Painting thrift store lamps is a great way to get a customized look for a lot less than retail. I remember when I first discovered you could spray paint ceramic and metal lamp bases – it was around 2000 and I had two little kids, a city bungalow to fix up, and no money. It was awesome to be able to afford nice lamps based on design and size and not just if I had enough money. Over the years I’ve bought a lot of our lamps at thrift stores and they’re still my number-one spot to look for new lamps.
Finding single lamps is usually not a problem, but finding pairs is another issue. I have been looking for a few months for medium-sized urn-style ceramic lamps for our bedroom and was coming up empty handed.
You better believe I grabbed these as soon as I realized they were the same lamp, even though they are different colors.
And this is a good tip, because surprisingly I often see the same lamp in different colors at thrift stores:
- always be looking for a shape you like and not a finish or color
I’m actually in the process of updating our master bedroom by introducing a new color (coral – which I’m loving it right now) and had played with the thought of painting the bases coral, but guess what? I’m pretty sure there isn’t a spray paint made that comes in a coral color, ’cause I looked at a bunch of brands. And while I do have a small paint sprayer which is fine for furniture and wood, it wouldn’t produce the smooth surface needed for a lamp base.
So I decided to bring a bit of shine into the room by painting the bases with Krylon’s Looking Glass spray paint. I was hoping for a mercury-glass look (like the mercury glass pumpkin I used it on), but these turned out more of a brushed silver. Which is fine, really, though I’m not sure why the difference – maybe because the lamps were bigger?
I did find out, though, that I needed to spray a clear coat on the bases so that none of the silver rubbed off, which I didn’t need to do on the pumpkin. This makes me think the coating on the original ceramic was different, maybe?
So, here’s another tip when you’re painting unusual surfaces of old items:
- be prepared to “go with the flow” and be open to changing from the original plan
Are you wondering if I’m one of those people who keep the plastic on their shades? Ha! I’m still figuring out the shades that will work – I like this shape and the size is good, I think, but it needs some sort of adapter to work on the lamp. Since I’m not sure I will find something, I might need to take it back so I didn’t want to unwrap it yet.
This is actually the second set of shades I’ve bought – I was SO excited to find a coral colored burlap-type shade at World Market and then was SO bummed that they were too small for the bases and World Market didn’t make them in a larger size. My plan now is to add coral-colored ribbon trim to the white shades.
If I can get them to fit. Ahh…the joys of working with thrift store items.
So why do I do it? Simple: these lamps cost $4.00 each and I probably used $3.00 worth of paint, bringing each lamp base to a total of $5.50. I bought the shades when they were 20% off and combined that with a $10 off $30 coupon from World Market, so they were just $11.00 each.
That’s just over sixteen dollars for each complete lamp – and customized to what I like. Yup, that’s why.
Do you shop for lamps at thrift stores?
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