hats off to bye bye brooklyn

outen the light switch cover
Look what we got from a fellow blogger!

Last May, I discovered an excellent blog called, Bye Bye brooklyn, written by Brooklynites Leena and Bradley, who bought a 130 year old house in rural Pennsylvania. They are in the process of fixing it up themselves and documenting it every step of the way.

This is one ambitious couple – we’re talking demolition, power sanding, insulation, sheet rock, exposing brick…the list goes on. And they’re still regularly traveling back and forth from PA to their jobs in New York.

When we first moved into our house, Rob and I (well, mostly Rob) tackled a handful of DIY projects, but nothing to this extent, so its fascinating to see how Leena and Bradley’s house is transforming, how much they know, and how much they are learning as they go. Their Before and After photos would impress even the most wizened homeowners and HGTV addicts.

Anyway, in a hilarious post called The bad and the ugly, Leena featured some of the less lovable aspects of their awesome new/old house, including some floral wall borders, some strange painting techniques, and a rather disturbing hook on the outside of a bedroom door (huh?). The whole post had me cracking up – it’s weird to think about your home’s previous owners and wonder why on earth they made certain choices.

She also highlighted some interesting light switch covers, most of which (faux marble plastic! cats on a fence!) were indeed hideous…except for the one with the Pennsylvania Dutch or German design (pictured above) that says, “Outen the Light.” This one caught my eye – I thought she should give it a second chance – surely it would somehow work in their new/old digs? My taste usually skews more modern, but for some reason this reminded me of the items I grew up admiring in shops and homes in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, a place settled largely by Norwegians.

When I joked in the Bye Bye Brooklyn comments section that it “spoke to me,” I didn’t expect/intend for Leena to offer to send it our way. That she did, and I was admittedly thrilled. Connecting with fellow bloggers is a pretty cool part of this pastime. It’s a little bit like having pen pals, except with great photos. And no postage! And swag!

And then. Well. Let’s just say that the flurry of energy we did have for home improvement projects (well, Rob had) when we first moved it has… trailed off a bit. (Now we’re focused on the more mundane tasks of leaf removal, snow removal and general upkeep.) So it took us a while several months, but we finally rolled up our sleeves earlier this week in order to install a new switch and this fabulous switch plate in the entrance to my office.

Except: the wiring for this switch turned out to be unlike any other we (Rob) had encountered before. I don’t know exactly what happened (a circuit shorted?) but the result was that the lights on one whole half of our house went out and couldn’t be coaxed back on. It might have been a good idea to consult Leena and Bradley on this — surely they’d be able to figure it out — but we assumed they were busy with their own endeavors. So we called in a kindly local electrician named Glenn who was able to come out within a few hours. He explained something about a red wire and “grounding”, but I only understood about 22% of what he said.

The good news is that the switch now works, the electricity is humming nicely throughout the house, and the Pennyslvania Dutch switch plate looks perfectly quirky in our New York Mid-Century Modern home. Voila:

light switch office

Thank you Leena and Bradley and Bravo on all your projects – we are excited to see what you’ll accomplish next.

Readers, if you haven’t yet, I highly recommend that you check out Bye Bye Brooklyn.

7 replies

    • Yes, it will be an official stop on the house tour. (Yup, still subjecting visitors to those, even after 1.5 years… )

  1. Congratulations on installing your new light switch. We will be increasing your hourly electricity rate by 50% because of the new wiring. Have a nice day.

    • Nice try, Con Ed: good thing Rockland and Orange supplies our electricity – oh, wait, we just got the same notification from them!! argh.

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