Looking to build a really beautiful DIY chandelier for your home? This multi-bulb dining room chandelier makes a huge impact, and I’ve got the full tutorial for how to make it yourself!
I’ve always had a thing for lighting – there’s just something about a big, impactful chandelier that makes my soul happy. In our first home, we struggled to find something that would make the impact we were looking for that wasn’t way out of budget. So, we decided to tackle the problem head-on and make something ourselves.
We’re nothing if not adventurous.
There are dozens of different was you can tackle your own DIY chandelier. The internet is full of easy DIY chandelier ideas! You could make a mason jar chandelier, chandeliers with craft supplies like twine and wooden beads, and I’ve even seen chandeliers made from embroidery hoops! There’s so much creativity out there and I love seeing it all. But, our goal with our DIY chandelier was to achieve something that looked and felt like we bought it from a store. We didn’t want it to feel homemade at all, and I really think we achieved our goal.
Oh, and the best part? We only spent about $250 on materials. And we ended up with this:
Trust me. You’re gonna want to see this.
Let’s get to the explanation.
An obligatory disclaimer: I’m no electrician, and I am not claiming to be. Taking on any electrical work in your home comes with inherent risks. If you want to avoid any risk, I’d recommend having an electrician help you out.
How to Build a DIY Chandelier
Planning + Mapping Out Bulbs:
Start by cutting your 1×12 board down to the size you want (we did 5′). If you do a shorter chandelier, you’ll need fewer light bulbs. We did four light bulbs per row, and the rows are 3″ apart. So, just adjust the number of bulbs you purchase accordingly!
Now, you’ll mark your 1×12 board with a pencil to indicate where you need to drill holes for all of your bulbs. Starting 1″ from the long edge and 3″ in from the short edge, mark every 3″ (so, at 1″, 4″, 7″, and 10″).
Do that on each of the short sides of the board, then draw lines to connect them so you end up with four lines running lengthwise down your board.
Then, go down each line and mark every 3″. These marks are where all of the cord lengths will hang, and you’ll have a bulb at the end of the each piece. But, not all of the bulbs will actually function. That’s overkill. Only 8 (or 1/10) of the lights will actually be attached to sockets!
So, your next step is to decide which ones will be functioning.
I’d love to give you some really simple method for figuring out which lights should be working, but it was a lot of trial and error for us. We played around with a bunch of different configurations (marking them with a pencil) until we found one in which they were all nicely spaced and looked pretty random. Then, we marked where the lights would go by circling their dot with a sharpie.
Before constructing the box, go ahead and drill all of the holes you’ve marked. You’ll want to drill them large enough to fit the rope, so about 3/8″ is ideal.
Construct the Box
Now you’re ready to actually start building! We decided to make our base come down about 6″ from the ceiling, but you can adjust to what looks best in your specific space. Just remember you’ll need some space for wiring.
For those of you following along, the final dimensions of our base ended up being 60″ long, 11″ wide, and 6″ tall.
We used wood glue and pocket holes (created by our Kreg Jig ) to assemble the box. You can also just drill screws in from the outside if you’re okay with visible screws!
Here’s how the completed base of the light looked once it was assembled:
Next up, you’ll want to thoroughly sand the base, and then stain (or paint) it in your desired color.
Hang the Base Supports
To hang our chandelier, we cut a couple of pieces of scrap wood to act as braces, then mounted them to studs in the ceiling. We hung them so that they would sit towards either end of the base, and the entire thing would be centered over our dining table.
You don’t actually want to hang the base yet, this is just a good time to test things out before you move on. We even temporarily attached our base to the support pieces by drilling them in place so we could make sure we were happy with it before we kept going.
Once you’re confident in how it looks, pull it back down and continue working.
Make Faux Light Sockets
Now comes the fun (or, um, tedious) part. If you’ll remember, there are 80 light bulbs on this chandelier but only 8 of them function. In order for it to look a little more realistic, we decided to make some faux light sockets.
You’ll grab your 1″ electrical conduit and cut 72 two-inch pieces. We use our reciprocating saw, but if you have anything else on hand that can cut through the metal conduit, that’s fine too.
Hey, I never said this was a quick process.
As you can see in the image above, we used an electrical conduit strap to attach the conduit to our work table while cutting. This helped prevent the conduit from bouncing all over the place while we cut.
So now, you should have something that look a little like this:
But it’s obviously not quite done yet. Now, you’ll grab your 3/4″ knock out seals and super glue them to one side of each conduit piece. It’s a tight fit so you might want to grab a hammer and/or some pliers to help you get it in there.
