DIY: Painting a Brass Chandelier

When I was hospitalized with tetanus shortly after we moved to Brooklyn, my mom flew out to help. She saved the day and helped keep the house running and distracted my girls so they didn’t get too scared about the situation. (I’m doing much better, by the way :) One evening when I was recovering…

When I was hospitalized with tetanus shortly after we moved to Brooklyn, my mom flew out to help. She saved the day and helped keep the house running and distracted my girls so they didn’t get too scared about the situation. (I’m doing much better, by the way :) One evening when I was recovering at home, Mom came back from a walk around the neighborhood with the girls. She asked me if I had seen the purple chandelier in the neighbor’s house down the street. “You will die when you see this thing” she said.

In most cities, if you walk around a residential neighborhood at night, you can sort of see into apartments. It is way too much fun to me – probably one of my favorite post-dinner date night activities. I know it sounds creepy, but it is amazing to get a glimpse inside these beautiful homes, and plus, everyone does it (city dwellers, back me up!). I tell myself it’s just like looking at real estate listings. Ish?

So by the time I was feeling well enough, I hobbled down the street in search of a fabulous purple chandelier in one of our neighbors’ houses. I know I gasped out loud when I finally saw it. It is the most incredible blue-purple murano glass chandelier EVER. I snapped a single sneaky photo that doesn’t even begin to show the fabulous-ness of this fixture (trust), and I felt like a total creepster (though I have been known to snap sneaky photos). The whole house looks like it’s amazing – the art! the paneling! the moulding! – so I keep hoping I’ll run into the owners one day on the street. I would shamelessly out myself and beg/plead for a house tour.

ANYWAY (wow, this is going to be a long post), the chandelier has been stuck in my brain for months now. I go out of my way to walk by it often and it’s somehow even more lovely every time I see it peeking through those windows. When it came time for me to choose a color for the big brass chandelier, I knew there was no way I could pull off a lavender or lilac, but I thought a pale blue that leans toward periwinkle could actually be really cool.

Here’s the full run down on how we painted this beast of a chandelier…
I enlisted the help of my girls to tape off the sockets on all 24 arms. Just a little piece of painters tape works fine. Make sure to take off all the candle sleeves first.

While I had the chandelier on the ground still, I wiped it down well and then lightly went over some parts with a leftover can of white spray primer I had lying around. This was a lazy step and I probably should have primed everything here, but I felt like it wasn’t really necessary. Nothing really touches a chandelier after it gets installed anyway. 

My local hardware store has a fantastic selection of spray paint. More brands and colors than the big box stores even. I really liked this Valspar color (Sky Blue) at the store, and then later I was super impressed generally with this paint (first time trying Valspar spray). Good coverage. Not too crazy in the smell department. Fast drying. Easy to spray.

I think the best way to spray paint a light fixture is from the hanging position. We strung up the chandelier on a 2×4 between a ladder and our fence. That way I could easily walk around and under the chandelier and spray it from every angle.
And there were a LOT of angles. 

I’m not going to pretend this was a fast spray job. I went through six cans of spray paint to fully cover this 60″ wide chandelier. I had paint all in my hair and there was a soft outline of a mask on my face. #periwinkleglow

Some of the parts of the fixture needed to be painted on the ground. See the orange chain? I thought the chain that originally came with the light was a little on the wimpy side, so I used a chunkier one from the hardware store.
I was starting to get excited about the color right about here:
So, I wouldn’t really recommend DIYing a big electrical install project like this one, but my super handy and wonderful dad was in town, and he was up for the challenge of hanging and hooking up the new chandelier. We took down the hideous old light and installed a new light kit that is made for heavy fixtures. It stretches between joists and grips into the wood.
While we were working on the new light box, we threw up a ceiling medallion too. I wish I had planned more for this step and had ordered something big and extra special, but this one from Lowes worked fine in a pinch.

Here’s the medallion and ceiling plate in. Wires ready to be spliced into the chandelier’s after hanging it, which was a feat in and of itself – that thing is so heavy! If there had been an extra set of hands in the house, I would have had someone take a photo of that step, but we needed every adult to help hoist while Dad spliced.

It’s hard to really show just how big this chandelier is. It’s enormous, and we love it.

The color is just the right shade of periwinkle blue.
And those 24 bulbs make for a really bright meal!
And the view from below is pretty.
And! I love how it looks with my giant vintage abstract (it’s hung the wrong way so it fits on the wall here, but I still like it).
AND! (best of all) Michael came home a couple nights ago and said there were some girls outside talking about how much they loved the chandelier and sneaking some photos with their phones. I was only creeped out for a second. Then I felt proud and less guilty for doing the same thing weeks before. Hopefully those girls will keep the periwinkle chandelier trend in our hood moving forward!

