Lights & Registers

Sounds exciting, right?  Ok, maybe not that exciting but I'll tell you what is exciting...we finished painting the living room and kitchen ceilings this past weekend!  There are two more (tedious) things left to do on the old to-do list and then...well, then we just make another to-do list with more stuff on it like deep clean the couch, hang stuff on the walls, and recover the chairs...but cheer with us because the big stuff is almost DONE!

In honor of the ceilings being painted and finally done (because that was a j.o.b.), let's talk about two things on it that make quite the difference - our new lights and our *new* ceilings registers.

Lights first.  When we bought this house, there was a big fan in the middle of the living room.  

Not only was it old and ugly (although it did have caning embedded in the blades and that is making a comeback...), but it hung so low we had to walk around it if we were carrying anything that rose above our own heads (like a child, for instance), lest the thing we were carrying knock into the glass covers on the light bulbs.  Within days of closing on the house, Anthony had it down.  Unfortunately, that fan was the only light source in the room though so we knew we'd eventually have to put in lights.  Well, eventually came a few months ago and we decided on staggering some recessed lights throughout the room.  Anthony knows electrical but we have a friend who is an electrician and knows way more than Anthony, so we paid him to come put in some lights for us.  We found out from him that, because of the way our joists run in comparison to the beams in the room, we wouldn't be able to put in traditional recessed lights.  There was only a moment of that let-down/what-are-we-going-to-do-we-don't-want-bulky-lights-in-here feeling though because our friend showed up with these LED lights* and we had ourselves a solved problemo.  I've never been one to get super excited about can lights but these, they were/are exciting.  Not only are they going to last us a very long time (thanks LED) but they're super slim so you can put them in places the bigger can lights can't venture.

Oh, and they have three Kelvin settings - so you can set them to warmer light all the way to cooler light with the flick of a switch.  Cool, right?  ;)  Awesome, I knew I wasn't the only one to get a kick out of these things.

We went back and forth with how many we should install but we ended up going with four lights - two in between the second and fourth spaces between beams - and they are just perfecto.  Plus, we had them installed on a dimmer switch so they can be dimmed.  It feels so fancy.  We also had our friend do the wiring in the attic for us to install two more of the same recessed lights in a smaller size over the peninsula in the kitchen.  With the vent hood there, pendants seemed like they'd be too much so these are the perfect solution.

Lights.  Check.  Onto the vents...which sounds way less exciting but they come with a tutorial so hold onto your horses... 

All of the ceiling registers in our house are a standard gray...okay, standard gray with 30+ years of age on them so add a few spots and stains.  Fine except we spent all of this time scraping popcorn and making our ceilings look amazing and that gray just ain't going to cut it.  And, if I'm being totally honest, even if we had left the popcorn, it still doesn't make that much sense to install gray registers on a white ceiling.  #why??  But, buying new registers for all of the vents in the house would add up to $170 just going with the basic style.  Not the worst number but not a very fun way to spend money.  (If we had a money tree out back, these decorative registers would be amazing...but would cost $1428 to outfit the whole house...youch).

So, let me tell you how we got white registers for a much more manageable number - TEN BUCKS!  

Say it with me - Spray.  Paint. 

You know me all too well.  ;)

Before I go into the quick and easy process, let me tell you that I spray painted all of the registers in our old house white shortly after we had moved in and they stayed looking like new for the duration of our living there (seven years) so, this works.  Tried-and-true. 

So, let's get into it.

First, I took the registers down and used a toothbrush and dish soap to give them a good scrub on all sides.  Considering the fact that I don't think they had ever been taken down since 1985, this was a necessary step.

Once clean but sopping wet, I set them out in the sun for the rest of the day (flipping sides halfway through) to make sure that every drop of water was gone before I started painting.  Water + oil-based paint = no.

The next day I set up my painting workspace - two sawhorses side-by-side with a spare piece of drywall straddling them and a painting sheet over that.  I would normally use cardboard on the ground instead of a sheet but Anthony had just taken our recycling in and those bins were empty.  You can use whatever set up you want.  Just make sure you're protecting the surface you're painting on if it needs protecting.  Also, don't ever spray paint inside.  Keep those fumes outside.  😷

Here's the important part - when I spray paint anything, I make sure to hit it from all sides.  So, I had these four registers set out and I started by spraying in a non-stop, sweeping motion back-and-forth on one side.  Then I moved to another side and did the same thing.  I did the last two sides and then, to top it off, I sprayed down from above.  This way, every visible surface of each register got painted.

It's key to spray from all sides and not to stop while spraying.

I started with this primer* by Rust Oleum, my favorite spray paint brand.  One coat was all I needed.

If we had had their Clean Metal primer* on hand, I would've gone with that but I know that this stuff will hold on just as well.


Spray paint needs to be applied over primer within one hour or after 48 hours so I set my timer and at around 40 minutes, I gave the registers two thin coats of this paint, sprayed about 20 minutes apart.

I like the satin sheen over semigloss or gloss since our ceilings are ultra flat and I want the registers to blend in as much as possible.  If flat spray paint was more wipeable, I'd go with that but, it's not.  I wouldn't recommend it for spraying registers.

Look at that finish, eh?  

Brand new...ish.  

Oh!  But don't forget about the screws that hold the registers to the ceiling!  You don't want pretty white registers with ugly gray screws!  It's no big thing to just spray them right alongside the registers as you go.  👍

I painted all of these in the morning one day and didn't bring them in to install them again until after dinner.  Letting them sit outside ensures that 1) those new paint fumes will dissipate and 2) they'll dry fully before being handled.

This before and after isn't quite as great as I thought it would be in my head but...

Here are our living room ceilings before the vents were painted (and before the ceilings were completely painted too):

And this is after, albeit during low afternoon light:

I mean, they don't qualify for a camouflage title but they are definitely better, right?  

I hope that, if you have registers in your house that don't match your ceilings, this inspires you to change that!  It's quick and easy and packs a little punch so go for it!  You can't say you don't know how!  ;)

We are hoping to get the living room trim, beams, and walls painted this weekend so we can work on more exciting things!  Fingers very crossed...

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  1. I never knew about the spraying within an hour after priming or wait 48 hours. (I probably should read the can...sigh...but why when I can just read your blog.) Thanks for the info! :)

    1. I had to learn that the hard way...because I didn't read the can either! Haha! I don't know the reasoning behind it 100% but my paint crackled once when I didn't heed those instructions and I'll never do it again! ;)