Homemade Swag Light

Updated July 19, 2017

With the current popularity of all things retro in design, swag (pendant) lamps have made a comeback from the 1970s. Clusters of several swag lamps have interior design impact in the corner of a room. A simple swag lamp wiring kit (available at hardware and home stores) and common household items such as waste and storage baskets make interesting swag lamps. Just flip them upside down and attach wiring.

Using a Basket for a Swag Lamp

Find or purchase an inexpensive basket of any shape. Make sure it is at least 10 inches in diameter and 10 inches deep to allow plenty of room for a light bulb. Think about the pattern of light that will shine through your lamp. Wicker baskets look nice as light passes through the weave pattern. If you choose a plastic or metal basket for this project, consider drilling a pattern of holes in it, allowing light to pass through and create an interesting pattern of light on the wall. Lighting effects are especially dramatic when you cluster several lamps together. Purchase a swag lamp wiring kit (sometimes called a pendant light kit) from a hardware or home supply store. The bulb socket is sometimes sold separately. Preferably, buy a swag kit with a toggle switch near the plug on the wire so you don't have to reach up into the basket to turn the bulb on and off. Flip your basket upside down and drill a small hole in the centre of the top, just large enough for the swag wire to pass through.

Preparing the Lamp for Hanging

Place a pressure clip (available at office supply stores to clip reams of paper together) on the wire, inside the basket and at least 2 inches above the bulb socket. The basket will balance on the clip. The clip keeps the basket from sliding down the wire onto the bulb socket and gives space between bulb and basket. Pressure clips are a flexible bulb spacing option as you can adjust them during installation. Use low watt (40 or below) decorative bulbs for swag lamps. Repeat the steps until you have a set of at least three swag lamps. Use coordinating baskets for an elegant look, varied baskets for a funky look.

Hanging and Arranging the Lamps

Practice and play with arranging your lamps before installing ceiling hooks. Have someone assist you so you can step away from your installation and see how the overall spacing looks from a distance. Mark the places you want to place hooks on the ceiling with a pencil. Install two decorative ceiling hooks for each swag lamp in a corner of your room. Place one hook directly above your electrical socket, and the other 2 or 3 feet into the room. Use a safe, multiple-outlet strip with a circuit breaker for multiple lamp plugs coming from one outlet. Plug your lamp in the outlet and pull the wire up through hook nearest the wall. Drape the wire and lamp over to the next hook and let the lamp hang down into the room. You can cover the wires with decorative chain or fabric, or just leave them bare. Most swag kits come with white wires. They are decorative and look fine in most modern settings without any embellishment. Repeat the installation steps for each swag lamp you want to cluster. When arranging your lamp cluster, use different lengths of swag wire for each lamp, varying them in distance from the floor and from one another to create interesting lighting effects.

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About the Author

L. Bradley has been a freelance arts publicist and writer since 2003. She is a nationally exhibited artist and also writes for online and print publications, including "Southcoast Insider." Bradley holds an M.F.A. from the Massachusetts College of Art, as well as an M.A. in professional writing from the University of Massachusetts.