Chris and I have lived in our townhouse for over seven years now – it’ll be eight in October! Incoming cliché: I can’t even believe how fast time flies. And in those 7+ years, we’ve been staring at this builders-grade brass chandelier above our dining room table. Well, not continuously staring, but still. Every time I see it, I feel brassy sadness. But alas, we (meaning me, really) haven’t found another fixture that
we I love. It has to have a ridiculously long chain/cord, so that narrows our choices down unless we want to have something rewired (which I’m willing to do if I found the right fixture).
For perspective, here’s a really old photo I took before we moved in when we were house-hunting. (Aw, memories!) See how the chandelier is installed on the vaulted ceiling? Well, it’s cut off in the photo, but you can hopefully picture it. I have been dreaming of at least painting the fixture with oil-rubbed bronze spray paint, but as you can imagine, getting it down and putting it back up would require a really really tall ladder and some nerves, so we just haven’t tried it. I contemplated spray painting it right in place with drop cloths over everything, but that’s risky, too. I’m sure I’d get paint everywhere. I can’t even brush my teeth without making a mess.
So I continued to hunt for the perfect dining room lighting. I love the look of the oversized drum shades that I’ve been seeing everywhere. I have been staring longingly at these photos (found on houzz.com):
And I even found a lamp at west elm that I really liked, but it’s a single-bulb fixture and I was worried it wouldn’t give off much light.
I actually bought it hoping to just plop the shade over our existing fixture, but the shade was a little too shallow and wouldn’t completely hide our little brass monkey.
Enter Pinterest and its glorious wealth of inspiration. I saw someone else pin a few tutorials on how to make your own custom drum shade – perfect! I read through a few of them and decided to give it a try. I mostly followed along with The Keylor Family’s tutorial and made a few adjustments of my own.
Here are my supplies, pretty much the same as the other tutorials out there – two 23″ quilting hoops, two acrylic panels, fabric, glue gun/sticks (not pictured), and hanging hardware. I wanted a light neutral color, so I decided to go with a fairly stiff canvas fabric so that it would be opaque enough to mostly hide the shadows. I chose a white rip-stop nylon for the diffuser panel underneath because I liked that it was very sheer but also sturdy. I also decided to use eyelet screws and picture-hanging wire to hang the shade.
I didn’t have a special tool to cut the acrylic panels (found at Home Depot – they’re the covers for fluorescent ceiling lights) so I just used scissors and manhandled my way through after measuring them for my hoops and for the depth I wanted to cover the entire fixture. The panels actually chipped and splintered quite a bit, so after a minute of cutting I decided I better wear glasses. Safety first, yo!
Once I had the panels cut to size, I wrapped them around the inner rims of the two quilting hoops (hang onto the outer rims – you might end up using one like I did), and held it all together with a bunch of binder clips.
Then, with my trusty glue gun I worked my way around the edges with beads of glue in between the hoop and acrylic panel, removing the binder clips as I went along. I actually cracked the acrylic at one point while trying to get my glue gun in between. I had a mini heart-attack, but it was okay. Try to be gentle, but if a crack occurs it will be hidden behind the fabric so no worries.
Voila, the finished structure:
Next, I measured my fabric – thanks to math, I knew I needed the diameter of the hoop multiplied by 3.14 (a.k.a. pi) plus a little extra to fold over as a clean seam. Go, geometry! I ironed my fabric first to get any wrinkles out and to press a clean folded edge on one side. Once my fabric was prepped, I used the wrap-and-binder-clip method to hold the fabric in place while I glued. Tip: pull and tug as you go along. I actually started with a bead of glue on one side, then went across to the opposite side and put a bead there, and sort of went in sections almost like cutting a pie from whole to halves to quarters, etc.
After I glued all the way around, I realized I was left with some extra fabric that would show through on the edges when the light was on, so I went back and trimmed it with scissors.
Still with me? Okay, so here’s the part where I got excited and forgot to take photos for each step. I liked the look of the rip-stop fabric for the diffuser panel, but gluing it into the inside of the shade like the Keylors did wasn’t working – I couldn’t get it taut enough and it was sagging. Thankfully I was able to pull it back out and come up with another idea.
I grabbed the outer part of the quilting hoop, pried the wooden block adjusting things off using a butter knife and removed the staples. I put that ring inside the shade to determine what size would fit snugly, marked it, and then cut the hoop down and taped the ends together. Then, I wrapped the rip-stop nylon around again securing it with the binder clips, and was able to pull it so tight across that it was like a drum head while gluing.
Super smooth! Next, I trimmed that excess fabric from around the edges.
I was able to place it right inside the shade (from the top-down). It was a perfect fit and I probably didn’t even have to glue it in place, but I did run a line of glue around the edges in between the two hoops just to add some reinforcement. Here’s the nearly-finished shade upside-down.
To hang the shade, I installed four little eyelet screws into the top hoop. I actually used Chris’s drill to make a tiny pilot hole because I couldn’t get the eyelet screw to just screw into the wood. Then, I strung the picture hanging wire onto s-hooks and through the chain of our chandelier. It seems sturdy enough!
And here’s the finished product! Ta da! Yes, I did go buy fresh flowers to celebrate. And I did a little dance.
Here’s how she looks lit up in the evening. I can still see a little bit of the outline of the chandelier, but it’s not bad.
And here’s a picture of the seam – I lined it up with one of the spots where the acrylic panels meet.
I’m really happy with the way it turned out! The total cost was $43, and it only took about 4 hours. I’m calling this Pinterest project a definite success – this should tide us over until we find the perfect light fixture. Or we may just leave it up forever. Onto the next project!
UPDATE 8/23: I’m not sure I would recommend using the nylon ripstop fabric for the diffuser panel. This morning it was a little bit wavy in some spots – the nylon seems to change with temperature, because when I turned the light on for a few minutes, the fabric eventually tightened back up. (Is this a “duh” thing that everyone else knows about nylon? I had no idea.) The wrinkles weren’t bad enough that it’s noticeable unless you inspect it, but it might be enough to bug me into trying to change it out. 🙂
UPDATE 9/12: Oddly enough, the nylon fabric stayed tightened up and hasn’t wrinkled again after a few weeks now, so I’m happy with that choice. It looks really great.
Let me know if you have any questions about any of the steps!