Mood lighting

Re-create this quirky-romantic chandelier in the time it takes to screw in a lightbulb (or two).

Thanks to owner Leah Allen's cost-conscious decorative scheme, her Carroll Gardens watering hole Abilene (442 Court St at 3rd Pl, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn; 718-522-6900, is a treasure trove of DIY projects. "Everything here is pretty much recycled or something we made ourselves," she says while pointing out the secondhand church pew seating, the mash-up of patterned fabrics lining the wall behind the bar and, our favorite, the unique multibranch chandeliers fashioned from socket splitters and small round bulbs. Perfect complements to the bar's kitschy, hodgepodge aesthetic, the homemade light fixtures evoke bioluminescent coral reefs. And for all their intricate, kooky charm, they're unbelievably cheap—and easy—to make. But don't feel guilty about ripping off the design: "I actually stole the idea from my brother, who first did this in his art gallery," Allen admits.


15--20 Y-shaped socket adapters (a.k.a. "splitters"), $2.79 at Home Depot (various locations throughout the city; go to for info)

15--20 small round standard-base lightbulbs, $15.53 for ten at


* Make sure your ceiling has a standard-socket light fixture into which you can screw the chandelier.

1 Take a Y-shaped socket adapter and screw two more Y-shaped socket adapters into each of its ends.

2 Then screw two more socket adapters into each of those ends and so on, until your chandelier has split out enough to the desired size.

3 Next, screw the lightbulbs into the empty socket ends.

4 Attach the completed chandelier to the ceiling by twisting the original Y-shaped adapter—which is now the chandelier's base—into your ceiling's light fixture. Seriously, that's it!—Laura Neilson

More bright ideas

Take inspiration from the lighting at these NYC bars and restaurants.

Blue Ribbon
The industrial metal fixtures seem plucked from a turn-of-the-century laboratory. But the main takeaway here is that old-timey filament lightbulbs make everything look cooler—screw one of them into a bare socket, and you've got instant ambience. 34 Downing St between Bedford and Varick Sts (212-691-0404,

Char No. 4
The ceiling of this BBQ joint comes alive thanks to its brood of warm, cylindrical fabric lanterns. Get the look by hanging a cluster of hexagonal paper lanterns ($4.75 at Be sure to keep them close to the ceiling. 196 Smith St between Baltic and Warren Sts, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn (718-643-2106)

White Star
Luminous Moravian star lanterns hang over the bar at this Lower East Side hot spot. We suggest finding a vintage one on eBay and hanging it right over your dining room (or kitchen) table. 21 Essex St between Canal and Hester Sts (212-955-5464)—Erin Wylie