The One Lighting Hack Every Renter (And College Student) Should Know

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Ask most people what design inspo they’d swipe from their college-age selves, and their answer would be…a full-body shudder as they remember their magazine-tearout wall collages and butterfly chairs. But then again, most of us didn’t have the guidance of a mom whose style is so sought-after, the Property Brothers once used her home as a “dream house” in an episode of their HGTV show. So naturally, when it came time for designer Jenny Reimold (@jennyreimold) to send her daughter, Grace Porter, to the University of Alabama this fall, the duo planned a serious dorm room overhaul. And our favorite feature is a lighting hack that every renter (and college student) should have on their radar.

In just 10 minutes’ time, Reimold crafted a statement pendant light in the dorm room and hung it up. No electrician or wiring skills necessary (since that’d be a huge no-no in a residence hall and quite an expensive undertaking for any rental). Here’s how she did it.

The Puck-lighting Pendant Hack

  1. Find a pendant light you love in a size that won’t feel dinky in—or conversely, overwhelm—the room. An easy way to find the right size: Add the room’s width and length in feet. That number is the perfect size, in inches, of the diameter of the light. (Ex: A 10-foot by 12-foot room would look great with a 22-inch pendant.) Reimold chose this Seagrass pendant, which measures 18 inches in diameter.
  2. Attach a battery-operated LED puck light where the bulb would normally go. Look for a style that comes with a remote control, like these BLS dimmable puck lights ($20), so you don’t have to reach into the light to turn it off and on. (Adhere the puck light in place using Velcro.)
  3. Use twine to hang the light. Since you're not using the light bulb portion of the pendant, you can remove it and the electrical cord and hang it at the height you need using twine and a screw hook. If you don't want to put a hole in the ceiling that you'll have to patch later, you can always use an adhesive ceiling hook—just double check how much weight it can handle before buying it. (This KK5 style can hold up to 13 pounds.)

It’s that easy. Reimold admits that her daughter was initially skeptical of how it’d look, but that she was “pleasantly surprised” by the end result. Combined with desk lights and sheer curtains on the window, the layered lighting gives the room a softer glow than its standard-issue overhead fluorescent light.

Considering that hiring an electrician to install a pendant light can cost anywhere from $95 to $250, according to pro hiring service Thumbtack, this hack can be a budget-friendly fix for homeowners too. Throw in some plug-in sconces and try this high-contrast paint trick, and suddenly, you’ve got the light, airy home of your dreams—at a fraction of the cost.

candace davison bio

VP of editorial, recipe developer, cookbook author

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...