Upcycled Vintage Industrial Lighting {No Electrician Needed}

Do you know who Chico is?  The one with the pony tail?  He was Candice Olson’s electrician.  I used to be so jealous of Candice when I would watch her remodel and redecorate a space while having Chico at her beckon call to add can lights here, or a pendant over a side table.  Where was my electrician to do all of my fabulous lighting work?  Well flash forward a few years to today:

Since we moved into our house, I have wanted pendant lights over the kitchen island or bar.  Unfortunately I didn’t have the builder put any in from the beginning and the can lights that we do have are in an odd configuration with NONE of them over the bar!  Well no fear, I finally added these awesome pendants and barn wood for my own vintage industrial lighting, without calling an electrician.

 DIY Vintage Industrial Wood and Brass Pendants WITHOUT an Electrician

So this was what I had created previously.  And don’t get me wrong, I LOVED these ratan ball pendant lights but they caused a few problems that began to bother me.  1. I don’t like seeing the extension cords on the ceiling 2. they didn’t give much direct light to the bar and actually blocked some of the light of the existing cans.

 Ratan Ball Pendants

 So I had been on the hunt for something else over the bar when I found these gems at my local ReStore, the Habitat for Humanity thrift store.  They were only $5 each!  I’ve been wanting to add some brass to my house but the exterior of these was tacky brass if you know what I mean.

Brass Pendants from ReStore

 I went on the search for a spray paint that was neutral, funky, matte and had a vintage industrial look.  It also had to go well with the brass on the INTERIOR of the fixture, since it was in fantastic shape.  Wal-Mart is one of my favorite spray paint sources and I came across this Rust-Oleum ”Camouflage” can.  It is a dark gray-green.  It reminds me of Restoration Hardware’s paint color “Flint”.

Camo My New Favorite Spray Paint

 I took the pendants apart and painted them separately being sure not to paint the brushed brass on the inside.

Spray Paint the exterior of old Brass pendants

I laid out all the parts on the bar.  Oh, I also bought a new electrical wire with a plug on one end.  They had these at ReStore for 25 cents and they would allow me more flexibility later plus the wiring on these guys was really outdated.  In addition I went outside to my barn wood stash, yes I have a large stash of barn wood, and grabbed a piece that would work to connect the two lights  and hide some wires (read more about my barn wood ceiling here and my salvaged wood lamps here).

Re Assemble pendants after they are painted

Now that the light fixtures are all painted and put back together, it was time to tackle the wiring.  I’ll be honest, this was the scary part.  I had this figured out in my mind and begged my husband to do it for a while, but decided to get ‘er done myself.  I grabbed a circular cutting tool that was in my husbands tool box.  It is made for stuff like this and cutting out holes for door handles.  I drilled out a hole exactly above where I wanted one of the pendants to hang (so that if I changed my mind, I could hang a pendant and the ceiling cap would cover the hole completely).  I made sure that it was also inline with the floor joists where a can was and also in line to drop over my cabinets.  Specifically a cabinet that had an electrical outlet inside.  I had two choices, one where my “organization center” is and the other where my built-in microwave is (they almost always have an outlet but the microwave only uses one of the receptacles).  I chose to head toward the “organization center” since the floor joists in the ceiling went that way.  I disassembled the can light between the bar cut out and the “organization center” cut out so that I had a large opening with access to the floor joists).  I placed a flashlight up in the ceiling in each hole.  Then a fished an extension cord from one side to the other.  When I couldn’t see what was going on or why the cord was getting stuck I popped my phone camera up in the ceiling and looked at the screen (I felt like MacGyver!).  Eventually with the help of a metal hanger turned fishing hook I had the extension cord plugged in and the female end hanging out over the bar.

How to Add Pendant Lights without an Electirician

Now for the barn wood.  I measured out how far apart I wanted the pendants and a hole for each one to thread the power plug through.  Because my drill wasn’t as large as the plugs on the pendants, I had to cut off some of the extra plastic on the plug end.  No worries, I only cut the “wings” of the plug so it was just excess plastic.

Rustic Barn Wood to Connect Pendants over a Bar

 Here is the final product.  You can see that I screwed each of the pendants to the wood.  Then I hid one of the wires under wood.  I plugged both of them into the extension cord and pushed all of the extra wires up in the ceiling.  Then I screwed the wood to the ceiling covering up the wire and hole that I had cut.  So that I could turn them on and off and dim them at will, I attached a dimmer switch that sits on the bottom shelf just inside the cabinet door.

DIY Brass and Rustic wood Pendant Lights from Burlap and Denim

I love the warm glow that the brass interior of the shade provides.   Since the shade is opaque, it forces the light straight down  so there isn’t a glare when working at the bar.  The wood between the pendants that was used to hide the cord and circle opening really tie the two fixtures together and add to the rustic industrial look.  And all this without an electrician and for about $15 including two pendants, two power cords, an extension cord, and a couple of new bulbs!

 DIY Vintage Industrial Wood and Brass Pendants WITHOUT an Electrician

 Do you think I’m crazy?  Camo paint, brass fixtures, barn wood?  Tell me what YOU think in the comments!


  • Fabulous! I wish I was this brave.

    • Ha, brave, determined or CRAZY? Once I get something in my head I have to go for it.

