How to Change a Recessed Light to a Chandelier

September 18, 2021

How to replace a recessed can light with a chandelier or ceiling fan! Change out a can light to a light fixture 35 pounds or under.  

There are a few easy ways to update or change out your recessed lights and I've shared in those in the past. If you have old, yellowed cans with halogen bulbs, it's super easy to replace your old recessed lights with beautiful LED versions.

You can also add character and detail where a recessed light is installed by using a simple kit to change it to a hanging pendant light

I did this in our little blue and white floral wallpapered hallway
blue and white wallpaper hallway

And in our foyer vestibule when I added (you guessed it)...wallpaper there as well: 
pinstripe wallpaper hallway by stairs

Both of those options are SUPER simple and take no electrical knowledge at all!

I do have some electrical experience, so I thought this next one would be especially easy. Although it turns out you don't need to know much other than how to wire a light fixture to do this one. 

So I thought...easy! 😣

You know how sometimes what you think will be super difficult turn out to be a breeze, and projects you think will be easy turn out to be much harder than you thought? 

This was one of those harder than I thought ones.

I've been working hard on my closet makeover over the past couple of weeks. As I've walked through the little hallway in our bathroom over and over throughout the process, I've thought about some updates I'd like to make there as well. 

It's a small space, but as you can see above, I love treating spots like that as tiny rooms I can decorate. :) 

We have a recessed light in this area that I knew would look great with a hanging light: 
small hallway with marble tile
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There's a converter kit you can use to hang a light fixture (something bigger than the pendants I used in the other hallways) or even a ceiling fan: 
recessed can to light fixture kit

They just have to be 35 pounds or under for this particular kit. I got mine at Lowe's, but hang in there till the end of the post for a better option and how-to videos. 

Do you sense the foreboding? :)

I found this Parker light fixture that I LOVED, and it was on sale last week. Perfect timing!: 

Parker brass and white light World Market

I love the brass and white combo and it's a decent sized light. I like to go bigger than you'd think in small spaces like this. (This is a great knock off of this gorgeous brass fixture with a white shade that is priced MUCH higher.)

It was on sale and I got an additional discount, so it was $60 off the regular price. I was so excited to get it up -- I knew it was going to look so good in there! 

This is where the project, that should take an hour, turned into four. FOUR. HOURS. 

The can converter isn't that difficult to install's basically just a bracket that you install inside the can so a heavier light can be hung. 

But the directions in the kit I used were abysmal. So bad that I eventually stopped trying to use them and decided to figure out the install on my own. 

It just wasn't working for me...the bracket would not stay secure. Also, the converter kit has a metal medallion that you have to use to cover the large recessed hole. But I could not figure out how to install the light I was using with that medallion. 


Then...this gorgeous light gave me some fits as well. The cord is covered with fabric, which looks great. But if you have to shorten your chain, you'll need to cut this as well. 

Normally this wouldn't be a big deal, but the fabric around the cord instantly started unraveling. I tried leaving it alone but every time I moved the cord the fabric would fray even more: 
frayed fabric on electrical cord

It was a HUGE mess, so I had to carefully cut all of that off of the cord, which took forever because I was trying not to nip the actual cord. 

Between the light fixture giving me fits and the kit not working, this project took way longer than I planned. 

But I don't give up! Or I'm just incredibly stubborn. Either way, I finally figured out a solution. 

It was as simple as running back to the hardware store for a flat medallion for the ceiling instead of the dome shaped option they provided in the converter kit. 

Once I figured that out, the light went up in about 15 it should

Thankfully, I love it as much as I thought I would! It's a really lovely light: 
brass and white lamp shade light fixture

I plan to go pretty dramatic in this space and this gorgeous light is my inspiration. 

NOW I think it was worth all the work. During the cussing, not so much. 

Just adding a pretty light fixture adds so much to this small space!:
hanging brass light fixture in small hallway

So here's the thing -- this project doesn't need to be as hard as it was for me. It really should only be an hour from start to finish, tops. 

I did some research and it turns out THIS can light converter is MUCH easier to install and has better instructions as well. It's also half the price of the one I got...I ordered two more for less than what I paid for the one I used. 

I plan to change out mine with that mounting bracket/converter kit instead. Mine sucked. :)

If you purchase that option, this YouTube video will walk you through the installation. 

No matter what kit you use, a flat ceiling medallion is a must. 

If you are impatient and can only find the version I used at a local store, check out this helpful YouTube video to see how to install the kit I used. But don't use that kit. 😂

That's my tale of the lighting project I thought was going to be easy...but wasn't. Have you tried converting your recessed can lights with one of this kits? How did it work for you? 

Do you think I'm crazy for not giving up three hours in, or do you admire my perseverance?

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  1. Why did you need the ceiling medallion? I don't understand.

    1. The hole for a recessed light is bigger than the canopy for a regular fixture. That covers it.

  2. I might have to quit for a little while, but I’ll go back and finish. Sometimes a break helps me think of a solution. But give up? Never!

  3. Love the light you was definitely worth the trouble. Glad you figured out an easier way for the future. The link for the Parker Light Fixture is coming right back to this post instead of to the fixture.


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