When we switched our family and dining rooms around, the only thing that didn’t totally work in the new family room was the chandelier. It was swagged in a corner, so nobody hit their head or anything but… it also looked like a chandelier in a living room. The thing about my decorating style is, I have a billion changes/upgrades I want to make, but I’m lazy and cheap, so it happens very slowly. When we went to Charlotte recently, we stopped by Ikea, which I thought would be the perfect opportunity to switch out the chandelier for something a little more appropriate for watching tv on the couch.
Ikea kind of sucked that day. It was super crowded, they were out of both our first choice light, and our second choice light, and when I tried to buy the floor model, the woman working there told me to order it online, or try a different Ikea. Uh… you can’t order stuff online, and I’m not driving 6 hours to go to a different Ikea. It was pretty frustrating, but in trying to figure out what to do, I had an even better idea. Remember the Edison light? I always loved it, but they didn’t even sell it any more. Plus, I had a few tweaks I would want to make for my space (like not using super expensive light bulbs) and I am a hardcore DIY-er at heart. I was positive we could make it, and with a quick Google, I found instructions! They even required supplies from Ikea! Perfect!
Unfortunately, the instructions were not so perfect. At first glance, they seemed pretty comprehensive, but we spent a lot of time looking for weirdly named supplies, and trying to figure out what the deal was with wire nuts, and wiring in general. So, I decided to document the process and write a DIY Edison style light instruction for people like me – people who are afraid of burning their apartments down. Read on after the jump, to see photos of my new lamp, and if you’d like to know how to make your own!
Build Your Own 8 bulb chandelier:
You will need:
8 Hemma lights (from Ikea)
8 2 inch wide, 2.5 inch long pvc pipe pieces. We found these in the plumbing section. I would recommend taking a Hemma light with you to the hardware store, just to make sure everything fits. David and I said ‘I wish I had the stupid Hemma light’ AT LEAST 12 times in Lowe’s. It was annoying.
8 1 inch wide washers
8 light bulbs. We went with 25 watt round, but you can do what you want. This sucker throws a lot of light, so you will want to go dim, and possibly use a dimmer.
Red wire nuts.
Ceiling medallion (optional)
White piece of cardboard
8 screw hooks (that come with the Hemma lights.)
1. Take your pipe, washers, hooks, and the piece that screws off the Hemma light, and spray paint them white. I did everything so it would look uniform, and also to cover up the upc code that my pipe had.
2. Straighten your Hemma wire. I laid it out for several days, which did nothing, so then I dipped each wire in boiling water (making sure to keep the ends out) and then pulled it through my towel covered fist. That helped a lot, but I don’t think there is any way to get it totally straight. I hope that my light relaxes as time goes on.
3. Decide where you want your hooks to go. I taped string to the ceiling to figure out the configuration I wanted.
4. Drill holes in the ceiling, using a bit slightly larger than your anchors. My anchors had a lip slightly larger than the hole in my washer, so I threaded the anchor through the washer, and then pushed the anchor into the ceiling. You can see here how it’s holding the washer onto the ceiling. The original DIY suggests glue, but I’m not sure how you’d get that off if you ever wanted to move it.
5. Screw in the hooks.
6. Take your screw cap thingie that came with the Hemma light, and just barely screw it on. Thread your cord through the pipe until it rests on top of the cap. The cap will keep the pipe straight, and the pipe will cover the weird top of the light. Do this for all the lights.
7. Loop the Hemma lights over the hooks. Play with the height until you get it right (remember, there will be a light bulb – you can put the light bulbs in to make absolutely sure the height is right, but be careful – one of my lights fell off the hook at this stage, and shattered all around my feet. We found glass in the couch! Welcome to our home!
8. Take the plug end of each cord, and hold it up to where your light will attach to the ceiling. Figure out how much you want it to swag, add an inch or two, and then cut off the excess. Do this for all the lights. Save a couple inches of excess cord for later. At this stage, you should have 8 cords dangling from hooks in your ceiling. It looks sad, but don’t give up!
9. Strip the white plastic off 2 or 3 inches of each cord. Be careful not to cut through the cords. I kind of sawed at it with the wire cutter, but the lining will slip off pretty easily if you can cut through it. Now you’ll have a white wire, and a black wire for each one.
10. Strip the black and white wires, leaving a tiny bit of insulation so you know which is which.
11. Take one of the extra length of cord that you cut from your Hemma light. Cut about six inches of cord. Strip both ends. On one end, use a wire nut to attach all 9 of the white wires together, and all 9 of the black wires together.
12. Turn off the power to your current ceiling lamp at your breaker box. Make absolutely sure there is no power to that lamp before you touch it!
13. Take your current ceiling lamp down. There should be a black cord, and a white cord up in that box.
A BRIEF NOTE: I am not an electrician. I made David do this part because I felt unsure, and so did he. I also talked to several different people who knew more about this, and they reassured me that in our particular situation, we were not feeding too much power through the wires. The gist of the whole wire nut situation is that if you twist all of your wires together, it should be covered by the wire nut, so you don’t have bare wires chilling out in your ceiling. I also heard that if you want to take an extra precaution, you can use electrical tape over your wire nut to make sure it’s definitely stuck on to the wire. If you feel like you don’t know anything about this, I would recommend asking someone to help you, because otherwise you will worry about burning down your house for the duration of your light’s lifespan.
14. Thread the cords through your fan cap, and ceiling medallion, if you’re using one. I taped mine to the ceiling. Make sure it’s centered! Mine isn’t, and it’s going to be a bitch to change. If the hole is too big, like it was in mine, cut a hole in your white cardboard to fill the gap.
15. Use the other end of the white wire (the part that’s not attached to the 8 wires) to wire your light into the ceiling. Screw in a lightbulb, and test that it actually works. Turn off your power again!
16. Attach your fan cap to the ceiling. Make sure your medallion is on straight, and that it’s flush with the ceiling. The internet tells me that I should have glued my medallion to the ceiling, but as it was a 10 dollar piece of plastic from Lowe’s, I didn’t. It looks fine.
17. Re-swag your lights, if you had to take them down during the wiring process. Screw in the bulbs. Turn the power back on. You’re done!
I just love it. It add drama too the room, but since it’s white, it isn’t too visually heavy.
The exposed bulbs are super cool. I think they look like bubbles floating around in my living room. I especially love the light it gives off. Since we have a dimmer switch, it lights up the room without being too harsh, or looking like we have an overhead light on.
I do wish the wires were straighter. I read that you can hang them with a weight at the bottom to REALLY straighten them out, but as I was in the middle of the project, I didn’t get a chance to give that a shot. The kinks do seem to be falling out some, so hopefully over time they will relax into smoother curves.
What do you guys think? Would you do something like this in your own home? We’ve had friends come over and call it spidery which isn’t exactly the look I was going for, but I may have been feeling a little sensitive after 8 straight hours of putting it together. I really, really love it. It totally fits the vibe I want going on in this room, and I’m so proud that as of yet, nothing’s caught on fire. I’ll keep ya posted.