A good light is hard to find

Why is it so hard to find a good light fixture? When I’m on the hunt for something cool to illuminate my space, I see a lot of lights that are what a friend used to call the “golden boob” light. I am betting you know the look. It’s the ceiling mount globe with a golden knob at the bottom that secures the light. It looks like a boob. And, these lamps run amok at Home Depot and Lowe’s.

I got rid of all my golden boobs years ago, but that doesn’t mean I’m in love with all my lights that are currently in place. Some could definitely use improvement in the creativity department. I’ve been looking at antique fixtures, but the good stuff is going to set me back some serious coin. And I’m trying to save up for a major deck remodel. So I started thinking, could I actually make a super unique light fixture that rocks?

Check this out:



This is a light I hung in my house years ago. It’s not a bad light, but I’m sick of it. 

So what if I got a light kit and attached something funky? Like a colander? 

That would make nice shadows on the wall. A vintage colander would be even better. Or, hey! What about a vintage funnel? I feel like I should take a walk through my dad’s garage and find possible light fixtures in the boxes of hidden gems he’s been hoarding for 50 years. 

Then I started thinking of everything I could do with the cord / light bulb combination above – and there are infinite variations on cords and light bulbs! You can whip up all sorts of amazing partnerships!

Here is one of my fixtures that I still like:


But say I wanted a change. Those pendants above are hanging from track, and that track could be used in about a million other ways. There are tons of cool cords and mounts out there. (Check out Lumens, Amazon, Schoolhouse Electric, Home Depot.) How about if someone hung old birdhouses from pendants like this on a track? They could be different shaped birdhouses, different colors, different heights. They could be metal or wood, or both. That would be a sculpture hanging from the ceiling, only with light! And an old birdhouse could be ceiling mounted as well. You could hang it from cup hooks around a bare bulb. (I like that idea a lot!) 

How about hanging old flowerpots, old buckets, vintage tins, vintage drums, or any other cool collectible around these cords? 


Perhaps the easiest thing to do with a cord and light bulb is to plug it in and wrap it around something, like a hook:
Yes! Plug in a light bulb and wrap the cord around one of these sweet hooks, and you have a sconce! Nice. I just wrapped mine around my bedpost so I can move it as needed, perhaps closer to my book when reading in bed. And just today I saw a woman had strung cool beads on her cord, and then turned it into a sconce. Good Lord, people are so creative! 

I know there are more great lighting ideas out there — endless, really! I can’t even imagine what you will come up with. Personally, I’m thinking of trying to find an old domed car part to replace that first light fixture above. Maybe even an old headlamp? I will hang the headlamp from chains or metal wire so it is suspended separately from the light bulb. I will drop the light bulb down the center, maybe coiling the cord so I can raise and lower it. That way I get to incorporate a few of my favorite things: light bulbs, chain, and car parts. Once you get going, it’s really quite easy to be creative. 

Portlander Nancy Ranchel is a self-described accountant, design fan, serial re-modeler, compulsive re-user, and blog writer.