The simplest pendant lamps run on just three ingredients—a cord, a plug, and a socket—along with a little bit of wiring know-how. To make creating a custom lighting fixture as easy as possible, we've done the hard part for you: Finding the best sources for the supplies. Our shopping guide covers all the basics, plus some decorative extras, like lightbulb cages and glass shades. All that's left for you to do is mix and match your favorite parts to design a one-of-a-kind creation.
Above: This uber-simple pendant from One Kings Lane proves the power of a minimalist design combined with an eye-catching color. By its nature, a pendant lamp is a relatively uncomplicated lighting option that doesn't require a ton of embellishments to make it stand out. Start with a cord, a socket, a lightbulb, and a plug from any of the sources listed below and there's no doubt you're going to make a lamp that shines.
Cloth-covered cord comes in every color of the rainbow, as well as in stripes and other patterns. The two most common styles are smooth cord or twisted cord, which adds texture to a basic design. Because the cord is a big focus of a pendant lamp, choose one that reflects your style and coordinates with your home decor.
Where to Shop for Cord:
Color Cord Co: The image above shows just a sampling of the spectrum of hues found at Color Cord Co.
Sundial Wire: This company is a stand-out for its high-quality cords, made entirely in the U.S.
The bulb plays a bigger role in a pendant lamp than in a shaded lamp, so pick one that makes a statement. Edison-style bulbs with visible looping filament give the lamp a subtle vintage vibe.
Where to Shop for Lightbulbs:
Restoration Hardware: As shown above, Restoration Hardware sells more than a dozen filament style bulbs, in addition to incandescent and energy-saving options.
Antique Lamp Supply: An impressive selection of Edison-style bulbs, at very reasonable prices.
Other Sources: Bookmark our list of 5 Favorite Sources for Edison and Vintage Style Bulbs.
The point of connection between the lightbulb and the cord, a socket contains metal parts that conduct electricity. The most common materials for the exterior of the socket are metal, plastic, or porcelain. While each of these materials can withstand different temperatures (porcelain can handle higher heat than plastic), the choice between them is mostly an aesthetic one.
Where to Shop for Sockets:
Snake Head Vintage: This Etsy shop offers brass turn-knob sockets in 6 different finishes for $8. Also check out this shop's porcelain options.
Lampstuff.com: A wide variety of brass, nickel, and plastic sockets.
Color Cord Co: For an even easier DIY lamp, opt for Color Cord Co's pendant sets, which include a socket, cord, and plug.
Light Bulb Cages
Both stylish and functional, metal cages protect a lightbulb from breaking and bring an industrial edge to a DIY pendant lamp.
Where to Shop for Cages:
eBay: Search eBay for authentic vintage lightbulb cages to give your lamp a touch of patina.
Hangout Lighting: This shop sells individual cages (including the three styles above), or it will construct a custom lamp for you if you choose to forgo the DIY.
Switches and Plugs
Your custom creation is definitely going to need a plug, but you can also add an on-off switch—which is especially convenient if you're building a bedside lamp.
Where to Shop for Switches and Plugs:
Color Cord Co: This one-stop online shop offers both two- and three- prong plugs, as well as on-off switches.
Lampstuff.com: Choose from on-off thumb switches or roller options.
If you'd like to hardwire your lamp rather than use a plug-in, you'll want a canopy that connects the cord to the ceiling. If you're planning to hardwire, it's always a good idea to consult an electrician before getting started.
Where to Shop for Canopies:
West Elm: The canopy kit pictured above is sleek and modern-looking.
Grand Brass: If you're looking for a more ornate design, don't miss this site's selection of cast metal canopies.
See-through shades add style to a pendant lamp without obstructing your view of the lightbulb or cord. They can also help soften the glow of a harsh lamp.
Where to Shop for Glass Shades:
Rejuvenation: A popular source for antique reproduction lamps, Rejuvenation also sells individual lamp parts for vintage-loving DIY-ers. The glass cone shade above ($45) is a modern take on a classic style.
Everything You'll Need to Know: