Within a week of signing the lease on my tiny studio apartment in Seattle, I had one of my favorite vintage chandeliers shipped to me from Missouri. Determined my new life had to have at least one chandelier, I converted it from a light fixture to a lamp with a plug and set about finding a spot to mount it… with no success. My stud finder proved useless and when I did locate a joist to anchor a ceiling hook to I didn’t have the tools in my tiny apartment to make it work.
Fast forward six months- six months of a sad, dark chandelier gathering dust on a shelf in my apartment- and the offer of a friend to bring the tools needed to hang this chandelier in its glory.
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How to Hang a Chandelier in Rental Housing:
Rental contracts usually stipulate no damage to walls or ceilings, and that electrical light fixtures not be removed (assuming you could, of course, get access to a breaker box to change a fixture safely in the first place) To handle my lighting situation and hang a chandelier in my rental apartment without risking my deposit, I took these steps:
- Aquire Chandelier – I’m partial to the unique look of vintage chandeliers, and have sourced a few on Etsy’s Vintage listings– where you can choose from original or modernized wiring.
- Convert Chandelier to a plug-in lamp style- (see my entire article about that here)
- Install a STRONG ceiling hook in your ceiling. This hook can hold up to 35lbs in drywall without requiring you to locate a joist. (More than enough for the vast majority of chandeliers- my heavy metal chandelier weighed 11 lbs including dozens of crystal baubles!) Because my ceiling is plaster we went ahead and used a stud finder to locate a ceiling joist in order to avoid stressing the brittle plaster.
- Hang the chandelier from the hook – Using the now corded chandelier and ceiling hook, I hung the chandelier from the ceiling and swagged the cord over to the wall. By plugging the now-corded chandelier into a remote outlet with wireless switch, I was able to make this chandelier as easy to use as an overhead light. (Read more about how to set up the remote switch in this blog post on lighting a living room with no overhead light.)
- Grab some wood filler so you have it on hand when you move. Ceilings are (almost) always flat white, so when you move you should be able to unscrew your ceiling hook and fill the small hole left behind with wood filler to restore your ceiling to perfection – keeping your landlord happy and your deposit unscathed. (Wood-filler is also handy to have on hand for filling the pre-drilled holes in pre-fab bookcases, making them look more like custom built-ins)
If you really hate your rental grade installed overhead light, check out my article on how I created a shade to cover my ugly rental overhead light.