And The Inoffensive Decorator Comes Out of Retirement!

by Katy on August 25, 2014 · 21 comments

Living in a 100-year-old fixer upper means we never run out of home improvement projects. Some have that HGTV wow factor, while others simply keep the house from looking like it’s inhabited by busy people without a budget for the fun stuff. And when our projects veer away from brag-worthy to meh . . . good enough, I like to think it’s for my pretend blog which I like to call:

The Inoffensive Decorator©

Recent example? Our bathroom light.

We did the majority of work and major house remodeling in 1996-1997, between when we bought and house and when we actually moved into it. (Yes, it was that disgusting!) We were forced to make too many rushed design decisions, usually based entirely on budget and what was easiest. I worked full-time nights as a labor and delivery nurse and had a baby/toddler at the time.

It’s pretty much a horrible blur.

Although I loved Portland’s (at the time) locally owned Rejuvenation Lighting, they were laughably out of our budget. So I was happy to come across a chrome Home Depot bathroom light that emulated that Rejuvenation’s classic old house vibe. I remember my neighbor who worked at Rejuvenation telling me that sure, it looked okay, but I was going to “get what I paid for.”

Flash forward eighteen years, and our bathroom light fixture was pock marked with rust and looking pretty damned crappy. I had given some vague thought to removing the fixture and spray painting it, but honestly it rarely grabbed my attention and was far from a priority.


Rusty fixture

Rusty fixture - detail

But then a twin light fixture showed up at Goodwill. Sure, it was brushed nickel instead of chrome, but that was of no consequence. What did matter was that it was priced at $2.99, cheaper than a can of spray paint. Was it Rejuvenation? Unlikely, as it was fairly lightweight.

See how it’s exactly the same, yet lacking the rust factor!

Bathroom light fixture - new

My favorite detail:

Light fixture - price tag

And ch-ch-check out how amazingly HGTV-ishly better the new one looks!

New light fixture

Nope. It simply looks inoffensive. No wow factor here folks, just move along.

And The Inoffensive Decorator strikes again. On budget, and without breaking the buy-nothing-new Compact.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Julia August 25, 2014 at 9:09 am

This is genius. I plan to come to your house and steal this idea.


Katy August 25, 2014 at 9:13 am

Oh yeah . . . I’m a certified genius! 😉


Jennifer N August 25, 2014 at 9:14 am

I love the idea behind the “Inoffensive Decorator.” Sometimes that’s really all we need to aim for, especially when anything else is out of our budget or energy reserves.


Karen August 25, 2014 at 5:15 pm

So true! I just ran across an article about outfitting your kitchen, and some good advice to buy the equipment, whether new or used, that fit the function the equipment would be used for. Not everything needs to be a top of the line light fixture/bowl/soup ladle. Good enough is just fine, most of the time, so why spend a lot more just to convince ourselves that we actually need “the best”?


K D August 26, 2014 at 3:39 am

My 18 year old was talking about kitchen knives at dinner the other night. I ended up telling her that most things in our kitchen are older than she and her 22 year old co-worker (that started the knife discussion), including the Chicago Cutlery knives I bought in the 1980s. Most things are good enough in my book and I find comfort in familiar things.


Terri August 25, 2014 at 9:45 am

Nice! We are in the process of spray painting all of our brass light fixtures. We did the bathroom in silver (I was hoping for chrome, but it came out silver) and the dining room chandelier we did in textured black (it looks amazing!).


erin @ dfmi designs August 25, 2014 at 9:47 am

What a funny post, but so true. I definitely cannot afford many of the fancy lights, etc. You certainly found a great fix for a fantastic price! Hooray for Goodwill!


Katy August 25, 2014 at 9:52 am

Hooray indeed!



Kristen August 25, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Easier than a can of spray paint too! Easy is goooood.


Trish August 25, 2014 at 2:00 pm

I feel that I may be an inoffensive decorator just because I have no talent for it. And while I can appreciate clever decorating in other people’s houses, I would just rather NOT spend money on stuff like that – I still can’t get over a commercial for a local kitchen and bath remodel company, in which a couple proudly proclaims that ‘this kitchen is us, it is who we are’. We recently had some remodeling done to our old house, and I let the contractor and plumber choose flooring and fixtures (or rather I begged them to, as I just really had no opinion). Both these guys did a great job with their choices!!

So maybe your fixture is not this Rejuvenation brand, but I really like it ! Both the old one and the new one. Plus how can you beat that price! I think the price makes it beautiful!!


Cyndi August 25, 2014 at 3:24 pm

I’ve found that giving something a deep cleaning often does the trick too. And that is even cheaper 🙂

(That wouldn’t have worked in the case, of course, but it’s good to keep in mind…)


livingrichonthecheap August 25, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Definitely wow factor in how much of an improvement it is. And to think it is still somewhat in fashion and not dated – see? You had great taste when you purchased the original and it paid off! Best makeover ever for $2.99 I say – you did FABULOUS DAHLING! (I thought that is what they might say to a professional decorator :))


Sarah August 25, 2014 at 3:55 pm

You are still probably a couple hundred bucks ahead of the original Rejuvination fixture if you get another 20 years out of this fixture…


Allison August 25, 2014 at 9:02 pm

I love this post! Now you’ve made me realize that my recent epiphany to scale down a future bathroom remodel was channeling the Inoffensive Decorator. Instead of gutting the bathroom (currently out of my budget), I’ve realized that I can change just the sink and most of the aesthetic stuff (paint, flooring, maybe some painted wainscoting) for less than 10% of the cost of the big remodel. In fact, this project is actually within my budget for the next year and will turn a very offensive bathroom into a pleasing one, even if it’s not the bathroom of my dreams.


Katy August 25, 2014 at 11:01 pm

Please tell me you didn’t just write “bathroom of my dreams!” 😉


Diane C August 27, 2014 at 7:58 am

Katy – LOL. My new house has the laundry room of my dreams and I cringe every time I say it, whether out loud or just in my head, but it’s true and I do love it.

Allison – Years ago in a previous home, when I didn’t love my Euro kitchen, I did the same thing. I replaced just the cabinet doors, put in new Formica counter tops and painted. It held me over until I could afford a real remodel. By the time that happened, I found I needed to do far less than what I had in mind originally.


Diane August 26, 2014 at 4:40 am

You cannot beat $2.99. Kudos!


Monica August 26, 2014 at 7:04 am

Kudos on the new fixture! Better to spend money installing a bathroom ventilation fan to take care of any excessive moisture in the air, which might cause rust, than spending on an expensive light fixture. I am shocked at how many homes don’t have these fans, or have them incorrectly routed into their ATTICS, which of course, causes mold. (as a former home inspection analyst, I notice these kinds of things).


Katy August 26, 2014 at 9:40 am

We do have a fan, although we’re not necessarily so great about remembering to use it. Also Oregon = damp.


Siri August 26, 2014 at 7:34 am

I think that just the fact that you know there is a new shiny fixture up there is enough. Looks great and it’s all about the little things in life anyways!


Sharon H. August 26, 2014 at 9:05 am

As an occasional professional organizer, I gently suggest to my clients that clean and organized is a higher priority than ‘decorated.’

Because you’re going to set your stuff down on that table by the door when you walk into the house, and it’s NEVER going to look like a magazine spread with an adorable little fussy arrangement and nothing else. Better to have a home that works for you than one that works for your fantasy life.


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