What do I do when I’m not writing?

I’m asked this often. I love to read, watch movies, and spend time with my family. But when I’m not writing, or when I’m stuck in the middle of a story and looking for a creative outlet to work through the kinks in my plotting process, I tend to do some kind of decorating/home improvement project. That’s my version of sitting and staring into space until I figure out what happens next in my book. Surprisingly, my decorating projects seem to follow the same path as my working on a manuscript does: beginning small and mushrooming bigger, rearranging and “tweaking” until things are “just right.”


This month my version of sitting and staring into space consisted of re-vamping the lighting in several rooms of my house. It all started with a ceiling fan makeover in my office, that spread to the entry hall, then to the kitchen, and finally to the master bedroom. This fan was original to the house when we moved in almost 18 years ago. My office was once a child’s bedroom and one of those former occupants had bedazzled their fan with foil angel stickers on all the blades. Over the years, the angels had became a permanent part of the fixture.


While I wanted a new fan, I couldn’t justify the purchase because this original one was in great shape. The only problem….it was hideously ugly. (Note: stickers on blade at right, spots all over blades). So after perusing Pinterest, I decided to paint the fan blades and that not so lovely fading brass light kit. 


My husband was the chief electrician because I don’t go near power tools, ever. I’m strictly a painter and convinced I am able to change the world (or at least my home decor) with a can of black spray paint.

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Here’s what we ended up with. I had to tweak some things, not unlike tweaking a manuscript. I ended up swapping out the light kit on my office fan for the one in my bedroom. This started a domino effect that ended up in a game of musical light kit fixtures. 

But I’m delighted with the end result because several rooms in our house now feel updated with our “new” lighting, and all we did was swap things around and buy a couple of cans of spray paint. 

I was so tickled with how the office ceiling fan project turned out, I was inspired to tackle another project that had been languishing in my garage for over five years—an antique kerosene lamp/chandelier that came from my great- great grandmother’s home. 

Once upon a time this lamp was converted to electricity. It hung in my parents’ house for many years, but the glass dome had been broken at some point, and it needed a lot of attention. 

I cleaned the brass (with WD-40) and found a replacement glass dome at a lighting shop in the neighborhood. My husband rewired the entire chandelier. We hung it in our entry hall (swapping out yet another fixture to put in our kitchen). Still, the foyer fixture seemed to be missing something. 

Enter eBay, where I found these wonderful amber crystal prisms! 

They match the round jewels in the antique brass scrolls perfectly. A happily ever after all around.

© Kay Thomas 2018