{How To Hang Something from Your Ceiling}

In today’s post, I’ll show you how to hang a mid-weight item from your plaster ceiling (with tips for drywall too), using a cordless drill and a swag hook kit from the hardware store. As an added bonus, I’ll share a tip with you that will make clean-up of falling debris a cinch!  In this example, I hung a chandelier that I had re-wired and then I re-vamped it by spray painting it pink for my daughter’s bedroom.  

{Know Your Opponent}

Before you begin any hanging project, it’s important to know the weight of the item to be hung, the type of ceiling material you’re working with, and make sure you are using the correct hardware for the job.  My home was built in the early 50’s and has plaster walls and ceilings, which was an unpleasant surprise to this 2nd-time homeowner. So, the type of anchors, screws, nails, etc. that worked in my previous dry-walled home do not work for my new home’s plaster.

Here’s an example for you…an old landlord thought it was a good idea to hang a ceiling fan from one of these swag hooks.  These hooks are not meant for something that heavy.  We left the fan on low while we were away for a long Summer weekend just to keep the air circulating a little.  Well, I’ll just say the words “Massive CD collection” and “wrecking ball” and you can paint your own mental picture.  No bueno.

The chandelier will hang above a bed, so it’s important that it won’t come crashing down on someone in the middle of the night.  The package usually describes the weight capacity for the hardware.  Follow it to avoid the aforementioned scenario.

{Gather Your Supplies}

•protective eye gear
•cordless drill
•drill bits (one tiny and one large)
•paper dixie cup
•swag hook kit
•pencil
•tape measure

For safety’s sake, wear protective eye gear and use your tools carefully.  You’ll be looking up and foreign debris can very easily get into your eyes. 




For this project I gathered the chandelier, a tape measure, a pencil, my cordless drill, a couple of drill bits, a paper dixie cup, and my swag hook kit.  Also shown is the plug portion of the cord kit used to convert my chandelier from hard-wire to plug-in.  That tutorial is in the works.

Arrange your tools and materials in one spot close to your work zone.  This is going to save you lots of climbing up and down ladders, or in my case, a bed.  

{Pick Your Spot Wisely}

Determine the ideal location for your item, keeping in mind any 6-foot-3 inhabitants of your home.  Also, be aware of things like windows and doorways.  You don’t want to take all this time carefully hanging your decoration, only to bash it with a door or for a breeze through an open window to cause a problem.  I wanted the chandelier to hang in the center of the alcove, over the bed.  So, I measured a center point of just the alcove area, not the whole room, using a tape measure and marked a tiny dot on the ceiling with my pencil.  

{Ingenious Trick for Easy Clean-Up} 

Next, put your small drill bit on your drill.  Use it to poke a hole in the bottom of the dixie cup and feed the cup down onto the drill bit so that the bottom of the cup rests against the drill.  Tear away about half of the cup so the drill bit is longer than the cup.  The cup will stay on the drill as you drill into the ceiling, catching most, if not all, of the debris that will come out of the hole.  This makes for a no-mess project!  That’s a huge plus…unless you’re like me who is prone to making things harder on yourself by making stupid mistakes.  

After being so impressed with my dixie cup trick, I set my drill down on the bed against the chandelier, being careful that the cup stayed upright.  Well, it fell over and out came all of the dust and debris all over my daughter’s vintage quilt.  My sister and I call that “pulling a Nuskey”…our maiden name.  We call each other at random to share lots of these little moments, usually starting the conversation with, “I just pulled a Nuskey…”.

{Do Some Exploratory Drilling}

Using a tiny drill bit, drill up into the ceiling at the spot you marked with your pencil.  If you are not met with much resistance and the drill bit goes all the way through easily, you did not hit a wood joist (one of the wood beams that runs vertically across you house).  No worries, though.  Read on to see what to do next.  

{Did You Find a Joist?}

If you did meet resistance and you notice that some of your debris is saw dust, you hit a wooden joist and the job just became a little bit easier.  If you hit a joist, you simply screw the swag hook onto the blunt end of the wood screw included in the kit and then screw the pointy end up into the ceiling and joist until the hook is flush with the ceiling.  That’s it!  You’re done!  

{Visualize a Toggle Bolt as Being Kind of Like Childbirth}

Now, if you did not hit a joist, change out your drill bit to the larger one and put your dixie dust catcher back on.  Assemble the toggle bolt like this:


The little wings have a spring in them that allows them to spring outwards like this, but up inside your ceiling.  Picture having a baby…in your womb baby is able to stretch out just a little….but once it’s time to come out he has to bend completely in half to fit through the birth canal.  Once he’s on the other side, though, he can stretch out again.  Nice visual, huh?  No?  Sorry.  I had two C-sections so I apologize if I brought back any painful memories for you.  


To accomplish this childbirth like task, you have to drill a hole large enough to fit the assembled toggle bolt, toggle and all, up into the ceiling. It probably will be the size of a dime in diameter.  The base of the swag hook will cover this huge hole, so don’t worry.  If your drill bit is not that large in diameter, just keep the drill going while making a circular motion inside the drill to shave off the sides of the hole a little at a time.  Your glad you have your dixie dust catcher now, aren’t you?  

You’ll thank me when you realize you don’t have to take a shower just to get dust out of your hair.  It may be trial and error, so stop and check every few seconds to see if the hole is large enough.  If not, keep going.  

Once the hole is wide enough, pinch the wings down against the screw and push the whole thing up inside.  Be sure that the hook is on the end because you want to push the screw upwards as far as you can to ensure the wings spring back out, yet you don’t want to lose your screw up there too.  


