Brassy to Classy: My Free Chandelier

By Kate Riley September 14, 2010

I was tra la la-ing my way through my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore a few weeks back, admiring all the great salvage and scheming of ways to put some of it to good use.  I was there because I had spotted a few cool cabinets on Diggers List and wanted to investigate further. 

As I chatted it up with one of the managers, I couldn’t help but notice the sign just behind him.  free brass lighting

Do you love the exclamation point for added emphasis?  Like rejected brass light fixtures are something to get excited about?  Well actually, I kinda do get excited about them.  A lot. 

I actually like antique  brass fixtures, just not these super shiny leftovers from the early 90s.  So with a fixture like this, one that just happens to have a completely fantastic shape, I see no reason why it shouldn’t be spray painted.  White.  Pronto! 

  brass chandy before


Hello gorgeous.  Don’t you just fit right in ? 

kitchen chandy after

Aaaaaand, she was free.  Fah-reeee. 

Yep.  Free.

I was over the etched glass chandy that was previously hanging in our kitchen.  I had picked it out at a Home Depot many years ago and I’ve never been totally thrilled with it.  I wanted something “Frenchier” looking.   For awhile I was trying to figure out how to convert its standard sockets into candle fixtures, but just couldn’t find anything to make the conversion. 

old then new chandy

I was wanting a new chandelier, but I couldn’t find one online that I was in love with that would make it worth dropping some serious cash.  Months dragged on.   I’m a lover of all things that look like they came from a French flea market, or could be found in a Ballard Designs catalog, so when I spied the ten arm brass chandy among the wreckage at my local ReStore, I couldn’t help but squeal, especially since it was free.

Did I mention it was free? 

The teensy problem?  It needed some rewiring.  Not every arm thankfully, just the interior portion.  Enter True Value electrical supply aisle! 

true value supplies


I am pretty proud of myself that I figured out how to rewire this piece all on my own without any help ~ it was definitely a new discovery for me.  I’ve rewired a lamp before, but never a chandelier, however the logic is the same.  Whites to whites, blacks to blacks, yada yada. 

You can find a detailed tutorial about rewiring a chandelier here, and for the step-by-step on installing a chandy, hop on over to This Old House.  As for me, let’s just say I spent a solid hour teaching myself how to rewire this puppy ~ here’s a few action shots. 

rewiring chandelier

After it was all rewired, I was patting myself on the back.  But then something dreadful happened.  One of the arms broke off.  Dangit!   So frustrating!   I couldn’t get the arm to screw back into its holder, it was completely stripped.  Gah!   After all that work, I almost gave up on this, seriously. 

But then I decided to give it one more try with some plastic steel epoxy designed for metal, also found at True Value. 


It worked ! 

The last step was painting the chandy, so I bought Rustoleum’s ‘Shell White’, a close kin to ‘Heirloom White’, at True Value.  I also gave the chandy a bit of faux distressing.  With the side of an artist’s brush, not the tip, I rubbed some oil rubbed bronze spray paint onto the limbs here and there. 

add distressing


Voila.  A perfectly lovely Ballard-esque look.  

chandy arm up close

And to think she once was shiny brass. 


Simple.  Elegant.  Love it !

white kitchen chandelier


The fixture actually works too, which made me squeal with delight when I flipped the switch !

  cg new kitchen chandelier


Here’s some really cool news.  My old chandy with the etched glass shades?  It’s already sold!   A reader wanted it, so it will be sent to a new home next week.  Yay!

The new fixture complements the style of our kitchen a bit better, and I think it was a worthwhile rescue of a shiny brass chandelier.  Don’t you ?      


The necessary legalese:  “I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as my writing about my experience.  I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project.   However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.”




  1. I have a brass floor lamp that I need to paint. Did you do anything to the chandelier before painting it? Just pull out the spray paint and go?

  2. It looks great, impressed you rewired it yourself, so far I’ve taken those jobs to a lampshade in town! And ReStore, what a great resource, that also does good! Janell

  3. I too am wondering if there’s any prep work, and also if spray paint is okay for a lighting fixture, as in flammable???
    I have 2 very brassy fixtures, dining room and foyer, that I will soon need to replace or paint. We are changing out our white balusters for iron ORB ones and after that the brass will certainly clash!

