October 2  |  Home Inspiration

Simple DIY Exposed Hanging Light Bulb

Some DIY projects take hours or even days to complete while others magically come together in a matter of minutes. The latter was the case for my most recent DIY venture that I did absolutely no research on prior to my journey. So in a way, after I stood back to admire my creation, it felt too good to be true and like it should have cost me a few more dollars, blood, sweat and/or tears.

I recently created an exposed light bulb fixture to hang near my bed and act as a bedside lamp replacement — mostly because my cheap Walmart lamp worked for about four days total and then completely gave up on me. I also happen to be completely drawn to and enamored by simple, minimalistic design. So what’s more minimalistic than tossing the whole lampshade idea out the window altogether?

DIY Hanging Light

Thankfully, this endeavor only cost me a few bucks and I am extremely happy with the effortless look I achieved with just a few minutes of “manual labor”. I simply bought a “Make-A-Lamp Kit” and a 40-watt vintage light bulb at Home Depot during a massive house plant shopping spree. I really had no idea if these two things would work together to create what I had imagined in my mind before my trip to the store. However, I purchased them confidently and with no Google search history filled with “exposed light bulb how-to,” but clung to my receipt just in case of an electric nightmare.

DIY Exposed Hanging Light Bulb

For the purposes of this project, the Make-A-Lamp kit includes several unnecessary components, such as bottle adapters and some mysterious screws, but I used the most substantial pieces to create my exposed hanging light bulb. Here’s how you can create the same look!


Make-A-Lamp Kit

40-Watt Vintage Light Bulb


-Safety Pin

-Extension Cord


-Phillips Screwdriver



1. First push the wire through the center of the brass check ring. Make sure that the rounded side is on the same side as the plug. In other words, imagine that the ring is resting on the light bulb when all is said and done.

2. Bend the metal wire in a U shape and identify the neutral conductor by looking for the rib or ribbing on the insulation. Connect this wire to the silver colored screw. Connect the other conductor to the brass colored screw. Tighten terminal screws making sure all of the conductors are under the screw head.

DIY Exposed Hanging Light Bulb

3. Place the brass shell over the lamp socket, aligning it so the on/off switch peeks through the openings in the brass shell.

4. Pull the brass check ring down towards the light so it rests on the brass shell. It won’t perfectly fit that part, as it technically is intended to rest the opposite direction on top of a lamp. But it helps to cover some exposed wires and makes the piece look a little more finished.

5. Simply screw the light bulb in and test your electrician work by connecting it to an outlet and switching the on/off switch. (This is the part where I was surprised that everything worked so easily!)

DIY Exposed Hanging Light Bulb

6. To hang the light bulb from the ceiling, simply feed the wire through a safety pin or some other small metal loop. Then nail the safety pin to the ceiling with a hammer. You can then adjust the wire so the light bulb hangs exactly where you want it to. There are several other ways to achieve this same result; I just used whatever materials I had available and improvised this solution, and it worked beautifully. (I have four years of experience with homemade dorm room hanging solutions.) However, buying a U-shaped nail or a screw hook would probably be a more civilized approach to this attachment dilemma. I also didn’t mind the rustic look of the rusty safety pin, so if you want to hide your handiwork a little more, I would opt for the screw hook.

7. Attach the wire to another place on the ceiling closer to the wall. I got lucky and was able to hide the wire completely behind a cloth tapestry hanging behind my bed. So I only had to attach the light bulb to one place, which worked out well because I only had one safety pin! Do whatever works best for your space. I actually prefer the exposed wire look as well, so don’t feel like you absolutely need to disguise the wire — I think it adds to the whole industrial look!

DIY Exposed Hanging Light Bulb

8. You will probably need an extension cord to help the plug reach an outlet. I was thankful for the wall tapestry at this point because I was able to completely hide the ugliness of the extension cord meeting with the lamp wire as well.

9. Admire your (not-so-hard) work! The best part about using this lamp kit is being able to turn the light off and on right on the hardware instead of having to reach behind your bed or nightstand to plug and unplug it, or fumbling around to find a switch attached to the wire.

Now turn off your other lights, turn your new light on and curl up in bed with a book and cup of tea. You can then thank Thomas Edison for your new bedside ambiance. But before you do any of the above, check out these other looks people have achieved with exposed light bulbs. There are endless possibilities with this project!

DIY Exposed Hanging Light Bulb

Let us know if you end up doing a project similar to this or if you have any other exposed light bulb ideas we haven’t thought of! *Cue light bulb illuminating above head jokes*


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