DIY: Shopping for & Installing new Lighting Fixtures

One of the best ways to update a space, is to add new light fixtures. We've replaced about 90% of our builder grade light fixtures in our home with new ones, and it's really made a huge difference! When most homeowners think about replacing an old lighting fixture with a new one, there are usually two big reservations.
1. New lighting is too expensive
2. I don't know HOW to change a lighting fixture.

So today I'm going to address both of these concerns, because they are easily solved.
First, if you've never shopped for new lighting fixtures, and want to stay within a reasonable budget, then here are some great places to look.

Your local hardware store:

We've purchased quite a few lighting fixtures from our local hardware stores. In most cases, you can find a great fixture for between $50 - $200. Last year we were found the perfect chandelier with small drum shades for over our kitchen table, and it only cost us $99.00!


Overstock.com is filled with thousands of lighting fixtures at affordable prices. Another great perk is that shipping on all orders is always only $2.95! Plus, if you're looking into really unique lighting, they have that too.

Ikea is one of our favorite places to look for really affordable, stylish and sleek lighting. Most of Ikea's lighting is priced under $50.00. From ultra modern styles, to classic and even coastal, Ikea has a little bit of something for every room in your house.

Now that you've got some ideas about where to find affordable lighting, let's talk about HOW to install your fun new fixtures.
I think people get nervous to change out lighting fixtures because it seem a little scary and unknown to most of us. But literally in just a few simple steps, you can know everything you need to know, in order to change out lighting fixtures like a pro!

- Turn off ALL power to the electrical source that you're working on. This means that you're going to want to flip the switch off on your circuit breaker that conducts electricity there, NOT just the light switch that turns your light /off on your wall.

- Unscrew any bolts holding up your old fixture.
- Once free, slowly lower the fixture to expose the electrical wires. You will see that they are connected with connectors or wire nuts.

- Untwist the wire nut connectors to free the old fixture, and remove.

Wire Connecting Installation: 
- Have someone help you hold up your new fixture near the ceiling so that you can install it.
- Use your wire nut connectors to twist together your new wires to the ceilings wires. You may need to cut back a bit of the plastic surround around the new fixtures wires, to expose them a bit.
You can buy one of these wire stripper tools for only a few dollars.

When connecting your wires remember to twist your exposed wire ends counterclockwise together, and then twist your wire nut on clockwise as well, to combine them to make a good connection:
- Connect your white wire in the ceiling, to the white wire on your new lighting fixture. (neutral to neutral)
- Connect your black wire in the ceiling, to the black wire on your new lighting fixture. (these are known as the "hot" wires). Your hot wire may be red or another color, not necessarily black. As long as it's NOT green, white or gray, it is the power or "hot" wire. 
- Then lastly, connect the ground wire from the ceiling, to the ground wire on the new lighting fixture.
 *The ground wire will usually look like plain exposed copper wire.
 *It might also be a bit thicker than the other wires.
 *Newer ceiling brackets may also have a ground screw, that you simply wrap your lighting fixtures ground wire around. Just make sure the new lighting fixtures ground wire is located at least one turn UNDER the ground screw.

Final Mounting Installation:
- After all of your wires are connected properly, carefully coil your wires back up into the lighting box cavity.
- Have one person continue to hold up your lighting fixture while you install and tighten on the new screws to your fixture, and you're DONE!

Installing a new lighting fixture in your home really is something that any homeowner can do! Not only can it brighten up your space, but it can also be a great way for you to showcase your personal style, from one room to the next. 


  1. I'm a bit addicted to Ikea for lighting too! I love how I can get enormous, sculptural fixtures for less than $100 and when you mix them in with "normal" (not Ikea) items, they look amazing.


  2. FYI all, Lowes is having a lighting clearance. I got a 6 light, glass shade, polished nickel chandelier for $47!!! Originally $189.00. Very similar to the one you got for your kitchen table. Love it!

  3. you are right, new lighting can make a HUGE difference for a small amount of $! i really love the one you bought...perfectly classic and modern all mixed together! :)

    We just finished our kitchen renovation and bought our hanging lantern on Overstock for a fraction of the in-store price.

    I just discovered you blog and it's hanging out on my side bar now for my readers to enjoy too. I've loved looking through your older posts!