  4. I love what you did here. It was so easy and turned out like a beautiful custom piece. Thanks so much for sharing. I recently did my first painting project. I have a blog to but not very many followers. Do you have any tips to get people to visit a blog?


  5. So glad I found this post! I have a shiny brass chandi hanging in my dining room that I want to paint. My doubting hubby can’t picture the results…now thanks to your post I can show him what it will look like…Woohoo! I just completed a huge style makeover in that room and this is exactly the look my lighting needs. Thanks again.

    Janet xox

  6. Love that you not only took something destined for the trash and saved it, but you upcycled your old item, too! Looks wonderful.

  7. I have that same exact chandelier in my dining room and I’ve been wanting to paint it. Glad to know it will look decent if I do so.

  8. You never cease to amaze me. I want to be your neighbor so I can tag along on your adventures and maybe even score some finds of my own!

  9. Oh, how pretty and I love it in your kitchen! Now I have a giant chandy just like yours that hangs in our entry way and guess what? It’s brass! I could never paint it. Well, for one thing I could never take it down – it’s way up there! :)
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia :)

  10. Wow – that came out so nice! What a change!! I too wonder if there is any prep work (ie – sanding, priming) before you spray paint.

  11. Oh, I have several unclassy brassies I need to give a facelift, too! I am shockingly impressed!! :D
    What a great job you did and it looks fantastic in your space!! Woohoo and FREE!!!


  12. This is so pretty! That is so nice that they gave it to you for free, so nice of them! I have a antique one that my girlfriend gave to me. I just have to give it a much needed facelift, on my list!
    Enjoy your day :)

  13. Oh wow, it’s soooo gorgeous! I tried convincing my sister to keep a brass chandelier she had at a house she just bought & spray painting it the color she wanted but she has very modern taste & isn’t crazy about chandys anyway. I might just have to take it off her hands for when I buy a house. :-)

  14. Hi,

    I have the exact chandelier hanging in my dining room right now and I cannot wait to do the same thing to mine!

    Did you rough up the brass and prime it before painting?

    Thank you!


  15. Gorgeous! And free? Can’t beat that.

    I’m on the hunt for cheap/DIY chandeliers for the bedrooms in my house. Off to the ReStore I go!

  16. Wow!!!! What an amazing transformation!! I love it. Gosh you’re so creative. The chandelier is so simple yet adds so much to the room. :)

  17. hahaha! I have the SAME chandy in my dining room with one more tier of lights. I spray painted mine black and rubbed on some bronze craft paint 6 years ago when we moved in. (All those Trading Spaces episodes I watched paid off!) Love yours white (of course!). Maybe when I get around to lightening up the space, I’ll have to redo it!

  18. I love redecorating on a budget! It’s fun and it keeps your creativity flowing! I just reaccesorized the living room in under $4 thanks to old accesories and spray paint!

  19. Thanks! We have a nasty bronze chandelier that came with our dining room. We talked about buying a new one but I had just been thinking about finding a way to paint it! Thanks for the tips!!

  20. It looks great!! I’m on the lookout for a chanderlier to makeover too… you can’t beat FREE, that’s amazing. And way to go on the rewiring, I’ve had to do a little bit of that in my house and it always is such a great feeling of accomplishment when the light turns ON!!! Angelic choirs singing and stuff like that.

  21. Krista & SJN ~ Rustoleum’s indoor/outdoor spray paints are designed for use on metal. With brass, I’ve never used a primer, I just go straight to the oil based spray paint. However, with wood or laminate surfaces, I pretty much always use a primer.

  22. Tanya ~ I don’t see any need for heat resistant paint since all the electrical currents are safely housed in the plastic coated wires. Even touching the chandy after it’s been on for a few hours, there is no heat coming from the metal.

  23. After finding your blog two months ago, I have finally mastered spray painting, thanks to you. Your ideas are awesome, and now I go “hunting & gathering” for things to renew, reuse, and refresh. I am even ready to tackle my huge kitchen table, turinging it into a gorgeous black one, sans Ballard Designs, to match my new dining room chairs.

  24. Just like several other commenters, I have that same chancy in my dining room and I’m sick of it! And the giant version in the foyer. I think a coat of white paint might help me live with it/them a while longer—-although I can’t imagine getting the foyer one down and painted!

  25. standing ovation!! For it all! The find. The persistence. The patience. The can-do spiri. The finished product. Fantastic!!

