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Changing Out a Light Fixture

Have you had it with those ugly Hollywood light fixtures? The ones where the bulbs are lined up in a straight line staring you in the face? Did you know that you don’t have to live with them? Even if you live in an apartment, you can switch light fixtures out fairly easily. (Be sure to keep the old fixture and all the parts so you can re-install it before you move out.)

Light fixtures range in price from $20 to well over $200. Sometimes you can luck out and find some nice light fixtures on Craig’s List or eBay for less.

I hope you can benefit from this tutorial. I think you’ll agree, it is neither difficult nor challenging changing out a light fixture.

Instructions:

Before beginning the installation you MUST turn off the power to your fixture.


Changing Out a Light Fixture

Required Safety Instruction:
Turn off the power to the light fixture you are working on. I highly recommend turning on the light you will be working on, then shut off the circuit at your circuit breaker and check to see that the light has gone out. Also note that just because the light fixture power is turned off, it doesn’t necessarily mean that other outlets or lights in the same room are on the same circuit. Always check for the presence of power before you work on it.

Tools:

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Unpack your new (or slightly used) light fixture. Read through the directions as some steps may vary from this installation tutorial.

Begin by unscrewing the light bulbs and then remove the collars around the light bulb sockets.

Changing Out a Light Fixture

Locate any other screws that might be holding the fixture in place. This fixture simply popped off.

Changing Out a Light Fixture

Untwist the wire nuts holding the wires together.

Changing Out a Light Fixture

Once all the wires are disconnected, unscrew the two screws holding the mounting bracket.

Changing Out a Light Fixture

Remove the mounting bracket…

Changing Out a Light Fixture

…and now you should be able to remove the light fixture. Laugh at any hidden colors and wallpaper beneath the fixture. (Toile! Ah, not so bad.)

Changing Out a Light Fixture

You should be left with just the junction box and three wires protruding from the box. The bare or green wire is your ground wire. The white is your neutral wire and the black is your hot wire.

Changing Out a Light Fixture

If you were eagle eyed, you might have noticed a small nick in the insulation of the neutral wire. This could cause a short, so I wrapped some electrical tape around the nick.

Changing Out a Light Fixture

Install the new mounting bracket that came with your fixture (if you bought a used one, you may have to use the old mounting bracket from the Hollywood Strip). Attach the screws through the bracket and into the junction box.

Changing Out a Light Fixture

The mounting bracket that came with my fixture has a rotating bar that can swing 180 degrees. Position this bar so the fixture will hang level.)

Changing Out a Light Fixture

Test fit your fixture and adjust the depth of the mounting screws (the “no head” screws on the mounting bracket) and the angle of the swinging bracket arm. Once the bracket is level and fits snugly with only a small portion of the headless screws poking through; remove the light fixture and tighten the screw in the middle of the mounting bracket to secure the rotating bar.

Changing Out a Light Fixture

Wrap the ground wire from the junction box around the green or bare screw on the mounting bracket.

Changing Out a Light Fixture

Connect the ground wire from the light fixture to the ground wire from the junction box. Twist them together and secure them with a wire nut.

Changing Out a Light Fixture

Twist the black wires from the junction box and the light fixture together.

Changing Out a Light Fixture

Twist a wire nut on to secure them.

Changing Out a Light Fixture

Repeat the same process to connect the white wires.

Changing Out a Light Fixture

Gently fold and tuck the wires back into the junction box. Try to position the white wires on the opposite side as the black wires.

Changing Out a Light Fixture

Place your light fixture onto the headless screws and secure the fixture by screwing on the small ball caps.

Changing Out a Light Fixture

Remove the shade ring from the light bulb sockets.

Changing Out a Light Fixture

Slip the glass shades onto the socket and then screw the collar back on to hold the glass light shades.

Changing Out a Light Fixture

Repeat for the remaining light sockets.

Changing Out a Light Fixture

Many vanity light fixtures are reversible.

Changing Out a Light Fixture

I decided to rehang my fixture facing up for less direct light and to avoid bumping into the mirror frame.

Changing Out a Light Fixture

What do you think? Do you like the new look? Do you think you will try it yourself?  I hope so, it was easy!

