From Trash Can to Light Fixture: A Simple & Affordable DIY Project

For the price of a can of spray paint and a cheap basket, you’ll have a unique and modern light fixture that no one will know you made yourself.

By Erica Young


When I moved into my current house, there were several projects I wanted to tackle right away to take the style from builder-boring to unique and chic. But just as all home owners find out, I realized the costs were adding up quickly. So, to save on money, I took the DIY route whenever possible.


My powder room was in need of some serious help. It was sporting an ugly dark brown wall, a mirror that was too small, and a boxy paper light fixture that I wanted to throw in the trash immediately. Ceiling light fixtures can be a pricey item to replace, especially since the look I had in mind – gold, modern, sleek – couldn’t be found at just any local home improvement store. I decided a DIY light fixture was the way to go.


On a random trip to Target, a waste paper basket caught my eye. It had the exact same shape as several modern wire light fixtures I had seen from designer stores. It even had a hole in the bottom, perfect for fitting the light bulb. The best part? The price tag said $3. Obviously, I was sold. This project can be done with any wire basket as long as there’s a place for the light bulb mechanism to fit through. You could use a wire fruit bowl, a storage basket, or a waste basket like mine.




Once you have a basket, here’s how to turn it into a chic and modern light fixture.


1. Remove Your Old Light Fixture

Shut off the power to your light at the breaker box, and then use a screw driver to loosen the fixture from the mounting bracket. Once the pendant portion of the fixture is loosened, you’ll be able to see how it’s connected to the bracket with wires. The black wire is hot, the white wire is neutral, and the green or copper wire is your ground wire. Remove the wire nuts, and detangle the wires inside to free your fixture.




2. Paint Your Basket and Your Pendant

Remove the old shade from your pendant and discard. You’re going to re-use the hanging bar portion of your light and paint it to match your basket. Tape off the wires on the old pendant fixture with blue painter’s tape. Spray paint the pendant and the new wire basket with gold spray paint.




3. Reattach Your Pendant and Add the Basket

After the paint has dried, reattach your pendant fixture to the ceiling by connecting the same wires that you disconnected when removing the fixture, and covering them with wire nuts. Use a screwdriver to reattach the fixture to the mounting plate. The wire basket will attach to the pendant in the same way that the old shade was attached. Thread the bulb socket through the bottom of the basket, screw on the mounting disk, and screw in the light bulb.




And you’re done! For the price of a can of spray paint and a cheap basket, you’ll have a unique and modern light fixture that no one will know you made yourself. You’ll never look at a trash basket the same again!




Images used with permission, courtesy of Erica Young

Next: How to Properly Use Wicker in your Interior Design