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How to Hang a Chandelier in a Room without Ceiling Light Wiring

This tutorial is a great way of adding an overhead light without the expense or hassle of adding or altering existing wiring inside your walls and ceilings. It’s a perfect solution for renters in old homes- and even a good way to add a charming vintage fixture in a room with existing but harshly colored lighting (i.e. many professional offices where harsh fluorescent lighting is the only overhead light source). When I sold my home and moved to a studio in downtown Seattle’s Belltown district, I even tweaked the method to protect a rental deposit.

Lighting Rooms with No Overhead Electrical Box

In older homes, builders often didn’t install wiring for an overhead light in common spaces like living rooms. It was fashionable at the time to have lamps warmly lighting a living room- but in today’s multi-purpose living room, most people prefer a mix: lamps for setting a mood and overhead light to fully illuminate the room on demand.

Hawk Hill’s living room is of the former persuasion. Stuck with walking around turning on and off multiple lamps, what I really wanted was one switch near the door to control the lights in my living room- and I wasn’t about to open the pandora’s box of having an electrician run new wires through Hawk Hill’s 90-year-old plaster and lathe walls. It took a bit of research and creativity, but I figured out how to have my cake and eat it too- using the quick DIY method described below. Now, when the wall switch is flipped in Hawk Hill’s living room, a chandelier and lamp both switch on and brightly illuminate the room. Thrilled with the results for a few months now, I thought I’d take a few minutes to share the instructions for installing a wireless switch for illuminating your own lair of darkness.

Easy tutorial for handing a chandelier with wall switch in a room without overhead wiring

How to Hang a Chandelier in a Room without Ceiling Light Wiring:

 

Supply List:

Step 1: Choose a light fixture:

I picked a chandelier (of course!) but any light fixture designed to hang should work (i.e. a modified pendant or drum shade style fixture should work).

In this crude example (literally a spare chandelier I stored- functionally!- in my garage for a few months) you can see how hanging light fixtures can be hung from a different point than they are wired. The trick for most applications is hiding the cord.

Step 2. Convert wiring connection

I already have a popular blog post on how to convert a light fixture to a plug-in style lamp, but for optimal safety you’ll want to convert this light fixture a bit differently from that method.

Since you’ll need a long cord to reach from ceiling to outlet, you’ll actually need to splice the wires of the light fixture to the male end of a heavy-duty extension cord. An electrician can help you with this project, or you can check out my illustrated instructions: splicing a hardwired light to an extension cord in this tutorial.

 

As you can see in the photo below, heat shrink tubes make it easy to splice wiring for a smooth, safe, single cord.

 

Step 3. Install a Sturdy ceiling hook

You’ll need to install a hook on your ceiling for your new light. Because light fixtures can be heavy and especially dangerous if they fall, it’s very very important that you use a good quality hook and anchor it a ceiling joist or beam. I like this easy install heavy duty ceiling hook.

Ceiling joists are basically just “studs” but in the ceiling- you can a joist just like you would locate a wall stud. Any stud finder or a number of tricks you can find via google should help you locate a joist to install a hook for your light.

If you can’t find a stud or there isn’t a stud where you want your light,  ceiling hooks with “toggle wings” should be able to hold any light fixture under 20 lbs if installed properly on a hollow wall, plaster and lathe, or mid-sheet drywall.

Step 4. Hide or Disguise the Cord

Once you have your light rewired and ceiling hook installed, installation can be as simple as just hanging the light fixture, however, I prefer to put some thought into how to mask or cover the cord. With your light hanging from the ceiling, the cord will be very visible. For this project, I chose a Velcro-On Chandelier Cord Cover to make my extension cord a bit less of an eyesore.

Option #2 for hiding the cord: use one of the amazing extension cords disguised as manila rope available from Haddock Industrial.

Hang a Chandelier without hardwiring by converting to a lamp and then covering the cord.

A burlap cord covers adds style to the exposed cord.

 

Also, consider how your cord will be running down your wall to an outlet. Can you conceal it behind molding? Tuck it around a picture frame?

You may wish to paint your extension cord to help it blend in. To easily paint a cord, just place a plastic sandwich bag over your hand, place an old sock over the plastic bag, and then place a few tablespoons of paint in your gloved palm. You can paint an extension cord in moments by pulling the cord through your paint-filled mitt. The exposed section of my cord is painted Wythe Blue to match the walls.

chandelier light fixture hung from cieling without a hardwired outlet

My light’s cord runs down the wall. To conceal it, I arranged the cord so it runs down the wall on the far side of window moulding. The cord was then painted the same color as the wall.

 

Step 5. Adding & Setting up a Wireless Switch

By step five, you’ll have a ceiling mounted light in your formerly lamp-lit room, but you’ll be limited to turning the new overhead light on and off by plugging it in and unplugging it. To add an easy wall switch, I scoured Amazon and found this gem (which I now have 3 of, around the house!) Westek RFK100LC/RFK101LC Wall Mounted Switch and Plug-in Receiver

This product comes in two parts: a wireless switch (basically, a remote control) that you attach to your wall, and a remotely-controlled outlet which turns the light on or off according to the signal sent by the wireless switch.

creative lighting for a room with no overhead light

This wall light switch is actually a wireless remote styled as a light switch.

