diy project: chris’ budget-friendly mod chandelier

I’m constantly growing tired of the lamps in my home. For the past few years, I’ve griped about how our landlord won’t allow us to change out fixtures, but it’s probably a blessing in disguise. I simply cannot settle on a light fixture, especially when there are so many great designs and lighting projects out there.

Chris, the editor in chief at Curbly and a major DIY genius, has solved my problems with this cool mod chandelier. If you need a great dining table lighting statement, this project would be a smart way to go. It’s super fast and inexpensive to create, but it has a big impact. I really love how sculptural and dynamic it looks, especially in bright white and against that dark wall.

If you’re looking for more mid-century inspired projects, you should check out the e-book Curbly published last year, which we loved here at D*S. In preparation for the gatherings and parties this season brings (you know you want to add some fun things to that to-do list!), you should also check out Chris’ table decor projects, including these rustic branch napkin rings. Thanks for sharing Chris! — Kate

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


  • lamp and cord pendant set, such as the IKEA Hemma ($3.99)
  • 10 3/16″ wood dowels, 36″-length ($.29/each; $2.90 total)
  • 1 can spray paint ($2.95)
  • saw or utility knife
  • hot glue gun and yellow (wood) glue sticks
  • two-part epoxy, Household Goop, or E6000 glue
  • tin snips or sharp scissors (optional)


1. Use the saw to cut the dowel rods in half once, giving you 20 lengths of 18″. Any type of saw will work here: a hand saw, coping saw, hacksaw, miter box or power miter saw. Since the dowels are so thin, you could even use a utility knife and hard surface.

2. Take one dowel rod and glue it onto the light cord set. Glue it at the center and at 90 degrees. This is the only point where the dowels actually touch the lamp, so make sure it’s a nice, strong joint. Yellow glue doesn’t love plastic, so I used a 2-part quick drying epoxy, but any strong glue will work here.

3. Once that joint has dried, insert a bulb so you have a sense of its weight as you work. Find some way to hang the light at a comfortable working height — the supports between the joists in a basement work perfectly. Warm up your glue gun, and insert yellow glue sticks. Glue two dowels at 90 degrees to the main support to begin creating your structure.

Note: Using glue approved for wood is essential here, and the quick drying time of hot glue means you don’t have to hold the dowels in place or use clamps. Awesome! Also, you’ll want use some kind of drop cloth or scrap surface under your work area to catch dripping hot glue.

4. Then continue to add dowels. Take your time and experiment with different angles and placements. Note that most of your dowels will be oriented more or less vertically, with just a few horizontal ones for support and balance. Be sure to move around the piece, noting how it looks from all angles. Of course, you’ll want to avoid trapping the bulb. Be sure there’s enough space to change it.

5. With practice, you’ll learn to use just the right amount of glue to make a strong joint without creating the crazy blobs and strings that hot glue tends to make. Keep an old pencil or junk piece of dowel handy to wipe away excess glue. Keep adding dowels until it looks finished. If you don’t need all 20, there’s no need to use them. My finished piece had 17.

6. At this point, I realized that some of my dowels extended a bit too far. Use tin snips or sharp scissors to cut the dowels to create an overall cube shape with balanced dimensions. I also used a hot soldering iron with a narrow tip to remove any excess glue globs.

7. Once everything has cured, take it outside or into a well-ventilated area and spray paint the whole thing. Remove any stickers or labels from the socket before painting — I didn’t and wish I had. And be sure to leave your dummy bulb in so no paint goes into the socket and messes with the connections. One coat of spray primer and one coat of white was enough for a perfectly glossy finish.


Getting it right. There were a few dowels placed early in the process with angles that I don’t totally love. It’s hard to get randomness to look just-so perfect. I definitely got better with practice, so take your time and envision how each dowel will look in the finished piece. Keep the cube shape in mind, and you’ll be set.

Durability. This thing is actually stronger than I thought it would be. No, it’s not welded steel, but I dropped it on the ground from four feet or so, and it survived with no problems. Obviously, you’ll need to be careful while moving it, but that’s true for most chandeliers. I’ve had it hanging above my dining table for two weeks, and everything is great. I have no idea how long it’ll last, but for less than $10.00, I’ll happily make more.

  1. Ana says:

    I love these DIYs!

  2. thank you, thank you! I have some driftwood pieces I’ve been wanting to use for something like this. This DIY, will be such a help.

  3. abby jenkins says:

    how clever! would be fun painted a bright color for a powder room

  4. Casey says:

    Cool! Very Andy Goldsworthy. :)

  5. angie says:

    thanks for sharing this great diy, grace!

  6. Megan says:

    Such a great idea! Moving soon and looking for funky, original ideas that don’t cost too much. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Matrioshka says:

    Wow…that looks awesome, we really need a light over our dining table too!

  8. Tina says:

    Such fun!

    Reminds me of the beautiful KiKi Smith exhibit at the brooklyn museum this summer… LOVE it!

  9. Lightopia says:

    Great job!, I love how it looks.

  10. Christy says:

    kewl ! supeeeer !
    i’ll try it hha. i always love the DIY :)

  11. F▲YE says:

    this is one i’m gonna have to try! thanks for sharing!

  12. Tandy says:

    Had to pop in to say that I whipped one of these up this afternoon. It was incredibly easy!

    A couple of pointers: a little bit of the hot glue goes a long way – use tiny, precise drops to avoid having to pick off excess globs with a utility knife later and inadvertently dropping the chunks into your coffee. Also, avoid knocking it against your husband’s rearview mirror on your way out to the backyard to paint it. Those dowels are easy to arrange the first time but figuring out where they go when you have to re-attach is another story:)

    Mine is gold, but while I was at the store I found glow-in-the-dark spray paint which will work over white. Somebody NEEDS to try that!

  13. amber says:

    This looks like a fun and easy project. It might be fun to use metallic paint…

  14. LWJ says:

    I think this would also be pretty in bright colours with round wooden beads in contrasting colours glued randomly about the sticks.

  15. jay says:

    dumb question—–but, did you take off the plug end part of the IKEA light cord and hard wire into the ceiling electrical? Or plug it in somewhere in the ceiling–that part I don’t get. LOVE the rest of it.

  16. imagineaa says:

    If you use “any” glue and spray paint, would this fixture be flammable?


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