diy lantern light fixture

I’ve been holding out on you about our porch progress. See, while I was busy showing off this:

Outdoor Rug

I was hiding this:

Porch Ceiling Before


In addition to the wonderful green tile on our screened porch, we had this a gorgeous florescent light, the kind that looks like it belongs in some derelict warehouse building. Obviously, it had to go.

Down the line, we’d really like to take out the whole ceiling and just have the exposed rafters for a nice open look. But we’re short on time and money, so we wanted a solution that could work for us now — something not too expensive but nice enough that we’ll be happy with it for the next year or so until we can circle back around to opening up the ceiling.

Enter this DIY lantern light fixture:

DIY IKEA Lantern Lighting

Other than sketching out how I wanted it to look and picking out the lanterns themselves, the GC gets all the credit for this creation. I asked him to give me a step by step description of how he did it, so it’s about to get a bit technical up in here:

Disclaimer: GC is an electrical engineer who has a lot of experience doing electrical work like this. I don’t recommend anyone without the proper training and background attempt the following, and even then, it’s at your own risk. Also remember whenever you do work with electrical like this, make sure to turn off your power and use a volt meter to make sure it’s off!

After taking out the old light fixture, we measured the distance between the two joists and cut down a 2×4 to fit in the space as framing.

Cut 2x4s

We screwed these 2×4 pieces on to the joists.


And attached the each electrical junction box to the framing with screws.

Junction Box

Then, we spliced the existing wiring to a new piece of 14-2 Romex cable (this was then linked to junction box #2) and secured the existing wire on junction box #1. Here’s a shot of junction box #1 after the wiring:

Wired Junction Box

Once the wiring was complete, time to move on to the the gaping hole in the ceiling left from the former rectangular light. Again, because time and patience were at a premium, we didn’t want to try to patch the hole left from the former light. Instead, we opted to cover it with a larger piece of pine, which we cut to 10 inches wide and 4.5 feet long. We measured this up with the junction boxes and cut out two 4×4-inch holes with a Jigsaw to accommodate them. Then we painted it with some leftover white interior paint I had used on a door in my condo.

IKEA’s Orgel pendant lamp was my lighting of choice; unfortunately, the Orgel is a plug and cord lamp and not a hardwired one that we could hook up directly to the junction box. So here’s where being engaged to an electrical engineer comes in handy again: he cut the plug end of the cord, drilled a hole in a plastic coverplate and fed the cord through it, then spliced the wires from the cord into the junction boxes.

Lighting Cords

It took a few tries to get the cord length right (he actually went back and re-cut the cord on the left), but we got it high enough so that the lanterns wouldn’t hit anyone on the head when you walk under them. Then we screwed the coverplates to the pine cover and ta-da!

IKEA Lanterns

Oliver was impressed.


Or maybe scared? It’s hard to judge by that look. Either way, we were really happy with the final product!

Ceiling After

Does anyone else have a good-enough-for-now-but-not-forever project in their house?