  26. I scored the exact same chandelier for free from a craigslist find, only with one smaller matching one that we revamped and put into our kitchen remodel. I have gotten so many compliments from those chandeliers. We painted ours black, and I love the contrast to our white cabinets and grey marble.

  27. Hi Kate – quick question – did you spray paint the “chain” that extends from the fixture to the ceiling or did you buy a new one? I need to spray paint a brassy light fixture and the chain is the one thing holding me back!

  28. GET OUT!!! OMG, Kate! Yeah I would have been excited too! I want one. don’t know where to put it, but I want one!

    So, I hear that we are going to be shacking up in NY! Can’t wait to meet you!

  29. Wow! This is so beautiful! I love to paint things “new” again. I think I’ll be looking for some old brassy light fixtures now! Thanks for the inspiration!

  30. And can I just say how much i hate the new spell-checkers that think you’re wrong all the time? They change your words and make you look stoopid! I meant “chandy” in that last comment!

  31. Who knew a brass chandelier could look so amazing? I’m thoroughly impressed. And hooray for Habitat for Humanity!

  32. Fabulousness!!!! You have totally inspired me to look for something similar for my own kitchen. I’m a bit stumped b/c we have several fixtures in there that need replacing, but I’m not sure exactly how to get them all to coordinate….

  33. I am SO impressed and inspired! This looks like a gorgeous (not to mention pricey) PB chandelier. I can’t believe you got it for free and turned it into this beauty for minimal mula. Awesome job!!

  34. I am in LOVE!!!!!!!!!! WOW! I am just putting finishing touches on a kitchen facelift . . have been going back and forth on the chandy color (it’s brushed nickel right now and it does NOTHING for the space). You are genious. White paint here I come! If you were to put little drum shades on it, would you recommend super pale/white or a pop of color??? thoughs

  35. I swear, you can do anything? Re-wiring a fixture? Geez…you are amazing! It looks great and I love your kitchen!!!!

  36. Beautiful! I have a very similar black chandelier that came with my house…now I’m thinking it might just have to turn white…

  37. This is so totally cute and I am shocked it used to be brass…this is giving me all sorts of ideas of transformations some old brass items in our house could make!

  38. What a find that was! You did a beautiful job and I’m impressed that you can do the re-wiring. I wouldn’t know how to even begin. It’s a gorgeous transformation. I have been looking for a chandelier for awhile but the ones I find are so pricey. I will keep this in mind if I see a brass one.

  39. Wow! You’ve convinced me to make the long haul to my local restore! I love the new chandy- I’ve seen tons of brass to ORB makeovers, but I really love the white!

  40. OMG Kate. I just bought a brass chandelier just like yours yesterday at a Thrift Store I passed on my way home from work. I paid $25 for it – and I thought I got a deal! My plan is to also paint it white but I think I’ll put it in my office. Seeing your light makes me that much more excited!!!

    It looks fabulous!!!

  41. I absolutely LOVE it! I have been wanting to spray paint a few metallic fixtures around here and you have given me hope! Thank you!

  42. I am just amazed at the things I’ve learned can be painted. I sort of wish I had all those brass lamps and things back from years of garage sales! It looks fabulous!

  43. That truly looks great! Good job and I love the fact that you share the info on “how-to” with those of us who have never rewired a lamp, let alone hung a chandelier.


  44. I *love* the chandy, it turned out so great…and to think, it was that ugly brass thing before! (c: Bravo! Thanks for the great tips, you are always inspirational!

  45. Wow! That is amazing! I just got rid of one very similar…darn! I could have turned it into a gem! You are brilliant. Love your blog by the way!

  46. So exciting! I actually scored a free brass chandy myself from one of my mom’s good friends-yay! Fah-ree is the best! After I spray her white I am hanging it in my little girls room!
    Thanks for all of the info! Love it!

  47.! We are closing on a house on Monday that has 2 of the EXACT same brassy chandeliers! I was ready to list them on Craig’s List and put up some “pretty” lighting, but I LOVE IT PAINTED WHITE!!! Do you mind sharing what color you painted it??

  48. LOVE this new light. I had an old one in the home we recently sold and thought I’d mention something that the old one had that the newer ones don’t. The “sleeve” between the bulb and the “cup” had what looked like candle wax drips down it. I’ve seen bloggers use hot glue to make the drips and then paint over them. Really makes it look like an authentic candelabra when they are added.

