Monday, January 11, 2016

Brass Outlets

I admire outlets, but not the highway shopping center outlets.  I admire round brass floor outlets.  When I first began noticing them, they were in lecture halls near podiums and then on occasion I would spot one in an architectural magazine – a detail in some gorgeously appointed room with vaulted ceilings and leather furniture.  I had begun coveting those shiny floor outlets just like most women had eyes for handbags or high heels.

When I realized that a floor outlet in the middle of my cabin floor would make it possible for me to position a lamp and have a plug for my computer, I requested such from the electrician.  I pictured an outlet cover of dull brown plastic to match the floor color.  I didn’t even consider a brass jewel box outlet.

The electricians arrived early one morning and began adding a number of new plugs.  The two guys, A.J. and Matt from S & S Electric, would pass by each other as they worked under the house, up in the attic or back and forth to their truck.   When I noticed that Matt had stopped in the living room and set a pile of tools near the blue masking tape marks on the floor, I stopped to watch a moment.  He reached for a plain square cardboard box, opened the lid and withdrew - a brass colored outlet.  Oh, my!  When I expressed surprise, he held it for me to see, as if he were a jeweler showing me a ring.  He said that he loved putting them in.  They were just so beautiful.


I stayed to watch as he drilled a hole.  The first layer revealed the green linoleum which had apparently for years graced these cabin floors.  As an amateur houser, I loved uncovering house history.  Linoleum was first developed to cover battleship decks but quickly became popular for use in land-bound structures.  I was a little sorry that the cabin's linoleum flooring had been covered, but I wasn't willing to pull-up the newer floor to find out if all of the linoleum looked as good as the sample circle.

I have been promising myself that this cabin would be where I write and read, not work.  In my other home of twenty years, I had ripped up carpets and linoleum glued to plywood.   Underneath were the original wooden floors -  unfortunately, painted with lead green paint!  Cautiously removing that paint took most of a summer.  Therefore, you see, I am leery of starting on another rip-apart project.   

After the electricians were done and packed and gone, I moved furniture to the cabin, bringing along an antique lamp with a yellow cord that I thought would be a nice counterpoint to the brass outlet.  I turned the tiny locking screw on the outlet cover, opened its lid and plugged in the lamp.  And, then, as I had been promising myself, I curled up to read.   


  1. So few people have an appreciation for this stuff. My wife thinks I'm crazy because I've been slowly going through our 1887 house replacing most of the recently replaced plain white outlets and switches with vintage brown duplex outlets with brass outlet plates surrounding. Nothing makes me happier than a well worn steel wool polished/cleaned raw brass outlet/switch plate with a dark ivory or black or brown switch.

  2. It must be satisfying to change out those white plates and switches to vintage brown and brass. It is a small change, but striking after seeing ever-present white or ivory ones. I bet your house is lovely. I no longer have my 1904 Queene Anne house (see blog post "Dream House" in the index). We made huge changes, but now I wish I had used all dark brown plates. I just put one in by the entry door to my cabin (blog post "My Cabin") but as I look around, I could use more!
    Thanks for your comment.


Please leave comments. They are most welcome.