DIY Shade Chandelier

(The fine print:  Some of the links to products below are affiliate links.  If you click on and/or buy from these links, I’ll get a small commission.  Your price doesn’t change a single bit but by buying through me, you help me/us to keep doing and doing and doing.)  :)

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at (although I’m biased) based on this semi-recent picture…until your eyes gravitate upward and notice the long, really outdated, really plain, and really ugly lighting (and you can’t see the end in the pic but the ends were a bisque color).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.
white chandi (2)
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.
white chandi (6)
I made sure to take lots of pictures after every step so that I could remember how to put the chandelier back together.
white chandi too
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.

white chandi (7)

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.
white chandi (8)
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.
white chandi (9)
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.
white chandi (12)

[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.
white chandi too2
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.
white chandi (16)
First, I gave it a coat of Rust-Oleum Clean Metal primer.
white chandi (17)
And then I sprayed three thin coats of Rust-Oleum satin white, waiting a good half hour between each coat to do the next.
white chandi (18)

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.

white chandi (25)
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.
white chandi (21)
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.
white chandi (26)


white chandi (22)

going…white chandi (23)
white chandi (24)

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.
 white chandi (20)
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

.           .           .

kitchen before and after

Add Stripes to a Lampshade - DIY

You know when you really want to do something decor-wise but you think maybe it’s not a good idea because a few months down the road you might not like it anymore or the winds of change might blow away your old decor with new or future owners might scowl at your decision?  Happens to me a lot.  I always try to make decisions in our current home based on what I like but also what would be the most transitional from decor change to decor change and, because I know this isn’t our forever home, I don’t want to give permanent things a personal vibe…if that makes any sense.  Now I’m not talking about pillows or curtains.  Those things can be switched out on a whim with very little effort (but probably some cash).  I’m talking about things that you can’t change without a lot of effort like the color you paint your kitchen cabinets or the tile in your bathroom or a big ‘ole light fixture in your kitchen.

When I first envisioned this light project, I pictured a really colorful chandelier underneath a coordinating, fun geometric covered shade.  And then I talked myself down from that fun high because, in case I didn’t like that geometric fabric in a year or we put our house on the market, it would take a lot of work to replace all that color.  The lamp shade I made for the kitchen light can’t be removed unless a) you unwire the entire light from the ceiling, b) a hurricane throws our house fifty feet, or c) a hurricane known as ‘toddlers throwing toys in the kitchen and oops’ happens.

So, I decided to go all white with the light and shade and spice things up with some stripes at the top and bottom that I made with…

I’m Covered

Last week the newest issue of Mobile Bay magazine hit the stands and golly gee whiz…

IMG_0914 [Image via Mobile Bay mag’s Instagram and photography by Jenny Tewell]

I made the cover!  It is SO COOL!  I’m really so excited and really honored and even humbled to see myself on it!  But, let’s be honest, every single one of you who read these words I write on this here blog deserves to be on that front cover with me because, as much as I tell myself to “blog like no one’s reading”, I highly doubt that if I didn’t have such great readers, I’d carve blogging time into my already crazy weeks.  So, really and truly, you guys are awesome!

If you want to read the article Chelsea wrote inside this month’s issue, click here.  It was fun being interviewed and Chelsea made the process so easy and calm.  Even though, the first thing she did when she got here was show me a mock-up of what the front cover might look like.  I had no clue they were even thinking about putting me on the cover so after seeing that, I think I was in excited shock for the whole interview.  So, the fact that I could even answer questions coherently after that was all luck.  ‘';)  A week after the interview, a couple of people from the magazine and a photographer came to our house to snap the pictures.  I made sure Anthony would be home for it because there was no way any pictures would be shot without blurry toddler bombs in them lest he was here to keep those toddlers corralled.  He graciously took all the kids into the girls’ room while the ladies and I moved around furniture, rugs, and picture frames….and then after an hour passed and the kids had all but demolished their room, he swept them out of the house and into the van for a little excursion. 

Anyway, like I said above, the whole thing happened because I have such great readers who keep me doing and documenting so THANK YOU all for being so great!  Virtual hugs all around!

Lamp Shade from Scratch

I’m blogging with a fury today.  When I say that one reason I blog is because it’s therapeutical (word?  not a word?) for me, I mean I blog because it’s therapeutical for me...gathers my marbles, mends my wits, gets out the jitters…  We were involved in a big fender-bender last night, the kids and I.  A man driving a big pick-up truck with a trailer drifted into my lane while I was stopped at a red light, side swiped the entire side of the pick-up behind me, hit the back corner of our van, and majorly hit the car in front of him who hit the car in front of her, who hit the car in front of him.  It was awful and affected me all night last night…and I had the least amount of damage.  So, here I am, frantically pounding away at the keyboard, still thanking God for protecting all involved, and thinking happy thoughts about…

lamp shades.

