise beautiful blog….

  22. Oh my goodness, I’ve got boob lights! The thought never crossed my mind, but as soon as I read it, I looked directly at one one and thought “Tracy’s right”. Too funny!

  23. So funny, so true. My husband didn’t know they were called boob lights until I pointed it out to him, now he’s quite fond of our boob lights in our closet. I’m always on the hunt to replace the lighting in our 1980’s home. Thanks for the funny and informative post:)

  24. I am LOVING this series! Such great ideas! And this one was quite funny. Happy I don’t have any boob lights in my house. I just need to find some fixtures to replace my ugly florescent lights in the kitchen.

  25. I’ve got lots of boobs to get rid of – maybe we need a “de-boob for the boobs” charity event during breast cancer month! I’m slowly replacing mine with nicer fixtures, one at a time.

  26. We built our house 10 years ago. We have lots of these love these lights. But I love all of them. In the kitchen we have brushed nickle ones and in the bathroom and office are a mottled gold. I think they beat the old square screw up type. I love my boob lights.

  27. I put up a lantern light over my kitchen table and it made such a difference – everyone comments on it! It’s from Lowes, of all places!

  28. I am so, so grateful to the people who built our house 20 years ago. They added such wonderful features like transom windows, built-in bookcases in every bedroom, and lots of crown moulding. They definitely had an ‘old house” vision. And I’m pinning several of the tips you’ve shared here as well. Thanks!

  29. Such great tips! Our current home has lots of fun upgrades but our last house needed some love. We were able to change out a lot of the fixtures (faucets, lights and door handles) and update our kitchen and bathrooms. I’m pretty sure those updates were what sold our home above asking price to the first people who walked through the door on the first day the house was on the market in January of last year. Take that bad real estate market!

  30. Funny your post was about lighting… My husband and I JUST finished our kitchen light fixture. I had that aweful track lighting. My husband built a “floating box thing”.. yes that’s what I call it.. and we suspended it from the ceiling and hung pendant’s from it.. I used mason jars as the pendants. It would look so much cooler with those new “Vintage Style” lightbulbs but at $10 a bulb, that’s not happening. Any time soon. Maybe you could swing by my blog and take a look sometime.. feedback is always welcomed. :] Also, how do you think wood paneling would do on a vaulted ceiling? Tacky? Possible? Any advice? I love the idea, but not too sure about vaults… You kitchen is AMAZING, btw! I only wish :/ Lol!

  31. I am happy to say, we de-boobed our house this past year!!!! THANK YOU JESUS!!!! The only one left is in our master bath, and I do believe I found the light for that spot! It is, believe it or not, one of those school house lights, found at Lowe’s for $40! Cannot wait to get my hands on it and rip the old one out! :)

  32. You are too funny! Loving this series with some great, creative and inexpensive ideas. You’ve got me thinking about replacing the ‘boob’ light in my master bedroom with a nice chandelier & we’ve got a Habitat for Humanity close by! Heading there tomorrow to have a look. Thanks for sharing! :O)

  33. Chalk me up for 5 boob lights and always looking. I love your site and keep up the good work and keep your humor we all need a good laugh from time to time.

  34. Funny, a few (several) years ago, those boob lights were an upgrade to us. Love your alternatives- I have a dreaded fluorescent in the kitchen, definitely need to figure out what will work in there.

    By the way, I love the dedication to your mom- she looks like a beautiful sweet lady. I still miss mine 15 years later.

  35. Let’s lose the boob!! We have a “boob” light in our staircase hallway and I hate it!! I was just thinking this week that I wanted to replace it with a schoolhouse type light fixture! We just created a light pendant from a large mason jar for under $25 and I LOVE it!! We hung it above our sink where we had a nasty florescent light.

  36. I have never thought about those ugly lights I have in my hallway, but they will forever be known as boob lights now. And I have to say, they must go thanks to all the great ideas you have shared. Love your laundry room!!

  37. Ahhhh…Traci just be creative and hang tassles from your “boob-lights” – instant chandelier! Can’t believe you didn’t think of that!
    Just as I was reading your post my dad walked in and wanted to know why I had my laugh till you cry face on! Just couldn’t bring myself to explain.

  38. I live in the 100 year old house whose many attributes you so covet. It’s a half double (or duplex, as you call it in some parts of the country). Yes, all the woodwork is lovely with some built-ins, hardwood floors, pocket doors, 5-panel doors, and stained glass windows on the first floor with a lovely front porch and a little deck we build out back (options, you know!). And now, the downside. The year we ripped up the wall to wall carpeting on the first floor to expose the hardwoods, we ran out of oil. (We’re on auto fill-up.) Last year that oil cost us $3500 and we are only heating two of our three floors—-and even then the thermostat is usually at 62. Yes, we need insulation blown into the walls, especially on the first floor and the third, which is an ice box. We’ve put many new windows in, and we’re still cold. But we are barely holding onto this house the way it is, financially speaking. So it looks like the next owner is going to have to do that job. But I did laugh at the boob light for one reason: in my stepdaughter’s home in SC (a rental) there are boob lights everywhere, along with builder beige walls and carpeting everywhere. I wouldn’t want to live in that either. Hopefully, we can retire in a little, old bungalow someday….with lots of insulation.

  39. Looking at a boob now. When we bought it, it was on clearance. Installed it. Came home and looked at it while I was nursing my youngest and told my hubby – we bought a boob. It’s been a funny conversation piece, but it definitely brings back memories with my baby! Glad I’m not the only one!

