The Intentional Apartment: Make This Bar Light for Only $38

Give your apartment some modern mood with this simple build.

Do you know why the term “mood lighting” exists? Because, simply, the lighting of an environment – the intensity, the color, the direction – play an incredible role in how that environment feels. Imagine a room lit by candles: dim, yellow light flickering on the walls and ceiling, causing dark shadows. What about a doctor's office? Bright, white, consistent light with little shadow. Imagine a fancy restaurant. Now every Burger King you've been to. Swap the lighting styles in those two places and you'd have vastly different experiences, for better or worse.

Now think about your living room. If you live in a standard apartment you probably have a hanging light in the dining area, maybe a fluorescent light in the kitchen, some ceiling lights in the halls that look like their from '95. You added an Ikea floor lamp or two.

Sound about right? This lighting was installed for function not aesthetic, and it performs admirably. It fills your place with light so you can see where you're going, what you're reading, and whatever else. Unfortunately, when it comes to relaxing or entertaining, this same light scheme isn't optimal.

Continuing on our industrial apartment redesign project, (See our DIY Pipe Table, Restoration Hardware inspiration, vintage wood-framed map) here's a smart and cheap way to introduce a better mood to your place.

This type of wall light is known as a sconce and this style specifically is a barn light. (Which we'll be using as a bar light.) The problem with anything related to making your apartment nicer is the expense. Those lights above may be the nicest lights available but spending $200 on a decorative mood light ain't happening.

So instead, in Primer fashion, we'll make our own for super-cheap. Even better, this project is dead-simple – no special knowledge or tools required.

We're going to make our industrial barn light sconce out of 3 pieces of piping, a clamp work light, an appliance plug, and an “Edison-style” light bulb. Total cost: $38.31.

Eat that, expensive light people.

All of these items are readily available at your local Home Depot/Lowes or hardware store. Or to order online, click the Amazon links below.

Assembly in 7 Simple Steps

  1. Screw the 10 inch pipe into the flange, then screw on the elbow.
  2. Remove the clamp from the light, and cut the plug off of the end.
  3. Run the wire up through the elbow and out the end of the flange, pulling all of the excess wire with it.
  4. Attach the new plug to the end of the wire following the included instructions. This is as easy as wrapping the two wires around screws.
  5. Hang the light where desired using the holes in the flange with screws and wall anchors. I only used 2. Use the pressure of the flange and the wall to hold the clamp light tight against the pipe.
  6. Insert the Edison bulb.
  7. Drink an Old Fashioned.

If you make one or have improvements, show us in the comments!

finished diy light
finished diy light

Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.