Sep 22, 2013

Upgrading Our Kitchen Pendant Lights

With so many big projects looming over our heads, we decided to take on a small one: upgrading our kitchen pendant lights. We both didn't care for the "beehive" lights we had so we set out to find something a little more industrial.

We were on a budget of $200 ($100 for each light). While searching the web for ideas, I came across this photo from Gunkelmans Interior Design via Houzz and immediately fell in love with the pendant lights.

The lights are called "Clark Mini Pendants" from Wilmette Lighting. The only problem was that each light was anywhere from $261 to $308, depending on where you looked (Amazon seems to have the best deal on these). Wayyyy over our budget. I looked around for a similar light and found this one from Nova 68 for $160. Better, but still out of our price range.

As luck would have it, we caught a break while shopping for other house stuff at Home Depot. This pendant was strung up at the end cap of the lighting aisle and we happened to walk by and take notice:

It's the Clear Glass Cylinder Pendant from Home Decorators Collection. At only $80 for each light, they fit nicely in our budget and they come with super cool Edison bulbs. But guess what? The lights don't come in black. I gave Neal a look of disappointment and shrugged. "We could paint them black?" I said, almost as a joke. I was surprised when he replied with "Hey, that might just work..." So we bought two.

Besides painting, we did a little extra modification on the new lights as well. The chords had several "wobbles" in them and we realized we would never get them to hang perfectly straight. I think the wobbly look can be pretty cool in the right space, but we wanted something a bit more clean-lined and substantial, a.k.a. a metal rod. I looked into several options but none seemed to be what we needed. Copper tubing was too heavy, pvc piping would probably look too cheap, and the metal extension rods for lighting I found online were either too short or they were the right size but were too expensive (about $25 for one rod). I'm sure there's a cheaper solution for this out there, but I finally settled on a 48" (extendable to 84") cafe curtain rod from Target for $15. The inside rod was the perfect diameter, and luckily it was a solid piece with no seam (some of their cafe rods look the same as this but do have a seam so if you ever want to do something similar be sure to check).

I needed to cut the rod into two equal pieces and wanted it to be even and clean so I bought a cheap junior tube cutter ($6) from Home Depot. The ends of the rod were nipped off first since they had parts inside for the curtain finials and then the rod was cut in two. Easy as pie and the tube cutter made nice, clean cuts.

Now it was time for paint. I gave the lights a light sanding before painting and used a primer to make sure the paint stuck. Zinsser Cover Stain Primer from Home Depot is one of my favorite primers and comes in a spray can for $6.

I wanted to make sure the lights would have the same finish/sheen on every piece so I decided to paint the curtain rod tubes too, even though they were already black.

Each piece got two coats of primer and two coats of Rustoleum black satin spray paint (I taped off the inside parts where the light bulbs would screw in to protect them).  Everything was going fine until the last coat of black. That's when the paint on the metal tubes decided to crackle in some spots. Ugh.

Centsational Girl has a really good spray paint FAQ post where she talks about all the things to keep in mind while spray painting anything. She mentions seeing this undesirable crackling effect when it's either 1) too cold out for painting, 2) the surface wasn't primed, or 3) the surface was not clean. I can safely say I had the first two covered (I was painting inside since our condo complex happens to have a room-temp "hobby room") and I had obviously primed the pieces, so that leaves me with #3. I'm guessing the cause of the crackling was my own oily fingerprints from handling the pieces. Rubber gloves might be a smart option for future. I had to wait a day and let the paint dry, then sand down the tubes and start over. After I finished the last coat of paint I let the lights dry for the rest of the day. I knew we would be handling them to put them up and definitely did not want to risk messing up the paint this time.

In the meantime we flipped the breaker and took down the old lights. Yay!

At first I tried selling them on Craigslist but after getting no takers I ended up giving them away for free. Oh well, I'm happy someone is getting a use out of them!

The new lights came with instructions for how to put them up, but if you are curious, here are some good directions. I couldn't take any photos of the process as we needed all hands on deck.


We get a lot of compliments on these lights when we have guests over and the Edison bulbs are so moody, love them!

Cost breakdown:

Lights - $160
Curtain Rod - $15
Primer - $6
Tube Cutter - $6 
Black Spray Paint - Free (I had enough leftover from when I painted our fireplace)

Total = $187 (+ tax, so we were about $6 over our $200 budget, rats!)


  1. These look amazing!

  2. I've observed that a lot of homeowners are installing pendant lights in their kitchen these days. Pendant lighting is loved by many because it adds charm to the area. Anyhow, your Clark Mini pendants look cute! They are more stylish than the old ones. Likewise, they went very well with your wooden ceiling.

    Gabrielle Jeromy @ Majestic Exteriors LLC

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