I am at it again, making DIY pendant lights.  I don’t think good lighting should be so expensive.  Lighting is one of those key elements to a great design and typically comes along with a price tag to match.  To defy paying outrageous prices, I set out to make my own modern pendant light.  And, it only set me back about $40.

DIY Brass Pendant Light

My new brass basket pendant light started out as an inexpensive wastebasket.  My eye was drawn to the beautiful oval shapes of this wastebasket.  I found it at HomeGoods for $10.  Right there in the store I flipped it upside down and started daydreaming of it as a beautiful light fixture.


Do you guys know how hard it is to find good brass paint?  Probably not, but that’s why I am here.  Sadly, it is very difficult.  I have scoured stores looking for a suitable brass spray paint and only found one brand that carries an antique brass, but the murky looking color on the lid turned me off.  I resorted to gold leaf spray paint to replicate brass on this dresser makeover.  I checked out decorative metallic paints and even acrylic paints, to no avail.  Brass is noticeably missing from most brands lineups.

Modern Masters to the rescue.  Enter my new paint BFF (best friend forever), Modern Masters Metallic Paint in Brass Shade.  A shade is the standard metallic color mixed with 50% black.  I think the shade is better for an antique brass look.

Metallic Antique Brass Paint

They have a huge line of metallic paints in all shades and tints imaginable.  I love that the paints are water-based for easy cleanup.  I decided to give their brass metallic paint shade a go on my soon-to-be light fixture.  The second I opened the lid, I was in love…I actually saw little cartoon hearts.  This paint really looks like antique brass.  Beautiful!

Metallic Antique Brass Paint

Using a short-handled paint brush, I started spreading the brass love on the inside of the wastebasket.

DIY Brass Pendant Light

Once the inside had one good coat, I moved onto the outside.  This step was super exciting.  Seeing my sort of ugly brown wastebasket turn into a brass beauty right before my eyes was fun.

DIY Brass Pendant Light

I gave the wastebasket a second coat of brass paint, inside and out.  Modern Masters recommends two coats for their opaque paints for good coverage.  Honestly, in this case it looked pretty good after the first coat.

DIY Brass Pendant Light

Turning the wastebasket into a light was just about as easy as painting it.  I flipped the wastebasket upside down and carefully drilled a 1/4″ hole directly in the center.  This would be for the light cord.


I bought a couple of light kits for this project.  This one with only a 36″ cord was too short for my 9 ft. ceilings.  I wanted the light to rest about 30″ above a table.  I ended up using a different pendant light kit with a 50″ cord.

To get the shade over the light kit, I removed the cord from the canopy that comes with the kit.  Then, I carefully threaded the cord through the drilled hole from the inside of the wastebasket.  I pulled the cord all the way through until the socket was touching the basket.

DIY Brass Pendant Light

DIY Brass Pendant Light

I thought an Edison style lightbulb would look nice in the basket light.  But as soon as a screwed it into the socket, I knew it was wrong.  It looked a little to I-stuck-a-basket-over-a-light-socket.  And, I think the oval pattern I loved was lost when you could look straight through the light.

DIY Brass Pendant Light

Wanting a more modern look, I installed a drum shade inside the wastebasket.  I purchased this inexpensive stick lamp with a small white drum shade, just to use the shade.  Since I was only out about $22 on the light so far, the extra $17 was fine with me.  As soon as I stuck the shade inside the basket, I was in love. The brass contrasts beautifully with the white shade and the oval shapes I love stand out.


To secure the lamp shade, I used the black ring that came to hold the shade onto the lamp socket.  I just turned the shade upside down and used the same ring to screw onto my new light socket.


I hung my new brass light above the basement game table.  The smaller scale is perfect for this casual space and it doesn’t block the windows.  The brass paint shines in all the natural light.

DIY Brass Pendant Light

DIY Brass Pendant Light

DIY Brass Pendant Light

Of course, I think the view looking up when seated at the table is important, and this light passes the test.  The basket is long enough that the bulb is tucked up high and not glaring in your eyes.  When you look up all you see is the white shade.  If this lamp were a skirt, the shade would be its slip.

DIY Brass Pendant Light

And, here is a look at my brass lamp in its natural habitat.  The pendant is beautiful in its own right, but doesn’t detract from my turquoise statement table and fun, colorful pillows.

DIY Brass Pendant Light

You can see Part 1 of the DIY Upholstered Bench here.  And, I know you are dying to pick up where we left off and learn about the foam, batting, and fabric.  I promise my thrifty bench finishing is worth the wait.  Tomorrow I will be back with Part 2!

Oh, and be on the look out.  I have most of the quart of brass paint left…so there will be more brass projects in the future :)

Disclosure: Modern Masters provided me paint from their metallic paint collection for this review. I came up with the project to paint. All opinions in this post are 100% mine.

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12 Responses to How to Turn a Basket Into a Pendant Light

  1. Gwen says:

    Oh I love it!!! This is a great surprise for the space. Looks so unique too. Plus you let us see the pillows and benches!!! If I were you I’d take a nap on a bench, gazing up at that wonderfully unique light chandelier as I closed my eyes :-). Hmmm…what’s the first game you will play? Candyland?! Or a domino game of matching ?!!! Ill bring the kids Goldfish and water! Lol

    • Jackie says:

      Gwen, It was hard to resist the urge to nap on it after I finished. We do a lot of Candyland and Shoots and Ladders around here.

  2. Lisa says:

    Yay. I’m so glad you’re doing DIY again. I’m loving your light and can’t believe that you made that window seat yourself. It looks great!

  3. The pendant light looks amazing. Hard to believe it is DIY.

  4. Pam Zirbel says:

    CRAAAAAZY AWESOME!!!! That paint DOES coat well!!! Fantastic job, as usual!!! And love that the cord is directly down the line of the corner of the room!!! Well done!!!! You are my hero!!! LOL

    • Jackie says:

      Thanks Pam. The builder planned to continue the soffit into that corner, but I insisted he bump the ceiling back up in that triangle and so I could hang a light there. I was not kidding when I said this was a dream a long time in the making :) By the way, you are totally my hero for all the sweet comments you leave here and on Facebook!

  5. jessvii says:

    A very smart lighting solution – I love it!

  6. I love it! The pendant is beautiful, oh and the color !!

  7. Thanks for the inspiration! I’m going to start looking for objects to turn into lights. Thanks!

    • Jackie says:

      Elisha, You are welcome. I actually keep a few light cord kits on hand in case inspiration strikes. World Market and Home Depot/Lowes have the ceiling conversion kits. Ikea has inexpensive plug-in cord kits (without the old-fashioned chain).

      Happy light making!

  8. […] only come in all shapes and sizes – they also come in a beautiful array of colors as well! A DIY lighting project by Jackie of Teal & Lime is a wonderful example of this as she shares her process of using one […]

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