  4. I think I may be able to manage this. And you're so right - I stupidly thought all my lighting needed to match each other - even in different rooms when we built our house. Do you know how hard it is to find all matching fixtures for every room of your house? That are nice? Impossible. They're ugly.

  5. Thank you for the great tips! I'm not sure fiddling with the wiring is something I'm game enough for yet...still have childhood flashbacks about a mild 'zap' :) My house came fully equiped with the best boob lights 1974 could provide, so much fun changing them over.

  6. What a big difference custom lighting makes! I need to start shopping Overstock.com!


  7. Thank you for posting this! I have always wanted to do it myself, but I always end up calling an electrician because I am scared and it costs an arm and a leg! Your the best!! (but really, tot's obsessed with the smith blog!)


  8. Thanks for the fabulous tutorial! Your new photo wall looks awesommmme - luv it.

  9. Thank you for the great tips. I always shop at the hardware store, now I will be branching out for sure! I love your paint color in the last picture! Do you by chance know what color it is?

  10. We've replaced all the original light fixtures in our house with new ones. No more boob lights or shiny brass! I leave the installation to my hubby, but after reading your tutorial, I think I could manage doing it myself :-)

  11. Quick question..do you find that the track lighting that you changed lights up the hallway better? I have a single light in my hallway and its dark!

  12. Thanks for the great reminder about lighting. It always seems low on the list. Can you please tell us what you have in your halls ( other than the one shown)? I'm never sure what or put in my halal, but I am soooo ready to get rid of the boob light that is there! Thanks!

  13. Thanks for the great reminder about lighting. It always seems low on the list. Can you please tell us what you have in your halls ( other than the one shown)? I'm never sure what or put in my halal, but I am soooo ready to get rid of the boob light that is there! Thanks!

  14. Thanks for this post! Very helpful. I will updating some light fixtures very soon....hopefully.

  15. How did you reach the fixture above your stairs? I have to paint that area in my house and don't know how to reach that area. Thanks! Love your blog! Jeanne

  16. So of course, we have the SAME EXACT chandelier over our kitchen table... shocker!? It was our first electrical venture, and it "sparked" us (ha ha) to complete the entire first floor of our home!! Yay!! Such a great way to brighten up a home. Great advice!! :) {all puns intended because that's how I roll}.

  17. I love all of the cooler tones you've been doing. Usually I shy away from cooler tones because I think they seem less homey, but you make the cooler tones somehow create a warm and inviting space. LOVE IT!

    -Amanda DuPont-

  18. Such a timely post! We just finished installing a new chandelier over the dining table TODAY. I bought it at a local big box hardware store a few days ago when they were clearing out all the "old" models. It was a display, but in perfect condition and it cost less than a pizza dinner for my family. HUGE difference in our dining area. Now I smile every time I enter that room instead of plotting to tear down the disgusting fan.

  19. Thanks so much for this, we are currently building a home and will be needing to buy a chandy for over the kitchen table, never even thought to look on overstock! I'll also be referring back to this when it comes time to install! One other place that is good to look is craigslist, there are some surprisingly good looking light fixtures for pretty cheap! Love your blog/house, so inspiring!!!

  20. I have that same IKEA chandelier. What did you do to get rid of the long metal bar that makes it hang lower? Thanks!

  21. How ironic you would post this Shell! I was just looking at one or two (or ten) lights in my house and thinking how I would like to change them. But also wondering if could possibly Do it Myself. Knowing me I'd be one of those people who said "I can do this" get on a ladder, pull the fixture apart and find myself being rudely introduced to Sparky, only to be discovered laying flat on the floor suffering from amnesia, an odd facial twitch and talking to imaginary neon birds circling over my head.

    Right.... the breaker switch.. I'll be sure to remember that. ☺ Thanks to you.

  22. How can you tell how much brighter your light can be? If our current light only takes a 60W bulb does that mean we can only replace it with light that also takes a 60W bulb? We want our lights to be much brighter when we replace them.

  23. what color are the walls in the after picture?

  24. I love going to Ikea to look at their unique furniture and light fixtures! I didn't know it was so easy to replace your own fixtures. We have some really old ones in our house right now, so I'm going to start checking around for some new ones. http://303carefree.com/Electrical-Service-Panel-Upgrade.html


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