West Elm DIY Bentwood Pendant Debacle

One of the projects I’ve been working on over the last couple of months is updating the small sun room in the front of my house.  This room has been my nemesis over the years, so it’s not surprising that my West Elm DIY Bentwood Pendant project did not go according to plan.

I’ve been eyeing the West Elm Knock-off Tutorial made famous by Tasha over at Designer Trapped. My style is eclectic, but definitely leans more to vintage/cottage, so I’ve been making a conscious effort to work a few contemporary pieces into each room. Somehow I never replaced this original light fixture in the sun room, so I thought it would be a good candidate for Tasha’s project.

vintage light fixture

Can you believe how ugly this is??!?? Holy crap…

For instructions on how to do this project, head over to Tasha’s blog HERE. She’s got a complete list of materials, sources and detailed directions. Today I’m adding a few tips and helpful hacks that I came up with to make this work with my particular set of (unfortunate) circumstances.

West Elm DIY Bentwood Pendant Debacle

The project itself is not really hard, but there a few things I discovered along the way:

Issue #1: When you’re cutting your embroidery hoops in half, you need to be REALLY careful to cut them evenly. I thought I was being careful, but someone somehow I ended up with a couple that weren’t even, which made the end result noticeably cock-eyed. My light fixture looks a little drunk, and it made every step after that more difficult.

You have to carefully pry the blocks off the hoops, which is really difficult to do without damaging them. As Tasha mentions in her tutorial, you can just put the bad side on the top where it won’t be seen.

DIY Bentwood Pendant

Mine were in pretty bad shape and it presented Issue #2.

Tasha states that you can use glue or not when you’re attaching your hoops. We (stupidly) opted not to and  just used the nail gun to attach the hoops to the circles, but because some of the hoops were in such rough shape, they kept popping off. We ended up gluing and clamping several of them after the fact, so I would suggest making a pre-emptive strike and gluing all of them in the first place as you’re nailing it together.

Since my house was built in 1924, this crusty mess is what we were faced with when we took down the old fixture. Not really surprising, and thankfully the DRG is a pretty decent electrician – I wouldn’t touch this with a 10 foot pole.

old wiring

Once the old fixture was down we mounted the new pendant kit and Issue #3 presented itself:

pendant light

I knew I would have to do some touch up on the ceiling because of the size difference in the fixtures, but unfortunately the old ring showed right through the paint AND the primer.

I decided to buy a medallion to cover the whole mess up.  I’m not a huge fan of them, but it was the best option given what I was working with. Of course the marks on the ceiling were just large enough that I couldn’t use the 10″ medallion, I had to go with the 16″ version.

West Elm Bentwood pendant knock off

The only saving grace to the whole thing was that I bought my pendant kit at Lowe’s and the medallions were made by the same manufacturer and had the same finish. If I had to try and spray paint them to match it would have pushed me right over the edge.

West Elm DIY Bentwood Pendant - I tackled the famous West Elm knock off project and it did NOT go as planned

But wait…there’s more!

Issue #4: 

Tasha used twine attach her pendant to the bentwood fixture. She is a better woman than I, because I couldn’t get it to hang correctly to save my life – though I think it was in part because of how crooked my fixture was. So I came up with another solution.

clamp on utility light

I had an old clamp on utility light in my basement. As you can see, the cover has seen better days, so I didn’t mind sacrificing it for this project. I took a pair of tin snips and cut it down to make a collar for the fixture. I figured I could paint it brown and mount it onto the pendant and it would hold the wooden part of the fixture up.

metal light collar

Thinking I was a DIY GENIUS, I put it all together and stood back to check it out. With the collar hanging the way it normally would at the base of the bulb, the whole thing hung too low and it looked pretty stupid.

I will confess – at this moment I considered punting the whole thing football style out the front door and directly to the curb. 

After I took a couple of deep breaths (and a good slug of my wine), I cut a slit in the collar and mounted it above the little manual switch on the pendant. The switch holds it up in the right position and I closed it back it back up with a bit of electrical tape.

