Chandeliers aren’t just for formal dining rooms anymore. With a little time and these ideas, you can create a fun, one-of-a-kind chandelier for your child’s room.
First, if you aren’t familiar with electrical wiring, your public library has books showing the basics of rewiring lights or making them from scratch. And, home improvement and hardware stores offer kits and supplies for lighting projects.
Wiring chandeliers and other light fixtures isn’t difficult, but an illustrated guide in a Reader’s Digest or other home improvement book will make this project even simpler.
START WITH A THEME
The best way to create a fun chandelier for your child is to focus on a theme.
The theme might be colors. Red, yellow, and blue are classic colors in coloring books, and they often work well for a toddler’s bedroom decor.
Older children may favor specialized colors. A girl who loves Barbie dolls may want shades of pink and white in her room. Or, a favorite sports team’s color may dominate the room.
Some children choose the “house colors” of their favorite Harry Potter characters. Other children prefer a more generic color scheme, such as greens and blues for the outdoors, purple and silver for fantasy, or pink and lilac for fairy tales.
The theme might be related to toys, such as Teletubbies, trucks or spaceships, ponies or Spongebob characters.
Some children enjoy more academic subjects such as astronomy, a favorite country, or a particular era in history. Even mathematics–particularly numbers–can be the foundation for a themed chandelier.
Next, it’s time to design the basic chandelier. Do you want to make it from scratch, or customize a readymade lamp?
Read through all of these suggestions before you begin your project. Some ideas can be adapted to other kinds of chandeliers, with a little imagination.
START WITH A READYMADE CHANDELIER
If you’re working with an older chandelier, see if the wiring should be replaced.
If the basic design is ho-hum, consider covering it with plaster-embedded gauze (the kind used for casts on broken bones), paper clay, and/or painting it. However, be certain not to make the chandelier too heavy for your ceiling fixture.
Be sure to pre-treat the surface for paint, unless it’s unfinished wood. Plaster or fabric will need gesso first; varnished wood or metal may need light sanding and special paints.
And, after any surface treatment, be sure to seal the chandelier with an acrylic finish. This makes it possible to add embellishments later. It also makes dusting and cleaning easier, when the chandelier is in use.
MAKE YOUR OWN DESIGN FROM SCRATCH
If you’re naturally creative or have an idea that requires starting from scratch, you’ll get a head start if you find a lamp kit that works with your design. Hobby, crafts, hardware, and home improvement stores are good places to look. Some larger lighting stores may carry interesting kits or supplies, too.
Keep in mind that most chandeliers have a central structure–often with a series of arms–that hold the individual light bulbs and other ornamentation.
If you’re going to create your own chandelier arms, there are two major things to consider: First, be sure that you can feed necessary wiring through the arm. Then, be certain that the arm will support the weight of the light bulb, and a shade or other decorations and embellishments.
Metal tubes can work, but come with two risks. The metal can create a dangerous short circuit if there is any exposed wiring. And, if you use something heavy such as copper tubing, your ceiling fixture may not be able to support the finished chandelier.
PVC pipes, sold in the plumbing section of your hardware store, can be a good option. Lightly sanded with steel wool or sandpaper, some PVC will accept latex or acrylic paint. Or, you can sew a thin fabric tube to slide over the pipe.
Another way to cover PVC pipe is to wrap it with bias-cut fabric. Dip the fabric in a mixture of white glue and water, as you wrap. In most cases, the fabric won’t lay entirely flat against the PVC pipe. However, if it’s a cotton fabric, it may shrink a little as it dries, and grip the pipe more tightly.
Touch up any spots you miss with a sponge brush dipped in the glue solution. While the surface is wet, you can sprinkle glitter over it, too.
To join pieces of PVC pipe at a central hub, you can use a special glue or putty, PVC hardware, or cut holes in sturdy Styrofoam, and glue the piping in place. A solid rubber ball can work for this, too.
Or, you might use a child’s toy or a model as the hub. Just be certain that it’s not too heavy, that it’s heat- and fireproof, and that you can cut the appropriate holes in it.
No matter how you connect the PVC pipes, you’ll want to cover the joints–and maybe the hub–with paint or fabric.