Let me put aside all the scary thoughts about car accidents in lieu of telling you fine readers how you can make your own.

diy lamp shade
We made our own to adorn the new chandelier in the kitchen (above pic) and the one attached to Sebastian’s ceiling fan.
sebsroom2 (8)

Buying these new was way out of our budget; like $100+ out.  Plus, there’s no guarantee a shade made to the specific diameter and height you’re looking for even exists.  So, we do what we do and we make.  And so can you.  (FYI, some of the links to products I purchased/used below are affiliate links which means I’ll make a small commission if you click over and buy.  But don’t worry!  It doesn’t affect your price in the slightest!  Thanks for supporting me!)

Here’s what you’ll need:
Lamp Shade Rings
lamp shade rings
You can hunt down a lamp shade at a thrift store or other discount store just to take it apart for its rings and use those or you can buy bottom and top rings from The Lamp Shop like I did.  For the kitchen light, I needed the biggest they had to fit around the chandelier, 24 inches in diameter.  With shipping, I ended up paying around $20 just for the rings but I couldn’t find any local store that just sold rings like this.  When you go to order/search for rings, keep in mind the shape you’d like your shade to be.  You can have it taper at the top (bottom ring larger than the top) or you can keep the top and bottom the same, like I did.

Polystyrene Plastic Sheeting.  I searched for days for this sheeting.  I was so clueless on how thick it had to be and I wanted something semi-transparent so that it didn’t block too much light.  Finally, I settled on this polystyrene plastic. I thought it would be a little more transparent than it actually is but once I was finished making the shades with it and turned the lights on, it wasn’t bad by any means.  I’m really happy with the quality of it and how easily I could cut through it.

Again, it cost me a little over $20 for this roll but I’ll be able to get about 10+ shades out of it because it’s so large.  As I type I have four other shades in this house whose plastic linings are torn or yellowed so they’ll all be getting new plastic out of this roll.


Fabric.  If you want a shade that doesn’t inhibit light, you’ll want to cover it with a thin fabric.  Quilting fabrics are great for this because they’re thin and you can find solids and lots of patterns.  I went with a plain white broadcloth from JoAnn Fabrics for the kitchen shade.  I like it because it’s really thin and resembles linen.  You can sort of see the texture in the picture below.  The pattern you can see through the broadcloth is my ironing board, so you can see just how thin this fabric is.
(PS, to figure out length of fabric you’ll need for a drum shade where the top and bottom rings are the same size, multiply the diameter of your lamp rings by 3.14.  Make sure to buy a piece of fabric several inches longer and wider than your finished shade will be though.  You’ll cut it to size once it’s attached to your plastic.  A tapered shade is a little more difficult to make from scratch.  The best way to make one of those would be to find an old tapered shade somewhere, carefully remove the plastic, and trace it onto a new piece.  I’ll have a tutorial on reconstructing a tapered shade sometime in the future as some of mine are!)

Spray Glue
Thin Marker or Pencil
Hot Glue Gun and Sticks
An Extra Pair of Hands

Ok.  Once you have everything, you’ll need to cut your plastic to size (figure out the circumference using the above formula and add a half inch for overlap at the ends).  Lay it out in an area large enough that you can lay the entire piece flat.  (I locked myself in our room one day while Anthony was home so I didn’t have to play defense to keep the kids from walking all over it…bedroom workshop.)
Then, draw the shade out.  Assuming that one side of the plastic I purchased was straight, I lined up a quilting square and drew a straight line with a thin permanent marker along that side to the length I needed my shade to be.  I wanted my shade to be nine inches high (up and down) and it needed to be 78 inches long to cover my rings and overlap at the ends. IMG_0760If you don’t have a quilting square, you can cut a piece of paper to your desired height, line it up along the straight edge of your plastic, and mark along the opposite side.  If you’re using an old piece of existing plastic (the one you’re replacing the new plastic with) then obviously you’ll just have to trace.  :)

Next, cut out your shade plastic.
(Side note:  I made a lamp shade to cover our living room fan a couple of months ago and had some difficulty cutting the plastic.  It wasn’t this new plastic sheeting I had but the old shade plastic that I was just shortening.  Every time I cut, the plastic cracked at the tip of the scissors when it was closed completely.  I’m not sure if that plastic was just old and brittle or if it was my scissors or what.  So, this time around I didn’t close my scissors completely while I was cutting just to make sure that didn’t happen again.  Make sense?)
So now that your plastic is set, covering it with fabric is up next.
The first thing you’ll probably want to do is give it a good ironing to make sure that no wrinkles pop up on your finished shade…because good luck ironing them out if that happens.  ;)
After it’s nice and wrinkle-free, lay it out on a flat surface.  I’d recommend covering your flat surface with an old sheet or tablecloth first though just to make sure you don’t get glue everywhere. 
IMG_0855As you can see, my fabric was a tad bit longer than my table so I just made sure to get the majority on.

