Designer DIY reaches new heights

By Julia Dilworth, 24 hours Vancouver


From the off-the-wall design firm Parker Barrow comes some off-the-wall DIY.

Don’t let the pulley system for this hanging branch light intimidate you — co-owners of the L.A.-Toronto design studio Janette Ewen and Jef Hancock assure us this is relatively novice-friendly.

The LED lights featured in this project are actually one of their favourite elements to work with because its naturally soft glow gives a space added style.

“We suggest putting it in a room (where) you want more ambiance — a dining room or bedroom would work best,” said Ewen.

Be sure to position this piece at a high altitude so its full beauty can be on display. Spaces with high ceilings such as a live/work loft are ideal, Ewen said.

Parker Barrow’s team often handcrafts one-off custom pieces for clients because they like to create all aspects of a space. “This is the main reason why we are designing a custom wallpaper line,” shared Ewen. “People love custom.”

Parting words from the pros: “Have fun with your space and don’t be afraid of getting your hands dirty, or failure,” Ewen said. “Experimentation is a big part of design!”

See the experts live

The designer duo is set to present at the BC Home and Garden Show running Feb. 19-23 at BC Place Stadium. Parker Barrow shares how to “Design Your Life from A-Z” at the HGTV main stage. Check for the full schedule.

How to: Hanging branch light

Branches, 3 strings of clear LED lights, heavy gauge wire, fine gold-coloured wire, wire cutters, rope, large eye hook, pulley system, gold spray paint


  • Take your branches (these are from a flower market) and cut them into various sizes ranging from 1.5 ft. to 3 ft. max. Sand down any rough areas. Select the largest, straightest one to be the main central branch for the light fixture. Attach an eye hook to the base of the branch and hang it up (at least 6 ft. off the ground) using a piece of rope. This will give you a clear area to hang the other branches from. *Do not attempt to skip this step or assemble the light on the ground — it will appear flat.
  • Cut 1.5-ft. pieces of heavy gauge wire and begin securing branches to the main branch. Eye these carefully — the idea is to keep the overall shape looking organic. Trim your wire once the branches are secured. Next, wrap long pieces (3 ft.) of gold wire around the branches, this is purely for an accent and subtle sparkle; do not use the gold wire to attach the branches — it’s not strong enough.
  • Using your gold spray paint add small amounts of gold to the branches. Adding paint to areas where too much of the heavy gauge wire is exposed will soften the look.
  • Begin wrapping the string of LED lights around the branches. Create a central hub for the electrical about 2 ft. above the top of the branch (where your eye hook is), wrap in a downward motion. Try to stretch the lights right to the tip of the branches.
  • Choose the highest ceiling you have to set up the final location for your light fixture. Attach a pulley system to your ceiling and use rope to hang the fixture. A tie back will hold it secure. Disguise your electrical behind a beam (if you have one) and run a white extension cord up the corner of the wall and attach it to your LED lights.
  • Enjoy!


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