Industrial-style lighting has been big news in residential spaces for several years now and the trend shows no sign of dimming. Although many approaches to the style are quite simplistic, the costs from Canadian design retailers like Commute Home, MADE and Ministry of the Interior can range from high to exorbitant.
For the DIY fixture above by Toronto architect Scott Barker, all the materials except the bulbs came from Canadian Tire and cost less than $50. And while some people cower from any job involving electricity, this particular project is safe and simple to duplicate, according to Scott.
To begin, disconnect the old lamp making sure to first shut off the power at your electrical panel, either fuse or breaker switch. “Black electrical wire often has a repeating label printed in white,” notes Scott, “but we found three black extension cords that did not have any text or markings on them. Clipping off the male and female ends gives you three lengths of black cable.”
TIP: “Out of the package, the extension cords are all folded up and will not hang straight. We softened them up in a sink of hot water, then stretched them out to remove the kinks.”
“We bought a blank faceplate typically used to cover a junction box that’s not in use, then drilled three holes in it to receive the wires. Clean up the drilled holes with a small round metal file. Be sure to plan the three holes so that the wires will hang cleanly when you’re finished.
“Strip one end of the cord to expose about 3″ of wire; strip each wire to expose 1/2″ of metal. Then push the stripped ends of the cord through the faceplate holes, until the black wire is about 1″ through the faceplate. We put zip ties (aka cable ties) on the black cords to prevent them from falling back down through the holes. Match up the white wires, black wires and green wires and twist them around the corresponding hard wires inside the junction box, capping each one with a marrete (above far right). At this point everything is connected and you can screw the faceplate into the junction box.”
To suspend each wire we used simple white hooks and screwed them into the drywall ceiling measuring out three equal spaces and making sure they were lined up straight. We looped the wires through each hook and let the cables hang down to the ground. Once we had the wires looping in the shape we wanted, we used twist-ties to squeeze the cord and create a sharp bend at the ceiling hooks, then left everything to hang and settle overnight.
“The next day we started to give the three hanging cords a ‘haircut’, trimming them back until they were all aligned at the height we wanted. Once the cables are to length, strip the ends of each cord and the wires inside as much as necessary to connect to the socket. Be sure to strip each cable the same amount so that the sockets will still hang in line with each other. Connect everything inside the sockets, white to white, black to black, green to green, and then put the socket back together.”
“Screw in your bulbs, turn the power back on at the panel, and Voila! Later we added a simple dimmer switch to control the light intensity. We have three 6″ diameter mirrored bulbs which throw light up against the ceiling (ordered from Just Bulbs), and three Edison bulbs (as shown, available at Ministry of the Interior), which give off a warm glow. We can’t decide which ones we like better.”
Thanks for the lesson Scott, the lights look great!