how to install a chandelier

I was thinking the other day, that if I made a list of the top ten must-dos for our homes, replacing the florescent overheads + boob lights that make up a builder grade home nightmare entourage, would definitely be in the top three absolute, must have, no-holds- barred-even-if-you’re-renting-but-plan-on-staying-a-while-so-why-not-be-happy-now, changeovers.

Confession: I’m kind of a light fixture addict. I went shopping with my sis-in-law for her nursery, and nearly every chandy I spied, I was all, “Oh! This would be so pretty in the nursery!” When she accused me of liking all of them, I confessed I couldn’t help myself. If I could have a funky light fixture in every single room of my home, I totally would. I’m kind of working on that. They’re like the perfect earrings with a simple black dress. Who doesn’t love a little sparkle in their lives? From rustic to trad and even over the top sparkly, I just can’t help mahself.

I’ve had a few lights on my list in our own home that I meant to get on the ball with on replacing, but I was searching for the right scale and look. Wouldn’t you know that at the flea market this last weekend, I stumbled across this little vintage beaut and knew exactly where it needed to go in our home?

So down came the Flo the nightmare {who had been enjoying her existence 5 years too long in our laundry room} and up went the glorious sparkle that is this chandy. {We shall call her Gloria for short.} And I started thinking, that as many lights as we’ve replaced, we’ve never shared a how-to, for all of you who may be interested in embarking on a little switcharoo of their own.

Obligatory disclaimer: we have never studied electricity. Really, everything we know is trial and error, beginning with that fork in a socket as a child…how do you think Jamin got the curly hair? So as simple as this is, please use caution and seek a professionals help if you need to, as we take no responsibility for your instaperm.

First things first: locate your fuse box. This is generally in the garage or a closet. {Or I guess a scary basement if you live in a haunted house and want to die.} Isolate which fuse controls the light you wish to change out. {You may have to flip several fuses until you find the right one, unless you had a super duper electrician who labeled them all really well.}

Once you locate the fuse and turn it off,  you will need to disassemble the light fixture. Normally, this is a few simple screws and connecting the power supply. (The power supply is normally held together with some wire nuts or wire caps, whatever you like to call them. The bottom line is, they are the plastic caps holding the wires together.)

See ya, Flo! Once your light fixture is down, go ahead and pull out the new one. If the copper wire is not already exposed on the ends, then save down the wire, coating with your wire cutters or strippers, and strip it down to the copper.

If the light caster (the blue thing in the above picture) doesn’t already have a support for the light you are about to hang, (see: silver thingy in the pic above) you will need to install one. Most lights come with one, or you can pick one up at your local home store. It’s a matter of a few simple screws to install it. We simply removed it from the chandy we were about to install, and placed it with screws in the blue light caster. {Above.}

Once you’re up and ready to go, there should be a 3rd screw with it… generally a small one that is gold-ish in color. {See: the middle screw in the photo above.} You will need to wrap the ground wire around this, and screw it in. (The ground wire is the copper wire in the middle of the above picture, seen with the middle screw.)

Next, you will need to connect the hot wires and the neutral wires with the wire nuts, as seen below. This is just a simple twisting of the exposed wires together and then screwing on the wire nut. If you are worried about getting the wires wrong and don’t own a fancy tester: don’t worry. With alternating current {most new homes have this} it really doesn’t matter on the light fixture, it will most likely work either way. (If you live in an older home, as established above, your fuse box is in the basement, and that’s scary, so you’ve probably given up by now.)

Black is the normal color for the hot wire, but when you connect the light, the current can flow either direction through the fixture, and turn on the light. The worst thing that can happen {besides an instaperm} the light won’t work and you’ll just have to redo the wiring.

Now all that’s left, is the hardest part. Sad, yet true, but it seriously helps to have an extra pair of arms because as simple as this sounds, pushing the wiring back up into the casing and screwing the light fixture plate into place while balancing atop a ladder with a heavy light fixture in your arms, can make you want to swing from said chandy until it breaks from the ceiling as you officially give up, if it won’t all go back at first. It’s just a matter of repositioning, and working it all back in so you can secure it.

Tada! You are totally done. It really is that simple. But oh what a difference an extra pair of hands can make.

And oh what a difference my purdy new chandy can make! Sparkle on, Gloria.

RIP, Flo.

{I’m totes getting a sticker to put on the back of my mini.}


A simple {at most, hour long project} that makes a super huge wondermous impact in your home and spaces. Death to florescent lights!

Hope you all have an inspired day and safe weekend, lovelies. See ya Monday!

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Responses to how to install a chandelier

  1. Thanks for posting this! My husband and I have been changing out some chandeliers on our end as well. The ones that were left by the previous ouwners were horrid and not our style. I only wish lighting was a bit less expensive.

    I love the crystal one that you pictured! Very pretty, especially against the blue walls.

  2. Mila says:

    This is great. I love it when you post the how-tos for something. Installing one this weekend, so it’s perfect timing!

  3. Jenna Joy says:

    Love it. And you are hilar. People should never skim your posts… never know what you’ll say! ‘Instaperm’ has me in stitches.

  4. Dorothy says:

    Gloria is absolutely luscious! How I wish I could loate something so sparkly and gorgeous. I love your tutorial. My husband’s an electrical engineer who got his start as a little kid sticking things into the outlets in the family’s new, not quite finished house (ah, the days of lax housing rules). I always cringe when he starts wiring something so I’m relieved to see you lived to tell the tale.

  5. I’m a little late to this party, but just had to jump in. THOSE TERRIBLE RIP STICKERS. Oh. my. gosh. What are they thinking? I gag a little every time I see one. Possibly the worst way ever to commemorate your dearly departed.

    Ahem. Now that I’m finished ranting, I also wanted to say that I love that chandelier and am totally on board with getting rid of all fluorescent lights. I have a super cute little chandy in my kids’ playroom :)

  6. dekornist says:

    it is very good. Thanks for the great works

  7. Amy says:

    Thank you so much for this awesome (and super helpful) tutorial! My husband and I just changed our light fixture in our living room. I’m sure lots of people read this and forget to come back and say thanks! We really appreciate it!!

  8. This is the best, most simple, instruction on replacing lighting I have ever seen! I can do this!!!

  9. Michael says:

    Thanks for explaining how to replace a fixture without going into all the electrical talk that only professionals understand.