  • You have made an interesting light fixture which is being used for permanent lighting. Extension cords are not designed to run through hidden spaces or for permanent use. This installation does not meet code requirements and will be caught by any decent home inspector. Obviously you love your beautiful home and work very hard to make it a beautiful space…wouldn’t you hate for something to happen?

    Since you’ve cut the hole in the ceiling and fished the wire, the hardest part of adding a light is done. Now you need to mount a box in the ceiling and run permanent wiring from your source box to the new box and connect the wiring inside a junction box. You can install a switch next to the outlet or add a pull chain to your new fixture

    If you are close to ReStore, consider volunteering in the store or at Habitat building projects. You’ll learn lots of valuable skills, meet nice people and find tradesmen who will do professional work for fellow volunteers at a very reasonable price.

    • Lyndee, I like your idea of learning and volunteering from ReStore! As for the wiring, I’m really not worried, basically all I did was hide the extension cord in an empty cavity of drywall in the ceiling.

      • I love this design. It’s a great solution to a crummy problem.

        Here’s food for thought on the wiring though: if something were to ever happen to that wire, for instance a nail from the floor above pierces it, and it shorts out and catches fire, your insurance company will not cover any damage. Another possibility of damage is the cheap electrical cord overheating, as they’re designed to be in free-air not enclosed spaces. It’s the reason we *have* electrical code; to protect ourselves against the risks we already know about.

        Take an afternoon and rejig this. You’ll need:

        10′ of 14-2 wiring (the white stuff)
        2 ceiling boxes

        Turn off all your power to this circuit. Run 14-2 from the existing box (wherever that is, its not clear in the pictures) to the new holes, where you’ll mount a new box flush in the ceiling above each of the wood holes.

        You can simply reattach the wiring from each light to the 14-2 in the ceiling box and mount it back on the ceiling, but this time with no bad wiring.

  • I think the lighting looks fab!! I love a good five dollar lite! I do have to give a thumbs down on the extension cord. Such a bad idea!! Lots of fires start by someone taking short cuts!!

  • Lyndee read my mind!! While I personally ‘love’ the idea and love the look of your fixture (I have been planning on creating something similar – wall-mounted) — just to add…not only does fishing extension cords through hidden spaces not meet code, it nulls your home owners insurance coverage should you have a house fire. Now, that being said, the likelihood of you falling victim to a house fire is slim, however, never say never — and without the coverage, you’d lose everything and get no reimbursement. Even if the wiring doesn’t actually cause the fire…and inspector would find find it immediately and it would likely result in denial of coverage.

    Apologies in advance if the advice is not welcome – I usually hate unsolicited advice of any kind!! Although, I decided to take the chance and let you know – just in case!! My father was a fire chief for 30 years…I’d hate to think of you (or anyone) having a house fire and ending up in a very tough financial situation all because of a DIY pendant light – albeit a fabulous and gorgeous one!!

    I’d only suggest that readers run the cord externally in hide it using some cool galvanized pipe, or cord cover. Maybe disclose the risk in your blog so that unsuspecting DIY’ers know the info?

    Again – great look and love your style :)

    • It’s a beautiful light I think I’ll copy it if you don’t mind!? However, here we go again on the advice. :D The gals are correct. I just went through an entire rewire of all the ceiling fixtures in my house when I bought it because they used ‘fixture’ wire in the ceiling….all open cavities IN my attic. :(
      Your see, wires carry electricity and electricity is hot. that’s why you have to use a specific kind of wire for anything that is behind a wall (drywall) even in what you call an empty wall cavity because it is heavier wire and insulated FAR better than thin fixture wire.

      This is against code and therefore illegal and yes might very well void your home insurance if it proves to be the cause of a fire, so I’m afraid my dear, that you SHOULD be worried unfortunately.
      I build my own lights too and I love yours. I’m going to try something very similar, thank you for the idea, but mine will be hardwired to an outlet box.

  • Love everything about the look!! My electrician son-in-law would insist the details of the wiring be done a little differently, of course, but I can see something similar in my kitchen soon, with a matching single fixture over my kitchen table!!!

  • Love the light! I was curious though, exactly which color of the camouflage spray paint did you use? I looked and there are 5 different ones. Thanks!

    • Oh man Amber, I didn’t realize there were so many! When I bought it at Walmart there was only one. It was a mix of green and dark gray. I hope you found what you were looking for.

  • The new lights are gorgeous and spot on with current trends. Great job.

  • good job for trying to take some initiative!
    You should of gotten this inspected by your local electrical authority.
    There are several elements that should be corrected.

    If you live in Ontario and try to do this please contact the electrical safety authority and have your work inspected! It is the law here. You can do your work in your house but it still has to be inspected by the authority having jurisdiction.

    Side note on making your lamps! All electrical products in the states or Canada have to be ULC/CSA approved. Which is a form of inspection. If you burn down your house from a home made light. Not only will your insurance not cover it but you’ll be charged!

    DIY is great,, as long as you do it safely and within the law

  • I LOVE this! I can’t seem to find rust oleum camouflage paint in dark green grey! Was that one color you used? Thank you!

    • I would love to know which color it was too. Im guessing the khaki. If you look along the top of the upc on the can it’ll say which color it is. We wait with baited breath!

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  • Extension cords are not designed to run through hidden spaces or for permanent use. This installation does not meet code requirements and will be caught by any decent home inspector. Also, this installation could start a fire.
    You need an electrician to correct the inadequacies here and to protect our family against a fire. (I am not an electrician, just an experienced remodeler.)

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