The Great Leopard Extinction


Could anything top a leopard print chandelier?  Sadly, yes.

At first glance, the dining room chandelier that came with the house looked like it had leopard print mini shades with black fringe on the edges.

Chris and I were quick to agree that this would be one of the first things we changed in the house (after the wood paneling of course, more here if you haven’t read up on that adventure yet).

As we began disassembling the chandelier, we discovered the chandelier held a deep, dark secret…

…it was not leopard print.  Oh no, it was much worse.  It was a tan and black leaf pattern made to look like leopard print from afar.  See for yourself.


We couldn’t decide what was worse- that someone decided to approve this design for manufacture or that someone saw it a store and liked it enough to spend money and take it home with them.

Jokingly, Chris and I decided to list the chandelier on eBay providing full disclosure of the… unique… chandelier.  Leaf print and all.  We figured it would go unsold, or someone would snatch it up for the minimum price of $0.99.  Much to our surprise, after a week, bidding shot up to $70.  Seriously??  But we weren’t going to question it.  Hey, it paid for half of the price of our new chandelier.  Cha-ching!

Speaking of new chandelier, after scouring a few home improvement and lighting stores, we finally decided on a wrought-iron five-light chandelier from Home Depot for $140 (the brand is Hampton Bay, if you’re curious).  It was just the right size for our quaint dining room and provided an instant updated look.  I couldn’t find the exact model at Home Depot but here are a few similar options available: here and here.

Although Chris had a few installation issues, installing lighting is usually pretty easy and provides such a quick update or style shift to a room.  I’m obsessed with our new chandelier and it helped shape the remainder of our room.  Is it weird to style a room based on lighting?  Maybe.  But, hey, it works.


“What is… that?”

That was my first question upon entering our house the first time we looked at it with the realtor. From a distance, it looked like it was constructed from brass coat hangers and topped with some sort of leopard print and black fringe shade. I immediately thought of the leg lamp from A Christmas Story, and I knew it had to go.

It was clearly going to be my first electrical project.

In physics class, I struggled with electricity- it’s very complicated, very abstract, and very boring. In practice, I excel in electricity- it’s very straightforward, very dangerous (my kind of fun!), and when you get it right, it’s very rewarding. So in general, I enjoy electrical work. What I don’t enjoy, however, is hanging things from a ceiling. As Julie was about to find out, there is a huge difference.

Julie picked out a really cool chandelier. It has clean, flowing lines and a subtle wrought iron look but also retains the “classic” chandelier image. It’s also heavy. Like, really heavy. If you’re ever mounted an electrical component to a ceiling, you know that at some point, it requires wiring everything up with one hand while supporting whatever you’re installing with the other. This isn’t a huge deal when it’s a 10-ounce dome light, but a 10-pound chandelier is another story. Somehow, that 10 pounds increases exponentially every minute, meaning you have about a minute to wire everything up before your arm gives out and your new chandelier has a fight with gravity.

After a few tries, I gave up. The wires just weren’t cooperating, and my arms were getting sore. Julie threw a fit because her family was coming to visit that weekend, and what would they think if we didn’t even have a light in the dining room (which was embarrassingly empty, anyway). As Julie whined about how little she understands about lamp installation (that’s what it sounded like to me, anyway), the solution hit me- brothers-in-law! I keep forgetting that Julie’s brothers aren’t in the third grade anymore, so I told them I’d let them watch all the sports they wanted if they agreed to hold the chandelier while I wired it up. Jackpot! Within minutes I had a well-lit dining room and a TV that was stuck on ESPN for two days.

I’ve learned a few things in my years as a DIYer, and the most important is that no one works for free. So whether it’s a case of Guinness or all the SportsCenter they can handle, everyone has a price. And I’m not above bartering.

Here’s the final product (and, yes, we did paint the walls as well but more on that later):



Filed under Before & After, Dining Room

8 responses to “The Great Leopard Extinction

  1. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted to say superb blog!

  2. Ann Norton

    Met your Mom and Dad on a Road Scholar trip to Charleston. They told me about your blog and I must tell you I am enjoying it immensely. It is particularly pertinent as after living in my home for over 45 years I recently bought a “fixer upper” and am redoing the entire house. Spent the entire day picking out lighting and reallly got a kick out of your experiences.
    The town that I am moving to has a hardware store which features the Leg Lamp from A Christmas Story in its front window. What a coincidence.
    Anyway ,you two, your blog is a delight as are John and Ann O’Shea.
    Looking forward to more chapters from you both.
    Ann Norton

    • DO or DIY

      Thanks for stopping by, Ann! Glad to hear you’re getting a kick out of adventures! Good luck with your own- it sounds like you have quite the remodeling journey ahead of you. Isn’t it exciting though?


  3. Hey that’s a great chandelier. Looks much better than your previous one. And I think the wall color gives your the more light reflection, right? Whatever it is, it just looks great.

    • DO or DIY

      It definitely fits the room and our decor better and the light it gives off is SO much better than the ole leopard one. We couldn’t be happier! Thanks for your sweet note!


  4. Pingback: Dining Room Chalkboard Art | DO or DIY

  5. Hi there to all, the contents present at this website are in fact amazing for people
    experience, well, keep up the nice work fellows.

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