Hallway Update: A Not-So-Perfect DIY Wood Pendant

I’ve been on the hunt for a lighting solution for our little hallway for quite some time… but not many pre-made ideas have a. hit the head on the nail for the right look or b. fit the little budget we have in mind.

Here’s that hallway now, badly in need of some cool lighting love.

Especially against the new painter’s tape wallpapered wall!

I played with the idea of something large and white and modern, something bright and contrasting in color – maybe with beads??, something in the black or gold or basket variety (see all pinned ideas right over here) and eventually settled on something woodsy. A concept that’s a little vague, I know…

I didn’t know what woodsy might specifically might be, but I love the look of raw or slightly honey-stained wood and blue. They’re so perfect together! Birch and navy (image above) play very well together, or check out the walnut mirror below and how it ‘pops’ off of those awesome walls! (image) It’s hard to tell in the very top photo, but the accent wall in our hallway is blue, actually I suppose all four are blue.

There is just something about blue and natural wood… same goes for gold (image).

I was originally inspired to build a light out of wood veneer (kind of like this one, but I was thinking big and couldn’t manage to get the wood veneer sphere to hold its shape once my play pendant grew larger than about 14″ in diameter), here are a few examples of the inspiration I played around with:

The round guy at top is a little dark in color but the shape allows plenty of light in (image) which is crucial for this hallway space at night, the honeycomb version is a very cool idea with its unique design (image) which is sure to make people stare up at it when they walk by, and the third option on my list is one of my favorites with its weaved wood veneer and traditional drum shape (West Elm, but no longer available). I actually thought that guy might be the easiest to DIY.

But I was looking for something a little less ordinary and perhaps a bit more organic in style and shape? Sort of like this one? (image) But maybe not sooo crazy.

Time to DIY!

I should warn you now though that this project failed. Womp womp.

Before you get too excited for me for finding and then DIYing the perfect, most amazing pendant that ever walked this earth… it didn’t happen. But I gave it an honest effort. Still shedding a tear over it.

On to the good stuff.

Materials included 4 packs of 3/4″ wood veneer edging from Lowes and a vintage wire lampshade:

That night I stripped that lampshade down to its bones:

And then began using that wire structural design to add veneer strips to the shade. Using office clips, I first outlined several ideas on how this might look, later I could glue my favorite design in place (highly recommend this less temporary solution for any major project while in the ‘playing around stage’).

I settled on a design with a pattern, though a slightly unusual one at that. Then it was time to glue (I recommend a wood glue for extra support), and be sure to leave those clips on with the glue overnight (though I was careful not to glue any clips, and I moved my pendant out to the garage for the drying portion of this project).

I eventually lined the wires (and top and bottom) of the inside of the shade in veneer as well, so that if you’re looking up or down into the body of the shade it looked as if almost all of the wire had disappeared.

This is the womp-womp part of the project… my new shade looked so neat there on the floor all perty and structural and finished!

But as soon as we played with how it would hang in the hallway it became very clear that the shape and size was just not right, and that the color (which looked so cool and birch-like up close) looked much more like raw, unfinished wood from the next room over.

Oh man, so disappointing. But sometimes you just know when a project is not right.

I’m hoping to reuse the shade or materials for something else around the house and to start over on the hallway light. On the plus side, I’m a little wiser on what will look appropriate up there – I’m not opposed to something over-sized or structurally interesting, but now more horizontal, less vertical and perhaps something stained.

You win some, you lose some.

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  1. laura says

    I like it, I do see what you mean though the scale is off, maybe rounder, and bit bigger. The ball shape in one of your pics above would be perfect you can use a ball to wrap the wood around. Go to http://www.Diycozyhome.com they have a great example of that!

    keep dreaming

  2. says

    I’ve been out of pocket for a few days, and just saw this. I love the lampshade! It may not have worked for the hallway, but it definitely isn’t a project fail. Please say you’ll use it elsewhere! :)

  3. Sylvia says

    Thank you sooo much for sharing this entry yesterday even though it was “not so perfect” =) It really shows the human side of the designer, and it is really refreshing! This encourages me to try new things, and not fret if it doesn’t turn out perfect! That’s part of exploring and learning, right?! :)

    • says

      Thank you, Sylvia! I was really excited about this project, so it was a big bummer that it didn’t turn out as I had imagined in the space. Definitely part of the exploring and learning process :).

  4. says

    Aw, this seems more like a scale failure than a project failure. It’s not like the lampshade completely fell apart! The husband and I have been trying to find a new light fixture to replace the non-functional ceiling fan in our family/playroom. This has definitely got me thinking….

  5. says

    I love the lampshade! I know what you mean, sometimes things don’t look like they do in your head. However.. that is a very very pretty shade, I think you should turn it into a hanging light for a corner somewhere with an edison bulb or something, it’s really pretty!

    This post reminded me of a post I saw on Design Sponge regarding a DIY balsa wood lampshade, if you want to consider it for your hall… http://www.designsponge.com/2012/07/diy-project-woven-balsa-wood-lampshade.html

    • says

      Ohhh that is very cool! I had something sort of like that in mind with larger veneer, but balsa wood might be easier to track down! Thank you for the link.

      x Morgan

  6. says

    The shade looks amazing! That’s too bad it didn’t work out but you should definitely try to reuse it somewhere else.

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