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How to Swag a Chandelier or Light Fixture

A swagged light fixture in my primary bathroom

If you’re researching how to swag a chandelier or light fixture, you’re in the right place. I’ve been a fan of swagging (which is a funny phrase to say, really), since we bought our first house, and I wanted a chandelier centered over the dining table, except the junction box was in the wrong spot.

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The answer to the conundrum was to swag the chandelier, and the result looked great. I mean, it wasn’t quite as perfect as if we’d hired an electrician to move the box (something I’ve also done, and will share more on deciding between those two options toward the end of this post), but it still solved our problem and looked a whole lot better than an off-center light fixture.

Now, I have photos of the before and after of my swagged light from way back in 2014 … except you can’t see he swag part, because I probably didn’t expect to share a blog post about it 10 years later.

Here’s the room before, with a ceiling fan that’s centered in the room, but not centered over the table. Also: look at that rug! Woah.

And here’s the after, with the swagged light centered on the table.

Here’s an overview of how to swag a light, why you’d choose to do so, and more.

What does it mean to swag a chandelier?

Swagging a chandelier is a way to adjust where the light fixture hangs without moving the junction box or electrical supply. Basically you wire the chandelier to a junction box where it is, and then secure the light where you want it via a hook in the ceiling.

Another shot of the swagged chandelier in my bathroom.

The result is a centered chandelier with a chain or cord that “swags” from one spot to another.

How to swag a chandelier

Swagging a chandelier is a fairly easy project that only requires a few tools. Having a buddy also helps!

What you’ll need:

  • Tape measure
  • Step stool or ladder
  • Screw driver
  • Drill
  • Pliers
  • Swag hook kit or ceiling hook
  • New chandelier

This project requires electrical work, so if you’re not comfortable with that, you should hire an electrician to take care of that part!

Step 1: Shut of the power to the junction box at the breaker box. Don’t just turn off the light! If necessary, remove the old chandelier or light fixture from the junction box by unscrewing the fixture from the ceiling. Then remove the wire caps to separate the chandelier wires from the wires in the junction box.

Step 2: Decide where you want the new chandelier to hang. If it’s a heavier light fixture, it’s best to use a stud finder to locate a stud from which to hang the fixture. Once you find a stud, screw in your swag hook where you want the new fixture to hang.

If there is no stud close to where you want to hang your light fixture, and the light fixture is relatively lightweight, like something with a paper or fabric shade, or a small chandelier, you can use a toggle bolt to hang the swag hook.

Here’s an example of a swag kit with toggle bolts

Step 3: To install the toggle bolt, drill a hole in the ceiling large enough so that you can push the folded toggle bolt through it. Once the arms of the bolt are through the hole, they will pop open to secure the bolt in place. Then, screw the ceiling hook onto the bolt.

Step 4: Once your swag hook is in the ceiling, hang your light fixture onto the hook at the height where you want it. I usually give it a little tug at this point to make sure the hook is secure, too.

Step 5: Mount the chandelier cap to the junction box, and wire the new chandelier per the manufacturer’s instructions. (Again, if you aren’t sure what you’re doing, it’s a good idea to hire an electrician!) Then, remove any unnecessary chain links or cord, and connect the chain to the chandelier cap.

Tips for swagging a chandelier

Choose a chandelier with a chain (preferable) or a cord (OK). A chandelier or light on a post can’t be swagged. I find chains easier to swag since the links hook right onto the swag hook. Cords can sometimes slip.

Don’t make the swag too tight. If you’re using a chandelier on a chain, the swagged part of the chain should hang from the ceiling a bit – it’s part of the look. If your chandelier is on a cord, placing the cord tight to the ceiling often looks better, unless the cord is decorative. Plus, it eliminates the slipping issue.

Should you swag a light fixture?

We moved the light fixture junction box in our Chicago condo instead of swagging because the swag would have been too far

Swagging is an easy fix when you need a light fixture in a different spot, but it’s not always the best solution.

There are certain instances where it’s better to just move the fixture altogether. They are:

if the new spot is more than a few feet from the junction box. Anything more than 3-4′ is pushing it when it comes to swagging a light. If you nd to move the fixture clear across a room, it’s better to just move the junction box.

If you’re hanging a very heavy or large fixture. Swag hooks are a good idea for relatively lightweight fixtures only. For large, heavy fixtures, it’s best to have a professional installation at an actual junction box.

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