Small Progress, Big Sense Of Accomplishment

I have a confession. While I have been busying myself with other things lately (like packing boxes, moving things to storage, etc.), there has actually been some measure of procrastination on my part with building the bookshelves that will go on top of the lower cabinets in my living room.

DIY built-in cabinets and bookcase - primed painted 3

If you’ll recall, this is the end goal:

DIY built in cabinets and bookshelves in living room makeover - option 1

So why the procrastination?

One reason. Electrical work.

When faced with a task that I dread, I procrastinate. And there are few things I dread more than dealing with electrical stuff.

You see, above each area where the bookcases are going to go, I have a recessed light. Several years ago, I had friends help me install all of the recessed lighting in the condo, and on these two lights, the trim kit would NEVER fit into the ceiling. I have no idea what the problem is, but for years now, those lights have just been dangling from the ceiling.

Recessed light with trim kit that won't stay in the ceiling

So I’ve thought that with the bookcases, this was my opportunity to actually rework this lighting so that it’s useful AND looks nice. I wanted to remove the recessed lighting, pull the wires through, and then install down lights at the top of each bookcase on either side, similar to this bookcase from Thrifty Decor Chick

diy library bookcase bookshelves from Thrifty Decor Chick blog

…and this one from Centsational Girl

Ikea Besta + Billy Bookcase Combo with Attached Lighting, from Centsational Girl

So yesterday, I decided to push through my fear. I grabbed my Dremel, put in some random attachment that I’m sure isn’t made for drywall at all, but that I thought would do the trick…

Dremel tool used to cut drywall

And I went to town on that drywall, cutting enough out so that I could get to the braces on the light that were attached to the ceiling joists.

And then I tugged, and pulled, and pried, and pulled some more, until I got the thing out of the ceiling.

Removing a recessed light

It probably sounds silly, but I felt such a huge sense of accomplishment. I pushed through my fear (both of electrical stuff AND of putting my hand into a dark hole in the ceiling…seriously…that freaks me out) and I got that sucker out of my ceiling.

Of course, I made a huge mess in the process.

Removing a recessed light from the ceiling - lots of drywall dust

But the bigger the mess, the bigger the accomplishment, right? 🙂

removing recessed lighting 5

So now I just have to detach the actual lights (which I’ve done a thousand times…once it’s out of the ceiling, it doesn’t scare me anymore), pull the wires through, cap them off, and then I’ll be able to start building my bookcases.

Such a small thing, but such a huge sense of accomplishment. 🙂

Do you have a fear of electrical work like I do? I’ll freely admit that my particular fear makes no sense. It isn’t rational at all. If it’s in the wall or ceiling (recessed lights, outlets, light switches), I’m scared of them. If it’s not inside the ceiling or wall, I’m fine with it. For example, I have no fear whatsoever of installing lights, chandeliers, ceiling fans, wall sconces, etc. If there’s an electrical box with wires hanging out of it, I feel perfectly comfortable with it. But I will NOT change light switches, outlets, etc.

Like I said…it makes no sense. 😀

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  1. I am TERRIFIED of electrical stuff! I will do nothing harder than changing the switchplate cover on the wall! You go girl!

    1. Haha! I completely understand! And I’ve almost killed myself just changing a faceplace on an outlet before. No kidding! When I lived in Turkey, I had an electrical outlet above my fridge in the kitchen, and all I had was a short ladder (and I’m only five feet tall), so I was stretching to reach the outlet cover, slipped a little, and my screwdriver went into the outlet. And they have 220 voltage there! I literally felt the electricity travel all the way up my arm, but miraculously it didn’t injure me.

      1. Yikes! Decades later I still remember the 120 volts from a coat-hanger in an outlet. I can’t imagine 220 volts! That sounds like the kind of thing that stops hearts!

  2. I have a VERY healthy respect for electricity and life! I use an electrician. Yes, I’m sure I could learn and do it but I decided I don’t have to do everything myself!

  3. Actually, your fear makes perfect sense. With the things you listed that don’t make you fearful, you’ve got mostly exposed wiring that you’re dealing with, probably being connected to a professionally installed junction box. The stuff behind the wall is scary, because you can’t see it, and lord knows what’s going on behind there. Don’t a lot of electrical home fires start with a short in wiring behind the walls? If it’s any consolation, I have a friend who is an electrician, and he says he’s extra careful with wiring that goes into the walls, checking it all over at least twice because of the “can’t see it” factor.

