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When I last updated you guys about my breakfast nook in my remodeled kitchen, I had a plan in mind for what I wanted it to look like. But as design projects sometimes go, the things we once loved for the space no longer suit the room. That was the case with this light fixture:
After all the trouble to get it installed, I hated the way it looked. I didn’t like the light it gave off, and I instantly regretted the time I wasted struggling to make it hang correctly (spoiler: it was never gonna happen). So, like any disappointed DIYer, I began searching for new options. I covered them back in my breakfast nook update, but it was almost as if I had too many choices rather than too few. And since I’d already gotten it wrong once before, I was hesitant to pull the trigger until I was sure it was the one.
Have you ever heard angels singing when you see the perfect thing? It’s happened only occasionally when I go shopping for this house (lots of trial and error), but when it came to this light fixture, I instantly swooned. The silvery finish wasn’t exactly the right choice for the kitchen with all of the black accents it has, but that was pretty much the only thing about it I didn’t think would gel with the room. In short, it was gorgeous. I was totally convinced that this was what I wanted and had my credit card at the ready. There was just one little problem… the light was sold OUT!
I waited a few months to see if it would come back on sale (with online shops, there is sometimes an option to sign up for alerts if something comes available again), but nope. If I wanted this light, I’d have to figure out a way to make it myself.
Aaaand that’s when the stars aligned and Brittany from Pretty Handy Girl decided to do a #DIYLightingChallenge. I was originally planning on posting it Monday with everyone else, but as usual, I had to run all over town to find the items I needed only to wind up lucking out in the 11th hour. It was too late to get things up in time for the blog hop, but in the end, I still got my new light fixture out of the deal. And? Saved myself some cash! Worth it!
As often happens on this blog, there’s pretty much a story with every project (if you just want to skip to the actual tutorial, scroll down until you see the dashed line like the one directly below). Let’s start with the hardest part to track down…
The Glass Bowl
Finding a glass bowl that would suit this light should be easy, right? That’s what I thought. I tried to think of what types of objects where I might find clear or seeded glass, the right size and shape, etc. I came up with three possible options:
- a glass mixing bowl (or fruit bowl)
- a fish bowl (granted, a modernish style rather than the usual round one)
- converting a “boob light” (those hideous boob-like ceiling light fixtures that have
nipplesfinials on the bottom… after reading one blogger call them a boob light ages ago, I can’t not see them that way!)
In theory, the boob light option would be easiest if I could find one. They are usually really cheap, already have a hole in them for the finial (which I could use as the spot I’d put the light kit through for hanging), and already made to work as a light. But the problem there is that nearly all of them are textured or frosted, and I wanted clear. I searched a few places, but no success.
The fishbowl idea didn’t pan out either, and so I was left searching for a glass mixing bowl, salad bowl, serving bowl, etc. The main issue I ran into here was just that most mixing bowls have a lip on the edge to make them easier to handle (like this one). I wanted something with a clean edge. I found a few modern salad bowl options at World Market, but they weren’t the rounded shape I wanted. Still, the price was right and I thought I could still make them work. I bought both and brought them home as possible choices to try out in the space.
But, I got lucky: after expressing my frustration to a couple of friends, I received a text message with a photo of exactly what I was looking for… “with bananas for size reference.” Ha!
As it turns out, he picked this one up from Ikea (my BFF) for $10 a few months ago. So as to not simply steal his fruit bowl, I let him choose between the two I’d purchased as replacement (I’ve actually thought of a different use for the remaining one). But now you know where to look first and save yourself a hassle!
DIY Glass Pendant Light Fixture
To make this light yourself, you’ll need (some links contain affiliates):
- pendant light cord kit or “fitter” (this one is the exact one used… you can find them at hardware stores usually, but ordering online is often cheaper)
- BLANDA glass bowl (story about how I found mine above!)
- decorative wooden bun foot (I got one at a hardware store, but fancier ones and more options are online)
- stain of your choosing (I used Minwax Pickled Oak) and poly
- self-adjusting grip pliers
- 1/2″ glass drill bit
- 1/2″ spade drill bit or Forstner bit
I last spoke about my new Forstner bits back when I made my magnetic bottle openers for the fridge, and I was sure I’d need them for this project to drill a hole through the bun foot, but it turned out that the spade bit worked much faster for drilling through. I still used the Forstner bit to begin the hole because it gave me a cleaner end result, but I’ll get to that.
Step One: Take apart the pendant light kit.
The best plan begins with whichever actual lighting kit you have. The thickness of the wire will determine the width you need to drill through everything, and mine had a few extra pieces used for tightening the fixture that I then used to help secure the shade.
