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Archive for the tag “lamp rehab”


So, a while back, I scored several lamps for under $15 at a local thrift shop.

Aesthetically, they needed a little help, but were in working condition & had potential, so I scooped them up, promising myself (and Dan… and you guys) that I’d work my magic on them.

Then I got busy with something else & months passed. And the sun began setting earlier… and earlier… and earlier. Now it’s dark by 4:30. So I’ve decided to get started on the lamps. I guess necessity really is the mother of invention.

But how to go about turning these uglies into beauties? It would take some thinking outside the box. Or rather, inside the box.

This awesome tin once contained scrumptious amaretto cookies from Italy.

I love it SOOOO much. I want to buy it a mink stole.

So, obviously, I had to turn it into a lamp.

But how to accomplish such a Herculean task?!?

Enter ugly lamp #1. The glass on this lamp base is actually pretty nice — thick, bevel cut, unblemished — but I just can’t figure out how to make it un-grandma-y.

So, I decided to simply remove the glass & find a way to use the “guts” of the lamp to create something entirely new.

So I clipped off the plug & pulled out the guts.


All I needed to do now was to make a couple of holes in the tin: One for the neck of the lamp, and one for its cord.

So I had Dan break out the old cordless drill. He used a bit that was just slightly larger than the lamp’s rod.

Then I just dropped the lamp guts in and filled the bottom of the cookie tin with sandwich baggies full of sand to weigh it down — so it won’t be top-heavy & tip over all the time.

I added a small platform made of scrap wood & cardboard to set the lamp base on, which gave me more height than if I’d set it directly in the bottom of the tin. Then I replaced the lid & covered the hole with the original lamp’s vase cap.

Of course, since I’d had to clip the plug off the original lamp’s cord (to be able to fit it through the “exit” hole on the back of the cookie tin), I had to replace it.

Enter Dan, who is much braver than I when it comes to all things electrical.

He stripped the end of the existing wire — which he admitted would have been much easier if he’d had some linesman pliers… sorry, Honey! — and connected them to this prefab plug.

Then I added a bulb and shade.

And… viola! A new lamp!!!

In all, it was a 20 minute project. The hardest part was finding a shade that 1) I liked; and 2) had the correct mounting hardware.

*More on the hardware later — I forgot to take a pic before we left for our vacay & we won’t be home for a few more days yet. Oops, sorry!!

It was a fun, easy way to make use of a lamp I didn’t like, while also repurposing a cookie tin that I really do. The same effect could be achieved with any sort of tin — crackers, coffee, tea… anything. You just need to make sure that 1) the tin has a lid; and 2) the base is bigger & heavier than the shade.

So… one ugly lamp down, 4 to go. Stay tuned!

How about you? What’s your favorite repurposing project? Made any lamps out of weird stuff? Do you have a favorite tin? Or maybe a grandma-lamp you don’t know what to do with? We’d love to hear from you!

Thrifty McGee — Lamps

So, because the weather is holding up progress on our front porch project — which is holding up our big Curb Appeal Reveal! — I’m gonna switch gears.

Let’s talk about lamps, bay-bee/Let’s talk about you and me/Let’s talk about all the good lamps and the bad lamps/Yes-siree!

OK… that last rhyme was lame. I admit it.

What isn’t lame is that I got ALL these lamps (including shades) for under $20!!!

“But Amy,” you say, “they’re so very ugly!”ย  Yes, yes they are.

But they won’t be for long — Amy has fancy plans.

Yep. I’m gonna make them over good. But first, I’m gonna do this quick tutorial on buying secondhand lamps.

1) Make Sure it Works

I am superscared of electricity. Seriously. Which is why I have never rewired a lamp. I hear it’s easy & hope to one day conquer my fear, but for now I only buy a lamp if it is in full working order. Fortunately, most thrift stores test lamps before putting them out on the sales floor. Still, even if a lamp is marked ‘works’ — I look it over completely. Any weird scorch marks? Is the cord frayed? Do the connections look sound? Why does that lady with the cart full of belts keep circling me?

