DIY: Thrift Store Lamp Makeover

lamps-finishedThis is an old project that came to mind as I was working on the chandelier. Buying nice, large lamps can get very expensive, but a big statement lamp makes a huge difference in a room. Or rather, a small lamp can look absolutely wimpy on a bedside table.


lamps-beforeInstead of spending $50+ per lamp, go hit up your local Goodwill or Salvation Army. Find one of those shiny brass lamps that were so popular in the 80s. You’re looking for a nice, interesting shape. Also, if you’re wanting a matching pair, don’t worry about finding exact matches, just find two lamps with similar base sizes and approximately the same height. I found two for $5-7 each.



If they’re dusty, clean them off. Use masking or painter’s tape to cover the electric fixtures and the cord. Spray paint them first with a metal primer like Rustoleum so it will hold up better against scratches and have an even finish. Then top them off with a couple of coats of black matte spray paint. Do make sure to also paint the finial, so you don’t have a shiny brass dot on the top of your black matte lamp.

At this point, you can leave them be, or add some more detail. I chose to rub the edges with wax Treasure Gold to show off the curves.

lamps-finished-closeFor the shades, buy some simple barrel shades, as large as will work with your bases. I found these silk shades on Ebay for $5 each. I purchased some beaded trim and some flat braided trim at a fabric store, and used hot glue to apply the the beaded trim to the inside of the bottom edge, and the flat braided trim to the outside of both top and bottom edges.

If your lamps are slightly different heights, you can even them out a few different ways. I bought lamp harps in different sizes, you can also buy finial risers (inserted under the shade instead of just under the finial) in all different sizes.

The overall cost for these two lamps – standing nearly 2′ tall, nice and heavy with silk shades, was only $20 each, and you can be sure that they are one of a kind. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to make a big statement.


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