Turn On Tune In Drop Out

We have been in the house for two weeks. In that time we have moved all our worldly possessions, sorted some, put a few away (fewer than I would care to admit), set up a Christmas tree, had visits from Santa and a few relatives and cooked some meals. Any and all remaining brain cells have been focused on trying to remember which of the one-thousand-and-one light switches turn on the one-thousand lights. The light switch, above, turns on these three spots in the living room.
But this switch, very close by and logically a candidate for the living room lights,
turns on these very small spots in the pseudo-hall which appear to do nearly nothing.

This switch in the hallway by the kitchen

turns on this can light.

While this switch at the other end of the three-foot hallway
turns on this can. Also, three feet away. Because, seriously, there might be a situation in which you would want one end of the three-foot passageway lit, but not the other.
These three switches control the lights in the powder room. Yes, three switches. In the powder room.

One controls this fixture over the sink,
while one controls this can light over the toilet. (Get it?) The other controls the fan. In the powder room.
This switch controls the light in the closet to the right that is set up for a stackable washer and dryer that would fill the entire closet.
While there are no appliances in this closet currently, it appears I will be able to read clearly when sitting on top of the dryer.

The switch, below, is for the master closet which is pictured, above, to the left. It is inside the closet and is the second switch I flip every single time I want to turn on the master closet light.
It’s like a game of Concentration. Still, it has only been two weeks. Surely by Spring I will have it all figured out. I know Mr. Blandings is hoping to find the light switch that turns off the outside lights by then. The neighbors are probably hoping he will, too.
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28 thoughts on “Turn On Tune In Drop Out

  1. Great images! Seriously, we've been in our house four years, and I still have to think "right=light" for one of our more confusing switches in our kitchen hall area.

  2. Too funny , yet so true!! Still trying to remember which outlet controls the lamp that one of the double light switches controls in the living room!

    Art by Karena

  3. I still have switches where I go through every switch on the wall before I turn on the light I want…and I have lived in my house for almost 10 years!

  4. Switches in Italy are different or is it just the house I live in? In all rooms flanking the corridor we have 2 switches. One controls the corridor and the other controls the room. To tell which is which there is a little sign on the actual switch and when you touch it is soft and gentle unlink the room switch which is standard and quick….happy lighted holidays!>)

  5. Most amusing. We had the light switches for three fixtures installed in our front hall when we were away, and the electrician thought up an ordering for them that makes absolutely no sense. When we pointed this out our contractor said they couldn't be re-arranged without ripping out the plaster that had been put up after the electrician did his job, which would require getting the plasterer back from another job in the next state where he would be for three months before returning. So we didn't move the switches to their logical order, and that was ten years ago and I still can't remember which switch lights which fixture all these years later. It's the little things! Reggie

  6. Oh I think so many of us can relate to this – I have a light switch by a door at one side of the house that turns on the outdoor lights on the other side – by the barbeque. It's so convenient – when you're outside grilling – you have to go inside and through the house to turn on or off the lights. And because there are switches in several locations dedicated to a nonexistent ceiling fixture over the kitchen table, I am forever flicking a switch that does nothing! Ah the joys of spec houses built by men who don't have to live there!

  7. Very funny! But I can relate. The first night we moved in, my husband and I had to use a flashlight to go up the stairs because we couldn't figure out how to just put the staircase light on without having other lights on! We have a programmable Lutron system; I had to get an electrician to find out how to turn off a light on the side of the house. The previous homeowner told me as she was exiting that her husband was so glad they were moving into a house with normal light switches. Obviously, they didn't buy your house. There are still a couple empty poles for lights that no longer exist. And today I am adding another switch as I have new electrified sconces put up. Good luck!

  8. I think every house needs one or more unexplicable switches….Good luck mastering the switch behind the Green Curtain of Oz~maybe you can keep on as a mystery switch in times of need…for a sort of ejection button to keep those Blandings boys on their toes…

  9. I was so frustrated by the lack of logic in the switching of a very large house I once lived in, I got a label maker and affixed labels to the dozens of switches throughout the house.

    Of course, if it was dark and the light was off, you couldn't really SEE the label, but they made me feel better.

  10. I can totally relate. The electrician who wired your house must have wired ours, too. Is the white/almond switch/plate duo new for 2011? Just kidding, as we still have switches without plates.

    It seems that when you finally make peace with the quirks of one house, you move to another with a completely new set to figure out. I'm sure you will have most of this decoded soon and you can murmur that the rest is part of the charm of the place.

