Today we’re talking through the simple steps we took to replace a boring standard clear plastic electrical cord with a colorful cloth cord!
We’re nearing the finish line on our daughter’s bedroom renovation! For now, we’re focusing in on the finer details while we await the arrival of the final piece of furniture. Because details are everything, right? Why, then, did this beautiful solid brass butterfly lamp come with a clear plastic power cord? We’ll never know, but we’re here to replace it with something a bit more fitting!Timing was perfect for us to swap out the standard clear cord for a fancy cloth-covered cord that matches the wall color almost perfectly.
Note: We love customizing lighting to suit our needs. This particular fixture, however, was an unexpectedly tough one. We absolutely would not recommend this fixture for a first-timer rewiring project. The quality of the fixture is high, but tolerances are tight. There is a very tight 90 degree elbow that makes cord removal and installation very difficult and time consuming. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- we used this plug in sconce (but don’t recommend it for novices!)
- cloth cord (we used muave) you can also add a switch
- replacement plug
- wire stripper
- utility knife
- wrench (likely 13mm)
Step 1 | Disassemble the Fixture
The first step in the process is to remove everything associated with the power cord and socket. In most cases, that will mean cutting the cord, unscrewing the bulb socket and pulling the extra cord through the threaded rod. At this point, it may be helpful to take a photo of an exploded view of the socket. You can reference it later as you’re putting it back together.
Step 2 | Thread New Cord
Next up, the new cord needs to be threaded through the fixture the same path where it was removed. In most fixtures, this will be as simple as slipping the cord through a straight piece of threaded rod. As we mentioned earlier, this fixture was not so simple. The incredibly tight 90 degree bend without no access required at least three hands and a lot of patience to get the cord through. What normally takes 30 seconds took about 45 minutes. *facepalm*
Step 3 | Strip Internal Wires
Phew! Now that that’s over with… Let’s strip some wire! The individual black and white wires inside the cord are each 16g, so we used the appropriate stripping slot on our wire strippers. The goal here is to open things up just enough to reach each screw on the bulb socket.
Note: Whenever we use cloth cord, we like to bind the cut edges of the fabric cloth with electrical tape to minimize fraying. A very quick pass with a lighter or can also help to singe the fabric strands together.
Step 4 | Connect Wires to Bulb Socket
The next step is to connect the freshly stripped wires to the bulb socket. In our case, the white wire connected to the silver screw and black wire connected to the gold screw.
Step 5 | Reassemble
With the wires connected, slip the cardboard sleeve back onto the ceramic socket. This insulates the connections from making contact with anything metal. This step is important! An errant connection could cause a result in a short and cause a dangerous situation.
From here, we proceeded with reassembling the fixture in the reverse order that it was taken apart. This will vary with each light, so the best bet is to take photos of anything unfamiliar prior to taking things apart.
With the backplate reinstalled and the new plug connected to the other end, we were ready plug it in and light up Lucy’s room with the perfect dim glow!
Step 6 | Reinstall
With the fixture back together, it was ready to be put back up onto the wall! Perfect! We couldn’t be happier with the finished product. The muave cord matches the Valspar Mellow Mauve wall color nearly perfectly!
As we mentioned, what we thought was a simple project took waaaaaay longer than we thought. The tight tolerances and right angle bend really tripped us up, but we got there in the end. Such is life with DIY! Sometimes, projects that should take 15 minutes take a few hours. The opposite has also been true more than once. A little patience goes a long way!
Looking for other lighting customization ideas? Here’s how to add a rotary dimmer to a sconce, how to make a lamp out of almost anything, and here’s a list of our favorite whimsical lighting for everyone.