West Elm DIY Bentwood Pendant - I tackled the famous West Elm knock off project and it did NOT go as planned

It’s one of those projects that I messed around with so much that I’ve completely lost perspective, so I’m not even sure how I feel about it.

West Elm DIY Bentwood Pendant - I tackled the famous West Elm knock off project and it did NOT go as planned

Would I do it again?

Hmmmmm……probably yes.

It’s very cool look and different from most of the stuff I have in my house, plus with fixtures being insanely expensive, the price is right. Because I had to buy the medallion, mine came in a bit more than Tasha’s, but my West Elm DIY Bentwood Pendant Knock Off is still a fraction of the original at $200.

Plus – I worked HARD for this one. The fact that it’s even functional and still hanging in the sun room should probably put it in the “win” column.

West Elm DIY Bentwood Pendant - I tackled the famous West Elm knock off project and it did NOT go as planned

If I had to do it again, I would be A LOT more careful overall (notice the swoosh of stain I got on the light bulb trying to make the string work), and I might even buy a couple extra embroidery hoops just in case.

Sometimes the DIY Gods just aren’t smiling on you, and you have to roll with it. 🙂

West Elm DIY Bentwood Pendant - I tackled the famous West Elm knock off project and it did NOT go as planned

I’m linking this project up at some terrific blog parties – you can find my complete list of places I party HERE.

Cheers Julie Signature


About Julie

Julie is a serial entrepreneur, marketer, former newspaper columnist, black belt bargain hunter, voracious reader, gardener, music lover, foodie, wino, avid party thrower, hopeless romantic, closet Parrot Head and DIY machine.

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  • Wow – that is beautiful!! We have some old-school lamps over the stairs that I would love to update. Thanks for the ideas! 🙂 #HomeMattersParty

  • Celeste @The Whole Serving

    I see the stain on the light bulb but it actually adds character. You did an awesome job on the whole thing. Thanks for sharing with our Pretty Pintastic Party.

  • Merit Weidman Kirkpatrick

    Wow – that original fixture wins the prize for ugliest one I have seen. Now your light looks fab! Thanks for sharing with us over at #HomeMattersParty


    Hard work pays off because this turned out beautifully! I am such a fan of the Edison lights as well. Great update! #HomeMattersParty

  • Even with all of your difficulties, it’s still an awesome light.

  • Julie, you are too funny, you made me giggle with thinking about punting the thing out. I love the result and all the effort is worth now.

  • Courtney

    Oh, this turned out wonderfully! I’m very impressed with your skills. 🙂

  • I am dying laughing over the before lamp. “holy crap” says it all LOL! That made my day. And the after of course is fabulous. Have a great day – Jenny

  • Sherry@savvyapron

    Julie, this light is amazing!! The medallion is a perfect solution, and I think it makes the whole thing look expensive!

  • Hi Julie, Ok, I can relate I’ve had projects like this but, your end result AMAZING I love it! Thanks for sharing at the #InspirationSpotlight party. Pinned & shared.

  • Julie, your pendant light looks wonderful! It’s so well put together. Pinned and Tweeted. Thanks for sharing at Snickerdoodle Sunday.

  • megin

    Gosh, Julie! That is so the way it goes in DIY, right?! But it look beautiful!
    Thank you for sharing this week at Brag About It link party on VMG206 (Mondays at Midnight). I plan to feature you next week!
    ~ Megin of VMG206

  • Wow, there were some headaches getting there but the results are fabulous! I think having to go with a medallion, and a 16″ one at that, was a blessing in disguise. The scale of the medallion works well with the size of the pendant. Love it – pinning it!

  • Patty Funfamliving

    I absolutely love it and it’s just what I was thinking of making for my kitchen I just hadn’t figured out what I was going to do it with and how. Thanks for the ideas and great instructions.

  • Laura Harrison

    Julie- I LOVE the title of this post.
    The end result is wonderful, but sometimes the journey is crazy, right?
    Thank you for joining us at Thoughts of Home!

  • I’ve had many projects that I want to punt out of the house, but I have to say that yours turned out really nice. Love that you were able to give other DIY’ers some pointers on this project.

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