  4. I think a little fear of Electricity is healthy! Or maybe respect is the word I should use? But it’s similar to the respect you likely have of power tools. Either could harm you if mishandled!

    But I still have a bigger fear of electricity than anything else around the house. And I know when it started. As a wee one, I conducted my first scientific experiment. I wondered what would happen if I unplugged my nightlight and put a coat-hanger in its place. One ER visit later, and I’m happy I lived to tell that story!

    Love the lights on the first set of shelves – look forward to seeing your spin on it!

  5. Electrical things do make me nervous, but it’s not really a concern for me, as here in Australia you’re not allowed to do any electrical work at all. Except for changing a light bulb, it all has to be done by an qualified electrician.

    1. Oh, how interesting! So no DIY electrical projects in Australia? So you can’t even go to the home improvement store, purchase a new light, and install it yourself, even if there’s already an electrical box in the ceiling?

      1. That’s right. We can change bulbs, change external fittings, and we can buy them ourselves, but anything that has to have the wires attached to it is suppose to be done by an electrician. A lot of people will do it illegally LOL I’m not one of them. Electrical stuff makes me too nervous. We’re not allowed to do plumbing either (without plumbing qualifications) We’re suppose to get a plumber in just to change bathroom or kitchen
        fitting, even a washer. Of course most people don’t bother.

  6. Wow, Which room is this? It is going to be gorgeous. What is with the boxes? Are you moving? My daughter got married at our home and that has been my whole life the past few months, I feel like I missed something here.

      1. Whoever gets it will be very blessed. It is a jewel box of a home and it will be turn key ready. Plus it is so livable and so cheerful. I can’t wait to see what you decide and do with the living room built in cabinets. And I can’t wait to see your new home and what you do with it. Next time I hope you get that ruby chandelier for the dining room too. I still have my eyes peeled for one.

  7. Kristi,
    You crack me up so much! Mostly because I can relate so much. However, for me it is plumbing. I have no fear of electrical, bring it on, need a wall taken out, I’m your girl; but if a faucet needs to be changed, I am completely intimidated! I don’t know what is wrong with me! I tell you I have been so concerned about your “deadline” and worried if you would be able to make it on time, I have been saying that I wanted to contact you to volunteer to help out. I am on the far north side of Austin if you need any help to finish up.

    1. Wendy, you are the sweetest thing!! I’m anxious to see how much progress is made next week with Matt’s parents here to help me out. I have high hopes. But I just might be calling on you for that last mad dash to the finish line. 🙂

  8. For me, I will let the professionals do it. They have the know how and know what code is for doing any electrical work. Even my dad, who was very handy mechanically, let the electrician do it. Also they have all the new advances down and how to do them.

    I am having under counter lights put in my kitchen redo and can lights staggered around and a 3 drop island pendant chandelier. I believe the electrician said that they need to link the can lights and put a transformer in for the power to the under counter and can lights.

    This is a gentle reminder. I can see if you are cutting costs and keeping your work economical but there are too many hot wires to think about in a home.

    1. It depends on the electrical job and the person though. My husband who grew up reading Popular Mechanics as a little boy insists that electrical work is simple. He says that electricity flows like water through the lines and it just isn’t that intellectually challenging to figure things out. Some very complex electrical jobs are probably better left to the professionals but there is so much you can just do yourself too. I have been impressed with the jobs my husband has handled. He even installed our new garbage disposal- might be easy but it is disgusting job and expensive too. If you saw the people who wire new homes (and some of the mistakes they make) you would be way less intimidated or afraid to trust an intelligent husband.

  9. I can’t wait to try some of these ideas! I am a late bloomer in remodeling and love it!! I told my husband that this yr. I wanted to build my own media wall and have been looking for what I had in mind and came across the one you used upper cabinets with, and waalaa, this is it. This is what I had in mind. I was going to hire a contractor since I could not find what I wanted on any web sites or youtub. I am so excited. I can do it myself now! Thx so much for the wonderful ideas, continue with your gift, You are truely tallented. A new subscriber