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Our Bedroom Makeover: The Lightbulb Battle

Posted Monday, March 31, 2014 in: Nerd Life Before & After

So do you live with a partner? Are you one of those dreamy couples where you agree on everything? And then when you start renovating or decorating your house or just going to IKEA you find OMG that you just LOVE all the exact same things?

Well we are not one of those revolting couples. To us, arguing about renovating and our house and how we should decorate it is like sport. Or playing Survivor. 


US: So this photo was taken back when we were 24 and first got the Crap Shack... but things haven't changed much.

The best example I have is our bedroom (I talked about its three years of ugliness and shared our before photos the other day). When we moved in, one of the first ‘makeover’ things I did was remove the bedroom’s oyster light, a garish 1970s, thick glass affair. “I’ll replace it soon enough,” I thought.

Well, that ‘soon enough’ actually turned into more than three years. See, I wanted something pretty and girly, like a quirky chandelier. Something that would add fun to the room. Mr Nerd wanted something simple and plain - your standard oyster lights.

I refused to get a boring oyster light. I have a phobia of oyster lights falling off the ceiling and smashing my skull in two, a throwback from childhood when I was sitting on the floor of the study at my parents’ house, innocently looking at photo albums when I heard a click above my head and suddenly their vintage six kilo oyster light dropped off the ceiling and smashed on the floor, missing my impressionable skull by centimetres. This oyster light was so thick and solid, it didn't even break.

My mother was COMPLETELY unperturbed when I went to inform her I had almost died a grisly death by oyster light. My mother is not fazed by stories of children dying horrific deaths on account of her being German and being raised on a diet of gruenkohl and dark German fairy tales.

I actually had childhood nightmares from this book my mother used to read to me at bedtime called Struwwelpeter, a collection of illustrated, twisted, 1840s German fairy tales on things that happened to naughty children, including:

  • a boy who kept sucking his thumbs until one day an evil tailor pops out of nowhere with a giant pair of scissors and lops his thumbs off.
  • a fat little boy who says he doesn’t want to eat his dinner, so over the next five days he gets skinny and withers away. He dies.
  • a little girl who plays with matches even after her mother tells her not to. The girl accidentally sets herself on fire. She dies.

(I just realised I never sucked my thumbs, refused to eat dinner or played with matches. Well played Mum).

I digress. Like my mother, Mr Nerd didn’t give two hoots when I told him I hated oyster lights because they could possibly kill me. We went to lighting shops and argued while smirky shop assistants tried not to smile, and then eventually stormed out without buying anything (HA! Take THAT, smirky shop assistants).

And because we refused to agree on a light, eventually the bare lightbulb just… remained there. FOR MORE THAN THREE YEARS. So ugly.

See, Mr Nerd is as stubborn as the donkey I rode into the scout hall when I was eleven and played Mary in the Sri Lankan Association’s annual nativity play. He digs his heels in and won’t budge, no matter how much you kick and scream. But I can be stubborn too. The bare lightbulb became a symbol of our shared obstinacy. It hung from the ceiling for three years. It is like playing Survivor, I thought (you know how much we love Survivor). At the end of it I just have to outlast him. I know, I have actually horrified some of you who have the perfect home and the perfect IKEA husband who is like, “Sure honey, get whatever light you like. I trust your impeccable taste.”

Instead, every night I would turn on our bedroom lightbulb and feel like I was in an interrogation room. The bare lightbulb cast an unflattering glow across my skin, picked out every pore on my face, burned my retinas. When we read in bed, we had to angle our books so that the lightbulb wasn’t shining directly in our eyes as we squinted at the pages.

So what is the solution when neither you nor your partner will budge? Eventually we compromised.

A solution came in the form of a third party – an interior designer friend, Nelly Reffet of Twinkle and Whistle. When Nelly came round here for the first time, she looked at our house, chatted to us about what we liked, what we didn’t, and got to know us both better. Two weeks later she emailed me this moodboard to give us a starting point for the feel of our future bedroom and asked us what we thought.
I loved it. And it had a ceiling light! Nelly says she visualised our bedroom as being “bright but soft, with subtle colours overall and an occasional hint of brighter hues, and a well-balanced mix of soft materials and more industrial/masculine ones.” The look of the bedroom suited the feel of our simple, sort-of-rustic 70s home and it struck a good balance between girly and masculine.

I have learned that when you are stuck on something to do with your home, one of the most helpful things you can do is to get in another opinion, a fresh eye. In our battle of the bedroom light, our fresh eye came up with a compromise – beautiful home lighting that wasn’t an oyster nor a girly chandelier, but instead a George Nelson Bubble Saucer replica. The funny thing is that George Nelson light was something neither of us would have EVER chosen for our bedroom ourselves, yet we both absolutely love it. That's what a good interior designer can do for you! Find the missing ingredient you both like.

The light complements the retro bits of our 70s house and adds a bit of quirk and fun to the room. And I like it because it reminds me of UFOS and the Karel Avenue spaceship

Photo by Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.

Photo by Heather Robbins from Red Images Fine Photography.

Nelly sent me a couple of links to George Nelson lights, one here and a cheaper eBay option too. (Being the stingepot you know I am, I went for the el cheapo one).

The light arrived in a ginormous box, and at first I feared it was going to be too big (this is one BIG pendant light we are talking about, guys) or hang too low from our low ceilings so it would hit Mr Nerd’s head (I am short anyway, but Mr Nerd is tall. In any case, it was fine because it hangs above the foot of the bed). 

So after only three years of obstinacy, we are now the proud owners of a bedroom ceiling light!

Do you battle with your partner over your interior design choices? Do renovations take you an age because you can’t decide on something? Which one of you is the most stubborn donkey? Or does your partner not mind what you do to the house? And did your mother torture you with "Struwwelpeter" too? Maya x

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