  40. This hits home with me!!! I have 8 of those boob lights! I just refinished one and put it in our house. Also from Habitat and painted it! I have 8 more to go! I want one of the old chandeliers too! I think we all do!! looking and looking and we will all find one!!
    Good luck with your hunt too.
    Also, I am LOVING this blog series. One of the best to come into blog land in a while! Thanks!!!!

  41. my husband thought i was the only weirdo that thought they looked like BOOBS ! love it that someone else sees it too been taking ours down one by one also few more to go thanks for the laugh love your site

  42. I have really enjoyed this post and especially the photos of how to give your home character. We bought a 1800’s farmstead and this has given me a few more things to dream about!

  43. I have giant amounts of boobs on my body and in my house. I’d LOVE to get rid of ALL OF THEM~! But we just actually added the ones in our house this past year. We had 30 lights to replace and the boob lights are 2 for $20! You can’t beat that for the quantity we needed. I’d love to have the money to purchase individual, unique lights for each and every room but it’s not a priority right now. Thanks for all you do! You are amazing. :)

  44. Love this post and series!
    We are in the midst of negotiating with the owners of the home we’re currently leasing & just the other day, I looked at the boob light in the hallway & thought, “when we buy this house, that’s one of the first things I’m changing!” But of course not before I find a charming replacement!

  45. Thank you for the inspiration ~ this will be the year of “deboobing” at our house! I’ve got those boob lights everywhere, have always disliked them, but they’ve never been on the list of must do’s…this is the year! Love your ideas for giving a new house, old charm!!

  46. Traci, I am loving your series! I am so wanting to “de-builder grade” my home and add character. Fortunately I don’t have any “boobs” in my house and I have no qualms about saying it either! :-) I dont love a lot of my fixtures though and LOVED your inspiration pics! You’re the best!

  47. I have several boob lights that need to go. But i’m taking your advice and looking for a cheap way out of this design horror. So I’ll go about it slowly and do my best NOT to “see” a boob every time I look up LOL!

  48. haha we have a few boob lights in our home and have so far replaced two of them, one just a couple days ago! I have been calling them boob lights for years, and it wasn’t until meeting the blogosphere that I discovered I wasn’t the only one with a twisted mind. Your laundry room is gorgeous!

  49. Fun series! You know, the boobiest “boob light” I’ve ever seen hung in my bedroom when I was a teenager, in a house built in 1914, to which the light was original. It was pale rosy pink glass, with clear glass edging that appeared rippled, and had the exact dimensions of a giant erect nipple pointing downward toward you.

    I actually wish I had it now.

  50. Hilarious! I didn’t have any boobs in my home but I did have some cheap gold colored “chandeliers” that came with the house. Funny thing is I think I am the only homeowner on my street that has changed these out. Everyone still has one hanging in their kitchen. My poor son would walk right into the one in our kitchen. I finally replaced that with a more updated boob with a few curleys at the top and mounted right to the ceiling. I actually like it a lot, it is much more current looking and it still has its nipple ;-). The other gold chandeliers got a coat of flat black spray paint. Paint sure does change the look a lot, doesn’t it?

  51. I just had to comment and say that I am so glad to see someone else call those things boob lights! And isn’t it funny that they are always sold in pairs?…I made my mom get rid of them in her house years ago. It didn’t take much convincing after pointing out their boobalicious features :-P

  52. My husband an I purchased a model home in a development where he was superintendent for a large builder. We spent the first expenses after updating appliances, on lighting fixtures and new light switches with dimmers. Our pet name for the light fixtures and other items put into the home when built were ‘builder placeholders’ (includes the gold color boob lights)! In other words, price points were a factor, they put a light fixture there to show where one ‘would go’ IF you wanted one there! LOL When we took a hallway light fixture down to clean it, it fell apart in my hands and the metal was so thin, I wondered how the electrician got it up there in the first place! The ‘placeholders’ last as long as you don’t touch them, or need to clean them. We loved the house more after our light fixtures were in place, what a difference! We are now doing the same for our house purchase (already built) home in Florida.

  53. I needed to thank you for this excellent read!! I absolutely loved every bit of
    it. I have got you saved as a favorite to look at new things you

  54. I’m a little relieved to know I’m not the only one who thinks of those as boob lights! The only one left in my house is in the bathroom, but that won’t get replaced until I finally gut the monstrosity. I removed all of the other ones shortly after buying my house.

  55. I am trying to find where I can buy the first lantern light that you show in this blog. There is no source of the photo. Any ideas, I know you wrote this a few years ago.

  56. Hahahahahahaha! I’m laughing so hard. Thank you for this gut-wrenchingly funny, but oh so true, post! I’m a little late to this party as we just purchased a fixer-upper 5wks ago. After getting past the dirt and grime that was so disgusting that it gave us the heebee-Jeebees, one of the first things my teenage daighter said was, “Mom, all these lights look like boobs.” So when I googled “farmhouse lighting” and ended up at your blogpost, it was all too funny. I will have to tell my hubby that this is our year to “de-boob.” :). Love your site and your posts and will be praying for you and the adoption process ❤️

  57. I love the two black lanterns, hanging over the wood table with the yellow/peach tulips on the table. I’ve looked all over the internet and cannot find this style of lantern. Can you tell me where you found these lanterns?

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