 

Here are a few views of how the setup works in my living room to control two lights. First, the zoomed out view:

creative lighting for a room with no overhead light

The wireless switch controls the power strip, and the power strip sends power to the lamp on the table and the chandelier- together, bright enough to light the entire room as well as an overhead light. (What’s that? Oh. Yes! Yes there ARE branches on the ceiling. 😉

 

Here’s a more detailed view of the setup:

how to add a wireless lightswitch to light a room without a hardwired outlet

 

And here’s a panorama of the room without furniture, scrunched up so you can see the entire setup:

creative lighting for a room with no overhead light

How I light my living room that has no wiring for an overhead light: the wireless remote (looks like a light switch) is screwed to the wall on the left side of the photo, and the wireless receiver outlet (centered below double windows) turns on or off power to the lamp and a specially modified chandelier (click here for instructions) when the wireless switch is flipped.

 

 

I still consider my living room a work in progress (those couches were out the next week! yikes!), but love how it’s coming together. Here are a few work-in-progress shots.

 

creative lighting for a room with no overhead light

Finally loving my mantel. Trophy cups, stirrups, and horse books make it equestrian themed, but when this white dachshund figure came home, I knew just where he belonged!

 

creative lighting for a room with no overhead light

tan throw pillow with brown studded belt

I love decorating with animals and re-purposed animal handling equipment. In this shot, a leather dog collar adds style to a cheap throw pillow.

 

blog_hh_chand_updt_257_sm

 

living room at hawk hill

Winter 2019/2020 Update: Using this method for auxiliary lighting

In 2015 I made the big plunge into tiny living, and two chandeliers made it past the “love-inventory” and were packed into my downsized life. Although my studio apartment in downtown Seattle had overhead lighting, it never seemed bright enough to push back the gloom of Seattle winter enough to work on the art, craft, and DIY projects that I love. So I hung a chandelier in my apartment and repeated this method once again, this time with one change: instead of mounting the wireless remote as a light switch, I hung it with velcro-style command strips. This allows me to carry the remote to bed with me on nights I want the room fully lit as I get ready for bed, and turn the light off- without getting up- when I’m ready for bed. This has been such a small luxury- and such a delight to settle into bed with a book by the warm light of a chandelier.

Easy tutorial for handing a chandelier with wall switch in a room without overhead wiring

 

A Request

If this tutorial saved you the expense of having an electrician in and out to convert your light fixture, would you consider saying thanks by becoming a $1 sponsor to help keep this website operating?

Other Chandelier Related Posts:

the no-electrician-needed way to hang a chandelier in an apartment without losing your deposit

 

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Laura Laudadio

Saturday 10th of October 2020

Thank you so much for this valuable information that we will certainly use to hang an auxiliary/decorative light fixture. Now my dilemma is where to hang it! We have plenty of canned lighting in our newly remodeled family room but sometimes that is too much. I bought this cascading light fixture in Colorado where I feel in love with it before I figured out where to hang it. If I send you some photos would you be able to offer me some advice?

Lindsayanne

Saturday 10th of October 2020

Thanks so much for reaching out. Unfortunately, my blogging does not extend to availability for consults, for now!

Maria

Friday 4th of September 2020

I have a iron chandalier that i gutted out i want to use battery operated light on it Can i hang this 24 lbs chandalier on a jumbo swag hook and would it hold it securely without it crashing down

Lindsayanne

Saturday 5th of September 2020

Hi Maria- it definitely depends on the hook you choose and the method you use to mount that hook to your ceiling. 24 lbs is very heavy, so my recommendation would be to buy a specialty ceiling hook specifically rated for that weight, and make sure it's mounted properly (for typical ceilings, that means locating the stud, triple verifying that location, and then using a ceiling hook designed to be screwed into wood)

Alicia

Thursday 7th of February 2019

How is the cord attached to the hook to maintain the length and the slack?

Lindsayanne

Saturday 9th of February 2019

Great question! I think I have an image that might answer your question better than an explanation, so I'm including it below. Unlike many lightweight modern fixtures, generally, older/larger chandeliers have a chain for mounting- and the electrical cord is threaded through it so that the actual wires bear no weight.

Suzanne

Monday 22nd of February 2016

Thank you so much for this post Lindsayanne. You have been so helpful. I live in a prewar plaster/high ceiling apartment. There is no ceiling light installed in the living room and the living room is 22 feet long. My biggest fear is only the part of getting a hook onto the ceiling to hang the chandelier from. I am so paranoid that it might fall. Any suggestions? Is there a special type of hook I can purchase that will hold on for dear life? Thanks! Suzanne

GratAtt

Tuesday 29th of December 2015

Could you give me the name brand of the switch you're using and do you still like it? I need to use something like this for a light in my apartment hallway, which is very dark. I considered those push-on lights, but they aren't very sturdy and won't last long enough, so I'm going to mount a pendant light in the hallway.

Lindsayanne

Saturday 16th of January 2016

How did your project turn out? The switch I use is the Westek 100LC. I've got three in use around the property, the oldest going on 6 years, and I've had 0 problems with them!

GratAtt

Tuesday 29th of December 2015

Never mind. I see the name brand now, but it doesn't have good reviews, so I think I'll keep looking.