For a dimensional covering or embellishments, you can mold and shape lightweight air-drying plastic clay around the chandelier. Crayola Model Magic Clay is ideal, but there are other products with similar qualities that can work, too. Many of these clays can be painted after they dry, too.
Next, you’ll need something to suspend the chandelier from the ceiling fixture. Generally, it’s not a good idea to rely upon the electrical wiring to do this, especially if your chandelier is even moderately heavy.
You can buy chandelier chains and other replacement hardware at most home improvement stores. It’s best to use materials that were designed for this purpose.
Finally, feed the wiring through the pipes, and attach the light bulb sockets (and perhaps socket shells). Be sure to leave enough wiring at the top of the chandelier to connect with the concealed wiring at in your ceiling fixture.
If your chandelier will hang from a hook and include its own on-off switch, it’s a good idea to complete that wiring now.
EMBELLISHING THE CHANDELIER
Whether you’re remodeling an existing chandelier or making one from scratch, now you’re at the really fun part of the project: Embellishing the light.
To decorate the chandelier, you can use almost anything that is lightweight, fire resistant, and won’t melt if it’s near a hot light bulb.
You’re looking for items that can be suspended from the chandelier, in place of more traditional crystals. You may also find hollow, fire- and heat-resistant toys that can be placed around the light socket shell (the part that holds each light bulb). Rings intended for candles can be safe for this.
If your theme is fantasy or astronomy, stars–especially glow-in-the-dark stars–can be dazzling. A Barbie-themed chandelier could feature accessories for the doll, and “Barbie pink” silk flowers. Harry Potter enthusiasts might like a series of small model owls suspended from the chandelier. Airplanes, spaceships, flowers, small figures, and ribbons can look fabulous glued to or hanging from the chandelier.
To unify the design, drape any kind of garland around and over the chandelier arms. This can be a glitter garland or a floral garland from a crafts supply shop, or ornate trim from the fabric store. Many “dollar stores” carry ideal, themed garlands for parties. If you’re shopping in the party section of any store, look for inexpensive party favors as embellishments for your chandelier, too.
MORE IS BETTER
When it comes to embellishments, it’s difficult to go overboard. There are only four reasons to stop embellishing:
- The chandelier looks great, and the project is complete.
- If you added anything more, the chandelier would be too heavy to hang safely.
- The chandelier is so overloaded, some of the better decorations are concealed.
- Everything on the chandelier is covered, except the light bulbs. Never put decorations close to the bulbs, especially if the decor might melt or catch fire.
CHOOSING LIGHT BULBS
When you’re selecting light bulbs for your new chandelier, be certain that you know the correct wattage for the individual bulb sockets, as well as how many lights your electrical wiring will support.
If your child’s room uses a dimmer switch, check with a lighting specialist for the best bulbs to use in your chandelier.
With those points in mind, you’ll probably find a surprising assortment of bulbs at the home improvement store. Lighting stores can offer even more options. In fact, changing the color or style of bulbs in your chandelier can give it an entirely new look, from one season to the next.
If you’re buying novelty bulbs, be sure to stock up on replacements. Sometimes, light companies phase out unusual bulb colors or shapes. With extras on hand, you’re ready when a bulb burns out.
BEFORE YOU DISPLAY YOUR CHANDELIER
When your chandelier is ready to hang, double-check it for safety.
- Are all electrical wires fully covered and safe?
- Does the chandelier require extra supports to be certain that it won’t fall?
- Can your wiring safely handle the number of lights and the sizes of them?
- Are all of the embellishments firmly attached, especially the heavier ones? Is there anything that, if it fell off, a small child might put in his or her mouth?
It’s best to be extra certain of these safety concerns, when furnishing a child’s room.
Once your chandelier is complete, follow the manual or the lighting kit’s instructions. If you’re using a ceiling fixture, or attaching it to wiring in the ceiling or the walls, proceed with caution. Generally, it’s smart to ask your electrician to install the chandelier for you.
Chandeliers are festive decorations. When you’ve completed the light and installed it, invite friends in for an informal party to celebrate its completion!Chandeliers