It’s just fortunate I wasn’t sipping coffee or tea or Mountain Dew because I would have spit it directly into his pinched and smirking face.
I replayed the last 10 seconds of conversation in my mind to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating.
“So how much would you charge to remove that chandelier,” I said hitching a thumb over my shoulder to the 12-armed behemoth that hung behind me.
The bald Turk eyed the monstrous thing. He had just listened to Handan outline her plans for the dining room columns and the walls we wanted to be built in their place, but he had seemed unimpressed by her vision. Still, he took his measurements in a desultory manner and said he would work up a quote by the weekend. The chandelier was an afterthought – something I appended onto the work. In for a penny, in for a pound, right? Besides, I couldn’t imagine how Handan and I would ever be able to remove such a calamity of curved and sharpened iron. My best estimate put the infernal thing at about 200 pounds. That would do some serious soft-tissue damage if it fell at the wrong time and onto the wrong body part.
I waited patiently as the Turk mentally took its measure.
“Eh, I need four, maybe five guys,” he said, half to himself, half to me. After another moment’s consideration, he said, “I take it down for an extra thousand.”
And there it was again. That word.
I desperately wished I had a banana cream pie handy to I could toss it in his face and put paid to this farce.
One Thousand Dollars? To remove a chandelier?
Okay, I get the chandelier is big – like has-its-own-zipcode big.
But a thousand bucks is big money. If I’m to pay a thousand dollars to remove a chandelier, I’d expect a live chamber orchestra serenading me during the proceedings, followed by a candlelit dinner of Beef Wellington served with an appropriately-aged Bordeaux.
Handan and I thanked the Turk and showed him the front door.
He has not returned.
When the echo of his obscene quote had quieted, my babes and I looked at each other and said, “we’ll do it ourselves.”
Greedy contractors got us into DIYing back in 2013, and they’re keeping us in it almost 10 years later.
But overpriced bald Turks aside, there was still the matter of just how on earth Handan and I would remove the two hundred pounds of bent and twisted metal that hung off-center in our dining room.
All we knew was that it was held up by a cable – a cable we couldn’t reach because the chandelier was too close to the ceiling.
And it was obvious that it was assembled in place – either that or the house was built around it. There just isn’t any logical explanation for the beastly thing’s existence. It doesn’t mesh with anything in the house, and it absolutely dwarfs the room over which it presides. When in the dining room, it takes a colossal force of will not to notice it, not to stare. It’s as out of place as a trout sandwich at a hamburger competition, and it has all the subtlety and grace of a horse fart in a funeral home.
With only the vague notion that it was assembled in place to go on, we approached it as if maybe it could be easily and conveniently dis-assembled in place. Figuring whatever misguided cretins who designed this monumental waste of iron ore and manpower may have at least had the sense to make it user-accessible, I started to twist the protuberance at the bottom. Perhaps it was a screw. Perhaps we could be done with this in five minutes.
Perhaps a trout sandwich could taste like a cheeseburger.
The good news is that we were right. The metallic undernipple was indeed a screw. When the screw released, so too did a heavy ornate bowl. Goody! More craft supplies!
Removing the ornate bowl revealed a cylinder – like an oversized can of tuna fish – with a long threaded rod protruding from it. My guess was that inside that cylinder were the keys to the castle – the way we would bring this shameful chapter in our house’s history to a rousing and victorious end.
As a precaution, we decided to lighten the load by removing all the dangling glass bits.
With the gaudy glass removed, it almost looked good enough to keep.
I’m kidding. I wouldn’t have kept it for all the monkeys in Siam, but it did look better.
There was a screw on the threaded rod, and after some doing, I managed to remove it and release the cylinder.
I was greeted with a riot of wires and confusion.
Excellent! This was the wiring hub. I must be getting close! I asked for scissors so I could snip those wires, just in case they were…I don’t know…load-bearing wires or something.
Hey, cut me some slack. This was uncharted territory for me. How would I know if wires could be load-bearing or not?
Anyway, once they wires were cut, we headed up to remove the lampshades.
Yes, lampshades. Our ridiculous Victorian nightmare had 24 small and very good quality lampshades.
I think the picture above perfectly shows just how massive this chandelier was. I could have nested up there quite comfortably for months.
Back down at the business end, I surmised the twelve twisted arms were held on by the twelve nuts attached to the metal plate that was exposed when the cylinder came free. I loosened and then removed each screw, thinking that when I got to the end…something would happen.
Seeing that all 12 arms convened at that point and carried on through the metal plate, I had no chance of removing them unless I could remove the metal plate.
I couldn’t. Nor could I budge the arms from their holes, nor could I find a solution by examining the upper connection point of the arms.
Only one avenue remained, and it was the one I feared (hoped?) from the very start. When diplomacy fails, the doors of destruction swing open. I tried the civilized way to remove this chandelier. It was time to go medieval on its ass.
Armed now with an angle grinder, I set to dismantling the wretched thing, arm-by-ornate-arm.
Our joy multiplied as each curvaceous arm came down in a furious maelstrom of glowing red sparks. We were doing it!
And then there were two where once hung twelve.
One down, one to go.
Victory! Well, partial victory. We still had the central shaft to contend with, but…Victory!
As were the arms before we found a solution, the central shaft proved to be a tough nut to crack.
We thought it would be as easy as propping it up and then cutting the cable that ran down from the ceiling.
But loosening that cable at the bottom did…well, nothing to be precise. It was clear that a cable running from up in the ceiling was holding the damn thing up, but when we removed the screw pin from the end of the cable…nothing.
But there was also a screw against a plate. So when all else fails, try to unscrew. It worked before!
Well, as it turned out, there was a cable that ran through it, but the cable held one section at a time, and only loosening the section screws would allow that section to be removed.
My babes figured that out. She’s good at figuring out puzzles like these.
Once again I snipped the electrical wires so just the cable was holding everything up.
One more section removed, one to go!
We raised the ladder and shimmed the remaining shell of a chandelier with wood blocks. Having this piece fall would be just as bad as the whole chandelier. It was smaller, but it was heavy and had some sharp points that could do a lot of damage.
Another cylinder to remove…
And it started to release…
Now I could reach the central cable and cut it!
Free at last!
The careful handoff to Baris. It was heavy!
The Happy Wife!
The High Five.
With the beast slain and out of our lives, I will need to fix the hole in the ceiling and cut another one that is actually centered for a new, more restrained chandelier. It was a full morning’s work, but we’re so glad we finally tackled this project and got it out of the way. That chandelier was a burden that’s been on the chopping block since before we closed on this house.
Good riddance to a garish eyesore!
Oh, and by the way – I weighed all the pieces, and I wasn’t far off from my estimate of 200 pounds. It weighed in at a respectable 185!