When we moved into our condo, one of the first things on my to-do list was switching out the light fixtures. It’s such an easy upgrade that you can even make in a rental (just don’t toss the old fixture and swap it back out when you move!). Plus, it’s such a quick and inexpensive change that makes a HUGE impact. We didn’t pay more than $90 for a single light fixture, yet they completely changed the look of our condo.
Think about it, if you’re staring at one of those terrible boob-lights that are omnipresent in apartments or, maybe like us, are simply dealing with a previous owner’s taste that may run a little more…let’s say glam than your own, then a $50-100 investment and a 30-minute DIY project can give you a totally new look in your space. And, I promise you, you don’t need to call an electrician to teach you how to replace a light fixture.
Wondering what we did with the existing fixtures that were in our condo when we moved in? I sold them on Facebook marketplace. Unfortunately, we sold them for significantly less than they were worth (like $400+ fixtures for $50 each), but, at the end of the day, we didn’t buy them, so anything gained was a win.
HOW TO REPLACE A LIGHT FIXTURE
To replace a light fixture, you’ll need a ladder, a screwdriver, and a second set of hands. While Adam did most of the work when it came to detaching the existing fixtures and installing the new ones, there were times where it was helpful to have me there. Whether it was handing him screws or helping to hold up a heavy fixture as he attached the base,
- Turn off the power via the breakers in the fuse box. Ideally, each breaker will be labeled correctly and you can isolate only the one that is relevant to the fixture you’re working on — but, you can also be paranoid like me and turn every single breaker in the house off.*
- Remove the existing fixture. Removing the existing fixture should be fairly intuitive. You’ll unscrew any obvious exterior screws holding the light and the light canopy (the piece that attaches to the ceiling) up. Remove the cover. Detach the existing wiring between the fixture and ceiling junction lightbox. There may be up to 3 different wires: white, black, and copper/green. And, finally, unscrew any final screws holding up the fixture. This is where a second set of hands comes in handy to help you hold up the fixture while unscrewing and then carefully removing it from the ceiling.
- Read the instructions for your new light fixture! Hey, not sure if it needs to be said, but I’m saying it. I tend to jump in to projects, but this is one area where you may want to look at the specifications from the manufacturer. I found that, generally, directions were minimal, but it’s always worth looking.
- Check to see if the lightbox from the existing fixture matches up to your new fixture. In all cases for us, it did. If it does not, you may have an extra step of replacing the junction.
- Connect the wiring on your new fixture to the wiring in the ceiling. You’ll see that your new fixture has wires that match up to those in the ceiling (white, black, and copper/green). Connect the coordinating wires and push them back up into the lightbox.
- Attach the light canopy and the fixture. This is where the instructions may give you some idea of how it comes together — or you could be on your own and going off common sense.
- Add light bulbs and voila! You have a new light fixture!
*Despite all my paranoia, I DID shock myself once during the process. I was holding up a fixture for Adam to see the height I wanted and grabbed the wires sticking it out of the ceiling to move them out of the way — totally forgetting we hadn’t yet turned the power off. It definitely hurt, but I’m still here.
THE BUDGET-FRIENDLY FIXTURES WE USED IN OUR CONDO
You may recall the post I did earlier this year on the Sputnik Chandelier in our dining area (it’s just $89.99 on Amazon!). This chandelier has been one of my best-selling items on the blog this year, so I know lots of you have decided to take on this easy peasy DIY project!
The other fixture we switched out was in our hall. We added two of these black and copper pendants for an industrial library look. These had one added piece when it came to the installation — we had to cut the cord to shorten them. It was during this process, deciding how short to cut it, that I shocked myself (see above), whoops.
We still have swapping out our bathroom fixtures on the to-do list, but, you can’t do everything at once, right?!