How I Am Updating an Old Brass Chandelier

by Diane Henkler on 05/16/2011

Hey, how are you doing?  I hope you had an enjoyable spring weekend and got to get outside and enjoy the warmer temps.  It was a bit iffy here with rain on and off, but I still managed to get outside.  I also started working on this colonial brass chandelier that has been hanging in my foyer for the last 15 years.

I bought it at a flea market for $12.00 and it was old and a bit pitted even when I bought it.    I found the shades a few years later at a yard sale. I don’t hate this fixture as it is classic, but the brass is pitted and one side of the big round appendage ball is almost black.  I like brass as it adds glow and gleam to rooms, but I have touches of it elsewhere in the room and feel like experimenting with making this more unique to me.   It hangs from a two story foyer and it would require huge ladders or scaffolding to get it down, so I am working on it where it is.  I can grab it from my staircase and twirl it around.


The candle socket covers were in need of replacement which is the easy part of this makeover.



Different manufacturer’s make candle socket covers, but if you want white – don’t get the Portfolio brand at Lowes on the left as they are not opaque enough – you can see the wire and metal of the candle socket right through them.   I found the Westinghouse brand at Ace Hardware -they were perfect opaque white.



The black chandy shades cost me 50 cents each at a yard sale.  I like opaque shades as I think they add more drama to a room as the light is cast up and down – not all over as with sheer shades, plus if the fixture is on a dimmer it lets you play with the perfect amount of light.

If you don’t have your lights on dimmers you should seriously consider doing so.  It allows you to control the exact amount of light needed for what ever you are doing, literally at the touch of a button. For instance in your bathroom when you want to take a relaxing bath – having a dimmer allows you to create spa like lighting.  Then when you are done – back to bright so you can see yourself clearly in the mirror.

Shades – Before


I cleaned the dust off of the shades with a tack cloth and used Rust-o-leum Gloss Protective Enamel in White. I applied very light coats every 20 minutes until they were covered in a nice glossy white finish.


I love glossy white shades and now I am happy to say I finally have some. I think we should have what we love in our homes, even if we have to make it, right?  These are probably not the last shades you will see me spraying gloss white.



I wanted the inside of the shades to be bright and cheery and chose to paint them sky blue. To do this without making a huge mess, I used my trusty artist’s fan brush. I use this for all small paint touch ups as it feathers the paint out perfectly so you don’t see a demarcation line when the paint is dry. I use it for wall, furniture, and cabinet touch-ups.  It also works nicely in tight places like inside a small lamp shade.



The wider part of the “fan” brush runs right along the edge of the inside of the shade – no mess or painting outside the lines.  I applied one coat of gloss sky blue craft paint to each shade.



Now when I look up at the fixture – I see a pop of color and it makes me smile. It is an unexpected place to find some color, but I figure since you look up into the fixture I would use the color of the sky. I feel like I am bringing nature indoors.



With the shades done, now I have to work on the brass. It looks all shiny in the photo, but it is pitted  and discolored in many places.





So far I have only dry brushed on a bit of white paint, but have a vision and am working towards reaching it step by step. It is an experiment and so far I think it is going to work, but didn’t have time to complete it. I will show you my progress in my next post.


I covered the chandelier chain by making a cover with fabric and Velcro.  You can see the tutorial for it here – How to Make a Chandelier Chain Cover

Hope you enjoy your day – my youngest is coming home today from her semester abroad in Ireland. I can actually say I am excited to go to the supermarket as I have to stock the pantry as it has been pretty empty with just Ed and me. I plan on making her favorite meal tonight. It is called Bott Boi. It is a Pennsylvania Dutch Brand Noodle recipe that my mom used to make when I was growing up.  I haven’t made it since she was last home, but it is one of those recipes that I have made so many times, I no longer need to see the recipe card on how to make it.  It is delish-ious and there is always plenty leftover so I won’t have to cook another night this week – I am loving that as it will give me more time to work on the chandelier.

Now it’s off to my domestic duties.



I am linking to:

Southern Hospitality
Thrifty Décor Chick
The DIY Showoff
Between Naps On the Porch
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
The Stories  A2Z
Coastal Charm
Savvy Southern Style

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Steph @ Crafting in the Rain May 16, 2011 at 10:04 am

Great transformation!!


2 Sherry @ No Minimalist Here May 16, 2011 at 10:05 am

Hi Diane, The shades look wonderful painted white with the inside blue! I already like the chandy better and I bet it will be fabulous when you finish. Have a great week.


3 Stephanie@cre8tive May 16, 2011 at 10:20 am

Oh me oh my, I wish you would of shown a picture of how you are working on it by swirling it around! Be careful! How exciting that your daughter is coming home, I hope you share that wonderful recipe. The chandelier is already looking so fresh and updated, I can’t wait to see it when it is done.


4 Bonnie @ Creative Decorating May 16, 2011 at 10:27 am

I love what you have done with the chandelier so far! The shades came out just great. Can’t wait to see the finished project!


5 Magali@LittleWhiteHouse May 16, 2011 at 10:28 am

I have a chandelier that I intend to make over during the summer, so your post was really inspirational. Great job!


6 Diane May 16, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Thanks Magali-

This is the second chandelier I have worked on and wonder why I didn’t make them over sooner. It will be a perfect project to take on over the summer – especially if you can take it down and paint it outside.


7 Suzan May 16, 2011 at 10:36 am

I have been thinking about adding shades to my chandelier and your post is pushing me to take the plunge!

