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Oh, Lighten Up!

Several years back, I happened upon a small thrift store's 'going out of business sale'.
And found these lamps sitting in the parking lot for $5 each:
Shown as found.
Dear Lord in Heaven.... someone thought this was a good idea....

You DO realize that the white parts in this 'before' image used to be BRASS, right?
So some manufacturer somewhere, sometime, actually gave the OK for these to be made and sold.
In the seventies, no doubt. ugh.

Then someone else took the time to tape the glass off and paint the brass parts white -
but left the hideous gold-orange glass with black felt pen-embellished raised scrollwork.
And yet.... I see the possibilities even in the hideous ugliness:
If I could just neutralize the color and visual hot mess, these could actually be quite charming.
And so that's exactly what I did...

continue reading to see the amazing AFTER shot!

With a spray of neutral white gloss paint, all of the elements are brought into scale
so that the details are what you notice, and simple lampshades don't overwhelm the bases.

Here's what I did:

I cleaned the dirt and grime off, then wiped the glass and metal surfaces down with white vinegar.
[That's my secret for paint prep on smooth surfaces - removes ALL residue]
I taped off the 'candle' part - which is just below where the bulb screws in - 
because it was already white and a 'waxy' finish, which I didn't want to change with paint
(and I'll bet you didn't even NOTICE the candles in the before shot, did you?!)

Then I grabbed my trusty cans of white Rustoleum High Gloss Appliance Paint
and sprayed the living HECK outta' those things.
[Three light coats, at varied angles to get into every little detail.]

That paint is one of my BEST 'Fast, Cheap & Easy'TM tricks,
because it sticks to ANYTHING and self-levels to look fabulous every time!

 I had two wire lampshade frames on hand, and sprayed them with the white paint.
When dry, I took some white vintage ribbons and roman shade tape
and laced it through the lampshade frame to add interest.
Then I put a clear, faceted, candle-flame shape bulb in the lamp
(because it sits on top of the 'candle' part, right?) .

The result was that I had some very pretty 'shabby'-ish lamps to sell at my next show.
Which I did. For $65 each. wink.

Sometimes what you charge for is the possibilities that you see that no one else did...
so don't write something off just because it's hideous... even REALLY hideous!
With some imagination and a can of white paint, you can bring an item out of the dark ages
and lighten up your decor!

The lamps are shown in this photo sitting in my little barn store, on top of my canvas-covered dresser.

Want more lampshade inspiration? 
Check out my original '18 Lampshades to LOVE' on Pinterest

shared online:

 Everyday Home | Home{work}Wednesday

One Project Closer / The Better Half | Before & After DIY Contest

FEATURED in the Top Three at Home{work} Wednesday


  1. yes, it is amazing what spray paint can transform! great project!

    1. So true, Amy! I think I might do a 'round up' post of great 'before & afters' all over the web that just used white spray paint to give a fresh look ;)

  2. I just don't see how you could see the possibilities with the 'before'. I would never have imagined how great they would look 'after'. You have a special gift.
    Well done.

    1. You are TOO kind, Pamela! What I have, my dear, is an insatiable need to haul ugly but cheap (or free!) things home and find a way to make them pretty!!!! I love the challenge!

  3. Amazing vision!! they turned out beautiful.

  4. When I saw the color of the glass I was sure you turned them into pumpkins of some kind because it didn't occur to me they could remain lamps and look good. I was wrong on both those thoughts!

    1. LOL this made me laugh! I guess I have become synonymous with pumpkins, haven't I??!!

  5. Hi Deb. These lamps turned out so adorable. I would never have been able to look past their original state like you did! I want to let you know that this post was one of the top three most viewed from last week's Home{work} Wednesday. Thank you for linking up with us!

    1. Suzi, I am THRILLED to hear that! Thank you so much for creating such a fun link-up!

  6. Wow, that is one amazing makeover! I would have run from those lamps!

    1. You know, if they hadn't been so cheap to start with, I probably would have, too!!! The way to my heart is clearly CHEAP! ;)