If you’re on the hunt for new lighting in a space, don’t forget to check out the ugly lights in the thrift store. I have found many a deal rummaging through the treasures in my local shop. Even if they aren’t ugly, simple lamps can be turned into beauties if you spend a little time imagining how to spray paint a brass lamp or reinvent an old lamp.
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You could say I LIVE in the thrift store. My favorite store sits right at the corner of our neighborhood on the way to my son’s school. Dangerous combination. I visit at least once a week because they’re always getting new inventory. A good 40% of my home comes from this one store. Check out all my thrift store finds secrets here.
Spotting a good thrift store lamp to makeover
Before you get all excited and fork over any cash, make sure the lamp you find ACTUALLY works. Remember it is used. Don’t assume the staff has tested the electrical components. Stores like Goodwill and the Salvation Army often have testing areas. If you can’t find one, ask if you can use a socket to test out the lamp. My local store has a three-day return policy on electronics for this reason, but I STILL test it in the store.
If you really have to have it and it doesn’t work, you could re-wire it, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.
You also want to ensure it has the right dimensions for the space and more importantly, does it fit into your Signature Design Style. If it doesn’t (or you can’t fix it with a quick DIY) keep moving!
Lastly consider how much sweat equity and cash you’ll need to sink into this little lamp project.
If it costs $5 and you have to spend $50 and five hours to make it look good, you’re better off just buying a brand-new lamp.
Ok, so now that you’ve got a gem…
Here’s how to makeover your lamp
I bought this simple floor lamp for $5 during a 50% off sale at my thrift store. She needed a coat of paint to cover up the dated brass, but I loved the classic shape.
Prep the surface
While often overlooked, prep is critical to any DIY project. Start with a clean, smooth surface. I like to clean with a damp cloth and wipe away oils and dust. If you find rusty spots, gently buff them off with sandpaper and clean with a damp rag.
Tape off every part of the light that shouldn’t be painted. I like to put scrap paper or paper towels down into the sockets to prevent the spray paint from clogging the electrical work.
Next, Paint Your Lamp with Patience
Gold paint cures everything in my opinion. Spray 3-4 very light even coats. To get the bottom, sit the lamp on top of a short box. Let dry thoroughly between coats. Patience is key here. If you start handling your lamp too soon, you’ll ruin the finish.
Once your paint is dry, it’s time for the really fun part. Embellish with beads, jewelry or whatever you like. I like to wait for 60-70% off sales at JoAnn’s and Michaels and purchase stringed jewelry to use on projects like this.
I snagged these for just $1 each.
Affix the jewelry using the filament or fishing line had on hand. It took a few minutes of trial and error to determine how I wanted to hang the beads. I ended up with a swag connecting each arm. Get creative and test a few options before you commit.
Tie knots with the thread. (The glue gun pictured above wasn’t needed.) Cut off any excess string.
I lucked up on a brand new $2.50 lampshade, also from the store, but it ended up sitting a little too high.
As I hunted for a new shade I found one even shorter, but I couldn’t pass on this chic blue lamp shade from Home Goods so I ended up purchasing a shorter harp to bring it down. I like sooo much better than the white shade.
Now sit back and admire your work
I used the lamp to style a corner in my living room. What a difference right? Sad to say, she’d been sitting there with that weird looking shade for a little bit. I finished this project as a part of a challenge to get some lingering DIY Projects done. Check out this post if you need a little motivation to finish what you start.