Changing Out a Light Fixture

 

98 replies
  1. Kristi @ Creative Kristi
    Kristi @ Creative Kristi says:

    Awesome tutorial! Now can you do one to tell me how to re-wire an outside fixture through the plaster wall to the existing light switch? lol (it stopped working last season and we noticed something chewed through the wire)
    I do like it better facing up, less ‘crowding’ of the mirror.
    Good job Brittany!

    Reply
  2. Monica Green
    Monica Green says:

    I’m checking out the website! I am loving the post about Hard to Kill Plants. I need those kind of plants! Computing on the Cloud was a good one too. I hear so much about that, so it was good to have a little info all in one place! I wish this website had been around about 20 years ago when we were doing the move and rent lifestyle. I would have been all over it.

    Reply
  3. Pine Tree Home
    Pine Tree Home says:

    Great tutorial. When I just swapped out my bath light to a barn light fixture, I called down to Hubs to take a look. He said, oh you need help? My response was not at all, turn the breaker on on your way up to check it out. I was so proud I did it all myself. Wire nuts and all.

    Reply
  4. Dana
    Dana says:

    The article about whether or not to call the handyman is super helpful. Thankfully I have a father in law who can handle most things! 🙂

    Reply
  5. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    I found the finding furniture article “Maximize a Small Space with Multipurpose Furniture” super helpful- especially since I just moved into a new place. I may need to take their advice and get a bed with drawer storage underneath.

    Reply
  6. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    Really enjoyed the tutorial! The pictures make it seem so easy. Checked out the Moving Today site- I appreciate the articles on money management.

    Reply
  7. Cassie
    Cassie says:

    Love this tutorial. We have the same Hollywood fixture but it does not make our bathroom glamorous in the least.

    I also read the toolbox article to make sure my toolbox was in tip top shape before embarking on these home makeover journeys.

    Reply
  8. Roxanne
    Roxanne says:

    Fantastic tutorial!!! With the clear photos and directions, I now feel confident enough to do this myself.

    I really liked the article about “Clearing Clogs in Your Apartment.” I have a constant problem with my bathtub drain clogging. I learned a bunch of new things from this article.

    Thanks again for your wonderful tutorial.

    Reply
  9. Tati
    Tati says:

    GREAT tutorial, Brittany! The only bathroom in our house that I have not updated (no mirror on the frame YET, no new faucet, old ugly hollywood lights) is my girls’ bathroom (sorry, girls!) and you may have just given me what I need to get it started! I usually wait to ask my dad to help with electrical stuff like this but I feel confident that I can handle it with this info – thanks!

    Reply
  10. Cheryl M
    Cheryl M says:

    I don’t facebook or twitter….. but I did check out the website…….. I do my own llght fixture changes cause it’s super simple….. thanks!

    Reply
  11. Carla S.
    Carla S. says:

    Great article…thanks ! Went to the website and liked the article about whether to do it yourself or call a handyman. Of course, my hubby is usually my “handyman”, but there are occasions… 😉 Been wanting a new fixture in my bath for a while…winning this would really help. Thanks for the chance.

    Reply
  12. Michelle L.
    Michelle L. says:

    I really needed this tutorial…now I can install a new light in my bedroom! Thanks! I also want to change the light in my bathroom. It’s the original one from when the house was built in the 60s but unfortunately, the only electric outlet in the bathroom is built into the light fixture! LOL! What the heck where they thinking? So I can either keep the ugly old thing, replace it & be without an outlet, or hire someone to install an outlet because that’s just not something I’d be comfortable DIYing. *sigh* Wonder how much that’s going to cost? And while he’s here I’ll have to get him to also install an exhaust fan, something else they apparently didn’t do in the late 60s. 😀

    Reply
  13. Michelle L.
    Michelle L. says:

    I liked “Ask These Questions Before Renting an Apartment”. This would have come in handy a few weeks ago when I was trying to help my brother find an apartment. I’ve never rented before, only owned the house I grew up in.

    aQrose at yahoo dot com

    Reply
  14. Kate
    Kate says:

    Love the tutorial. Also found the Article about “How to Save Money on a Moving Truck” to be very helpful. Who doesn’t want a save a few bucks these days?

    Reply
  15. Jessica Gaddie
    Jessica Gaddie says:

    I really enjoyed the “Maximize a Small Space with Multipurpose Furniture” my entire house is a small space!

