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Upcycling to Make an Adjustable DIY Pulley Light Fixture

Boat cleat used as an anchor for an adjustable pulley light.

When we first moved into our 1927 home in Asheville, one of the first things we noticed was the severe lack of electricity.  Not that electricity was entirely absent, but by today’s standards, there wasn’t much for us to work with.  There were no outlets in any of the bathrooms, bedrooms had two outlets placed in what seemed like after-thought locations, and all rooms (regardless of size) were only wired for a single ceiling or wall light fixture.

Our new master bedroom was easily twice the size of the one we had just moved out of, but the outlet placement and lighting left a little to be desired.  The new master contained what we thought of as a reading/sitting area that sat inside of one of the home’s two front dormers.  The space was roughly 8′ x 8′, and we thought it would make a perfect reading nook with two chairs and a low bookcase.  There was only one problem with the reading nook plan… there was no lighting in the space.  There was however an outlet, and that opened up some possibilities!  We could have put a lamp in the space, but that would have dictated a layout different that what we had envisioned.  Ceiling lighting in that space would have been ideal, but with nothing available, we were forced to get creative. DIY Pulley Light to the rescue.

Our reading niche was dark before we installed a pulley light.

Bring on Craigslist

Always looking for something to upcycle, we immediately turned to Craigslist to see what was being offered up to the masses.  It just so happened that we found someone selling lights from a factory they helped salvage a few months back.  At $20 a pop, they seemed like a good deal, so we made the trip across town to check these babies out.  Suffice to say, after a coat of satin nickel spray paint, they were a perfect fit for the space.

Cream colored bleh lights we found on craigslist before we transformed them into fresh, modern pulley lights.

BUT!  We still had to make them work as ceiling lights….

That’s when we had the brilliant idea to use fancy black/white cloth lamp wire, a nautical rope cleat, and galvanized pulleys to 1) hang the light from the ceiling, 2) make a functional DIY pulley light that could be raised or lowered based on lighting preference.

Painted Craigslist light before finishing the pulley light


Installing a DIY Pulley Light Fixture

The first step to this process is to install your pulleys:

  1. Mark the location on the ceiling from where you want your light to hang.  For us, this was the center of the space.  Make a small, tiny, erasable mark – you won’t be covering it up.
  2. Envisioning what it would be like for your lamp to hang from your pulley, place your pulley to one side of the mark you just made.
  3. If using the model of pulley we used for this project (see above), mark the four holes that you’ll use to mount your pulley to the ceiling.
  4. Install your center pulley!
    1. If mounting into a stud/rafter, go ahead and install your pulley directly.
    2. If mounting into ceiling drywall, we recommend using heavyweight anchors installed as per the manufacturer’s instructions.  (Something like these should do you just fine).   After your anchors are in place, go ahead and install your pulley
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 for Pulley #2, but this time, the pulley should fall near the corner of the ceiling/wall where your outlet lies.

Ceiling mounted pulleys to create an adjustable light.

When your pulleys are in place, go ahead and install your boat cleat:

  1. Mark the location on the wall where you want to be able to access the lamp wire wrapped around the cleat.
  2. Mark the two holes that you’ll use to mount your boat cleat to the wall.
  3. Install your boat cleat!
    1. If mounting into a stud, go ahead and install your cleat directly.
    2. If mounting into drywall, we recommend using drywall anchors installed as per the manufacturer’s instructions.   With your anchors in place, go ahead and install your cleat.

Boat cleat used as an anchor for an adjustable pulley light.

Next, wire/re-wire your light to ensure you have enough length to get you where you need to go:

Our light came with only 3 feet of old, dingy, and yellowed wire still attached.  Needless to say, that wasn’t going to do the job or give us an awesome design for our finished product.  This is where the 20′ of cloth lamp wire comes into play.

  1. Disconnect the the old lamp wire from your light.  This is often easier said than done, but you should be able to access where the wires actually connects to the light socket.  Once removed,
  2. Attach the new lamp wire.
  3. Do NOT install the plug at the other end of the lamp wire.  We’re not ready for that quite yet.

Finally, run your lamp wire through the pulleys, around the cleat, and prepare for awesomeness:

  1. Run the open end of the wire through pulley #1, over to and through pulley #2, and down the wall towards your cleat.
  2. When your light is at the right height, start wrapping the extra length of your cloth lamp wire around the wall cleat.
  3. When you feel that you have enough line around the cleat to raise and lower the light (assuming that you want this functionality), measure out enough slack on the bottom end of the cleat so that you can reach your outlet.
  4. Either cut your lamp wire here or neatly organize the remaining slack.
  5. Install the plug onto the end of your wire.  We find that there is always a wide variety of plugs available at your local big-box home improvement store, and a lot of them have an awesome retro feel!

With the circuit complete, you can now test out your new light creation!

Completed diy pulley light and reading niche

DIY pulley light makes an adujustable light for our reading niche.

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Building an Industrial Table Lamp

How to DIY an industrial table lamp. #industrial #table #lamp

Unexpected Accent Décor

As you’ve seen from our previous posts on achieving an industrial décor (check out Part I, Part II, and Part III if you haven’t already), Brianna and I are always looking for ways to carry our theme throughout our home.  At the same time, we also don’t want to be ALL UP IN YOUR FACE about it either.  The last thing we want is for it to feel like you’re walking into a warehouse when you enter our home.  So how do we find that careful balance?