Finally, I hang onto my receipt. Then, once home, I plug the lamp in, turn it off & on a few times, wiggle the base, gently tug on the cord, etc. If it holds up to normal jostling, it probably does work & I call it a keeper. If not, I take it back.

2) Don’t Judge a Lamp by its Color

Sure, these two ceramic lamps are outdated as-is, but imagine them with a nice, glossy, all-over coat of turquoise or green apple paint. Top them off with contrasting-color lampshades in an unexpected shape & you go from frumpy to fashion-forward in a few cheap, easy steps.

Or take this standing lamp — yes, it screams Grandma’s sitting room in its current state, but look at the bones on this gem.

A super-stable base:

Thick glass free of chips & cracks:

A nice, long cord free of fraying:

And a big unblemished lampshade:

I absolutely would have bought this lamp if I’d had room in the car to haul it home. I would have sprayed it with a little oil-rubbed-bronze spray paint — hothothot this season, btw — and switched out the shade for one in a bold, dark color (oxblood, eggplant, olive… something like that) with a ‘drum’ shape, like this one:

(Of course, this shade would need some TLC first — too ย ‘tea & crumpets’ as is…)

Anyhoo — once I’d spiffed it up a bit, the standing lamp would have looked totally stylish in a throwback, Mad Men kind of way.

In fact, I wonder if they still have it…

Long story short — don’t write off a working, inexpensive lamp just because it’s ugly at first glance. Examine it. You might be able to work with it.

3) Look for Shade

A lamp that includes a clean, neutral-toned, unbroken shade is an extra-good deal — even if the shade in question doesn’t do much for the appearance of the lamp it comes with.

Lampshades are inexplicably expensive. And frankly, the overall shapes don’t vary much from decade to decade — it’s mostly colors & details that change, both of which you can do yourself. Sure, lampshades can easily look out-of-date. But making one over is almost always cheaper than buying a new one that’s essentially the same thing. And it’s easy. (Stay tuned.)

Plus, because most shades attach to their lamps with a simple, standard fixture, you can easilyeasilyeasily swap out a shade that just isn’t working for you — aesthetically speaking — for another that looks better, regardless of where each component came from or how old they are ๐Ÿ™‚

Just unscrew the cap holding the shade on, remove the offending shade, slip on the new shade & rescrew the cap.

Couldn’t be simpler ๐Ÿ™‚

4) Consider a Breakdown

Often, lamps have extra pieces that are completely decorative.

Were I so inclined, I could make over this lamp by removing the long rod that holds the original shade & simply topping the two bulbs with individual clip-on shades.ย 

Sorry, I don’t have any individual clip-on shades to demonstrate this idea in it’s totality, so you’ll have to visualize. But, as clip on shades are widely available, I figure you can picture where I’m going with this…

My point being: Many lamps have unnecessary parts; sometimes they’re handles, sometimes extensions, etc. And fortunately, most of the time, they’re simple to remove by just unscrewing — and without damaging the lamp or affecting it’s function.

So, if you see a lamp that you mostly like, see if the parts you dislike are removable!

5) Resurfacing Works

If you like a lamp’s shape, but not it’s surface, try to think of how you might be able to maintain the lines of the lamp while obscuring it’s texture.

For example, Dan hatesย the surface of this lamp. He calls it the pineapple lamp. He just can’t get past the checkerboard pattern. But the shape is timeless and it’s in fantastic working order.

So… I assured him that I’d spray paint the base & wrap the body with some kind of attractive ribbon/string/wire/rope — you know, to keep Spongebob from trying to set up camp in it. Or I could glue mosaic tiles to it. Or beads. Or bottle caps. See what I mean? Tons of possibilities.

So… that’s it pretty much what I can teach you about thrift lamp shopping. There are tons of perfectly good lamps at resale stores. You just have be able to recognize their potential & know how to assess their safety/function.

And now you do! And if you’re brave enough to rewire a lamp, you’re even one step ahead of me! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Link: How to rewire a table lamp



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