How to Convert a Can Light to a Pendant Light - 804 Sycamore

Amy Wadsworth
by Amy Wadsworth
2 Materials
1 Hour

How to Convert a Can Light to a Pendant Light

Our home is a little over a year old, but there are so many things I want to do to it. The builder gave us a handful of lighting packages to choose from. This means I got to pick my favorite out of packages that I didn’t really like too much. We couldn’t modify anything, bring in our own lights, and for the first year of homeownership, we had to use their electrician for any work we wanted done. I was anxiously waiting for the one-year warranty to be up so that I could make some changes. One of the changes that I waited to do was the lighting in our primary bathroom. The vanity lights will be different someday, but for now, I learned how to convert a can light to a pendant light and these pendants add so much character. The brass accents on the pendants also visual warmth to the space and the bulbs create a nice mood lighting too.


This post will not explain the technical steps I took to convert a can light to a pendant light (liability and stuff). But I will tell you what I used and share my tips. If electrical work scares you or you are hesitant to DIY a lighting project, be sure to contact an electrician. It’s not worth the risk. When I tackled this DIY lighting conversion, I triple checked to make sure the electricity was off, I reread the instructions multiple times (to make sure I understood and because they weren’t very well written~). I felt comfortable attempting this project and had my husband double check my work. Doing electrical work, yourself can lead to house fires and even electrocution, be careful and consider your risks before attempting any home DIY.

How to Convert a Can Light to a Pendant Light

After I selected the pendant lights that would replace the two can lights, I made note of the diameter of the base. I needed to know if the new pendant base would cover the hole in the ceiling left by the can light. Unless you’re replacing a can light with a large flush mount light, it’s fairly likely that you’ll need a goof ring to go between the new light and the ceiling. These can be painted to match your ceiling and I barely notice ours. However, this look isn’t for everyone in which case you’ll need a drywall dude to come and make some repairs which will cost more than the goof ring, but it may be worth it to you. You will also want to take note of what bulb wattage the new lighting takes. If you need bright light, make sure your fixtures can take high wattage bulbs.

I purchased a two pack of converters because I had two can lights to convert and it was cheaper, but you can get just one or larger packs too. I unboxed the kit and studied the directions and got a good understanding of what I’d be doing with all the parts and the order to do them in. I read the instructions so many times my eyes felt like crossing, but it’s better to be confident than confused. So, once you have the new light fixture, the goof ring, and the converter kit, you’re ready to make the change.

In addition to double checking to see if the electricity was on, I used a non-contact voltage detector. It’s better to be safe than sorry and it gave me peace of mind to know I made the checks before touching electrical wires. I created a video (below) showing how to convert a can light to a pendant light, but it’s mainly to show the process and steps. Everyone’s home has a positive and a negative electrical wire for the lighting but depending on the age of your home and building codes, wire colors may differ from mine and construction is sometimes just strange. If you watch the video, don’t use it as a tutorial, but as a general guide to show you the basic steps taken and how easy it is to convert your lighting.

How to Convert a Can Light to a Pendant Light

Here are the items I used to convert a can light to a pendant light:

How to Convert a Can Light to a Pendant Light

I found a site that offers custom goof rings. You can determine the inner and outer diameter so that you can cover any sized hole once the can light is removed. Some goof rings can be painted or found in other finishes like bronze, brass, black, etc. With the addition of pendant lights in our primary bathroom, my next project is updating the vanity lights, mirrors, and adding a decorative touch. Step by step our bathroom is coming together. Here are some progress shots of the space but be sure to subscribe to get updates when more is completed.

I removed my wall pegs behind the tub because this vintage door made into a shelf was a perfect fit and gives the space pretty vintage vibes. Plus, I added glass knobs to give me those functional pegs back~
If you have seen Escape to the Chateau on Netflix, then you will notice that I hung a Union Jack flag just like Angel did above their tub. I love the look and it adds a touch of character and color above the privacy Roman shade.
One of the things I love about these pendant lights is how pretty they look when they’re off. You will see their pretty glow in the YouTube video, but during the daytime they’re also so lovely.
Here’s a close-up of my vintage door shelf. I love the natural chippy paint and repurposed piece in here. It gives me a shelf and knobs to hang bath time essentials.
Do you have a clock in your bathroom? I have this little brass clock from Target in each bathroom because it seems like time just flies when in this room – especially for my teenaged daughter! Maybe in retirement I’ll look at the clock less, but for now it seems my day is ruled by it.
I just love abstract landscapes, the older the better. The bottom frame is from Michael’s! And the rusty oval one is from a vintage shop – I haven’t even cleaned the glass yet because I love the aged look.
My husband wasn’t too sure about the goof ring when I explained it to him, but he admits that he doesn’t even notice it and he really likes the new lights, so win win.

Always turn off the power NOT just the light switch. I also used a non-contact voltage detector to triple check the power source. If you're not comfortable doing this, hire a professional.

Once I verified the power was off, I removed the can light, I added the support bracket from the conversion kit.

Then I added the metal plate and pulled the wires out.

My pendant light came with a very long chain and wires, I measured my ceiling space and shortened the length accordingly. I also made sure to mark the positive and negative wires since cutting off the labels.

Make sure to ground the neutral wire and attach the light to the weight-bearing wire so that it doesn't fall while you're attaching the electrical wires.

I added the goof ring and then the light fixtures bracket. This bracket attaches to the bracket from the conversion kit. Without the goof ring, the pendant light base would not cover the can light hole.

I attached the positive and negative electrical wires, covered with the wire caps and made sure it was all carefully tucked in. Then I attached the light fixture base and that's it!

Changing out the two can lights with brass and glass pendants has transformed this primary bathroom. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m usually very impatient, but when designing a space, I also enjoy the process and the feeling of getting each part just the way I want it. Lighting is such an important design element; it has the potential to totally update and change an entire space. I hope this post has inspired you to consider lighting in your design plans and to look at your recessed can lights in a new way. Be sure to subscribe to receive DIY and decorating inspiration once a week.

Suggested materials:
  • Light conversion kit   (Amazon)
  • Goof ring   (1-800 Ceiling)
Amy Wadsworth
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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