Something Painted White

How to Replace Recessed Lighting with a Chandelier
by Dee

Recessed lighting, can lights, canned lights, boring lights, call them what you will, but if you have a builder-grade house built any time in the past couple of decades you probably have them in your kitchen, dining room and definitely your bathroom and shower areas. But you don’t have to keep your house looking like every other house in the neighborhood!  You can just replace recessed lighting with a chandelier to give your place a little extra sparkle and whole lot more personality.

We replaced most of the recessed lighting in our bathrooms shortly after we moved in with LED lights. But we knew we needed something… more… to go above our tub.

Here at casa de somethingpaintedwhite we love us some chandeliers!  We have fabulous antique chandeliers in the dining room and in the office and seem to always have a couple sitting around being restored.  So when we found this fabulous old rescue for sale we knew immediately that it would live over the tub in our bathroom to replace recessed lighting that just looks plain and boring.

One of our rescue chandeliers

One of our rescue chandeliers

Replace Recessed Lighting

If you’re going to replace recessed lighting with a chandelier or pendant light, there are a few tools and supplies you’re going to need:

  • Chandelier or pendant light (duh)
  • Screwdriver (I highly recommend a power drill with screwdriver bit)
  • Recessed light converter kit
  • Ladder (unless you have a really tall helper or  really low ceilings!)

pro tip: when working above the tub (or anything with a drain) make sure that you have the drain plugged or you run the risk of having screws literally go down the drain.  Just sayin.

Before You Start

When working with anything electrical, make sure you know how electricity works.  It’ll literally knock you on your butt (or worse) if you don’t know what you’re doing!  Seek the help of a licensed electrician if you aren’t sure.

Make sure the power to the fixture you’ll be working with is off. The best and safest bet is to turn off the switch at the breaker box.

Removing the Old Light

replace recessed light like this

All the overhead lights in our bathrooms looked like this before we replaced them.

 

After the power is off at the light, put that ladder in the tub, climb up and remove the old can light.  Typically they just pull down and out.  Pop the cover off and take the light bulb out to remove the socket.

just pull the old light out to replace recessed lighting

The old light should just pull down and out.

Prep the Install Kit

The adapter kit comes with a metal ring, a small medallion, a socket adapter, and a fixture mounting bar.

The first part of the install is installing the fixture mounting bar into the empty can.  Before you install, you’ll need to undo the 3 screws that hold it all together.fixture mounting bar

Using your drill and the self-tapping screws included in the adapter kit, mount the brace into the can.  This is the toughest part of the whole process.

Fixture brace adapter in place in can light

The first part of the adapter installed in the can.

Once the adapter is installed, reattach the fixture mounting bar as shown below.

the recessed light kit installed

The recessed light fixture bar in place.

Screw the socket adapter into the existing light socket.

Hang Your Light Fixture

Your new (or used or antique… you do you) lighting will likely attach to the recessed mounting kit adapter using a crossbar connected to a medallion or cover.

hanging light kit crossbar

Depending on the size of your can (stop giggling) your crossbar might not be able to reach across the light fixture bar you used.  That happened to me too!

No worries… just pick up a universal mounting bracket. I got mine at Lowe’s but you can get them at any hardware store or on Amazon.

universal mounting bracket for lighting

Run the chain and wiring through the light fixture medallion and ceiling medallion.

Now thread your wiring from your light fixture up through the supporting rod and connect the ends into the wiring/socket adapter.  Connect the chain and holder to the hanging rod.

Turn the power back on at the breaker box, and then you’re ready to test at the switch.

Voila!

If you connected everything as you should (and it’s pretty easy), your lights will light up when you flip the switch.

chandelier to replace recessed lighting

Ta-done!

Ready to tackle replacing your recessed lighting with a chandelier or pendant light? Let me know how it turns out… I love before and afters!

How to Replace Recessed Lighting

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Often referred to as “that long-haired computer guy”, Dee Hathaway is a government technology leader who loves figuring out how to do things better and then bragging about it on his blog. His first book Here's What Let's Do: Stop Being Average and Start Being Awesome was an Amazon #1 bestseller.
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