Step Two: Drill through the glass bowl.
Once I measured 1/2″ for getting the wiring through the bowl, I went out and purchased a diamond drill bit that could drill through glass. The actual process takes some patience (which I was screwing up at first, hence the scratches you see), so do yourself a favor and watch this video from Mandi at Vintage Revivals for tips. A few notes:
- Work outside. I got my jeans soaked through during this, but better to do this outside where there’s less mess in your house.
- Use a towel on the ground to keep the edge of the bowl from chipping (mine actually already had a tiny chip in it to begin with, but it was a used bowl… protect yours!).
- Start the bit at an angle to create a groove in the glass, then sloooooowly work it upward to 90 degrees so that the bit doesn’t slip and slide all around.
- It’s actually not as hard as you make it at first! :)
Step Three: Remove the screw from the bun foot.
Wooden bun feet were the perfect option for the carved wood top I was trying to duplicate for this light. They come with a screw on one end though, so I had to first remove this before drilling a hole through the middle. To do this, I used self-adjusting pliers to get a firm grip on the screw and rotate it out of the foot.
Step Four: Drill through the bun foot.
As I mentioned above, I started with a 1/2-inch Forstner bit to start the hole on each end of the bun foot. With the screw removed, it was really easy on one end, but use caution because it can slip (the pre-existing hole provides no friction for the middle tip of the bit to sink into). But once each end had the beginning started, I switched to a 1/2-inch spade bit because the drilling went a lot faster.*
Step Five: Sand, stain, and poly the wood piece.
I wanted to make sure I didn’t screw up drilling through the piece before staining, but you can just as easily do this step before drilling through. I wanted to keep the wood somewhat natural-looking the way it did with the inspiration piece, but I was afraid that just adding poly would be too yellowing once finished. So, I did a quick coat of Minwax stain in Pickled Oak to keep the tone more neutral. The stain itself looks very milky white, but if you do only one coat and quickly wipe it off, it won’t get too light!
Because I tested out a few different stains on the bottom of the bun foot before staining the whole thing, I covered this up with a quick coat of paint during assembly (looking up at the light, you’d be able to see the test spots, so I did a quick cover-up before assembling… but if you just go with the stain I recommended, you won’t need to paint the bottom).
Step Six: Assemble
It took a little trial and error to determine the order, but I secured the bowl to the light fixture first using one of the wire caps on the end (they are meant to secure the light socket along the wire, etc.).
Realizing that this meant I also needed to thread the wooden piece over this little black cap, I went back outside and drilled the bottom end with a 5/8″ Forstner bit to widen the area just a little, which allowed the cap to fit inside snugly. You can also just sand it with some rough sandpaper if you don’t have the bit until it fits; it will just take a little longer.
Step Seven: Hang
A buddy of mine gave me a Hammerhead cordless screwdriver for Christmas, and this was my first opportunity to use it. It is AWESOME! It has a wire stripper and circuit sensor built in, not to mention powered and cordless, making installation with one hand and driving screws a lot easier than last time. I plan on writing a full, separate review about some of its features and might even do a demo video for Youtube, just because I really like it when tools work really well and make solo jobs 1000% easier to complete. Especially since my procrastination peaks when I think the project is going to be a hassle!
And here is the end result!
At first, I tried out a smaller bulb. But I think I like the larger version better!
And here it is with the light on:
The cost of the inspiration light fixture was $150 ($130 if I had been able to get the discount, but was sold out anyway), but the total cost of this knockoff project was only $54! ($10 for the bowl if I’d purchased it, $9 for the wooden bun foot, $15 for the pendant light kit, and $20 for glass bit, which I’ll likely find excuses to use again).
If you enjoyed this project, you’re in luck… there are still a lot of ideas for the #DIYLightingChallenge yet left to check out below (and you can link yours as well, or use the hashtag on social media). And I’ve got two more lighting projects coming to the blog soon. Stay tuned for an awesome giveaway next! (update: pushed to Monday, but I’ll have a new post in between). It’s been a while since the last one, so it seems like it’s about time for another. Check back tomorrow!
UPDATE: A number of the questions so far have been about the specifics of the light bulb I used. They are GE Reveal bulbs, and I really like using these in the house. They appear sort of bluish when they are off, but in my opinion, the color they give off is a pure white that falls somewhere between soft white and daylight. Daylight tends to be too blue with some brands, soft white is too warm, but I really like the way these give off light, especially for photos. The only downside is that I haven’t found any LED versions that look pretty enough to be in a clear-shade setup like this light fixture, but hopefully soon!
*How many “that’s what she said” jokes did you find in this post? A lot, right? I bet a lot.