Here in Pennsylvania Dutch country, we call Bott Boi “Pot Pie” but that totally confuses people who think they are going to eat something with a crust! Standard (for the rest of the country) pot pie is called chicken pie here. There is nothing comparable to Pennsylvania Dutch pot pie. It still freaks me out to have noodles AND potatoes in the same pot!


8 Diane May 16, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Hi Suzan-

The recipe I have doesn’t use potatoes, but that sounds like it would be a good addition. It sounds a little like Perogie Casserole – which is a hit in my house too. My mom’s relatives were from the coal region – just a bit north and west of you. My mom got the recipe off the package back in the 70′s for the Bott Boi I make .

I like adding shades to a chandelier as it takes away the glare from the light bulbs, especially if the fixture is slightly above eye level. Makes it so much easier to look at. Lowes has a few different types at pretty reasonable prices.


9 Marty@A Stroll thru Life May 16, 2011 at 10:36 am

Love the chandelier, and the new redo is looking fabulous. Can’t wait to see it all done. Hugs, Marty


10 Sherry May 16, 2011 at 11:05 am

The chandelier is already looking so nice and updated. Can’t to see the finish product, I’m sure it’s going to be beautiful!


11 Diana K May 16, 2011 at 11:16 am

It’s looking better already! Can’t wait to see it finished. I really LOVE the sky blue color on the inside of the shades! Hugs-Diana


12 Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions May 16, 2011 at 11:20 am

Nice update, Diane! I love the pop of blue you put on the inside of the shades.


13 Denise May 16, 2011 at 12:15 pm

love it! Adding the blue to the inside is a nice switch from the gold. I hope you have a fabulous time with your daughter! Have a great week.


14 Kathleen Weishaar May 16, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Hi Diane – I just love your blog – every element seems so fresh to me – from the projects you choose – to your design (and ‘re-design’) approach, your aesthetic sensibility, your photographic style – and, last but not least, your writing. I appreciate the context you provide through generous personalization. I think it’s the combination of professional-level aesthetics and personalization that makes your blog exceptional (and I read a lot of blogs) – and inspiring. Thank you!


15 Diane May 16, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Hi Kathleen-

Thank you so much. I get many nice comments about my blog and the projects I do, but yours has truly made all that I have done with my blog worth it. In a “perfect world” I would have loved to be a magazine editor. Right after college I did work for Redbook as an assistant to the beauty editor, but that was as close as I ever got. Having this blog, lets me be my own editor-in-chief and I love it. It doesn’t feel like work as I am so passionate about DIY, decorating, crafts, style, and everything creative. It is what make me – ME. I can’t cook very well or balance my checkbook to save my life, but coming up with projects, posts, and other items to share here is what I love. It makes me extremely happy to know that you are finding so much inspiration in all that I have been doing here. I don’t think I will ever run out of topics or projects to post about as I have so many plans and ideas that I want to do – just need more time and Html smarts to see them all come to fruition.

Thanks again – I may have to copy your comment and hang it in my studioffice to remind me of the positive good things when I am having a bad day.


16 Lesley Litrento May 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Neat transformation… neck is killing me just thinking about you doing this while it was still hanging!!!!! lol


17 Diane May 16, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Hi Lesley-

I don’t have to look up at it as I work on it. I stand on my steps and am level with the chandelier. I will have to take a picture to show that is it not as dangerous as it sounds. :)


18 Brooke @ Inside-Out Design May 16, 2011 at 3:42 pm

I love how you added color inside the shades! Can’t wait to see this finished!


19 Carolyn@SweetChaos May 16, 2011 at 9:10 pm

What a great idea! I love the way the shades turned out, and I can’t wait to see the final transformation :)


20 Roses and Rust May 17, 2011 at 2:07 am

I have been wanting to do this to my brass chandelier for the longest time so am following with interest. Did you just dry brush straight onto the brass with no sanding or priming or anything? Please let me know. Thanks Sharon


21 Katharine May 17, 2011 at 4:54 am

Diane, you have done it again. That is so pretty with the blue underneath. Katharine


22 Toni May 17, 2011 at 8:47 am

Diane- I love the chandelier makeover-especially the pop of sky blue inside the shades. Welcome home to Mandy!!


23 Yvonne May 17, 2011 at 11:09 pm

This is a WOW of a makeover! I have a chandy very much like yours and you have inspired me to update it. This is a fabulous project!!!!!


24 Diane May 18, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Hi Yvonne-

I have been wanting to do something with mine for a long time and finally was inspired after seeing gloss white shades in an online magazine. I knew that was what I wanted and then off I went with the spray paint. I would love to see yours when you are done.


25 Anita @ GoingalittleCoastal May 18, 2011 at 9:01 pm

I really like the idea of doing a color inside the shade. The blue looks great. I wish my old chandelier shades weren’t pleated or I would just paint them too. I think I strip mine down! Mine is still shadeless since I gave it the rub n buff treatment!


26 abeachcottage May 19, 2011 at 9:53 am

Looking forward to seeing your project finished, so far it is looking lovely. Thanks for stopping by Beach Cottage Good Life Wednesdays.


27 Christine May 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Hey love the updates to your fixture!! Love the shades.
Hope you’re having a great day:)


28 Diane May 20, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Hey Christine-
How are you doing? Great to hear from you. Just finished up the chandelier and looking forward to the weekend. Hope you have a good one.


29 Peggy September 2, 2013 at 11:42 pm

You are a genius. I love the scrapbook paper covers. Where have you found the best prices on the shades that you put the paper over?


30 Diane Henkler September 3, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Thanks Peggy – I found the shades at a thrift store. They were a real bargain at a $1 a shade. Lowes sometimes carries them. I would do an online Google search for them or check out ebay to see if anyone is selling plain ones.


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