DIY thrift shop table lamp makeover

I am always on the hunt for thrift shop finds, because let’s face it, you never know what you might discover. As they say…one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Take this table lamp for example. I was instantly drawn to it’s ugly charm and interesting detail on the base; though the shade had certainly seen better days. The positives…it’s made of brass, super sturdy, in perfect working order, and it was only $25. I have been looking for a new lamp for our family room for a while, but nothing seemed to catch my eye. This little beauty had potential…it just needed a little love. So, where do you start when making over a brass lamp?

Blossom and Bright | DIY thrift shop lamp makeover | before

Step one – dismantle your lamp. Gently unscrew and remove the socket cover, and place somewhere you won’t lose or damage it. There’s nothing worse than getting to the last stages of your project, only to find half the bits and bobs missing. Once removed, you’ll be able to remove the lamp shade. I haven’t decided whether I’ll make something else out of the old scalloped-bell shaped lamp shade yet, so into the garage it goes for safe keeping.

Step two – prepare your surface and apply an undercoat. This involves cleaning the lamp base. Thankfully this one was in pretty good condition, so just a gentle brush was enough. You might need to use a little elbow grease, sugar soap, and perhaps some sandpaper to roughen up the surface. Once the surface is prepped, you’re ready to paint or spray on the undercoat. I find it’s better to take your item back to basic white before adding colour over the top. This ensures that you’ll get a true colour result. I have used White Knight’s Squirts in gloss white for the undercoat, however any white spray paint will suffice. Just remember to follow the instructions on the spray can, and take into account the ambient and surface temperature. Your spray paint won’t stick or dry properly if it’s less than 15 degrees or more than 30 degrees. Most sprays advise that you can apply a second coat after one hour. If you have the time (and patience), leave it overnight to dry completely before respraying.

Apply an undercoat to your lamp base before spraying with your coloured finish
Step three – add your colour. There are a vast array of colours and paint types available for you to use. If you choose to purchase a tin of paint for your object, you’ll be able to select from the huge paint palette walls at your local hardware store. However, if you decide to use spray paint like I have, your choices will be limited. Thankfully British Pants “baby blue” was the perfect colour for my project, so I was able to go with a gloss spray paint for quick coverage with minimal effort. I have applied two coats of spray paint with a day’s drying time in between.

Apply your colourful topcoat once your primer dries completely

Step four – select a new lamp shade. This was probably the hardest decision of the whole process. Obviously the old shade wasn’t working. It was way too large, and outdated (read…ugly). I had a white drum shade in the garage from a previous lamp makeover, however it was too tall, and not wide enough. After trying a few different shapes and sizes, I settled on a square-tapered lamp shade. The simple and modern shape brings the not-so-modern, heavily-detailed base into the 21st century, and suits our modern-retro living room beautifully.

Step five – reassemble your lamp…switch it on and admire your handiwork.

Thrift shop lamp makeover - complete

Total project cost: $57.00

  • Thrift shop lamp – $25.00
  • 2 x Spray paint – $7.50 each
  • Lamp shade – $17.00

This project literally took under an hour (aside from drying/waiting times), and I couldn’t be happier with the result. For a minimal cost, I’ve been able to revamp a table lamp that was destined for landfill, rediscover it’s beauty, and decorate our home with a one-of-a-kind find.

DIY thrift shop table lamp makeover - before and after

Do you go thrift shopping? What home-furnishings and accessories have you made-over for your home?
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About Lisa Warren

Lisa Warren is an Australian-based blogger, passionate about all things home decor and getting creative. Her mission...to make things pretty and to make pretty things. Blossom and Bright is your online destination for satisfying your inner decorator, diy’er, and homemaker.

4 comments on “DIY thrift shop table lamp makeover

  1. My gosh, what a makeover! Looks fabulous, Lisa, great job. Although I reckon the old lamp shade was kinda cool in it’s own daggy way. 🙂

  2. Love it! Since you shared the progress picture I’ve been waiting to see how it turned out! You know I love me some blue. I got a spray gun for my Birthday but haven’t put it to the test yet, this would be the perfect first project, thanks for sharing Lisa

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