DIY Kitchen Pendant Lights {How to Change a Recessed Light to Three Pendants}

Hi everyone!

I am sooooo excited to share today’s post with you.  I started dreaming up this project a few months ago and we finally completed it over the weekend.  There was a lot of thought and research that went into figuring this thing out and we absolutely love how it turned out.  Our kitchen has always just had recessed lighting.  We have a chandalier above the table, but no hanging lights anywhere else in the kitchen.  I’ve always wanted to add some sort of pendant lights above the island, but hadn’t found the right lights at the right price so we just left it as is.  We’ve changed recessed lights to pendants before in our closet, so I knew it was doable as a DIY.  When we did the light in our closet, we just bought one of the pendant conversion kits from the home improvement store.  They run about $15 and do a great job of creating one pendant, but I was dreaming of adding three pendants.  I stared at the island forever one day, and finally came up with a design in my head of what I wanted and thought I had a good plan on how to make it happen.  Now I am definitely no electrician so I ran it by Mike, who ran it by our brother-in-law {who is an engineer} and using all of our brain power, created this beauitful light.

Isn’t is cool?  Edison bulbs are everywhere these days and the beam adds a touch of rustic, which we love.  I love how unique it is and it adds sooo much character to the room.  We even feel like it makes the room feel bigger and taller because your eyes go up when you enter the room.  Definitely one of my most favorite projects to date.  Here are some similar light fixtures that have the same feel from Pottery Barn and West Elm that have the same feel, but a much higher price tag:)



Here is the rundown of our version:

Cost:  $30

Time: 4-5 hours


  • 3 Ikea pendant cords
  • 3 light bulbs {we bought the 40 watt Edison vintage-style bulbs from}
  • 1 sheet of 48″ spruce
  • 3 glass vases
  • wire cutters
  • screws
  • nail gun and finish nails
  • table saw to cut boards for the beam
  • stain {we used Minwax Special Walnut}

Ok, so onto the how-to.  Mike started by removing the can light that was there.

Then he attached one of the pendant cords to make sure it would work:)  You’ll have to cut off the plug end and peel back the outer cord so the wires are exposed.  This is what you’ll attach to the wires in the ceiling to make the light work.

We attached the first one just to have a visual and to be able to check wires as needed and left it in there while we completed the rest.  Next, we started on the beam.  We decided to create a beam to easily hide the wires and add some cool character.  We bought a sheet of spruce wood for around $11 at Menards.

Mike took it out to the table saw and cut it to size.  Our finished beam is 3 1/2 feet long and 6″ wide, so we cut the boards accordingly.  We had to cut the bottom piece, both side pieces, and two end caps to finish it off.  Once it was all cut, we glued and nailed it together to create the beam/box.  Then we stained it with our favorite stain, Minwax Special Walnut {which we also used on our island countertop and master bedroom}.  While that dried, we came back inside and worked on the lights.  We decided to use some glass to enclose our Edison bulbs, but didn’t want to spend a fortune.  So, we stopped by one of my fave stores, the Dollar Tree, and scooped up three vases to use for pendants.  Mike had to drill holes for the cord to feed through.  We basically used the same technique that we did for cutting granite.  Mike used a tile/glass drill bit and simply drilled into the bottom of the vase.  He laid it on a towel so it wouldn’t wobble around on the counter and held it with a towel so it wouldn’t slip around.  He kept a glass of water on hand and dipped the bit into every now and then as it heated up.

We then put the lights in the vase and filtered the cord up through the top.  Then it was time to create a wood base for the beam to attach to on the ceiling.  We used some scrap wood we had on hand and Mike cut a couple of rectangles that were the size of the inside of the beam.  This is what the beam will attach to so you want this to be secure.  We were able to screw parts of the wood base into studs and used drywall anchors for the rest of the screws on the wood.

We put one board on either side of the light hole.

Then we decided where we wanted to pendants to fall and how to space them on the beam.  We marked them on the beam and it drilled holes where the lights would come down through.

Mike strung the cords through the holes and then attached the exposed wires to the wires in the ceiling.  The wires from the ceiling light were black and yellow and the cord from our Ikea pendant was black and white, but it all worked just fine.  He twisted each of the white wires around the yellow wire in the ceiling and twisted the three black wires from the Ikea light into the black wire into the ceiling.  We used 40 watt bulbs so it wasn’t too much for the circuit to handle.

