Sunday, April 1, 2012

How to Hang and Hide the Cords of a Pendant Lamp

So in my last post I showed you my newly finished guest bedroom.  One of the highlights of the room (OK, probably the highlight), is the Pottery Barn capiz shell pendant lamp.  In this post, I'm going to give you a rundown of what I did to hang it and disguise the cords, since I found the included instructions to be pretty vague.  This could apply to any pendant lamp that's pretty hefty in size (according to the product specs, my lamp weighs 5 lbs).  My lamp is also not hardwired, meaning that it has a power cord that needed to be swagged across the ceiling, down the wall, and over to an outlet.

First, this is the hardware that I used to hang the lamp.  It's called a toggle bolt, and you use them when you are going to hang heavy objects from drywall.  You actually fold down the little tabs, insert them into a pre-drilled hole in the wall/ceiling, and then the tabs actually spring out.  The tabs spread out the weight of the lamp over a greater area, and keep it hanging where you want it.

Check out this video for a better description on how they work!

Another source for everything that you could possibly want to know about hanging things, and the proper anchors that you should use, is here.

I added a few washers to my toggle bolt configuration to keep the hook from being pulled up into the ceiling after I tightened everything up.  Note: What I really needed was a large diameter washer (bigger than the hole that you pre-drill), with the small inside hole (small enough to catch the hook).  Since I didn't have one of those, I used a combination of washers that I found out in the garage.

For my 3/16'' toggle bolt, I learned that I needed to drill a 1/2'' hole.  First, I drilled a pilot hole with a smaller drill bit (I think that it was a 1/4'' bit).

Next, I took my 1/2'' bit, and drilled the hole size that I actually needed.  

PS: In case you were wondering, my drill is a Bosch 12 volt 3/8'' cordless drill (model PS31).  It's got the long-lasting lithium ion batteries, it's small and easy to handle, and it works great!

Then, I took my toggle bolt, folded down the tabs, and inserted them into the hole.

I had to use my hammer to just tap it into the hole.  In the picture below, the tabs have sprung out above the drywall, and that baby is not coming out anytime soon.

 Then I twisted the hook (righty tight, lefty loosey!), until the washers were tight against the wall.

Now, my lamp was ready to be hung:

There were two issues, neither of which I documented very well with pictures (sorry!).  1) the lamp itself was hung from a chain, which was separate from the power cord.  There was no way to weave them together, so it looked kind of silly.  2) the cord just kind of hung down from the ceiling, and looked pretty obvious against the wall.

First, I took some jute rope and wrapped the cord and chain together.  If I decide to hang the lamp somewhere else in the future, or need to adjust things, all I need to do is cut the jute rope off to separate the the cord and chain again.  It was a cheap and easy solution to my problem.

To hide the cord in the corner of the room, I used a section of thin molding left over from my flat door redo.  The husband and I had already discussed using molding to hide the cord in the corner, and I figured that this stuff would be perfect because it's small and simple.  First, I painted it to match the color of the walls in the bedroom.  Then, I grabbed a drill bit that was slightly smaller than the diameter of the molding nails, and drilled two small pilot holes on either side of the molding at the top, the middle, and the bottom end of the piece of molding.

I used a hammer to tap the nails through the holes so that the poked out through the back side of the molding.

 I did this for two reasons.  One, I could just imagine *trying* to nail those tiny nails into the equally tiny molding, and missing, hitting my fingers, or splitting the molding.  Swear words would probably ensue, and the lamp would hang unfinished for the next 6 months.  Two, I could also imagine accidentally nailing in to the power cord, which would probably result in some shocking events, which would also probably result in some swear words.

Drilling pilot holes for the nails would ensure that the wood wouldn't split, and that I could wedgie the power cord between the nails before attaching it to the wall.  Problem solved ;)

After I attached the molding in the corner to cover the power cord, I used my paint brush and touched up the paint a little bit.

The cord pops out at the bottom, and the switch is right there too, to turn the light on and off.

So there you go!  Hopefully this helps someone out in the future!  


  1. Thank you for the help!! Once that giant hole was in the ceiling, I thought "Oh, no. How are we going to hide that?" I was a little panicked, but I did a little internet research and found your post. The washers were an excellent idea! I used a little craft paint and brushed them white to match the ceiling. Great, easy solution! Thanks again!

  2. Good call on using the washer to hide the toggle bolt hole.

  3. Hi Sara,

    I just installed an IKEA hanging lantern in the ceiling. I was staring at the thick, white cord just hanging there, wondering how to make it more attractive. My internet search revealed your post. I appreciate your attention to detail and your photo documentation. You answered all the questions that arose as I was reading and were both thorough, informative and entertaining. I think I can tackle this project and there will be now swear words involved. I also appreciated the "girl"/woman power. Thank you for taking the time.

    1. Oh that's so awesome! I'm glad that it helped you out :)

  4. Nice one. Clever. Thank you for the idea Sara.

  5. Very nice I just bought a few lights from ikea for my bsby nursery and was wondering how I could make it work