The Ever Evolving Room Gets a New Light Fixture
With Special Guest Star: JC Penney Lighting!

I don't know about you but I like to decorate my home in piecemeal batches. I'll get a new piece, bring it into the space, move things around and then I'll see something else I'd like to add or change. And on and on it goes. That's the main reason the living room at Captain Dapper HQ has continued to evolve. It started with the mantel, continued with the settee and now the room is getting a new light fixture.

The minute I saw the Pendant Ceiling Light with Wood Triangle Shade in yesterday's J. C. Penney roundup, I knew it had to be mine. With its open wood frame shade and simple white wiring, it would be perfect for the living room, where there's been a blank plate in the ceiling for three years. While I could have ordered the light online, I have a little extra time on my hands these days so I decided to drive out to the suburbs and hit a J. C. Penney in a mall. 

Before I go on with the details of my little lighting project, I must take a moment to talk about my visit to Penney's. First of all, I grew up with J. C. Penney. There was a mall relatively close to the small town where I grew up and the Penney's was my favorite place to shop. Mind you, the other anchor store in that mall was a Sears and even in the late '80's/early '90's, Penney's always had better selection than Sears. Penney's always held a lot of sales and when you're a kid with a tight budget gleaned from odd jobs, finding clothes on sale was like winning some sort of prize.

I haven't been in a J. C. Penney in years. After moving to Chicago in the late '90's, there wasn't much reason to trek out to the burbs to hit a Penney's. A few months ago, on a trip to visit my parents, I wandered into their local J. C. Penney store and was delighted to see that it wasn't the store of my youth. The new Penney's looked nicer and more modern, on par with how Macy's has stepped up their merchandising game. So when I made the trip out the suburbs to buy my light fixture yesterday, I already knew what to expect.

The J. C. Penney store at Hawthorn Center mall in Vernon Hills looks great, just as I expected. The Home store, with its Jonathan Adler and Martha Stewart branded sections, looks bright and modern. There's a Levi jean bar in the men's area that seemed like it was ripped from a Lincoln Park storefront and plopped into the middle of a suburban Penney's. Everything about the store, including the new JCP logo and even the signage directing your attention to the sale items, looks fresh. The customer service, on the other hand, was ... well, nonexistent. As I was walking around store carrying two light fixtures and a backpack, I was never approached by a sales associate. No one stopped to ask if they could hold the merchandise at a register for me or even if I needed any assistance. When I found someone to ask about whether there are any lamps not on display, the sales associate was gruff ... and then he quickly walked away. So, yeah, glossy signage and new fixtures may make a nice store, but customer service can kill a shopping experience really quickly.

Of course, none of this dissuaded me from buying the items I wanted. Of course, it helps that it was all deeply discounted. For some reason when I'm paying less I also expect less in terms of customer service. I even ended up buying more than I expected, including a few really cute shirts and pants for The Mister.

So anyway, I came home with my new light fixture yesterday and could not wait to install it. Now, installing this light fixture should have been a quick and easy job. I've replaced a few other light fixtures and electrical outlets in this apartment with nary a problem. But oh were there problems with this installing this fixture! And none of them had to do with the fixture itself. 

First, I shocked myself. I thought I had turned off the proper circuit at the box but apparently it was mis-labeled. After figuring out which circuit to turn off, I then struggled with the wiring. There were three sets of wires sticking out the ceiling - one set of black, one set of white and one yellow wire. Normally the black wires are the hot wires and the white are the neutral and it's just a matter of matching up the colored wires with the wires from the fixture. Not so fast, Captain Dapper! It took trying every configuration possible before I discovered that the white wires in the ceiling were the hot wires and needed to be connected to the black wire from the fixture. The yellow wire in the ceiling was actually the neutral wire and should be connected to the white wire from the fixture. And those black wires? They just hang out up there - safely capped, of course. It took an hour of connecting and disconnecting the wires while The Mister paced around saying we should hire an electrician before I finally found the right configuration. And then ... let there be light!

After snapping this photo I ended up raising the fixture an additional 8 - 10 inches. The room is really small so I don't want the light to take center stage. It's also not centered over anything and when it was hanging lower that fact was really obvious.

I love the way the new fixture casts shadows on the ceiling and wall. At its discounted price of $42, it didn't put too much of a dent in my wallet and I'll be comfortable replacing it when I'm ready for change in a couple of years.

Oh, and by the way, that plaid blanket thrown over the chair beside the fireplace - that's the cat's blanket. She camps out in this chair all day and it's a lot easier to clean her fur off the blanket than the velvet fabric on the wing back. In other words, look past that blanket and pretend the room is expertly staged. 

Images: Jason Loper

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