  11. So true,funny+sad. Each time I move someone into a new home(old or new)I always-ALWAYS give them information on their switches(from "other owner" or "builder")those switches can be daunting! enough said such an entertaining post. xx peggybraswelldesign.com

  12. I am voting with quintessence! Male electricians who don't think like women: ugh! In 1968 (remember it well as opposed to Robin Williams' 'if you can remember the 60s, you weren't there'), someone had the bright idea to link all of the outlets in the living room AND the outdoor outlet) on the same switch. Can't tell you how many times I've cursed that person WHEN: I'm outside and want to use the outlet for garden equipment…and have to come inside and turn on the power. OR lighting topiaries by front door. Can't turn on lamps in LR with having outdoor lights on. And then there is that 4 gang outlet by the front door that is turns on 3 other switches…still can't remember what's what: it's been over 25 years. Don't think the future will get any better! So glad you're having fun with the quirks. And don't you think when you can walk through your house at night without turning on lights, you're finally home?

  13. We lived in our house for years before we found the switch to the deck lights – inside a closet – at the back no less. And since I can't remember much most days anyway I don't feel too bad about my builder's idea of logic.
    Happy 2011 in your new home!

  14. Oh, it just gets better, this move of yours.

    For the first time in my adult life, in my new store, I got to lay out the wiring, in my new shop. It is so simple and logical, and all where it should be, and I am so happy…

    In the meantime, in my two hundred year old house, it's still a game of seek and find, mostly not…

  15. Crazy annoying, isn't it? Our neighbors must have thought we were either disco divas or the last of the Navajo Code Talkers each time we came home. Although they're TTFW, we finally had to put labels up.

  16. After living in my new downsized house for over a year I decided to add some 'lighted' switches. Luckily, this is something my father taught me how to do so I was able to do it myself. (First, turn off the electricity!)

    I have a small, dark, stairway to the garage level with two "three-way" switches" controlling, one at the top, one at the bottom.

    By changing out the switches I now can see the location of the switch in the dark and there is no more fingers all over the wall feeling for the switch. I love this addition and now plan to add two more light switches this weekend. This might be a way to highlight certain of your more important switches where you have many.

    As for the ones in the powder room, it is now 'code' here in my city to require fans, etc., and occupancy sensors, and on and on. Four switches alone in my master bathroom.

    Maybe you can put some of this to use in your new home. Happy New Year!

  17. this made me smile….the only thing i dread more are those uber 'now' control panels that my clients demand but can never operate – nor can i quite frankly! a good electrician will sort for you. good luck. !

  18. Can light! Hahahahaha.
    I was debating a just moved in/what's weird about this house post myself. We have four hundred light switches and an amazing number of fixtures that cannot be reached without scaffolding, no one is allowed to turn those on.
    I like that that you actually took pictures of different switches. Did your family think you were nuts?

  19. It sounds like you have the same electrician we did. Ours must have moved to Missouri.

    Reggie, your contractor pulled your leg so to speak. If you have an out let with three switches (known as a 3 gang box), all you have to do is take the plate off and move them in the order that you like – no plastering, no drywall work, nothing more than moving the individual switches to the position of your choice and screwing them back into the box.

  20. I adore your blog and when you had me laughing before my first jolt of caffeine, I knew it was time to end my silence and let you know. After nearly 20 years I still run through most of the switches by the door in order to get the proper lights on. It drives my husband bonkers but to me it just isn't logical or intuitive. Good luck, enjoy that enormous shower and I look forward to more 'conversations' in the future.


  21. Where do these idiots learn their trade????? Most of the time they just want a nice big obnoxious overhead and one switch in the middle of the main wall!

    I say idiot but should probably be replace by heterosexual man….a gay man would never let this happen…and where are the dimmers?

  22. shudder… is the wiring up to code? many households are not up to code are there enough circuit breakers to a switch — so is not to trip a breaker were all the lights lit? perhaps the owner that installed the fixtures was a vision impaired individual or someone afraid of the dark????

  23. This would totally & utterly do my head in Mrs. B. But then again, I move into a highly agitated state whenever I'm in the Excited States & on flushing the loo, the water in the bowl goes in the opposite direction than at home. I don't handle change well, but you are doing magnificently.
    Millie x

  24. One of the trickiest things we have dealt with so far on the house plans – the electrical. Coming up with a concept for the flow of the house, the design of the house – really not a big problem. But the switches? And light locations? Hard! Luckily my architect and designer are loathe to mar the walls and ceilings with too many switches and such, and past experiences in other houses has left me angry and frustrated with too many individual controls for too many lights. But still….I hope we got it right.

    One thing we did on our architect's recommendation – we made the switches a bit lower than standard. Standard is 48" to center line, we made ours 42". Our architect likes this because they are out of the way of art, more out of the sightline, and a more natural height. He says we will be used to it within a week. I hope so!

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