Add Romance with a New Light Fixture
Watch the video of this project
Ask people to imagine a romantic scene and they'll usually mention candlelight, a glowing fire or some version of softened lighting. That's because when it comes to romance, lighting is everything. Which makes sense considering that it's pretty difficult to get into the mood for love with industrial-grade fluorescents beaming down on you!
One easy way to making a room's lighting more flattering is to simply install a dimmer switch. The brightness of any light can be controlled with a dimmer switch. But what about the light fixture itself? Unfortunately most fixtures out there aren't exactly, well, romantic. Unless there is something mechanically wrong with them, most people just live with the fixtures they inherit. Whether it's a two bulb ceiling centerpiece with a frosted square glass shade or something that looks better when the switch is in the off position, there is no reason to live with a fixture that doesn't suit the room or your taste.
This was the problem with our Jane-in-training, Brely, who longed for a more romantic bedroom with lighting that would help her mood, not hinder it. Since we know that lighting and romance go hand in hand, her 1970's ceiling fan light had to go. Don't get us wrong—we love ceiling fans. They are energy efficient, save you money on your utility bills and are extremely handy during the hottest and coldest days of the year, but sometimes a ceiling fan may not fit into your decorating plan.
Such was the case with Brely. To give her bedroom a touch of romance, we took out her old ceiling fan and replaced it with a more romantic light fixture that was more in line with the look she was hoping to create. Doing so was incredibly easy, and believe it or not, Janes of every level can do the same. Yes, that means you! This is an easy project that you can do in just a couple of hours.
Note: Remember, you needn't let electricity intimidate you. Respect electricity, but don't fear it. After all, once you switch off that circuit breaker and double-check the light fixture with an electrical tester there is nothing to worry about. Look at it like a water faucet. Once the water supply is cut off, there is no more water coming through. (By the way, electricity doesn't drip—it's either on or off.) With that, we'll move on to Step 1.
Turn off the power to the circuit at the circuit breaker—make sure it's the one that supplies power to the light fixture that you plan on changing out. If you aren't sure which circuit belongs to the fixture at hand, leave it on. When you hit the switch and the light is off, you know that's the one. Save running back and forth by using a family member or friend to stand in the room to call out when the light goes off.
Back at the light fixture, use your electrical tester to confirm that power is no longer running to the line. If you cannot shut off the power or guarantee that you have, do not attempt to do this project. This project is quite easy, but when it comes to electricity, it's always best to err on the safe side. So, once again, make sure the power is off to the area you're working on.
Jane Tip: Be sure to keep anyone from accidentally turning the power back on by locking the circuit breaker box or by taping a note to the front.
Begin to remove the ceiling fan by first removing the light bulbs. You may choose to unscrew the blades as well to make the fan lighter and more manageable when you go to remove it from the ceiling.
Begin to loosen the screws on the ceiling fan canopy until it is no longer attached to the ceiling. (It's a good idea to work with a partner here to help support the weight of the ceiling fan motor if need be). Once the canopy is removed and you unscrew the base of the fan from the ceiling, the motor will be free. At this point, you will see the wires and wire nuts which are the plastic colored caps holding the wires together. Remove them by turning counterclockwise, as they are essentially screwed onto the wires.
A note about wires:
Typically you'll find that most electrical connections have a black, a white, and a green or exposed copper wire.
The black = the hot wire
The white wire = the neutral wire
The exposed copper or green wire = the ground wire
The black wire is the one you need to be most concerned with. In homes with older wiring, you might find the wires are different colors, all black or even all white. Just one more reason to test them before starting to make sure once and for all there's no power running to the line. Know that even if you don't have a visual cue (of color) the one that causes your circuit tester to light up, beep, chirp, squawk (you get the gist) is the hot wire.
In the case of the ceiling fan however, you may notice that there is also a blue (most often, but it may be a different color) wire coming from the fan motor that is twisted together with the black wire from the fan with the black wire coming from the ceiling. This blue wire supplies power to the ceiling fan motor and will be disconnected as well.
Assuming you have the properly colored wires, first separate the hot wire, then the neutral wire and save the ground wire for last. If they're all the same color or don't follow our color chart, simply choose one at random.
After everything was disconnected, we were able to remove the old ceiling fan and recycle it by giving it to a friend. Again, be careful here, especially if your light fixture is heavy. Once you remove the wires, you're all that remains between the light fixture and the ground. So use your ladder as leverage to help you maneuver the old ceiling fan or fixture down.
Next you'll need to work with what's called a mounting bracket. There might be one attached to the ceiling fan or fixture that you could reuse. Quite often the old one will work but to be safe, we suggest that you unscrew the old one and install the one that came with your new light. The reason why we suggest this is the strap that came with your light was built to support the weight of the light you chose. It is usually rectangular in shape and can be secured with the screws that came with the new light or even the old ones that you just removed.
Out with the old and in with the new! Get that gorgeous new fixture out of the box and take a look at the instructions that came with it. Most light fixtures have a particular order in which they are installed, so just follow the diagram included with your light to make sure that you install your new fixture correctly. First, begin by identifying the two white, or neutral wires (one in the ceiling and one in the new fixture). Again, use your ladder as leverage to help you hold the new light fixture in place. Begin by making sure you have enough of the copper exposed on the neutral wires to make a good connection. No more than 1/2" should be exposed. Twist the ends of the wires together in a clockwise direction. Next place a wire nut on the end of the attached wires and screw it on clockwise also. This will help keep the connection secure. Apply electrical tape (and only electrical tape) to the base of the connection if there is any copper wire still exposed. Do the same with the two black or "hot" wires.
Now you're going to connect the ground wire from the ceiling to the fixture's ground wire. These typically are either bare copper-looking wires or green plastic coated wires. Make sure you secure them with a wire nut. Note that often the ground wire nut is bigger than the other two you just used, because the ground can be a thicker wire.
Stuff the wires back into the ceiling junction box. To attach the light to the ceiling you may need a helper if it's a heavy fixture. Hold the fixture into position over the screws. Turn it so that the screw heads fit into the key holes and twist the fixture into place.
Connect the canopy with the corresponding screws (they should be the only ones left in the package). Your light should now be secured to the ceiling. Simply add bulbs and then turn the power back on and see your handy work. If everything went according to plan, there should be light!
If the light isn't working, go back and check the connections. The wires can sometimes be difficult to maneuver and if they aren't intertwined correctly, the fixture won't work. It's also possible that your wires pulled apart when you were stuffing them back into the ceiling junction box.
As we mentioned earlier, if you want to add even more ambiance, put in a dimmer switch! It's another easy project that adds romance with less than 20 minutes of work. We know that once you've put one in, you'll want a dimmer in every room.
Turning it on can be a turn on!
When looking to add romance to any room, lighting should be the first thing you consider. Brely's too-practical ceiling fan just didn't mesh with the idea of a romantic bedroom. So, with just a little time and effort we gave her lighting that better suited her needs. If you are living with ancient or ugly fixtures, changing them is completely within your grasp. Actually, the hardest part about this entire project is deciding on which fixture to buy!