Dining Room Light Fixture – on the cheap

For months I’ve craved a new dining room light fixture. Being renters, there are many little details we try to ignore (like the ugly ceiling fans in nearly every room), knowing it is not practical or cost-effective for us to change them. However, the dining room was the only room in the house with an overhead light fixture that was not a fan. The fixture wasn’t horrible – just very basic and very… high. My artistic soul cringes at things like bad and ineffective lighting, and although this one worked when you flipped the switch, it provided nothing in the vein of mood lighting. Our dining room could never play host to a relaxing dinner, a romantic spot for dessert, a chill environment for cocktails with friends, or even a cozy spot to sit and jot down a grocery list due to its horribly sad little light, perched all the way up on the ceiling. Installing a dimmer helped somewhat, but did not fix the problem. I’ve dreamed about creating a grand fixture, DIYing something truly impressive. My masterpiece would require books on wiring, saws and wood, paint and all manner of lighting supplies. It would be costly, time-consuming, and possibly life threatening to construct.

On Wednesday, I found a simple white drum shade for $12. My dreams ended, but the reality of a better-lit dining room dawned just over the horizon. Paired with a lantern light kit (originally purchased 5 years or so from Pier 1 for around $5), a simple ceiling medallion (Home Depot for $5) and a hook ($.50), we were in business.

Converting the plug-in lantern kit to a hardwired fixture is simple — cut the cord to desired length and strip the plastic coating from the two wires. These two wires are then twisted and secured to the wires inside your ceiling (BREAKER OFF, PEOPLE) before the whole lot is covered by the ceiling medallion. We chose to hang the new pendant over our dining table, at a height of 30″ above the table surface. Our table is bar height, so the fixture is hung accordingly.

The verdict? LOVE IT. It’s not my ideal (my dreams are far too grand for that to be the case) but it is a wonderful and practical solution. We had some personal headaches making this scenario work, but the concepts are simple and easy to execute. (We had a loose connection inside the lantern kit itself that stumped us, causing many trips up and down the stairs to flip the breaker on and off while we puzzled over why the light was sometimes on and sometimes off… But those problems were uniquely ours – and are unlikely to happen to any of you!)

I had considered buying the Eden Pendant Lamp from CB2 as a budget alternative to some of the higher priced fixtures I admire, but since it was not hard wired, and would hence require the same conversion, I decided to save the $ and go this route. Admittedly, the CB2 shade is far more stylish. Its proportions are so much more… me. But, consider the following:

CB2 Eden Pendant: $50
Shipping: $11
Ceiling Medallion and Hook: $5.50

=$66.50

versus…

Clearance Lampshade: $12
Existing Lantern Kit: $0
Ceiling Medallion and Hook: $5.50

=$17.50 for a savings of $39.

I call this compromising – not settling. I’d rather save the money for nice fixtures in a house we one day own instead of blowing my very hard-earned and very measly paychecks outfitting a temporary dwelling. Another big thanks to my husband Tyler, who managed to control his anger and frustration during his project so that no wives nor dogs were hurt.

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