We used the little clips to hold the cords in place inside the box so the wouldn’t go up or down once we screwed the box into place.  The beam hides all the messy wires in the box so it’s all safe and secure:)  Then we drilled the beam into the wood base with screws.  That way if we ever needed to take it down for any reason, it wouldn’t be too difficult to unscrew and access.

And that’s it!  A few hours of hard work and about $30 and you can have a one-of-a-kind pendant light.  I think it would be fun to spray the cords oil rubbed bronze or a copper color for some extra character {which I may end up doing with this one-I’ll be sure to update pics if I do!}.  Here are a few more shots of the finished light.








So, what do you think?  Who’s ready to add some fun new lighting to their house?





I’m sharing this at:

The Young House Love and Bower Power Pinterest Challenge

Beneath my Heart

These are the fabulous blog parties I link up to each week:

Tip Junkie: Tip Me Tuesday

Home Stories A to Z: Tutorials and Tips Tuesdays

Not Just a Housewife: Show Me What Ya Got

Hooking Up with Hepworths

Shabby Chic Cottage: Transformation Thursday

5 Days, 5 Ways

30 Handmade Days

Serenity Now

Tatertots and Jello: Weekend Wrap-Up

Beneath My Heart

East Coast Creative


  1. Wow, it looks fantastic! I love the Edison bulbs–they make everything feel just a bit more special, and they’re a great addition to your very original idea :-)

  2. I love this idea!
    I have to do the same thing and I was trying to figure how to do that… and you have explained it clearly!
    Tx for sharing,
    MammaNene from

  3. Kay Dougherty says:

    You guys are truly genius!!!
    I love it!!

  4. Jessie, this is a fantastic transformation. I have recessed lights in my kitchen, too, right over the island, and have wanted pendant lights. Will definitely have to muster the courage to give this a shot!

    I’d love if you’d come join my How To Tuesday link party, too.

  5. I have recessed lighting everywhere in my kitchen. I love the pendant lights! I am visiting from DIY Show Off.

  6. This turned out so fabulous! I would love for you to come over and link up at my party this week.

  7. Your lights turned out fabulous and I love how budget friendly they are! Would love for you to share you tutorial at the party! xo Bridgett

  8. Awesome DIY and great price! LOVE it, Jessie!

  9. This is a great idea and such a fun transformation. We have recessed lights but our ceilings are too short. (Stopping by from TT&J Wrap Party.)

  10. I love this idea, I’m just not sure if I can do it – the hubs is not very diy minded and I’m scared of the electricity.

    But I hate my current canned lights maybe I can convince someone else to help me. Great project!

  11. I love this and am going to try something similar in the restaurant – thanks for the ideas

  12. Absolutely!
    Redoing my basement and I would love to use your idea!
    Only thing though, I don’t understand how the box connects to the ceiling boards…. Thanks!

    • Hi Janet! The box will get screwed into the sides of the ceiling boards. Make sure your ceiling boards are the exact size of the opening of the box so the box will slide right around the boards and then screw them in from the outside. Does that make sense? Good luck with your re-do!

  13. So Are They Still On Same Switch As The Rest Of Ur Canned Lights? Wld b Nice To Be Turn JUST those On?

  14. I don’t understand how you turned one fixture into three? The picture just shows attaching one of them…

    • You do the same thing with all three pendants. Cut the wires, peel the cord back, and twist them into the wires in the ceiling.

  15. The look of the pendants is great, and the project is pretty simple. However, converting plug-in pendants to hardwire is horribly against code. Chaining three of these together is even worse. I’m sure you haven’t had any issues, but you owe it to your readers to post a disclaimer about the risks involved here.

  16. So glad I found this. My wife wants me to do the EXACT same thing. There are two recessed lights over our island, but the y are not evenly spaced. I’m going to do this exact same thing.

    Thanks so much!



  1. […] We did lots of projects, some big and some small.  You can very easily update your kitchen without spending a ton of money.  We did this complete makeover for less than $1,000.  Our smaller projects included adding new accessories, painting and adding a new pantry door, adding hardware, putting a different table in here and adding bench seats, and creating our DIY pendant light. […]

  2. […] 4.This kitchen island. Crazy cool. And the craziest part…it’s not even real barn wood! She just distressed it to look like it. I also am digging the light above.  Remind you of another DIY light you’ve seen? Maybe one in our old house? […]

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