Let there be Light-DIY Lighting on the Cheap

Sometimes creativity is born out of necessity. And so was the case of the lighting in our house. We were nearing the end of an excruciatingly long remodel (3 years long! But who's counting, right?). Any who, as you can imagine, a remodel that takes 3 years to complete, also takes A LOT of money. Needless to say, funds were tight when it was time for me to round up the light fixtures and that meant that I had to get my creative wheels a turnin'. Now, throughout the entire process, I had dreamt of schoolhouse style lights from Schoolhouse Electric. We had even visited the store and drooled over their fabulous reproductions, but by the time we were ready to pull the trigger, the price tags were just too high. So, for the majority of the lighting downstairs, I used some semi-flush reproductions that I found at Lowes for somewhere around $40 each. You can see them going down the hall at the top of the picture below: 


For the living room lighting (and many other rooms in the house), I went thrifting. This blue beauty was a solid, olive green her glory days, and when I found her at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, she was covered in grease from someone's kitchen. It was Gross! 

After a hot, soapy bath, I spray painted the metal blue, and then cut out some Amy Butler gift wrap and attached it to the center for a little extra color and visual interest. For the dining room chandelier, I searched Craigslist until I finally found a gorgeous, vintage, crystal chandelier for only $75! However, the only thing I did to it was remove it from the previous owner's ceiling and give it a bath...so it doesn't make the DIY cut. Just know that you can find some really great lighting for great prices on Craigslist. People who are remodeling or demo-ing are always unloading great fixtures for cheap.

I knew I wanted something different over the breakfast bar, so I purchased two pendant light kits at Home Depot. These guys are one of my best kept secrets...well, they were any way. They are cheap, come in a variety of finishes, and are so versatile. Just find a shade (or make one) and you are good to go! I used these old rusty crawfish traps that my Dad had laying around the barn. All I had to do to get them to fit was buy a reducing washer, and wallah, totally unique pendant light fixtures for under $20 each!

For the kitchen, we went with mostly recessed lighting since we knew we'd want sufficient lighting in work areas. However, over the sink, was calling for a special fixture. What I really wanted was a gooseneck, barn light, but what I wanted even more was an apron front farm sink, so I sacrificed on the lighting. Want to know another cool tip? You don't have to only shop in the "interior" lighting section at the stores. Think about it, the exterior lighting is meant to withstand the weather...and unless you have a huge plumbing catastrophe, you'll never experience those elements inside your home. So don't be afraid to shop the exterior lighting when you are shopping for just the right light. I used exterior lights over my kitchen sink, and in the half bath, and I love them! 

Another place we needed a "special" fixture was over the stairs. To get through inspection, I used one of the pendant light kits and added my own shade. After inspection, however, I had fun buying the parts and wiring my own light fixture. I kept the canopy (part that attaches to the ceiling), and used cloth covered, twisted wire to mimic the vintage fixtures, and went with a shiny chrome socket. The wire cage is actually just the frame for a lamp shade! I tore off the old fabric and spray painted the wire black. Super fast, simple and cheap!

In the bonus room/kid's play room, I did something similar. With the same cheap, pendant light kit, and another lamp shade. I tore the fabric off of the shade, only this time, instead of leaving the frame bare, I used some bright, cheery fabric and sewed a new cover. A little more time intensive than the bare cage, but still super cheap and the colors are perfect for the room.

We have two girls, and I had been dreaming of hanging crystal chandeliers in their rooms throughout the entire remodel, but since I was on this DIY lighting kick, I decided I'd get creative in their rooms too. I found some old brass chandeliers for cheap, cleaned them up, and yep, you guessed it, Spray Paint! 

This chandelier was originally meant to have the lights facing down. Do you know how easy it is to fix that??? You just twist them upside down. No joke, it's that simple.  To take it from brass to sparkly lavender, we would spray it and then douse it with matching, purple glitter. I found the strands of lavender and clear baubles at the craft store, so we wired those the cups, and were good to go.

With two girls, if it's not purple...it's pink! Instead of a regular chandelier cord cover, I chose colorful strips of scrap fabric and just tied them right around the chain for a relaxed, playful look.

One of the goals during this remodel was to ensure that the new second floor didn't look new. I wanted to keep with the charm of the old house and create the look of a finished attic. So, in the kids bathroom, I found the most amazing, trough-style, wall mount sink. One of the coolest things about it is that it has not one, not two, but three faucets! And, with three faucets, you've got to have three pendant lights! Cue the cheap pendant kits from Home Depot....only this time, I found these three, brass shades at a thrift store for only 99¢ each! Here's what I did:

  1.  Cleaned them up.
  2.  Spray painted them white.
  3.  Stuck some vinyl numbers on them.
  4. Spray painted them black
  5. Removed the vinyl.

I hope this inspires you to think outside the box on your home lighting. You don't have to go and shop the boring and/or expensive lighting stores. Next time you go to a thrift store, swing through the materials/lighting section with an open mind and maybe you'll find just the right thing. Look for fixtures that have the right size and shape. And remember, there is no color a can of spray paint can't fix :-) 

Have questions? Need advice? Please feel free to ask away in the comments, I'm always happy to help! Want to stay up to date with what is going on at TFD Style? Pop your email address in the box below and I'll keep you in the loop.

Lindsey FrankusComment