Turn Old Light Fixtures Into Modern Geometric Lanterns

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Refashion outdated glass light fixtures into modern geometric lanterns with the help of little more than an adjustable wrench and a good cleaning.

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Things You’ll Need

  • Glass light fixtures
  • Gloves
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Glass cleaner
  • Cotton or microfiber cloth
  • Pillar candles, varied sizes

Tim and I have had our eyes on beautiful geometric lanterns with faceted glass panels that are found in high-end home and decorating stores.

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Image credits: Anthropologie // Terrain // Not on The High Street

It wasn’t until we almost overlooked a pair of outdated glass light fixtures at our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore that we realized we could make our own budget-friendly versions of these geometric lanterns.

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The glass shells of these large-scale light fixtures mimic the high-end geometric lanterns. Look for the outdated versions at thrift shops, your local ReStore or estate sales. Don’t worry if the electrical components are in rough shape — it’s the glass vessel you’re after!

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The basic idea is deconstructing and removing the lighting components from inside the fixture to use the glass shell.

Depending on the type of light fixture you’re working with, there may be insulation adhered to the upper portion, like in the smaller flush-mounted ceiling fixture we found. Put on gloves, remove the insulation — scraping away any adhered bits — and dispose of it immediately. Batt style insulation is usually made up of fiberglass fragments, so use caution when handling it.

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After the insulation is removed, the lighting components of the fixture will typically be secured and hanging from the top canopy of the fixture by a locknut.

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Loosen the locknut using an adjustable wrench, then free the inside lighting assembly by pulling it from the canopy opening. Clean away any remaining bits of insulation from the canopy to achieve a smooth finish.

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When working with suspended-style light fixtures, there will typically be an ornamental topper that contains the secured lighting components.

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Twist the top ring to loosen and expose the threaded rod that’s holding the remaining pieces in place.

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Continue to dismantle and untwist the remaining ornamental components of the topper until the base of the fixture canopy is exposed. Use an adjustable wrench to loosen any locknuts contained within.

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Pull the inside lighting assembly free from the canopy opening.

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Wipe the glass vessels clean on the inside and out using a cotton or microfiber cloth and glass cleaner.

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Position the glass vessels canopy-side down so the original top now acts as each lantern’s base.

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Arrange pillar candles inside the lanterns, varying the sizes for an illuminating effect.

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Place lanterns along an entryway for a glowing welcome or use as a statement centerpiece at your next gathering.

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Looking for more bright ideas? See how we made DIY sconces from industrial plumbing pipes and learn how to make simple mason jar pendant lights compatible with a track lighting system.

Cheers,
Mary & Tim

Keep up with Mary and Tim’s adventures in DIY, home and gardening on their collaborative lifestyle blog, 17Apart. Find them on Instagram (@17Apart) and page through delicious recipes on Tim’s food blog, E.A.T.

Photo credits: Mary & Tim Vidra

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