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 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. I have been waiting impatiently to hear how it turned out!! And it turned out great!! You did a great job!! I LOVE the colour, and this chandelier is both impressive and so fun!! I'd like to have the courage to knock on your door and ask for a close-up!:))But that will never happen, as I live in Roamnia!! :))

  2. Can you please post on when you sleep?
    I mean wow, you are an energizer bunny girl, stalking at night, spraying by day….you crack my up!
    Love how it turned out.

  3. I am 100% guilty of doing the night time stalking thing here in Boston! It's one of my favorite things to do in the summer…walk down Comm Ave in the Back Bay and look at all the amazing brownstones. There re some really incredible residences! Your chandelier looks fab, I would totally snap a pic of it too :)

  4. I was just visiting my cousins in Brooklyn Heights and wish I had looked for the chandeliers! This is wonderful, thanks for sharing

  5. I'm here for backup. And I learned from the master – my mother was an inveterate open window style stalker! She passed away several years ago and one of the thing she left me — a PURPLE chandelier!

  6. Ha- I live in an urban area of Nashville and I too sneak peaks at the inside of houses when I'm out walking the dogs. Glad to hear it's not just me!

    The chandy looks great. That picture with the girls really shows how big it is!

  7. Another gorgeous DIY! That light looks so impressive. Congratulations! So glad to hear you are feeling better. And I am too guilty of the walk or drive-by sticky beak sneaky-peak. If they didn't want you to look in they would close their curtains ;)

  8. The chandelier is beautiful! I recently hung a new fixture in our lounge and it was super bright because of all the bulbs, so I put a dimmer on the switch. I love it now because it can be full light if I need it or mood light if I want it!

  9. When we lived in NYC, we looked through ppls windows all the time! :-)

    The chandelier is AMAZING. Well done!

  10. OH I love that color so much!
    I like to peek inside the old historic homes near my hood in NC. I get giddy when I see the blinds up….glad I'm not alone in that.
    Wouldn't it be hilarious if the owner of you chandelier inspiration was one of you blog readers?


  11. What wattage are the bulbs you put in the chandelier? I bought round bulbs for our original 1960s sputnik that is in our entryway and could only find 40 watts at Lowes. So I looked online and found a place where you can get 10 and 15 watt bulbs so I ordered those. Still haven't gotten around to replacing all the bulbs, but I hope that it will look a bit better b/c right now it looks like we have a blazing sun when the chandelier is on!

  12. Love this!! It looks like a whole new light fixture with those bulbs and some paint. I love that there were girls outside your apartment taking pictures too- how cute!

  13. That thing is a mammoth!!! Love the colour. And don't worry about the "looking inside people's places at night" thing…'re not the only one (I'm guilty too). It's just sooo much fun.

  14. The light looks great! It's inspired me to finally call the electrician and get the chandelier sitting in my apartment hung up. Also, I'm so glad to know I'm not the only person who peeks into peoples' homes at night (I particularly like the houses along 8th Ave in Park Slope… so pretty).

  15. Amazing as always J! When I lived in Brooklyn, that was my favorite activity too! There are some seriously amazing houses! Love that you're getting the attention now! Bring those old brass big boys back to life! xo, L

  16. Oh my goodness, it's really gorgeous! I'm jealous. I have to get some new light fixtures for our place, but I am not handy whatsoever- def. need a Super or electrician's help. And, I ALWAYS look into people's windows walking around the city. My fav. is looking into the huge lofts along the BQE in DUMBO when my Husb is driving. He thinks I'm a creep, but I just love seeing how people live.

  17. Amazing chandy! so glad you share photos of the girls in relation to its overall size! Funny story about hanging art, when I lived overseas visited an artist village outside Shenzhen,lots and lots of very well done copies of Masters! I walked into a shop and saw this really unusual abstract painting that reminded me of a hutong. Purchased it, brought it to my framer in HK, told him to frame it as it was hung in the shop, only for it him to point out the signature! it was hung wrong in the shop, and i still hang it that way today!

  18. I am sitting here, gaping, at least I'm not outside on the sidewalk! Beautiful work. Love that color. Radiates who you are with so much heart!

  19. Jenny, you inspire me. This is beautiful and I, too, love the time of early evening when curtains are still open and lights are on so I can see inside beautiful homes.
    The periwinkle looks fabulous and the room is inviting. Bravo!

  20. I'm in love….I now absolutely hate the light fixture in my dining room and hope that I find an equally amazing giant chandelier complete with fun color. Ceiling medallion? BRILLIANT!

  21. LOVE the chandelier- and LOVE the color choice- totally brilliant- especially with the yellow/ gold highlights everywhere- to die for!!

  22. Oh. my. word. That thing is huge! I love it so much, I'm on the hunt for something similar for my bedroom. You convinced me to try out the round bulbs, I love the modern look they add to the traditional piece. Fun color choice!

  23. See, I told you you could and would prove me wrong. Totally not the shade of blue I was thinking you'd use. It looks amazing and so lovely with the piece of art. You are so talented. Can't wait to see what you do next.

  24. Oh, I have done the whole looking in windows at night thing since I was a child! I love catching glimpses of other people's domestic spheres. Somehow, it has a weird, magical feeling to it, like peering into a beautifully decorated dollhouse. Or maybe I'm just really strange :)

    Anyways, the chandelier is KILLER. Well done, you. Also, just wanted to say how sweet and adorable your girls look in that shot. Growing up to be such little ladies!

  25. The dining room looks amazing! Love it! Also, I look into people's windows all the time. I love seeing how they've decorated. My husband pretends to not notice these days. Good man. Otherwise he would be constantly mortified :)

  26. I love it! I would love to do something similar with a much smaller chandelier for our nursery. A chandelier as big as yours would be way too big for any space in our house, but I love the look if it could be shrunk down!

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