DIY Shade Chandelier

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Let’s talk florescent lights…say, the one that once was in our kitchen.

kitchIt’s a pretty room to look at (although I’m biased) based on this semi-recent picture…until your eyes gravitate upward and notice the long, really outdated, really plain, and really ugly lighting (and you can’t see the end in the pic but the ends were a bisque color).  We HAD to do something about it.  Working with the existing light box, I gave us two options – some cool track lighting like this…51R8s9x1ulL._SL1200_

[image via Amazon]

…or a shade chandelier like this one that rings in at a wallet-biting $545:CH09086PN-01[image via Shades of Light

The problem was though, that I had very little cash to work with…but that’s always my problem, isn’t it? 

But you probably know, if you’ve been reading zee blog for any number of weeks, that that problem usually isn’t too tough for me to solve as long as I have a cup (or five) of coffee and a willing husband.  Since both of those things have a pretty good chance of being around…

florescent to chandi diyWe ended up with a new light fixture for $40.

You can read about how I made the shade here.  As for the chandelier underneath, I used this: white chandi (1)An old wood and metal chandelier that someone donated to our church’s yard sale benefitting the Ecuador mission trip team.   I paid $8 for it.  I know you might see an old light fixture rehab and automatically click away because it sounds like a very intimating task involving lots of wires, possible welding, and lots of electrical mumbo jumbo.  But, I’m here to tell you it’s so easy!  If you can twist the lid off a Coke bottle and spray paint, you can refurbish a light fixture…pinky promise…or swear…or whatever.

Here is how I did it my friends.

First, I turned the chandelier upside down so that I could get at the bottom.  Then I unscrewed that little bronze filial right off.  It was screwed onto the end of a long threaded rod that went up into the middle of the fixture and so once the filial was off, the two pieces of wood you can see in the picture just slipped right off.
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Under each light socket was the same type of filial that I just unscrewed to get those pieces of wood off.

I did the same thing for the other end, the top of the chandelier, except I unscrewed that ring that was connected to the hanging chain.
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I made sure to take lots of pictures after every step so that I could remember how to put the chandelier back together.
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With this particular chandelier, I didn’t mess with the metal bars holding the light sockets at all so I really didn’t have to mess with any wiring besides unwinding the existing wiring from the hanging chains before I pulled them off.

Initially, my plan was to paint all of the pieces – metal and wood – and put the chandelier back together the same way with the addition of a shade.  But then my friend Jesse and I were talking and she mentioned not even putting the wood back on, making for a much simpler chandelier.  I really liked that idea only I decided against it in the end because it would’ve required some shortening of the threaded rods and I didn’t know if that was possible without messing up the rods so instead I replaced the bulky wood pieces under each socket and the one under the middle of the chandelier with these wood ball knobs instead.

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I had the greatest idea before this step though, to replace those bulky pieces with round acrylic balls instead but those balls alone would’ve cost me over $60 not to mention that I would’ve had to drill larger holes in them and I don’t know how feasible that would’ve been.  BUT, it would’ve been amazing, no?

Anyway, back to the wood knobs.  They were the exact height as the old bulky wood pieces so there was no cutting of threaded rods or wood cutting to do.  However, the pre-drilled holes in them only went in so far and they were too small to fit over the chandelier’s threaded rods.  To get them to fit, I first had to continue the pre-drilled hole through the whole ball.  To do that, I grabbed a drill bit the size of the hold and drilled through.
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But the hole had to be even larger than that pre-drilled hole so then I grabbed a drill bit the size of the threaded rods on my chandelier and drilled an even bigger hole.
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This part was a little tougher than I thought it would be.  Turns out, it’s a little difficult to drill into a small wood ball and hold the ball straight and steady all the while.  At first I held the ball with my bare hand and paid for that dumb mistake with a cut on the inside of my thumb when the drill slipped once.  After that I held the ball with my garden-gloved hand and it worked much, much better.

The bottom knob shows the size of the existing hole and the top shows the size I needed the holes to be.  white chandi (10)
So once I had all those ball knobs drilled, I put them onto the chandelier.

Next, I had to figure out how I’d work the top of the chandelier so that I could fit my shade onto it.  I won’t go into much detail with this step because I know that every chandelier is different but in the end, I scrapped all the wood pieces that originally fit to the top.  Instead, I drilled another ball knob, threaded it on, placed the top lampshade ring over that, and cut a plastic tube (leftover from this lamp project) down to size and placed it on top of the lampshade ring.
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[The plastic tube isn’t shown in the above picture but you’ll be able to see it below.]

