Upcycled Light Fixtures = Cool Character
Atlanta restaurateurs Calavino Donati and Doria Roberts spent their late evenings and early mornings redoing their Craftsman-style home, which was built in the 1920s. The home is filled with funky finds (like an old metal snake charmer’s box they snagged at an antique store), and one of their favorite features are their DIY light fixtures.
They replaced the existing lights in the home with objects that others had discarded. They took apart, rewired and replaced components, and they learned a ton of lessons along the way.
Dining Room Chandelier
What they used: The dining room chandelier is part-old, part-new. They found a fixture with a metal pulley and three arms in the back of a friend’s store in Atlanta. It hadn’t been used in years, maybe even decades. They decided to turn it into their dining room chandelier. The fixture already could be raised and lowered above their dining table since the pulley system still worked.
What they did: They bought three white plastic cage lights (typically used for a ceiling fan) for about $2.50 each. They repainted the pulley and arms, using Rust-Oleum’s High Heat Spray, which typically is used for grills, engines and radiators. "Make sure the paint isn’t going to spark or melt," Roberts says. An electrician friend looked over the fixture, just to make sure it was safe.
The challenge: Screwing in the Edison-style light bulbs (no joke). To lock them into place, the mechanism in the cage lights required them to turn a piece with pins on the inside of the cages while trying to screw in the bulb. It took about 40 minutes to figure out the first one, then it went faster.
Living Room and Entryway Fixtures
What they used: After they bought a vintage, cast-iron street lamp for $90, they realized it was too big for their home. Then they discovered that they could separate the bottom from the top. It only needed to be unscrewed. One section could be used for the hallway, and the top of the old lamp post could be their living room fixture. It ended up being a good mistake.
What they did: They first needed to remove the existing guts to avoid the potential for malfunction or a fire. Fortunately, the inside parts were only screwed into the fixture, instead of being welded. They turned each new fixture upside down and threaded it with a light fixture kit, just $10 each.
The challenge: It took about a half day and a big bottle of WD-40 to work out all of the screws, wires and bulb. They also used extra bracing for the ceiling plate to make sure the heavy fixture stayed attached. After all, they didn’t want their cool finds to rip out of the ceiling.