If some of the shine is wearing off your old light fixtures, or if you just want them to match some updated furniture or decor, there are a few simple things you can do to give them a new look—and you don’t need much to get started. Here’s how to freshen up those old fixtures instead of replacing them.
Before you begin your light fixture project, you’ll need to shut off the power to the fixture at the breaker box. When I do this, I like to put a piece of tape on the breaker to the fixture I’m working on so no one accidentally flips it back on while I’m disconnecting it. Double check that you’ve got the right fixture by switching the light switch on and off before you start working on the wiring.
Next, undo the thumbscrew or use a screwdriver to unscrew the cover to your fixture, making sure to hold the weight of it so it doesn’t pull on the wiring. To make yourself an easy reference, you should take a picture of how the wiring goes together before undoing it so you can put it back together the right way when you’re done.
How to spray paint an old light fixture
If you have a metal fixture, one simple way to update it is to use spray paint. There are types of paint specifically made for metal, and these will give you the most success. Mask off any parts of the fixture you don’t want to paint, and leaving old, burnt-out bulbs in the sockets is a good way to keep paint out of them. You should also make sure to cover any wiring or plastic parts to avoid damaging them. Spray the fixture with an even, thin coat to avoid drips. You can always do a second coat if you need to. Once the paint is dry, you can pull off the tape and re-hang your fixture.
Add a ceiling medallion
Another way to give an old fixture a new look is to add a ceiling medallion. These are mounted on the ceiling around the hole the wiring comes out of. There are medallions that split in half so that they can be attached with the fixture in place, but those will need to be caulked and sanded to cover the seam. You can think of them sort of like moulding for lights. A medallion can also cover up a larger hole from an old fixture without needing to patch the ceiling. Once you choose your medallion, you can paint it to match your ceiling, your moulding, or your fixture. Then, use a nail gun to attach it to the ceiling and rehang your fixture.
Swap out the shade or globe
If you have a fixture with glass shades or globes, you can change them out for a different style or colour—but you’ll need to determine what size you need. Most fixtures will use a standard-size fitting to attach the shade or globe. The size that matters is the size of the opening that fits in the hardware on the fixture. If you don’t know what size your fixture needs, you can measure the diameter of the opening or take your old shade with you to the hardware store to compare it to the shades there. The advantage of swapping out the shade or globe to your light fixture is that you can do this without doing any wiring and without any tools except a step stool or ladder to reach your light.