When I was an undergrad in college, I often found myself wishing that design blogs and magazines had decorating tips for my particular lifestyle. That lifestyle being living with no money in a veritable shoe box with poor air conditioning, loud neighbors, communal bathrooms and a suspicious smell. Although I perused various design websites on a daily basis, bookmarking things for my future “dream home,” I couldn’t find things to use in the present moment, things that would help me transform my decrepit cinderblock dorm room into something even remotely homey. So all you freshman design aficionados and first-time renters with work-study jobs: This series is for you. Over the next several weeks, this column will feature cheap, quick and shockingly easy tips for brightening your dorms, apartments and general student life. Horrible posters and ratty dorm furniture be gone — Design*Sponge is going to college!
Our first DIY is sure to brighten up your midterm study sessions! Dorm rooms can be pretty depressing places, but even they can be made magnificent and regal with the right touch — like a shimmering chandelier (that happens to be made out of metal clothes hangers and duct tape). Although we would never encourage purchasing wire hangers (haven’t you seen Mommie Dearest?), sometimes you just end up with one — or several hundred. If this is the case, you’ve already got most of the supplies for this low-budget project! So get the rest of your supplies together and join us after the jump! — Max
1. Take your wire hangers and, one at a time, unwind the hook section so that it’s completely separated. With two pliers (or your hands if you’re Superman), straighten the bends in the wire by holding a plier at either side of the bend and bending in the opposite direction.
2. Once each of the 10 hangers is completely unwound and straightened, bunch them so that all of their hooks are together and pointing in the same direction.
3. Holding your bunch of wires in place, start rolling strips of duct tape around the bunch, beginning near the hooks. Work your way down until about 1/2 of the wire bunch is covered in duct tape. We used alternating strips of neon pink and metallic silver tape for some added snazziness. Colored duct tapes can usually be picked up at any art, craft supply or hardware store.
This is kind of what it should look like at this point (minus the string lights — we’re not there yet):
4. Now, take 5 of your wires and bend them so that they curve gently upward. This will be the first tier of your chandelier. If your wires are looking freakishly long and this isn’t to your liking, use a wire cutter or the wire cutter section of your pliers to trim off the excess.
5. With the 5 remaining unbent wires, continue duct taping for about another 6 inches (give or take, no need to be precise).
6. Bend the rest of the wires upward in a similar fashion. Position the bent wires so that each is pointing in a different direction around the circumference of the wire bunch.
This is kind of what it should look like at that point:
7. Take all of the light bulbs off your string lights and place them in a bowl or similar vessel. This step is incredibly important if you don’t want to end up sweeping broken glass all night long when you should be doing homework. Or partying.
8. Tape the side of the cord with the two-pronged plug near the top of your chandelier.
9. Spiral the cord down along the shaft of the chandelier until you reach your first tier. Then wind the cord around each wire of the tier, to the tip and then back to the center. You can hold the lights in place by using the clips that are often attached t0 each light. Repeat on the second tier, then hide the plug somewhere in the middle.
10. Put the light bulbs back on!
11. All that’s left is to hang that thing! Screw a simple ceiling hook (available at most hardware stores) into your ceiling to latch the hooks onto. Then plug your extension cord into the lights and run it along the ceiling and wall with some of your handy-dandy duct tape!
12. BAM! DONE! INSTANT CLASS! Now it’s time to impress all your roommates and friends with your ultra-swanky chandelier!