Lastly, as you screw the hook clockwise to tighten, pull downwards gently at the same time.  The wings will grip the inside of the ceiling and the screw will appear to be getting shorter and shorter, with the hook getting closer and closer towards the ceiling.    

source:  wikihow.com


Once you have tightened the hook and it is flush against the ceiling, you’re done!  Now you can hang your project and be proud that you did it all by yourself.    


As Always, Stay Cozy!
Mandy

{Weekend Revamp ~ Spray Painting a Brass Chandelier}

In today’s post, you’ll learn how to use spray paint to turn a boring, ugly brass chandelier into a lovely, more updated piece you’ll be proud of.  You’ll also learn how I converted a hard-wired lighting fixture into a plug-in fixture.  Finally, I’ll provide a link that will show you how to hang a chandelier, or any light- to mid-weight item, from a plaster ceiling with tips for hanging it from dry wall too.

{Train Your Eye to See the Potential in Junk}

When flea marketing or antiquing, have a mental list of things you’re looking for.  Try not to make it too specific, though.  If you need a red side table, don’t look for a red side table.  Instead, look for a table you love because of its shape and lines.  You can always paint it red yourself!  
I picked up this ugly contractor-grade brass chandelier while antiquing at Antiques & Art Emporium in Burlington, NJ with a good friend.

It certainly was no antique, that I knew for sure, but it was a steal at $15.  My daughter’s room needed another light source and this would be perfect. However, it was a hard-wire type fixture and there is no receptacle in the ceiling of my daughter’s room.  My early 1950’s home was built with electrical outlets above each window with these awful flourescent lights plugged into them.  The outlets are attached to very convenient lightswitches, right by the doorways, but they made the house look like a creepy funeral parlor. I still haven’t taken down the one in our master bedroom and every time Jeff flips the switch by accident (or on purpose), I yell at him until he turns it off.  I can’t bear it.  Anyway, I planned on converting the chandelier into a plug-in fixture and the over-the-window outlet is at the perfect height and location.

{Make Friends Wherever You Go}

So, the following Sunday, I took the fixture with me to a barn sale on Meadowbrook Road in nearby Robbinsville (google maps address is 245 Meadowbrook Road — look for a small sign by the road, the barn is set back).  Paul opens his barn to the public on Sundays only.  He gets his stock from auctions, estate sales, and house clean-outs so it’s a great place to pick and the stock is forever changing.  Chances are, when you go to Paul’s barn sale, you’ll run into some of his very friendly and helpful buddies.  One of them is Brian Carroll, a lighting professional who has a showroom with his wife at Tomato Factory Antiques in Hopewell, NJ.  He rewired the main part of the chandelier for me, leaving the arms wired the way they were since they looked as though they had never been used.  He left me extra cord so that I could make it as long as I wanted.  All I had to do was attach the plug on the end, which was surprisingly simple.  I’ll post a how-to later.

The chandelier then sat around for another month or two.  After a relaxing weekend away with my sister, I was inspired to take on some projects that have been nagging me to get done.  So, without further adieu…here is how I turned a boring contractor-grade brass chandelier into a gorgeous pale pink lighting fixture for my baby girl’s bedroom. 

{Gather Your Materials}

•sandpaper
•TSP cleaner
•rag & small container of water
•rubber gloves
•dropcloth or large cardboard box
•metal spray primer
•colored spray paint of your choice
•plastic bag

{Get Busy!}

Here are the products that I used to clean and paint the chandelier.

First, I removed the plastic tubes and metal cups from each arm.

Next, I used sand paper to rough up the surface of the chandelier and little cups so the primer and paint would have  something to stick to.
Then I put on my chemical-resistant gloves and wiped away the sanding dust, using a rag and a mixture of water and TSP.  
I protected the cord with a plastic bag.  Then, using a large cardboard box as a drop cloth, I primed everything with the metal primer. 
Two coats of primer covered up all of that ugly brass quite well, didn’t it?

The next day, I hung it from my clothesline to get access to all of the nooks and crannies, which worked well.  I sprayed two coats of pale pink.  Let me tell you…spray painting is NOT good on a windy day.  I guess it was good that I didn’t breathe the fumes in, but I think I wasted a good portion!
The cups got a coat of pink too.

{Finishing Touches}

The finishing touches were a cord cover and a ceiling medallion.  The cord cover was super easy to make.  If you can thread a sewing machine and sew a straight line, you’ll be just fine.  It’s just an extra long tube of fabric that I slid onto the plug end (make sure you make the tube wide enough to accomodate the plug).  
Use a cloth tape measure to measure the circumference around the plug.  Add a 1/4″ to that for some wiggle room, plus another 1″ for your seam allowance, which I usually like at 1/2″.
Circumference of plug + 1/4″ + 1″ = width of your fabric strip

Here, you can see the fabric is folded lengthways (hot-dog-style) with the right (printed) sides together, using a 1/2″ seam allowance.

My fabric measured 4″ wide by three times the length of the cord.  You’ll need that extra length to get that uniform ruffled look.   
I then fed the plug all the way through, making sure to scrunch the fabric as I went.
I slit a 1/2″ hole in the seam at the spot where I wanted one single chain link to poke through for hanging it on the swag hook.    
The ceiling medallion is from the big box hardware store.  I fastened it to the ceiling using command strips.  It’s very lightweight and paintable (I just left mine white).

Finally, it was time to hang this baby up and make the room a little brighter!

I had a little helper of course, which made it a whole lot more interesting, and fun, might I add.  I hope that one day she’ll be happy that I taught her how to do stuff like this.

Check out my tutorial on how to hang stuff from a plaster ceiling.  
As Always, Stay Cozy!
Mandy