    Reply
  16. Bronwyn
    Bronwyn says:

    this is great, but I am left with a huge hole next to the wire box? obviously not filled in by the contractors, and the wire box is also not center…any tips on how to fix this?

    Reply
  17. Sonu
    Sonu says:

    Just this last weekend I attemped to change the same strip light in my master bathroom. I got a pretty deal on a fixture too. Upon removing the old fixture I noticed that there was no junction box but just a tiny hole will wires poking through. The fixtue was screwed to the wall directly. Arrrggg !! change of planes – I put it the thing back .I have to either put a junction box myself (gulp!) or get a different fixture. Wish me luck.

    Reply
  18. Will
    Will says:

    Thanks so much for posting your “How to…” – I am not going to admit that prior to discovering your website I had been considering a crowbar and blow torch! Following instructions was so much easier! What a blessing!

    Reply
  19. Carol
    Carol says:

    Great tutorial on changing out bathroom light fixture! Did you DIY frame the mirror too? If so, do you have a tutorial on that?

    Reply
  20. Nancy Kincaid
    Nancy Kincaid says:

    I need the glass bulb nut. Your picture shows the nut i want. I have search through the evening and cannot buying the nut. Would you tell where I can locate the nut?

    Reply
  21. Terri Dettweiler
    Terri Dettweiler says:

    Do you know where I could purchase just the shade ring or lamp collar ? I have two second hand fixtures that do not have them.

    Reply
  22. Grace
    Grace says:

    I got all excited when I saw this tutorial because my fixture has a rotating bar bracket too and I could not figure out how to stabilize it. But, my bracket has a open circle hole in the middle – there’s no screw to tighten. How do I get the bar to not swivel when the light fixture is hanging?

    Love your blog and I am in Raleigh too 🙂

    Reply
    • Helen Szlikta
      Helen Szlikta says:

      Grace–
      This is a standard size screw and you can find a replacement in the electrical department at your local big box hardware store.

      Reply
  23. PatAmato
    PatAmato says:

    I can’t thank you enough for posting this tutorial! I have had my new light fixtures for 2 months waiting for my not-so-handy hubby to get started putting them up with my help. Instead, I watched your tutorial and put one up so far by myself! Yes, I’m proud and grateful to you! I encountered some problems due to the builder’s short cuts, so I watched another tutorial on how to install a junction box. It took me a weekend with many stops in between, but my updated bathroom vanity light looks great and it works! Thanks for the confidence boost and yet another skill set to enhance my life.

    Reply
  24. Sheila S
    Sheila S says:

    Thank you for this post with the detailed instructions and clear photos. I was able to change out my bathroom light fixture this afternoon 🙂

    Reply
  25. Samantha
    Samantha says:

    Thanks for the tutorial! I’m only trying to takedown the frontier he fixture to give it a facelift with some spray paint. However, when I removed the bulbs and the collars, there is a small copper wire connecting the front plate of the fixture to the wall? Is this just to hold
    It in place?
    Thank you!

    Reply
  26. Kevin A
    Kevin A says:

    I just took down two of these style light fixtures but there were not junction boxes behind them. The builder just punched a small hole in the drywall with a hammer and fed the wiring through. Do I need to have a junction box installed if I can get the light fixture base plate properly secured to the drywall with anchors?

    I did that in a previous bathroom fixture swap-out since the one I put back had a base similar to the original fixture. It just had domes over the bulbs in stead of the exposed bulbs.

    Reply
    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      Kevin, YES! What your builder did was a fire hazard and a code violation. All electrical connections must be contained in a junction box. You can add a box after the fact by using one of these “old work” junction boxes: http://amzn.to/2kMNAwZ (affiliate link)

      Simply trace a hole where you wish to install the box (making sure no studs are in your way.) Then cut out the hole. Punch out a tab in the junction box, feed your wires through the tab. Then press the box into the wall and use a screwdriver to turn until the wings rotate up and are securely tensioned against the drywall

      Reply
  27. Tawny R.
    Tawny R. says:

    Thanks for the guide. My new house (well new to me) has a pretty outdated bathroom and these same lights. I have been looking at them for weeks trying to decide if I could change them out. I am deathly affraid of shocking myself but this does make the task seem much easier. I guess I know what I am doing this weekend!

