How to Paint a Ceiling Light Fixture

How to use spray paint an inexpensive ceiling light fixture to look like it came from a high end decorating store or catalog.

One room in my house that has seen a lot of decorative changes over the 20 + years that we have lived in it is my mudroom/laundry room. It has been painted light green, dark green and turquoise. I stenciled a rug on the floor.

The room had a lattice stencil on the walls, a complete gallery wall of my daughter’s childhood drawings and before that, I can’t even remember. With all the changes there was only one big change when we altered the size of the room by expanding a single door coat closet in the room into a double door pantry.

When my daughters still lived at home, we needed lots of storage and cubbies to hold all their stuff.  I used to do daily laundry, but not so much anymore.

True Value Hardware has partnered with me to makeover two rooms in my house and I chose to start with the mudroom. It is going to be done on a small budget. Nothing drastic, but changes that can be done in a day or over a weekend that will make a big difference not only in how the room looks, but the way we will use the room as well.

Studio mcgee laundry room

Photo: Studio McGee

I like the vibes in this laundry room. Simple, clean lines, bright and cheery. I love all the white, the door, the herringbone pattern slate floor and the shiplap walls. I could move right in.

So where did I start the makeover?  At the most logical place… the top.

a common light fixture

The ceiling was recently painted white, but I needed to replace this….

Mudroom+Decorating+Makeover - Before

Oh yeah!  I am no longer going to be the proud owner of the light fixture that is commonly referred to as a boob light.

Since I am doing this room on a small budget, I had to think creatively for its replacement. I wanted a white flush mounted fixture that had a nautical feel.

Hi Lo Decorative lighting ideas

I found one for $253. Out of my budget. I found one similar, a Westinghouse Ceiling Light Fixture on the True Value website. It had the shape and the nautical vibe I was looking for and was within my budget. I knew with a can of spray paint I could transform it to my vision, so I bought it.

I ordered it to be shipped to my local True Value. When I got a call that it came in, I went to the store to pick it up along with a can of Krylon Short Cuts Fast Drying Enamel paint so I could change the fixture color to glossy white.

How to Paint a Metal Light Fixture

supplies needed:

  • Westinghouse Ceiling Light Fixture
  • Krylon Short Cuts Fast Drying Enamel Spray Paint in Gloss White
  • Scotch Brand Painter’s Tape
  • Screwdriver
  • Printer paper
  • Scissors
  • 100 grit sandpaper
  • Dropcloth or large cardboard box. I open cardboard boxes to lay out small items to be spray painted. They help protect my work surface from overspray.
How to paint a metal light fixture

1. Lightly sand the metal surface with 100 grit sandpaper. Clean and let dry.

How to spray paint a metal light fixture

2. Use a piece of printer paper to mask the inside of the light to protect the foil and sockets from overspray.  I used my finger to make a crease in the paper so I could cut out a circle shape.

How to makeover a light fixture

3. Use painters tape to attach paper. Do not put tape directly on the reflective foil as it may peel the foil off when you remove it.

Painting tips for light fixtures

4. Make a tent with a piece of printer paper and painters tape to mask the sockets from overspray.

What spray paint to use for metal light fixtures

5. Lay fixture on work surface in a well-ventilated area when the temp is around 78 degrees. Apply light coats about 8-inches away from surface. Repeat coats every 5 minutes up to an hour until you get the coverage you need.  I used the entire can of Short Cuts.


If you need to re-coat after an hour you need to wait at least 48 hours before adding another coat. The initial coats of paint have to fully cure. If you re-coat too early you risk wrinkling the paint finish.

Glossy white nautical ceiling light fixture

Once the transformation was made, Ed took the old light down and replaced it with the shiny new one.

How to Hang a Flush Mounted Ceiling Light Fixture

1. Turn off the electricity to the light from the breaker box, not the wall switch, before installing the light.

How to change a light fixture

2. Remove the old light.  You will be left with wires hanging out of the electrical box that will look like this.

How to wire a ceiling light fixture

3. Thread the wires through the holes in the top of the fixture. Use wire nuts that come with the light to attach the wires together for each bulb socket.  Place light bulbs in socket and turn on breaker and wall switch to make sure light works. If it doesn’t you will have make sure the wires are connected properly. If the light works, turn off the wall switch and breaker so you can continue to attach the light to the ceiling.

How to mount a ceiling light fixture: Mudroom/laundry room

4. Push the fixture to ceiling and line up the holes in the base of the light and the screws in the electrical box.  Once they are through, turn the fixture to tighten.

5. Use a flat head screwdriver to secure the fixture base to the ceiling.

DIY glossy white nautical ceiling fixture: Mudroom/laundry room

6. This may require four hands.  Hold up the glass globe to the fixture and then the metal ring.  Have another person screw the nuts onto the fixture to hold the globe in place.

mudroom/laundry room makeover: Inexpensive nautical ceiling fixture

Just in case you are thinking that doing before & after reveals are magic, you can see they are not.  Changing the light fixture was a simple change that doesn’t make a huge difference in the room yet, but it is a start in the right direction.

It can take a while to get everything into place especially when DIY’ing. Decorating and design takes time! Even for a small space.

I am now starting on the floor.