PS Another huge chandelier DIY.
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96 thoughts on “DIY: Painting a Brass Chandelier

  1. SO glad to hear so many of you are nosy like me! :) I might have the courage now to snap a better photo of that murano glass chandelier!

    @Sharred That Horchow one is pretty, but this one is really unique. The color is nothing live I've seen before, and it has a sort of ombre thing going on. It's so good.

    @PVE I could ask you the same thing, busy lady!!

    @Torey I found some 25 watt round bulbs at the hardware store and seriously, I can't imagine this things being a single watt brighter! I worry I'm going to blow a fuse or something every time I flip the switch! I definitely need a dimmer switch.

  2. I LOVE how this turned out! Would love to see a post on the electrical part of this installation since I just bought a pretty chandelier myself, and am very anxious about how to actually get it up!

    As a side note, DO NOT feel creepy about the nighttime apartment peeping. EVERYONE does it!

    – Becky

  3. Isn't blogging just the virtual version of peeking in the neighbor's well-decorated windows? ;)

    I wonder if you've heard of Kaarskoker – they make and sell gorgeous candle sleeves. Of course, with that many arms on your chandelier, it might be cost prohibitive, but I thought I'd send along a link. Big of them!

    xo Maggie

  4. One of my favorite things about running in the city at night/dusk is being able to peek into the windows of the beautiful old homes in my neighborhood. No shame in that! :)

    The chandelier looks great!


  5. I love the glimpses into people's houses (from the road or sidewalk). I thinks its actually less creepy than going to open houses to lookie-loo. I purposely don't have many window coverings so I can "show off" my awesome decor finds.

  6. LOVE IT –
    Love the painting – remember it from you last posting – wish I could find something similiar

    You find the best things!

  7. It is absolutely fabulous! This is one of my very favorite things you've reinvented. I don't think one person who is into home design could not admit to doing some stalking. I actually want people to pause in front of my house with piqued interest. Anyway, LOVE it!!!!!

  8. I live in a big city and I totally glipse into windows as I'm walking my dogs. I just pretend I'm waiting for them to do their business as I look around. I'm always hoping my neighbors don't think I'm that creepy peering/prying window lady. I don't care to see people, I just like looking at how everyone decorates!!

  9. WOW!!! Love this! When I saw the first finished picture I assumed you had found something that you liked in a magazine before realizing it was your dining room. So so amazing.

  10. Your chandelier is amazingly beautiful! I saw your initial post when you bought it and was waiting to see it finished!!! In fact, you've inspired me to do the same thing on a smaller scale in our house. I am bidding on a chandy and CAN'T wait to pick the color to paint it. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful projects!

  11. Oh, man, love this! That blue is gorgeous! And yup, we window peep here in Chicago all the time. :) Even better during the holidays, since you get to see all the trees & decor too!

  12. I love your style, creativity, courage and aspiration. I can continue with the list of wonderful qualities you and your work have.

    But I wish you didn't post the picture of your neighbour's chandelier.

  13. Your dining room is looking so good, I am constantly impressed with your vision and drive to get things done. Well done! I would love to peek up at that window.

  14. Wow, that looks AWESOME Jenny!! I love the color and it works so well with your watercolor! (which looks totally fine hung length-wise)

    And don't feel bad…I look into apartments whenever possible. My absolute favorite thing to do! HGTV has a commercial about it and it gets me every time….

  15. so fabulous! the whole space is just perfection. also, i was crushing on your stacked plate of oranges – what do you call those things? anyway, very cool. love the table, the art, the sunburst mirror and now the chandelier! perfection.

  16. Looking into windows is a favorite city sport, as long as you are glancing and not peering for long periods. In Brooklyn Heights, people actually leave the curtains open on the windows facing the Promenade for the sake of the view, positively inviting one to look in… All's fair in love and decorating.

  17. I didn't see the chandelier you were stalking in the first photo…maybe you posted the wrong photo. I love reading your blog for inspiration, and I also LOVE looking in people's houses.

  18. WOW! That thing is massive. it looks like it came from the set of Phantom of the Opera.
    Love the color.

  19. LOVE it, and I love to walk after dinner and HOPE that my neighbors have their curtains open, although I haven't snapped a pic, I will now LOL

    Kathy :)

  20. Jenny-
    I've been reading through a bunch of your posts, love them. I am wondering though-do you rent or own? Do you get permission from your landlord to do everything? Just curious as I'm a renter too and dying to fix some things up around here!

  21. Are you a gossip girl fan? If so, did you see the last episode? In the last scene at the wedding there is a blue chandelier – more of a royal or navy blue, but totally reminded me of yours. :)

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