DIY, Interiors, Kitchen

The Cult of the Porcelain Light Socket: This Old House Part 4

Do you really need ice?  The first weekend we tore up the kitchen (read about that here) we moved the refrigerator across the room to let more light into the room.  We never hooked the water line up and we were suddenly sans ice.  I thought Dave was waiting on moving the water line, but I found out that he was planning on just NEVER having ice again.  True.

Smash cut to a few weekends ago when my father-in-law George was visiting.  He noticed the lack of ice and assisted Dave in putting in a copper water line to the new freezer location so that we could have ice again.  Most of our basement has an unfinished ceiling and as it turns out, the water line was very easy to move and, as it turn out, Dave really loves ice.

While George was in town, we added another ceiling fixture.  The room boasted one ceiling light before and it was so dark in the winter that on more than one occasion I would attempt turn on a light that was already on.  Have you ever done that?  That’s a clear indicator that you need more light.

We added a light and moved the original light over so that they are centered in the room.  That was an easy sentence to write, but it wasn’t an easy job due to the plaster and lathe ceiling and the original dimmer switch.  I saw several Davinciesque diagrams from George and Dave, was asked if they could use my bread knife to cut something (“no”), and many things were lost and found again on top of the refrigerator.

I took my time and picked out these fabulous, really affordable light fixtures:

Because I’ve blossomed into an indecisive person with this remodel, these $1.49  Leviton porcelain light sockets might jazz up the space for a while. I kind of like them though so if they stay with us for a year, I would be fine with that.  Some of you may know this already, but these light sockets have a little bit of a cult following.

green porcelain light socket
Commune makes these in a variety of fun colors (at $45 each).

These fixtures are also called “keyless lamp holders” and the design was developed by Russian immigrant Isidor Leviton in 1910.  The socket is in the shape of a candleholder and it was specifically designed to hold the exciting and new Edison light bulb.  In over 100 years the design hasn’t changed much at all and they still carry Leviton’s name although the factory has moved a few times.  I do find the history and the simple clean look appealing and a little romantic.

porcelain sockets kitchen
Jersey Ice Cream Company makes them look cool (if a little unfinished to the average person). (Photo Source)
porcelain light sockets kitchen
This row of porcelain light sockets kind of reminds me of marquee lights. (Photo Source)
defiance fixture
The Cylinder Fixture from Schoolhouse Electric is a variation of the Leviton porcelain socket.
defiance fixture
The Defiance Fixture, also from Schoolhouse Electric, has a similar vintage vibe.

What do you think?  I like them, but I can also imagine most contractors thinking that I’m insane if I used one in a client’s house.  I’m going to ease into thinking about light fixtures for this room.  They’re one of the last things installed, so I’ve got the time and I’m taking it.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Thomas A. Edison















2 thoughts on “The Cult of the Porcelain Light Socket: This Old House Part 4”

  1. We are now the homeowners whose contractor thinks we’re painfully cheap (on a $200k remodel) and/or insane for wanting these as a design element in our cabin! Have you used them in any projects? We love their simplicity!

    1. Yes, but I’ve used them on a personal project – our old carriage house that we converted into an office. You can easily change them out if you get tired of them in a few years. Buck the trend and go for it!

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