Category Archives: sputniks

New Sputnik and Interior Ceiling Repair

Once we completed putting on our new roof, I was able to move back inside to fix some water damage to our living room ceiling as well add a new sputnik light in the foyer. I was a bit under the gun – the new roof was done in mid April, and I only have about three weeks to get everything else taken care of so that Mary could host a bridal shower for one of her good friends at the house in early May.

Fortunately, repairing the ceiling is a straightforward process – the tile was replaced by my Grandparents in 1995 with Armstrong Grenoble 12×12 tiles. Armstrong still makes that tile, so I picked up a fresh box to have enough to replace the tiles I wanted as well as have some extra on hand for the future. The tile along the chimney had separated from the furring strips over the years from getting wet a few times as well, which is why I decided it was best to replace all of the tile down the line. Here’s what the water leak from the roof did to the ceiling (this was just the worst – there were spots in a few other places but they just got painted over):

The first step is take down the existing tile, which is mostly just carefully tearing them out so as not to damage adjacent tiles. I opened up the top two rows nearest the chimney, then worked backwards to install the replacement tiles and staple them into place. I did have to make a minor adjust to one tile on each row to shorten it just slightly – probably a slight width difference between the 1990s version tiles and the new ones, even though “technically” they are the same:

One installed, they got primed and painted and you wouldn’t know there was ever an issue:

In addition, I took this chance to install a brand new sputnik light fixture. When you walk into the house, there is a small entry vestibule that then opens into the foyer. The foyer has our 18 arm sputnik chandelier, but the vestibule was always a bit dark. I decided to fix this by adding a small 5-arm Sputnik fixture from Practical Props – specifically the CF11-CH model, using starlite bulbs. A few years ago when we moved in, I sent photos of the original 6-light Sputnik fixtures that were in the house to Ian, the owner, to see if he could replicate something similar. It took him awhile, but this was the result. Because I wanted to have it function in conjunction with the foyer light, when the roof was off I ran a new wire from the ceiling box of the chandelier to this new fixture box. It took a few days to get used to it, but the light looks like it always should have been there, and the vestibule is now well lit.


Our House Has a Poncho

Continuing the story of unexpected homeownership expenses – we are going to be getting a new roof this coming week.

The roof on the house is the second roof, my grandparents had a full tear off done in 1994, so this roof is 22 years old. I had it inspected before we bought the house and the shingles were in good shape, looking like another 10 years of life. Even now, the shingles are in good repair and have another 5-7 years of life in them, but we have a different problem – somewhere above or around the chimney area of the roof, there is a leak. This has always been a problem in the house, one my grandparents tried to address in the past too, but something was missed.

We knew there was at least a small leak somewhere, as every few years we would get a very small water spot on the living room ceiling that needed to be addressed. But since it was so infrequent and inspection didn’t reveal anything, we just rode it out. Unfortunately, our luck ran out this winter, as the leak became acute. Just a regular rainstorm would lead to an excessively wet spot on a ceiling tile and\or water running down the front of the house as it ran down the rafters to the soffits. Inspection in the attic showed that there was clearly a problem that, left untreated, was going to get out of hand quickly (mold, etc.)

To prevent things from getting worse, I had the roofers stop by and put a big tarp on the roof, to make sure that the water intrusion stops and give a healthy amount of time for any wet areas to thoroughly dry out. In the meantime, our house is wearing a poncho.

As with all projects around here, there is a “while we’re in here” project to be addressed – properly insulating the cathedral ceiling. In short, this ceiling has never been correctly insulated, leading to ice damming issues, etc. So we’re fixing that too. And I’m going to add a sputnik light to the entry space. You know, while I’m in there and all.

This weekend I’ve been buying the supplies needed to do the insulation project and coordinating with the roofing contractor about how to get it accomplished. If the weather holds out, we should have a new roof, tightly insulated ceiling, and new sputnik light by this coming weekend.

Living Room – Before and After

After we first moved in, we had our work cut out for us – we originally planned on getting all three bedrooms cleaned and painted, but the house had other plans for us. Sometime in the 1980s my Grandmother and one of my aunts put wallpaper in the master bedroom. This delayed us finishing the master bedroom until not only after we moved in (we stayed in the middle bedroom for the first month), but also after the living room. Mary still gripes about removing the wallpaper.

As of 2011, the living room looked like this:

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It’s All About The Sputniks

One of the most talked about features in our house are the Sputnik lights. What is a Sputnik light, you might ask? Why only one of the most quintessentially mid-century light fixtures out there. A Sputnik light is any one of a variety of space-age starburst style fixtures. The atomic age feel was inspired by, as you may guess, the space race from the 1950s and 1960s – the light looked sleek and contemporary with polished metal arms…not unlike a certain Soviet satellite. I don’t know if they acquired that name at the time or if they were retro-named years later, but regardless – a Sputnik chandelier and matching sputnik ceiling lights have been a fixture in this house since its construction. Here is a picture from 1966:

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