And then there was light. Boring old light switches and fittings don’t really do it justice though, do they? That single lamp shade is pretty dull as it is, but so much more can be done, from decorating the lampshade to illuminating a whole room with a star field effect, and much more.
We’ve collected nine inspiring DIY lighting projects that you can use or adapt around your home. I think you’ll agree, the results are stunning.
Lights in a Bottle
Recycling used glass bottles is no doubt the best way of disposal after a dinner party, but having the glass melted down and reused isn’t necessarily the best answer: upcycle them instead!
Keep hold of the bottles, drill a hole in the side of each stuff them full of Christmas lights? The results are certain to impress, and would enhance the ambience of rooms of all sizes. Follow these steps to make your own ambient wine bottle lights. You might even develop the idea, perhaps employing an Arduino and some colored RGB LEDs display useful notifications.
Create a Galaxy on Your Ceiling
Children love looking up at the night sky and pointing at the stars, so why not bring them closer?
This example uses fiber optics and when combined with a remote-controlled fiber optic illuminator, you can get great results with different brightness and colors. It requires a lot of work with a drill and a trip into the attic (or room above) but you might forego this in favor of a large black sheet with holes for the fiber optics.
Set The Mood With a DIY Ambilight
Here’s a great lighting project you can install for under $30 – a lighting system that enhances your media center, reflecting the dominant color of the movie or TV show you’re currently watching. As with the wine bottles project above (and to an extent any lighting project) the use of lights in this way will change the ambiance of your TV or computer viewing area.
MakeUseOf’s James Bruce demonstrated how the dynamic ambient lighting works with a media center playing music but the effect is just as striking with Hollywood movies and cinematic TV shows like Doctor Who or Game of Thrones.
More recently, James build a more complex version of the DIY Ambilight with NeoPixels, which he demonstrated with the help of a psytrance trip from YouTube.
With this build, you get the benefit of using a more advanced form of RGB LED strip and more accurate color reproduction at the edges, but both types can be useful, depending on how close you plan on sticking to the instructions or adapting them to something more suited for your purposes.
Reflecting on Infinity, and Beyond
Also relying on an LED light kit is the amazing infinity mirror, which requires an old frame or even the entire mirror, a lot of woodwork (check these YouTube channels for woodworking help) and an IR sensor to activate the LEDs whenever someone is present.
Rather than using a standard mirror, the project uses two-way mirror glass, so while a small infinity mirror might be a relatively inexpensive build, the larger variety seen here and explained in this Instructable will probably be quite pricey, and set you back nearly $100.
Illuminate the Rain
Take your DIY lighting projects outside with this Instructable detailing the steps required to build an electric light umbrella!
The project requires 64 surface mount LEDs, and a simple umbrella (preferably with a hollow shaft and without the spring release) and uses a compact control pack to switch the lights on and off. The results are stunning, and you’ll certainly stand out!
Amazing Multicolored Lights with Bounce
The beauty of LEDs is, as you might have noticed from the suggestions so far in this list, their immense flexibility. This is thanks to their compact size, and in this DIY lighting project a string of Christmas lights is fed into a number of ping pong balls (144 balls for around $10 on eBay), creating a string of fun, colorful, diffused lights.
With a drill and a glue gun to hold the lights in place, this is one of the simplest but most effective builds in the list.
Atmospheric Cloud Lamp
Clouds don’t usually light up, do they? Well, yes, they do. During the day, clouds are illuminated by the sun, light bouncing off them on sunny days and sucked into the greyness of rainclouds on overcast days. And who can forget the way a bolt of lightning irradiates through the surrounding clouds during a storm?
This superb cloud lamp – again demonstrated by MakeUseOf’s James Bruce – shows just how you can do this for around $100.
Note that the build includes two Arduinos, and requires a bit of work with a jigsaw on the MDF.
The results, however, speak for themselves!
Stunning Cityscape Lampshade
If you’re looking for simplicity, why not look at what you already have lying around and adapt that? With an LED lamp (or even a standard one) all you need is black acrylic paint to coat the lampshade inside and out, a guide drawing of a city skyline (or any other image that takes your fancy) and a map pin.
The result is a lamp that displays a pin prick outline of the cityscape, and in a dark room this can be used to illuminate otherwise blank walls.
Tetris Coffee Table
Using Arduino microcontrollers, German DIYer Edo built this amazing coffee table with 64 RGB LEDs, capable of lighting up any room and looking, frankly, awesome. Edo doesn’t go into details with this, but we reckon it should be pretty straightforward to work out where to go:
I used one Arduino Duemilinove to control 12 TLC5940 Chips. There is one 5mm RGB LED in each of the 64 sections. The dimensions of the table are 50x50x12 centimeters. The cladding is made of self-brushed aluminum. In the future I’d like to take an Arduino BT to program the table wirelessly.