In a world of ugly big box retailers generic light fixtures, expensive over the top high-end light fixtures, and the difficulty of finding cool, vintage light fixtures in good condition – sometimes the best choice is to work with an existing light fixture and modify it to fit your needs. This is surprisingly easy to do! Here’s why
+ Nearly all light fixtures and lamps have a standard size rod running through them so they’re like beads on a string – very interchangeable. The rod sizes, and corresponding parts, are 1/4″IP and 1/8″IP, the 1/4″IP being most common
+ light wiring is incredibly simply – so is changing the bulbs to a different size, shape, color or brightness.
+ almost every part of a lamp minus the body is available at your local hardware store. My local ACE has a box of misc. hardware labeled “lamp parts”
As you can see, the current set up I have is a bit clashing – a 60s “space age” style chandelier and a new and dainty Ikea chadelier mimicking a style of light fixture that would be more appropriate in a home that’s 100 years old and not so much in my MCM home. Separately they’re fine but when I saw this light fixture at the thrift store for $10, I had a flash of inspiration to make something that better matches the vintage 60s chandelier I love.
1. The first step was to disassemble the old light fixture, which was already missing what was likely ugly beveled glass pieces that used to hang off the rods
and take out unnecessary parts
2. Reassemble as I imagined it
3. Then it’s time to figure out what parts I needed from the hardware store. Since I am simplifying the light fixture, I only needed one piece. Since I have low clearance in my mid-century modern home (8ft ceilings), I wanted to shorten the rod that goes from the body to the swag chain (yes that is really what it’s called).
The original was steel and they didn’t have a replacement (though a slightly bigger hardware store probably would’ve). So I went into the plumbing section and got a section of galvanized pipe, which turned out to be a huge P.I.T.A. Because the pipe had a coating on it (galvanic coating for rust resistance), the pipe was slightly bigger than the old steel pipe and had to be sanded down with an angle grinder and palm sander. PRO TIP: use the right size part, dummy
4. Put it together and paint
5. Install with new bulbs
6. Be super proud of your handiwork