Ye Olde USB Outlet

This post is in collaboration with Legrand.

When we decided to gut the kitchen and do a full remodel, naturally, we were excited about the fresh start. What a luxury to have new cabinets, appliances, and lighting! While those updates were the obvious benefit, the hidden delight was the electrical upgrade. We no longer tripped the breakers, there were outlets in all the useful places, and we could turn on the lights with a flip of a switch. Old house owners: You know what I’m talking about.

I had no idea just how much I took modern electricity for granted until I moved to BHH. If you are lucky enough to have post-mid-century power in your current home, go over to the nearest wall switch right now and flip it on and off just for fun.

You’ll appreciate this exercise more in a pitch-black room. In that scenario, people who own really old houses like BHH are swinging their hands wildly in the air, trying to locate the pull-chain for the overhead lighting.

You lucky ducks. 

An Update for our Update

After a year and a half with our new kitchen, we started to wish for just one small improvement.

Andy and I use the iPad or phone apps for the bulk of our recipes. The kitchen island is our central prep space, and we often found that we needed to use both of the island outlets for small appliances while keeping the electronic devices we were using plugged in. Sure, we could plug them into another outlet, but that created two efficiency issues:

  1. We had to swivel back and forth between the island and the counter behind us to follow a recipe, and
  2. My close-up eyesight is so poor that every time I did that, I lost my place in the recipe and I had to spend a few seconds getting back on track.

We solved this problem by installing a USB outlet from the radiant collection by Legrand. (ye olde USB outlet?)

When the rep from Legrand reached out to me, she promised that the Legrand products were DIY-friendly. All we needed was a screwdriver and some basic knowledge about how to cut the power before swapping out the outlet.

I had the tools, but until now, I always left the basic electrical knowledge to Andy. To be honest, I had been scared of electricity since the safety videos we watched in elementary school. During my primary years, I retained just a fraction of what I was taught. However, after only one filmstrip, (Ha! Remember filmstrips?) I managed to cling to a nonsensical fear of electrical appliances near water, unplugging something by yanking on the cord, or riding over a downed, live electrical line with my bike. One false move with electricity and it’s lights out for you. Lights out!

My fears were borderline irrational, and this year, it is no coincidence that I changed my Instagram profile to read:

STACY | Blake Hill House

old houses | fearless DIY | restoration & preservation | small-town Western New York |  Modern Living and DIY in our 1880s fixer-upper.

Note the bolded part. Yes, I am putting my money where my mouth is. So, under Andy’s guidance, I switched out this outlet almost all by myself. (Why don’t humans have three hands?) I still think Andy is a genius, but between you and me, this whole thing was kind of stupid easy. I had worked myself into a frenzy over nothing. Installing the USB outlet did take me longer than Andy or a pro, but that’s because I fumbled around with the process due to inexperience.

Please note: We are not electricians, so I’m going to do my due diligence and encourage you to educate yourself about the basics of electricity or hire this job out to a qualified professional. This is not a tutorial post. The short of it is that I cut the power, attached the wires to the new outlet, and fired up the power again. The task was so simple that I only had to put about $1.25 in the swear jar. (Again, three hands would have been helpful.)

Mission accomplished.

What’s So Special About the radiant collection from Legrand?

The basics of installation are the same, but there are a few differences.

  • The radiant collection is low profile and unfussy. If you appreciate a clean and simple look as I do, this collection is for you. (Around here, we save the fancy for doorknobs, windows, hardware, and light fixtures.)
  • The wall plates are screwless, and they feature a unique snap-on design. (No more scratched up screws or the need for a flat-head screwdriver)
  • The units are a little larger (front-to-back and side-to-side) than a basic outlet or switch from the hardware store. They require an up-to-code modern electrical box.

This little USB outlet is just the tip of the iceberg. Legrand carries switches and outlets in every configuration you can imagine as well as many on-trend colors and metallics. If you want an AFCI/GFI or nightlight outlet, they’ve got it. If you are looking for dimmer,  three-way, home automation or wireless switches, they have those too.

We could have chosen any of those options, but hold on now. Let’s not get crazy. This 1880s house is easing into the 21st century one room at a time.  The upstairs bathroom is next on the list, and we will be using outlets from the radiant collection there too.

Legrand products are available directly from their website, but there is also a store-finder if you like to buy locally. I plugged in our zip code and discovered that we can buy them at one of our nearby big box hardware stores. I plan to drive over there to see what’s available.

If you have any questions, please ask away, and If you are keeping track at home, this collaboration with Legrand contributes to our ongoing pledge to volunteer for Habitat For Humanity.  Many thanks to Legrand for providing us with these products and to you for considering the companies that support our goals to love old houses and give back to our community.

P.S. You can read all about our commitment to BHH and Habitat For Humanity here: The Post About Collaborations and Sponsorships


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