I Love Lamp: An Easy $10 Lamp Makeover

It’s been two long weeks since my last post.  Between Dan’s hand injury (it’s almost healed, by the way!), family and friend get-togethers, and a lot of late night work commitments, I haven’t even had time to get my hands on any projects, let alone write a blog post about them.  In fact, I just realized yesterday that I hadn’t sat down to watch a single episode of HGTV quality television on my own since before Dan got injured over a month ago!  Let’s just say I’ve never been happier to watch a recording of my TV besties, Chip and Joanna Gaines.  In addition to the 45 minutes of TV bliss yesterday, Dan and I had a lot of fun hanging out at the Cherry Blossom Festival at Branch Brook Park in Newark, New Jersey.

Aside from taking selfies, we admired the scenery, wandered around the lake, and really enjoyed this hidden gem in Newark.  It was gorgeous! The trees are just about in full bloom this week, and the park will be open and celebrating cherry blossoms until April 22, so you still have time to check it out.

Beautiful right?  Speaking of beauty, I’ve been working on a lamp beautification project for a few weeks that I’m finally ready to share with the world.  Before I go into the specifics, I want to share a little bit about our lighting woes.  We don’t have a lot of light fixtures in our house at all, and the ones that we do have are a little outdated (understatement).  Rather than spend a lot of money on new lighting options, I thought it would be fun to revamp a $10 lamp that I snagged at our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

This lamp will eventually find a home in our office, but I decided to keep the lamp update pretty basic and versatile so we can move it throughout the house as needed.  I’ve looked at quite a few lamp makeovers on Pinterest and other DIY websites, but I always wondered how people knew which outdated lamps were worth buying and DIY-ing.  For me, I looked mostly at the shape of the lamp base and decided that the round look was fun and modern, and it would look really great with a coat of white spray paint!  I also thought the shade was a good size for a desk lamp too, so overall this was a win-win for me.  The $10 price sealed the deal.

To make this lamp over, I started by removing the lampshade and wiping off the base to make sure it was nice and clean.  I then took some sandpaper and sanded down the seam of the lamp, which was raised and could potentially make the spray painting job more difficult.

Next, I prepped the lamp for spray painting.  I used painter’s tape to block off the lamp cord as well as the neck of the lamp and the electrical pieces.  I made sure everything was secured before I even started spray painting at all.

When looking at the lamp base, you can see that there’s a variety of patterns and colors, which made this a little bit difficult to spray paint.  As with any painting job, I put on my painting clothes, paint mask, and goggles before starting to spray in the driveway.  Even when I neglected to wear the mask for just a few quick sprays, I started getting a headache, so always wear your goggles and mask!  For this project, we used Krylon’s Color Master paint and primer in flat white.

The spray painting process was the most difficult for me.  It required a lot of patience and actually took a few hours to complete over the course of two weekends.  I’ve never spray painted something so spherical and small before, but I quickly learned that paint drips a LOT on something of this shape and size.  I had to make each coat extremely light in order to prevent dripping.  Each time there was a significant amount of dripping, I had to wait for the paint to dry and then sand it down before adding another coat.  Patience is the optimal word here, so even though this is a small project, it took a lot longer than I expected.  In fact, at one point, I got frustrated with a chunk of paint dripping and tried to wipe it off – I ended up taking off all the coats of paint in that spot by accident!  Ugh.  I took it as a signal to move on to the lampshade part of this project.

I chose a gray and white patterned fabric to cover the lampshade because of its versatility and its lightness (I also happened to have this one lying around the house).  The lampshade was a pretty dark brown, so I chose a light fabric to make sure that light could still shine through.  This is a terrible photo (I told you the lighting in the office was bad!), but this is the only way I think you can see how we cut the fabric to the shade.  Dan and I rolled the lampshade on its side across the fabric and traced the outline about an inch larger on both sizes to create the arc shape that best fit the shade.  Here’s what it ended up looking like when I cut it out:

Ever proving his craftiness, Dan suggested making an inside seam on the lampshade so that the fabric would overlap itself neatly.  To do this, I turned the fabric inside out and wrapped it as tightly as possible.  I pulled the two pieces of loose fabric together and hot glued them together, rather than gluing it directly to the lampshade.  Note my amazing badminton t-shirt from Target.

