Tagged: exposed bulbs

How to: Make an organic, industrial light fixture

The lighting in the living room was seriously depressing. Some holes in the ceilingĀ  and a defunct fluorescent fixture led us to believe that this space was primarily lit by fluorescents at one point. When we moved in, we inherited a sad bunch of single bulb sockets. Even with high-watt incandescent bulbs, these “fixtures” did little to illuminate the room because they were tucked up among the duct work. I’ve circled them below because they are easy to miss.

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Single bulb and an old hole…

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As a temporary fix, we added a DIY fixture that used to hang in Aaron’s office at the studio. This gave us a little more light over the couch.

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Aforementioned dead fluorescent fixture. Now removed. RIP.

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I didn’t have a hand in coming up with this particular fixture, but Aaron has lots of ideas in this realm. (It’s also not the first time he’s made a light fixture for the firehouse.) He has a pretty extensive Pinterest board for lighting inspiration. For the living room. he honed on this gem (originally from Petite Passport):

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There wasn’t enough room in the original ceiling boxes for all of the pendant wire and he thought it would look more finished if the wires weren’t coming directly out of the ceiling.

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So for each drop (we have 4 total) he spray painted an electrical box, ceiling box plate with center knock out (not pictured) and an electrical conduit coupling. They got a flat black treatment to match the cord.

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The new box is screwed right into the existing box.

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Next it’s a good idea to lay out your pendants. We just spread the sockets on the floor to give us a good idea how the lights would be spaced. This also helped ensure there wouldn’t be too many wires going into a box. The conduit connector can only hold 4. Once they were laid out, we strung fabric-wrapped cord from the box to the approximate location where a bulb would hang. This allowed us to eyeball the amount of swag each wire would have.

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Then we needed something to loop the wire through. In a normal ceiling, you can just screw in a hook or an eye bolt. Because we have old plaster ceilings, Aaron grabbed some toggle bolts to give everything extra staying power.

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He removed the screw and replaced it with an eye bolt and washer (both painted white) in the same size as the screw.

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Then it’s just a matter of drilling and adding the bolt. The cord is looped through and we decided to hold the two pieces together with some thin metal wire (the same stuff we used for our DIY decanter tags.)

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Determine how low you want the bulb to sit. We opted for varying lengths, which adds to the organic feel.

Then it’s time to attach the socket. This seems like a good time to mention that we are not certified electricians. This is relatively easy, but if you have any doubts, please consult a professional.

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Here’s what you need – a socket, a standard cable grip (also called a strain relief) and the end of your fabric wrapped cord.

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Slide the standard cable grip and top of the socket over the end of the wire.

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Push them up a few inches to give yourself some room to work.

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Cut the cord wrap to expose the wires and remove the excess insulation.

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Strip the wires.

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Take the inner part of the socket and loosen the screws on each side.

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Make a hook in each strand of wire and wrap one around each screw.

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Tighten the screws

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Pull the top of the socket down.

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Screw on the bottom of the socket.

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Push the standard cable grip into the top of the socket. This will lock the wires in place.

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Repeat for each pendant and wire the other ends into the box. Then add a bulb. We opted for 40W incandescent bulbs. This gives us a ton of light in the space, and the whole system is on a dimmer so we can set the mood for movie watching.

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Viola! This is a really adaptable project. If you don’t have this many boxes on your ceiling (most residential spaces don’t), you could simply hang the ceiling box and wire a cord to a plug. Swag the cord to the wall and down to an outlet for an even more draped effect. You could also wire each pendant cord to a plug and plug them into a 4-gang outlet in the ceiling box (a la the inspiration photo).

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This simple fixture has made a huge impact in the space. We love that it adds some interest and softness to the ceiling. But most importantly it gave us much needed LIGHT!

Has anyone else created a custom light fixture? We have several more brewing for other areas of the firehouse. Oh, what about lamps? Let’s not talk about the number of things we’re hoarding to be turned into awesome lamps.