Next up, attached your fabric to the plastic with some spray glue.  I used Duro All-Purpose spray glue (I think I got this at Walmart awhile back).
IMG_0856This stuff can get everywhere so make sure not to spray it around anything important.  I went outside (at 10 ‘o clock at night) to the middle of the backyard, held up the plastic, and sprayed.)  Make sure you spray the outside of the shade and not the inside.  Let the glue dry for a minute or two for a better stick.
Then, lay your plastic on top of your fabric.  To make sure there aren’t any bubbles, it helps to start on one side and sort of roll the fabric on while running your hand down the plastic…if that makes sense.  IMG_0858
If you’re using a patterned fabric, make sure you lay the plastic on straight.  If you lay it on and it’s not straight though, don’t fret.  Just take it off and lay it on again.  It really helps with this step and the following to have someone helping.
Once you have your plastic positioned where you want it, run your hands along the top of it, pressing so that every inch sticks. 

Now, cut the extra fabric off.  At the ends, you’ll want to leave anywhere from a quarter to a half inch to be folded over onto the plastic.
A good way to figure out how much to leave on the sides is to fold the fabric over the ring while it’s sitting on the very edge of the plastic (see pictures towards the end of the post).  You’ll want to leave enough to completely cover the ring plus a few millimeters.
Make sure to cut a straight line.  It doesn’t matter too much if it’s slightly thicker in some areas.  You just don’t want any jagged edges you can get from cutting short snips.  I was a little too hasty in spots thinking it wouldn’t matter and you can see those spots on the inside of my shade.  Doh!
So, now it’s time to get out that glue gun.  Make sure you grab a bunch of extra sticks too so that you don’t have to halt progress to run for some.
Hot glue is great in that it dries really quick but sometimes that’s the downfall too.  And it’s messy.  If there were such a glue that was thinner, room-temp, and dried quick, I’d be all over it.  But, as far as I know, there isn’t, so hot glue it is.

First, glue both of your ends down.  Just place a very thin line of glue along the very edge of your plastic, fold the fabric over, and press it down.  The thinner your line of glue, the less bulky the ends will be.    IMG_0864
Next, grab both the top and bottom rings and place them directly over the ends and right at the very edge of the plastic.  They shouldn’t be sitting on top of the fabric at all.  Have someone hold them there for you.  (Make sure that if your top ring has a recessed washer ring and bars, that the recess is going into the shade vs. outside or on top of it.  I made that mistake with a recent shade and had to tear it apart and start over.)
It’s really important to take this next part slow.  You’ll need to work in very small sections to ensure that you have no buckling/warping of the plastic on your shade.  Run a line of glue along a couple of inches of one ring and quickly fold your fabric on top of and over the ring.  Hold until it dries (a few seconds).
Don’t glue the plastic (made that mistake too).  It makes for a cleaner finish if you just place glue on the ring because, as you fold the fabric over, you’ll push the glue into the crevice between the ring and plastic so it won’t be very noticeable in the end.

Glue a couple of inches on the top ring and then do the same couple of inches on the bottom ring.  Over and over and over.
Meanwhile, your helper should be rolling the rings along so that whatever part your gluing is closest to the table.  This will help make sure that the plastic is always touching the ring and protecting you from having a less than straight edge once you’re finished.
When you’re a few inches from the end, stop gluing.  Roll your shade up so that the seam is visible.  Run a thin line of glue along the end you started with and press the other end to it.
Last, finish gluing the rest of the shade where you left off in the same way that you glued before, little by little and with the part you’re gluing laying closest to the table.

I’ll go into more detail on the added stripes and how we attached this shade to the chandelier in another post but the washer at the top of this shade ring was a perfect fit over the threaded rod on the top of our chandelier so it just slipped right on.
Until that other post, ciao!  Thanks for letting me unload myself onto you through my fingers and a lengthy tutorial.  Now, if someone will actually make a lamp shade and let me know how it goes, it’ll get me to 100% real quick like.  :)

Hasta later.