It took me a day of brainstorming and messing with different placements to finally figure that out.  You see, I didn’t want the lamp shade to be super long and I wanted it to fall just past the bottom of the chandelier.  So, figuring out where exactly it had to sit on the top threaded rod so that it fell where I wanted it to at the bottom of the chandelier took a little trial and error; putting it together a hundred ways to see which way worked.  I took this picture after it was painted but you can see a part of that process.  white chandi (19)With the chandelier on the ground, I would place the ring somewhere between the wood pieces on the top threaded rod and measure where it sat from the bottom of the chandelier with a tape measure.  Eventually, like shown in the above picture, I got it right.

Next up was the fun part – paint!  Except it took me awhile to figure out that too.  Which color?! white chandi (11)
I loved the idea of a charcoal gray but then I thought it might look bad in the same room as stainless steel appliances.  Like the stainless steel might make it look really cheap.  I also thought maybe a gray-blue like the background of our valances or citron to add a punch of color.  In the end though, I went with white to keep things simple and neutral and added some colored elastic to punch up the volume.

To prep for paint, I had to cover those sockets and the wiring.  I cut strips of computer paper to place over the sockets; rolled them up, slipped them over, and taped off the tops.
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To cover the wiring that came out of the top of the chandelier, I slipped it through a long piece of plastic tubing I had (the same I cut down to use on the top of the chandelier), not worrying if I got paint on it.

I hung the chandelier on the kids swing set to paint it, swings removed.  It was the perfect place.
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First, I gave it a coat of Rust-Oleum Clean Metal primer.
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And then I sprayed three thin coats of Rust-Oleum satin white, waiting a good half hour between each coat to do the next.
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Once the paint was dry (I painted it in the morning and let it hang all day to dry), it was time to put the finished lamp shade on and get it ready to be hung.

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The chandelier didn’t have a ceiling canopy with it (that top bowl-like thing) so I bought this white one.  It came with gold screws that are visible when hung so I’ll probably paint those white when I get a quick chance.

Anthony removed the old florescent light while I was putting the kids down for naps.
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I don’t have a tutorial for you on how to do that (but Young House Love does!) but I was happy to see that it was easy to turn off the breaker in our refurbished laundry room cabinet.
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going…white chandi (23)
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The only unfortunate thing about having to use the existing light box for us is that it’s not centered in the room.  It was placed down the middle as you’re looking down into our galley kitchen, but it’s farther towards the laundry room than it is towards the dining room.  I wish it were in line with the stove and microwave or the kitchen sink but it’s not and I’ll get over it.  Maybe someday we’ll move it but today isn’t that day.  Maybe someday we’ll also rid ourselves of the popcorn ceiling too because talk about dating a house.  Someday.

Installing the new light was quick for my handy man albeit with a little bit of bodily maneuvering around and under that big shade.  :)  (Need a tutorial on how to install a light fixture?  Check out this video!)

I still have to touch up the paint around the light box but I do love the view from below.      IMG_6394

Then there are the light bulbs.  I have a love/hate relationship with light bulbs.
IMG_6384 My favorite light is a neutral, bright white light but the only light bulbs you can find that coming from are florescent bulbs and expensive LEDs (not plain incandescents which would’ve been great).  I didn’t want ugly fluorescents since they’d be visible and LEDs would’ve cost more than we spent to make the new light so those were out too.  I also didn’t want the orange light that ‘soft white’ brings or the blue light that daylight bulbs emit.  I have, however, read good things about the white light GE Reveal bulbs cast so I thought we’d give those a try.  Anthony grabbed a few packs while he was out and…
…the bulbs are blue.  Hmph.  But the light isn’t the usual orange of incandescents so we’re living with them for now.

Another thing I’m still trying to work with are the sockets.
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You can see in the picture above that they’re yellowing.  The old socket covers were brittle and one was missing.  I can’t seem to find new socket covers short or wide enough so I’m still working on a fix.  At first I was just going to wrap those things up with some paper strips but then paper + hot sockets = a fire hazard???  Not sure but I don’t really want to burn the house down in the name of aesthetics.  Stay tuned for that and let me know if you have any ideas.

I know, this post is gettin’ real long.  Let me just save the best for last with a jump back into kitchen time.  Here’s what our cooking nook looked like when we were its house viewers.

Then we became the house owners and we painted the cabinets for free with leftover fsbo4

And then nesting/sense/darkness got the best of us and we went all light and bright painting the cabinets again, making a fun geometric runner, replacing the old laminate countertops, installing a subway tile backsplash, installing the microwave and shelf combo, and now the new chandelier.
Much, much better than day one, right?  What’s even better is that we’ve only spent about $3520 getting from what was to what is and that’s including all of the new appliances we put in a few years ago.

I’m not going to say our kitchen is ‘finished’ because just last week we were talking about blowing out the wall separating it from the living room but for now, we’re focusing on other rooms…like the living room.  More on that later.  I promise I won’t keep it all to my shelf.  ;)

Have a good rest of this (rainy here) Monday!  I’ll leave the lights on for ya.  IMG_6379

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kitchen before and after

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