Focus and subtlety. We try to be very careful not to go overboard in any single space.  Our mantra:

  • If you’re going to have a big piece in a room – limit it to one big piece.
  • If you need something more – add interesting, eye-catching accent pieces as appropriate.
  • Add items you love/have sentimental value!!! (Added by Brianna)

The goal is to keep the focus where you intended (that’s why you went with that big piece in the first place, right?) and to add pops of décor that are interesting and don’t pull your focus (for too long).

You recently saw how we added a salvaged wood headboard to our master bedroom.  In this post we’ll take a closer look at one of our favorite accent pieces in our bedroom, and more importantly, show you how to build it!

Building a Meat Grinder Lamp

Yes, we built a lamp out of a meat grinder.  Why?  Honestly, I was walking through the Antique Tobacco Barn, saw an awesome, rusted old meat grinder for a great price and declared “I’ll do something with that one day!”  That something turned out to be a bedside lamp.  How’d we do it?  Here you go!


  • Meat Grinder (one that has seen better days)
  • Steel Wool
  • Light Socket
  • 3 feet of 18-Gauge Lamp Wire
  • 2-Wire Electrical Plug
  • Edison-Style Light Bulb
  • Super Glue
  • Foam Paint Brush (optional)
  • Small Amount of your Favorite Paint Color (optional)


Depending on how loved or neglected your meat grinder was in its past life, you may or may not have a lot of work ahead of you.  Our grinder had a lot of surface rust, an unknown white substance, and a few “bits” still rattling around inside. While we wanted to keep the repurposed look-and-feel, we wanted to clean things up a bit before putting it on the nightstand and touching it every day.  Enter the steel wool.

Dismantling your meat grinder should be pretty easy.  On any given model, there are typically only 5-6 parts, none of which should be sharp of warrant the use extreme caution.  Remove each component, and get to scrubbing with the steel wool.  The steel wool will do a great job at knocking away much of the neglect of the years while still preserving the harsh metallic look.

Our grinder’s wooden handle was pretty (ok, really) grimy.  As an optional step, or for a pop of color, consider sanding or painting your grinder handle.  We chose to use the same orange from our Pantry Door Project.

When done, wipe down your pieces and re-assemble the meat grinder.

How to DIY an industrial table lamp. #industrial #table #lamp


Step 1: Wiring up your light socket

Light sockets are fairly easy to come by in a number of different styles from your local big box store.  We had ours from a past project where we had applied a faux cast iron finish.

Fortunately, the skill level required here is novice.  I know this is scary, but I promise you, it’s not.  You can do this!

  1. Remove the base and top sheath of the light socket.
  2. Slide the base of the light socket onto your lamp wire.  (DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP)
  3. Strip one end of your lamp wire, twist the wire, and shape it into a “candy cane” that will hook around the one of the screws of the light socket.
  4. You’ll likely need to loosen the screw on the light socket in order to hook your newly curved wire.
  5. Do this, then tighten the screw with the wire snugly placed between the screw and the metal backing of the socket’s center.
  6. Repeat for the other wire and side of your socket.
  7. Replace the top sheath of your light socket and push it down into the base.  You should feel/hear a click when the socket is re-attached.

Step 2: Wiring up your lamp’s plug.

This step is very similar to the light socket wiring.  As in exactly similar.  Here are your easy to follow steps:

  1. As you did before with your socket, remove the housing from your electric plug.
  2. Slide this housing over your lamp wire.
  3. Again, strip one end of your lamp wire, twist, curve, hook, and screw.
  4. Repeat for the other side of the plug/wire.
  5. Replace the plug housing.

Your lamp circuit is now complete! At this point, you can test your new creation by adding a light bulb and plugging in your lamp.  Utter the phase “Let there be light”, turn your switch, and be amazed at your ability to create light!

Step 3: Attaching your “lamp” to the meat grinder

Nearly all meat grinders have a bolt at the bottom (our new top) that is used to mount the grinder to a table or counter.  If not already removed, take it out.  Feed the other end of your lamp wire through this hole.  Get geared up for more wiring!

Bring out the super glue!  Admittedly, we used Gorilla Glue, but anything will likely work.  I like Gorilla Glue because it’s not activated till you add a little water.  It’s my way of making sure that I don’t glue myself to myself.

Unplug your lamp!  This isn’t completely necessary, because as you now know, the actual electrical connections are inside the socket, but we always err on the side of caution.

You’ll want your socket to sit directly on top of the former bolt hole.  As you can see from the photo, while the very bottom of the socket just BARELY fits inside the hole, a majority of the socket rests on top.  And that’s okay!  Add a good drop of glue and set your socket on top.  Gravity was enough to assist us in the drying process, but clamping may be necessary.  Let your baby dry as long as you can.  I know it’s exciting, but this is something you’re going to use regularly; let is sit so it can take the brunt of regular use.

How to DIY an industrial table lamp. #industrial #table #lamp

Step 4: Completion and Admiration

When your lamp is dry, go ahead and add your favorite light bulb.  We’ve collected more than 10 different styles of Edison bulbs over the last few months and opted for the “Christmas Tree” filament bulb.  Plug in your lamp, flip the switch, grab a libation of your choice (wait until after the electrical work is done for this step), flip the switch, and admire your handiwork.

Pro tip: Buy Edison-style bulbs on eBay.  We were able to snag our bulbs for around $2 each as opposed to $7 each in your big box stores!

How to DIY an industrial table lamp. #industrial #table #lamp