    Reply
  28. Patricia
    Patricia says:

    So I found you by google. I have a 4 light fixture in bathroom. I’m preparing to paint. I took the glass shades off to wash. I’ve been trying to replace the glass shade, the stupid “sprocket” and bulb. I can not figure it out. The sprocket doesn’t screw on? It seems to big. I’m so frustrated

    Reply
      • dale
        dale says:

        Omg, this! And Brittany is right. I was putting the ring on the TOP of the globe (light bulb cover) but flip it (put in inside the globe) and screw it on. It will hold the globe. I was about ready to glue the dang globes into place! Why don’t the manufacturer instructions provide an image of this? Old school was that screws would hold the globes in place.

        Reply
  29. chenelle s shoaf
    chenelle s shoaf says:

    I was once with my friend in their house and his mother asked me to do something similar. I thought it was so hard but after a few screws, I know there were just intimidate if you just look at them. Thank you Brittany for even posting an even easier way to change light fixtures.

    Reply
  30. Mary Ann Giglio
    Mary Ann Giglio says:

    I’m a 63 yr. old widow whose husband did everything around the house. I just bought a smaller home that needs lots of updating. I have Hollywood lights in both bathrooms. I can’t believe I was going to pay an electrician to replace them. I’m going to do this myself thanks to you Brittany, I know I can do this. Thanks again.

    Reply
  31. Mel
    Mel says:

    I did it! Thanks so much for your inspiring article. I found the same as another poster when I removed my Hollywood light- no junction box, just a hole in the wall.
    Thankfully I knew this could happen and that I could also handle the fix with a quick trip to the hardware store and $1.98 for the ‘after the fact’ junction box. It took me just a few minutes to put it in, and within another 10 minutes my new light fixture was up and looking great.
    Thank you!!

    Reply
  32. KayCee
    KayCee says:

    Aren’t you the clever one. Only prob is now THAT fixture you replaced it with is so passé. Ah fashion is fickle and never ends I am afraid. I also actually see them selling those old Hollywood light strips again! Still the tutorial is good. Lighting is such a make or break in decor.

    Reply
    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      Kaycee, well this tutorial was written in 2011, when that light fixture was in style. Hopefully readers will overlook the light fixture and garnish the information on how to change a light fixture ;-).

      Reply
  33. Gina Norris
    Gina Norris says:

    Thanks for the post. It gave me the courage to replace the light fixture in my hall bathroom myself. I am feeling successful!

    Reply
    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      You can purchase a remodel (old work) junction box from your home improvement store. It slides into a hole you cut to size, and then there are fins that grip the back of the sheetrock when you tighten them with a screw driver.

      Reply
  34. Kim
    Kim says:

    Yikes. Your picture of the stranded hot around the solid hot is concerning. You’ve started the stranded wire way too far back. When the wire nut is screwed on, the stranded will push back even further creating a situation that could cause arcing and fire. Giving advice about electrical work is sketchy unless you have a lot of qualified experience or are in the trade.

    Reply
  35. Beth Figiel
    Beth Figiel says:

    Think I have the same question. After removing my Hollywood lights strip fixture it leaves an extremely large cut out in the wall. How do replace this large triangular hole that in the wall? Do you have a link or video?

    Reply
  36. Joy
    Joy says:

    Our huge 72” Hollywood Globe light fixture was adhered (either glue or adhesive tape) on top of a whole-wall sized mirror. How can I remove the light fixture without breaking the mirror, which we want to keep?

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Let there be light! Hide those ugly bulbs with new, modern light fixtures! But, whatever you do, make sure you have plenty of “good” light, “good” light. And yes, I repeated that. Good light is important for bathrooms. Whether in the shower shaving your legs, your by the bathroom mirror examining your face, good light is a huge factor. Good light means well lit, and attractively lit. Still don’t get it? Check out these examples, click here! […]

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  8. […] anything as big as changing a light fixture before? Don’t be intimidated! The blog Pretty Handy Girl has an excellent, in-depth, expert, step-by-step photo tutorial that’ll help even total DIY […]

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  15. […] on, you can admit it. It’s okay, you are among friends. If you need help, I’ll even show you how to remove that dated style offender. And hey, if you are lucky enough to live in a house without one — but you still want to replicate […]

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