Here’s what it looked like:
To finish them off, you’ll drill a hole in the top of each that’s long enough for your rope to fit through, and then spray paint them! You’ll want to paint them to match the light sockets you grab. We obviously stuck to silver but I think brass would have been really beautiful, too.
Once we were done with this step, it was time to piece it all together.
Cut Rope to Length + Plan Layout
Now, it’s time to grab some scissors and cut aaaaall of your rope pieces that will be holding the light bulbs. We wanted ours to be varying lengths, so we landed on a total of 5 different lengths.
Here’s exactly what we ended up cutting:
– 20 pieces at 3 feet long
– 15 pieces at 2.75 feet
– 20 pieces at 2.5 feet
– 15 pieces at 2.25 feet
– 10 pieces at 2 feet
It took a long of planning to get the lengths laid out in a way that felt random, so I actually drew out a little color-coded map to help me. Here’s a photo of it, if you want to just copy the work I already did!
Remember, the circled X’s are the ones that will light up. We decided that we wanted the lit ones to all to be towards the middle of the light rather than on the outside edges. We also didn’t want any of them to be the longest or shortest length. Beyond that, it was random.
Once all of your rope pieces have been cut, it’s time to attach them to the base of the chandelier. Simply thread one end into the holes in your chandelier base and tie a knot to hold it in place. Be sure to reference the map to keep you on track!
As you can see, we left the circled ones alone for now because those are where the working lights would go, which means those holes need wire.
Add the Wiring
Next up, it’s time to get those real light sockets ready. Remember – we’re pretty comfortable working with electrical projects in our house, but we are not pros. If you try this at home, please know we aren’t responsible for any issues you have and I fully recommend hiring and electrician if you aren’t comfortable handling it yourself!
Here’s a little diagram I made of how the light wiring worked for us. Again, there are different ways you could do it, and this is just the route we chose to take.
And for a little perspective, here’s a zoomed out photo so you can see how they all connected a little better. Even though it’s not pictured here, you should use a junction box for each connection to prevent any electrical issues.
Clear as mud, right? It’s a bit confusing, but once you get doing it you can start to make sense of it!
Hang the Chandelier
Now it’s time to actually hang it! We pre-drilled pilot holes in our box in the exact spots where the mounting pieces would be, so all that was left to do was drill the box in and hope it didn’t come crashing down (spoiler alert: it didn’t, although we totally spent a good three days with our couch cushions on the dining room table just in case!)
Here’s a peek at how things were looking at this point in the process:
Add the Rest of the Lights
You’re reaching the home stretch! The rest of the process is tedious, but very simple.
Just grab one of your faux sockets, string a rope through it, and tie a knot. Then, grab a light bulb and add a few dots of super glue, then push into the other side of the socket and hole it in place for a few seconds.
I know it sounds overly simple, but just a bit of super glue worked. We lived in this house for 5 years after installing this chandelier and never once had a bulb come out! But, you could also easily use a hot glue gun if the super glue makes you uncomfortable.
Once I was done and stepped back to look, I realized there were a few areas were lights hung at the same height in a group. No matter how careful you are, it’s impossible to keep all of your knots at the exact same place. But, we found it was really easy to pop the light bulb back out, adjust the knot a bit, and put it back. We just kept messing with it until things looked natural, and then we were DONE!
And the final results? Well, they really speak for themselves.
The Completed DIY Chandelier
To date, this project is still one of the ones I’m the most proud of out of everything I’ve done! It was certainly a labor of love, but the finished result was so (so!) worth it.
One of our favorite features is how it looks when it’s turned on. The light from the 8 bulbs that actually work bounces off of all of the other lights beautifully. There’s an illusion that the whole thing is just glowing. It’s impossible to capture in photos, but just know it’s beautiful! I’ll have to have you all over for dinner someday so you can see how it looks in person!
This project was time-consuming, a bit overwhelming at times, and not for the faint of heart, but I promise that if you stick it out you’ll end up with an epic light fixture that everyone who comes to your home will ask you about. And I can tell you it feels so good to be able to saw you made it yourself!
Oh, and if you need a little extra help planning how this light might fit in with the rest of your lighting (or making the rest fit in with this), I’ve got you covered! This post is all about how to choose lighting for your home, and can guide you to figuring out how to help your lights play well together. It can be hard to know what kind of pendants to use over your kitchen island with a big ol’ chandelier like this right next door!