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AC/DC, Done Dirt Cheap

Oh, yes! Belt it out! Bang your head! "Dirty deeds, and they're done dirt cheap."

Ahem...what I really mean is AC/DC, your electrical power source, a.k.a. your light switches and outlets. You can tell a lot about a home's age by looking at its light switches and outlets. Are yours from this century? Mmmm-maybe. Probably not.

Here are a few give-aways that they have been neglected:

  • Brown, black or shiny (not shiny any more) brass

  • White/ivory but years of use have turned them permanently dirty

  • Covered with wallpaper to match

  • Wooden plates that have been painted to match the walls

  • Yellowed "clear" plastic or mirrored plates

  • Cracked plates

  • Missing plates, and this is dangerous, btw

  • Mismatched outlet/switches/cover plates

There are so many cool updates to these simple things that we do not put much thought into until we take a moment to notice and take inventory. 21st Century technology. USB. Nightlights. Motion-sensors. Timers. Take a look at this article from Better Homes & Gardens to see what new and improved options are out there.

The best part is you can do this yourself. I'm serious! It really is easy. I've done it myself, many times. Watch this YouTube video from Home Depot. All you need is to know where your electrical panel is, a flathead screwdriver, a Phillips head screwdriver, a package of wire nuts and your shopping list. This shopping list is really an inventory of what you have going on in each room.

  1. # of light switches

  2. Switch cover plates and their configuration- single, double or triple

  3. Are any of the lights controlled by more than one switch, a.k.a 3-way switch?

  4. Any of them dimmers? Or, do you want to add a dimmer?

  5. # of outlets

  6. Are any outlets grounded - near water as in bathrooms & kitchens, large appliances, computers or air conditioners

  7. # of outlet covers and their configuration

  8. Most importantly, what color?

The color should be consistent in each room. The common rule of thumb is to match the color to your trim:

white --> white

off-white --> almond*

creamy --> ivory*

stained wood--> one of the 3 that

goes best with your decor

*There is a difference. Almond is lighter than ivory and I usually recommend almond over ivory. Get a paint chip of your trim color to take to the store with you. Make sure you get all the same color when you are at the hardware store. The bins often get unintentionally mixed together, especially in big home improvement stores.

Our first house was built in 1923 and every outlet and switch was brown with a dingy dirty ivory colored cover. My husband and I switched out every single one. Just go room by room. Once you get the hang of it you will move right along. More recently I repainted our laundry room and switched from Ben Moore 912 Linen White trim to PM-1 Super White. The room did not look complete until I switched out the outlets, switches and plates from almond to white. Call me crazy, but it does make a difference. I have converted my husband to be a believer in the importance of these finishing details, especially when they do not get added to his "honey do" list.

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