In the above snapshot, you can see that there was a bit of excess fabric on both the top and bottom of the lampshade.  To make this look as neat as possible, I hot glued the top sections of the fabric to the lampshade and did the same to the bottom of the shade, folding it over and pulling it tightly before gluing.

I’d say it came out looking pretty adorable!  I love the white base and I really do think we can use it in any space.  The gray fabric is bold enough that it adds a little fun, and I like that we actually put the pattern on a diagonal (though I can’t say it was intentional).

I just propped our new lamp on top of a few books on my desk to show how it fits with any color scheme.  I LOVE it!  I’m still trying to decide whether I want to spray a coat of clear, glossy spray paint over it to give it some shine, but for now, it looks great.  This lamp will be part of our full office makeover, once we actually get back to putting those pesky postcard shelves on the wall.  Have you gotten into any DIY projects now that the weather is finally nice enough in most parts of the country to be outside?  I’d love to hear about them!

2 thoughts on “I Love Lamp: An Easy $10 Lamp Makeover

  1. ” I always wondered how people knew which outdated lamps were worth buying and DIY-ing”

    For me, I look for classic shapes at my price point.
    http://fredgonsowskigardenhome.com/2013/12/20/looking-at-the-different-shapes-of-lamp-bases/ helped me learn about classic shapes.

    *I also know roughly how tall and wide I need the base to be.
    table height + lamp height from bottom to top of shade = 64″ max 64″ is the max height of any floor lamp and is because the table lamps and the floor lamps around the room should be very close to the same height. You do not want to stand and be blinded by the too-short couch lamp.
    *Will it fit on the table I have? Don’t laugh, a tripod table lamp barely fits.
    *How much work will it be?- cleaning and rewiring? or all that plus painting?
    (If you are not rewiring your thrifted lamps, you should be for safety- you have no idea if the lamp was stored in an attic and froze and baked for 40+ years, or in a flooded basement, or missed the factory fire recalls….)
    *Is the base bottom bent or otherwise too damaged to easily fix?
    I refused two options shopping today because the bottom was warped/damaged and “as is” unfixable. another one was just loose and tightening the length of the base straightened the whole lamp.
    *Is the base very heavy and hard to tip? sold!
    * some bloggers cruise the lamp stores and catalogs online for ideas to hunt for makeovers in the thrift stores. Oddly enough, designers haunt thrift stores for new ideas for their lines based on those thrift store lamps.

    Some of the most shocking makeovers are of the ugly duckling ceramic lamps whose factory glazes hide the neat details.

    Ceramic and plaster lamps can be patched with wood filler or wall spackle. Let it dry completely and gently buff-sand smooth before priming.

    You can find more than gold or silvertone sockets online- yes really. Also true for the types of switches, colors of cords, and sockets for different bulbs. Do not let the one choice at your hardware store discourage your vision.

    I did luck into a Steiffel shade on my ReStore lamp earlier this year. All fabric, stained and dusty. Followed the Pinterest directions for cleaning mystery fabric shades(no paper) and it looked brand new. Shade alone new was the price of the lamp and shade at ReStore.

    1. Clean base
    2. prime and paint, if needed.
    3. Rewire, always, with the kit of my choice. Non accent lights always get 3-way sockets for 3-way bulbs. Price a new lamp and the 3-way socket(low, med, high, off) adds $100 to the lamp price over the in colors and trendy shape.
    4. Add peel and stick craft felt to bottom of lamp to prevent furniture scratches. I choose a color to blend into the base and rarely white.
    5. Haul “new” base to store to compare lampshade options, if it didn’t have one already and try not to pass out at prices.
    6. Choose a new lamp finial for the finishing touch.

    We’ll be refurbing our 3 thrifted lamps for $20 into 2 dresser lamps and a living room table lamp.

    • Thanks for sharing, Monica! You never know what you’re going to find at a ReStore, and I love looking at different shapes to see what can be made over.

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