  49. I have that exact chandelier hanging in my entry in all it’s shiny brass glory. Love the idea of painting it but the scale is actually wrong which is too bad because yours certainly looks fab. I think mine will be sitting at the local sally ann with a ‘free’ tag on it very soon :)

  50. as always, a stunning transformation. i love that style of chandelier: clean, simple, and elegant.

  51. Love this. I painted my brass fixtures black in my kitchen and they look great and will do unitl I can get the one that I really want. I have the same brass fixture as you have in my dining room, I think some spray action is in its future. Thanks for sharing.

  52. Totally Classy! You did an amazing job, it looks right at home in your kitchen! IHeart it to pieces!


  53. refinishing these 90s chands totally updates the look. i painted mine black. and it sure does look uber better!

  54. This looks great! Can you show a shot of the whole kitchen with that over the island? I’m trying to convince my husband that a chandy works over an island, but he’s all gung-ho over a pot-rack light… help me!

  55. Unbelievable. I must call my Restore and see if they ever have free anything week. And a new color from Rustoleum I have not seen??? Shell White? Hmmmm I must spray for myself. I totally love the look in your kitchen. It is so you!!

  56. OMG! I had that EXACT chandy, and left in in our old house when we sold it. My legs are black and blue through kicking myself… could have been so splendid, *sob*!!

  57. CUTE! I had one like that only smaller in our old home and hated it for so long. I kept threatening to paint it but everyone thought I would ruin it. As if you can RUIN an ugly brass fixture like that?! Finally I painted it black and loved it. :)

  58. OMG! I have that EXACT chandelier! I have hated it ever since we bought this house & moved in 6 months ago. I’ve been wondering what it would look like if I just painted it & now I know, thanks to you! AND another project gets added to the list this weekend, hubs is going to LOVE me!

  59. Perfect timing! I have a brass standing lamp that I’ve had in the guest bedroom taking up space and not wanting to display it because its outdated. i’m in the process of redoing my bonus room upstairs and am trying to reuse anything I can and then I thought I might use that lamp for extra accent lighting and thought……I’m painting that brass lamp! May need a few tips on prepping it and want to paint it a dark brown color so any suggestions please let me know! Thanks!

  60. Love it and so jealous! Just saw someone post a blog about turning brass into shiny sliver with some sort of auto polish. Wish I could remember where that post was. I love shape on the old brass items and usually end up painting them too.

  61. I love this project! It looks so good in your kitchen! YOu would have never know it was brass.
    Thanks for linking up to my par-tay!

  62. Wow, what a beautiful transformation … thanks for sharing .. including your ‘almost giving up’ .. but you didn’t hoooraaaay for you!

  63. I love that you found this and had such a fantastic success!!! I recently discovered my love of redoing chandeliers and seeing how new and creative I can get with each piece. Your fixture looks beautiful in that kitchen space! I love the crisp clean look and the basic color that allows for any kind of seasonal shades if you want to decorate for various holidays. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your light!

  64. I Love this!!! I actually have the same exact one hanging up in in the house i just moved into but it is brass and I was just getting ready to take it done when I read your blog! Now I’ll be able to put it back up after painting it! I was wondering how you did the distress look? Did you paint the chandy black first and then used a brush with oil to remove some white paint?? Thanks!!!

  65. I found that same chandelier at Goodwill and snabbed it up. I knew I wanted to make it white, so this is PERFECT! When I saw you on Nate yesterday, they showed this project and I was so excited. I did take the big ball thingy off the bottom because it had a dent in it and I like the way it looks without it.

    Do you know how to make one that was a ceiling mount into a plug in? The hallway where I want to put it has can lights but probably is the only place high enough to put it.

  66. I love the way this looks! I’m getting ready to paint a Habitat Restore rejected brass chandelier myself to hang in my dining room. You mentioned your chandelier needed rewiring- how did you know this? Did you have to hang it up first before you painted it to make sure it worked? I would hate to do all that work and then realize it doesn’t work.

  67. I was surprised you didn’t just paint your old kitchen chandy as white since it can also look as awesome as your formerly brass chandy. Great fit in your kitchen!

  68. I have the EXACT SAME CHANDELIER! I’ve already spray painted the first coat and am waiting for it to dry right now! Thank you for your blog! :)

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