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen what I am envisioning for it.  I will post that when I finish. It should be around the end of the month.

How to transform a metal ceiling light fixture with paint. It takes ho-hum to exactly what you want.

More Spray Painted Home Decorating Projects:

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  1. Could you give a link to the light on the TV website? I couldn’t find it.
    Nice job on the light and the whole laundry room!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Dana – Sorry I removed that link a while ago since the TV website does not have it anymore, but Home Depot does and it costs less. Here is the link to the light. Just click on it or copy and paste into your browser.

  2. Catpainter says:

    I have a front loading washer and dryer and a great long top over both for folding laundry. I have used front loaders for 15 years and wouldn’t go back. I use an HD detergent and follow recommendations because I read that too much detergent makes your washer cycles longer. I don’t oveload the machine and use a half cup of vinegar in my wash loads and our clothes and linens smell great and look clean and bright. Yes, it’s a smaller capacity than a front loader, but there are just two of us and we use much less water. I turn all my darks inside out when I wash and the lack of an agitator keeps them fresh and new looking for a long, long time – it’s so much easier on your clothes. Jeans stay newer looking, too.
    Have a retractable line in my yard and use it whenever I wash bedding and towels, table linens and pillows. Take them down when they are almost dry and toss them in the dryer for a few minutes to finish, fold when warm.
    We all have our favorite ways of doing things – that’s why we have so many choices : )

  3. christine gowing says:

    Whew! You are such a “go getter”!
    When you have run out of rooms at your home, I’m sending a request for you to come over here.
    Each and every redo has been so informative and inspiring.
    Love Love Love your style.

  4. Victoria Keller says:

    I love the idea of a fresh clean nautical look. The light is perfect with the new white paint. Have you thought about reversing your dryer door, it might make access a little easier. There should be some clips on the inside that you can remove and turn the door around to open towards your wall. Have fun decorating!

  5. You had me rolling with laughter over the “booby” light, never thought anybody else called them that! When we bought our house 10 years ago, there were as we called them nipple lights. We have been trying to replace them but didn’t know with what. Thanks for the idea, I am not creative and would never had thought to paint a light I liked, I just never bought it because I didn’t like the color. Now to go look at the laundry room to see what I can redo! PS I have the whirlpool HE top loader and I love it. I can do large blankets, lots of towels I bought it 5 or 6 years ago and didn’t get the front loader for a few reasons, I heard about the moldy smell problem (but if you bleach at least once a month it is suppose to take care of that) I did not want to bend all the time.

  6. Stephanie @ CasaWatkins says:

    Love the fixture Diane! I did not know about the need to wait 48 hrs to apply another coat after the initial 1hr. Explains a lot of issues with my projects last year. Can’t wait to see the finished mud room!!!

  7. Beth Coburn says:

    Well, I mistakenly posted twice and forgot to say how I love the nautical look over the “booby” style!

  8. Beth Coburn says:

    Yes, I agree about the front loader. It doesn’t clean as well and takes so long for a load to wash. I would hang on to your top load washer, any day. It may not look as “sleek” but you’ll have cleaner clothes!

  9. Beth Coburn says:

    Yes, i agree with others about the front loader. Wish I had my old top load washer back! It got clothes much cleaner in record time. The front loader takes an hour for a load then doesn’t seem to get things smelling clean. The machines look nice but would not recommend them :)

  10. Jane Hansen says:

    I agree with Cheryl I have had both front loader and top loader. Get one that you can adjust the water volume, top loader, and with an agitator. They don’t make them as large as non agitator types but they make it up in power. And your clothes won’t get that funky moldy smell.

  11. Gloria gawa says:

    I improved my laundry room by adding a 10″ wide shelf over my washer/dryer. The surround where the water connects I sprayed with a vinyl white paint. On the shelf I put a basket w/ clothes pins, a glass container w/ dry laundry detergent, a jar w/ a collection of buttons and some method products and a picture of my granddaughter. My laundry room is painted white so it always look bright. On the cabinets I used Old Masters Gel Stain in a dark finish and added hardware. The good thing about having a front loader you can use the tops for folding clothes. You just have to get the right one that will do the job, especially when space is a issue.

  12. Ruth Anne says:

    Love your new light fixture–I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of your laundry room makeover!

  13. Cheryl Cope says:

    Love your projects. The light looks great. Do not get a front loader! They are a pain. I would love to have my old machine back.

  14. Sheryll & Critters. says:

    I love the change and am so very excited to see the progression…… you are so very inspiring. Now all I need is a copy of your dear Ed to give a hand. And yes I will be bragging to someone I know about your redo……. oh yes!

  15. Oh, I can hardly wait to see the next installment! I really would like to do something to my laundry room, especially the floor. I’m thinking about ceramic tile….we have two miniature Doxies that live out there if we are gone away for the day. They are messy….and lest anyone think, poor doggies….it’s a huge room plus a half bath….they do just fine LOL

  16. looking forward to following the makeover I need to do the same to my small space. My washer is a Samsung top loader and it’s the largest tub they make. I wanted something that I could wash linens blankets pillows and I love it I’ve had it almost 4 years and never a problem. No more buzzer when cycle complete plays a tune. It’s als HE. Get what you want just thought I would share my experience.