Rewiring of the box beams and central fixture in the dining room. Two lessons were learned in this project:
1) Don’t take apart the box beams. When we did this for the living room, we came up with the much better method of drilling all the way up into the joist cavity and just feeding the wires through to the attic spaces upstairs.
2) Don’t permit work like this. This was the first time we ever got a building permit, and we came to regret it. The inspector was unhappy that the wires came through holes in the wood and did not terminate in a box. While I definitely believe that building codes are a good thing, there are times where the letter of the law conflicts with something that would still be safe. Obviously, very little in an old house would meet code, so any remodeling is an exercise in finding the right compromise between codes and aesthetics.
After a lot of effort, we were able to solve the problem by buying the smallest possible “pancake” boxes and painting them to match the beam stain. We were fortunate that the 3 1/2″ size was very close to the diameter of the fixtures bases, so they basically act as spacers between the fixture and the beam. If you didn’t know to look for them, you’d never notice them.