DIY Coat Rack Light Fixture Combo

2 Materials
4 Hours

My apartment has a tiny entryway - it’s only 3ft x 3ft and there’s barely enough room for the door to open! Even though I installed a mirror to make the space look and feel bigger and bring in some light, the space still felt pretty dark, especially in the evening since there's no light fixture. The dark color scheme also didn't help. So I came up with the idea to give the coat rack a new look and turn it into a light fixture with under cabinet lighting!


Step 1: Taking apart the coat rack

I wanted to give the coat rack a whitewashed worn look so the first thing I had to do was to take it apart so I could sand off that dark brown color.

Step 2: Sanding off the brown stain

I set up outside to do all this sanding because it's certainly not something that I would want to do inside my apartment. I went very heavy on the sanding around the edges to give the wood boards an uneven worn down effect.

Step 3: Distressing the wood

And then I distressed the wood even more with a contraption I made with screws. I also used pliers, a hammer and other tools to make gouges. The idea is to make different types of marks in a random pattern to give that over time worn out look. I think I went a bit too heavy on the gouges but it definitely does look beat up and old. 

Step 4: Whitewash treatment

I used some inexpensive white latex paint that I thinned out with a bit of water. The key here is to work really quickly to be able to wipe off the coat of paint with a rag before it dries so you can still see the wood grain come through. 

Step 4: The under cabinet lights

I needed to find some sort of light source that would easily fit along the back and the edges of the top board of the coat rack and these lights that I used in the open shelving in my kitchen were a perfect fit. 

Step 5: Making room for the cable

The only thing that I did have to do to make this work was to carve out the wood to make room for the wires so that everything could sit flush with the back of the board. To do this, I used a handsaw to make some grooves and then using a chisel and a hammer, I removed all the wood. It doesn't look pretty but luckily this won't be seen once the coat rack is installed. 

Step 6: Installing the lights

The light kit comes with all the hardware you need to install the lights and many extension cables, which is great. I used the clips to attach the lights to the sides (I could have also used the double sided tape) and the clips to secure all the wires in place so that everything is nice and neat. 

Step 7: Light diffusers

While the lights have an attractive profile, I did want to hide the wires from the side, so I installed light diffusers. I actually had to MacGyver those using plastic corner guards that I covered with parchment paper. They did a nice job of hiding the wires while at the same time leaving enough space on the sides for air to circulate. Which is important since these lights are not meant to be totally enclosed. 

Step 8: Let there be light!


I’m so happy with the change to the coat rack and I absolutely love having lights there now. I can control them with the wall switch or using the on off switch or the dimmer, which makes it easy to get the lighting just right, especially in the evening.

You can see the entire project and more details on my blog.

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


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