How to Install a Pendant Lamp Conversion Kit

Lighting options abound in today’s marketplace, from compact fluorescent lamps to chandeliers that illuminate dining rooms. But even a simple pendant light has the potential to transform a room. Simpler than a chandelier with multiple outstretched arms, the pendant focuses a single bright beam over a small area and typically has a shade that controls the spread and color of the glow.

A pendant lamp conversion kit is an easy way to upgrade a basic fixture or build your own custom fixture. The best designs let you focus the spotlight on a favorite object, from a vase to a family photo. If you need a little extra illumination while working in the kitchen, a pulley-style pendant with a handle lets you descend on a cord to light up your workspace, then just give it a tug to return it to its hanging position. Alternatively, a five-bulb Colonial Revival-style fixture can do the trick in a foyer or entryway, giving you more than twice as much lumens for the same cost as a single-bulb pendant.

To convert an existing ceiling fixture, shut off the power and remove the old bulb. Then turn off the circuit by unscrewing the wire connectors joining the electrical and light fixture wires. Separate the wires and, if necessary, cut off any parts that extend from the base of the socket or holder. Clean the inside of the fixture and, if it’s metal, wipe it down with a damp cloth to reduce the risk of corrosion.

If your fixture has a plastic canopy, remove it. A canopy conceals the fixture’s mounting strap and electrical hookups, but it also limits how high you can hang the nipple-shaped pendant. If you’d like to mount the pendant higher, install a ceiling medallion, which is available where lighting products are sold.

A metal-framed, glass-shade pendant can be a real showstopper. But you can also make a sleek and stylish pendant from copper pipe, another popular industrial trend. Buy a pipe decor kit (available at home improvement centers) with enough connectors, elbows and flanges to create your design. Spray-paint the pieces your preferred color and, if necessary, cut notches into base and side pieces to fit a lamp kit’s light socket. Feed the lights through the pipe and mount per manufacturer’s instructions.

You can also turn a piece of unused dinnerware into a pendant. Start with a large, lightweight bowl or serving dish. Drill a hole in the center and thread a pendant light kit’s cord through the hole. Finish the project by gluing on a wooden lid and adding a matching shade.

If you want to spruce up your foyer or stair landing with a softer touch, try a birch-slice fixture. Stack up to 20 birch wood slices, drill holes through them, and string the cord of a pendant light kit through them. Then, top them with a neckless frosted globe and a brass-toned socket cup and canopy set. Alternatively, you can use a porcelain socket that’s more resistant to heat.