Monday, July 1, 2013

Ugly Lamps Being Ugly

It has long been my dream to own a matching pair of bedside lamps. To me, matching lamps are a sign that one has "made it" as a Grown Up Person.

Our bedside lamp situation has gradually deteriorated over the past few years. First we had two comically mismatched lamps (neither of which provided good reading light), then somehow we were down to one (my desk lamp from college), and then the bulb in that one burned out. Well, I never got around to buying a new bulb. It required a strange size of bulb, the specifics of which I can never remember when I find myself at the hardware store.

Months passed with no bedside lamp, which meant one of us always had to get out of our nice comfy bed when bedtime reading time was over to turn off the overhead light. Not fun.

Eventually I decided to forget the light bulb altogether and started trolling the thrift stores.

I discovered that matching lamps are about as rare as unicorns, but several weeks into my search I did eventually find a set. Behold, my Grown Up Person Lamps:

As I was leaving Goodwill with lamp under each arm, two different people said, "Oh, what pretty lamps!" Yeah, not so much.
I guess they must have looked ok from a distance? But close up, it was a whole 'nother story. Folks, these lamps were gross. Besides the ugly brass bases, the shades were dirty, stained, and possessing of an odor that I didn't care to get close enough to properly identify. Seriously, I didn't even want them in the car with me. At $4 each, I think I overpaid. I stashed them in the basement as soon as I got home until I had time to spruce them up a bit.

Step 1: Ditch the shades. I briefly considered trying to clean them, then  I took a second look at them and decided TO HECK WITH ALL THAT. 

Step 2: Lightly sanded the bases so the paint would have something to stick to, then put the electrical cords in baggies and sealed them shut with painters' tape. Ditto for the light socket and on/off switch.

Step 3: Put on a couple coats of Rustoleum Universal Metallic Aged Copper spray paint.

Step 4: Since the shades were beyond saving I bough some generic linen shades at Lowe's for $15 each. Who knew lampshades were so stinking expensive?

I wanted to pretty them up with some stenciling, but I didn't have any stencils. Obviously I had to make some real quick because I was on a roll and didn't want to break my stride. I used this for inspiration:

That's my bathroom ceiling. It's the only pretty thing in there.
The stenciling thing turned out to be kind of a pain in the tush so I ended up free-handing a lot of it.

The end result:

They don't scald my eyes with ugliness, they both work, and the light quality is perfect for bedtime reading. I pronounce them a success.

And that's how I finally got my Grown Up Person Matching Bedside Lamps. The End.


  1. Actually $4 is waaaayy cheaper than we've ever found good second-hand lamps, and we've bought all ours that way. And yes, lamp shades cost a fortune, and $15 each seems really cheap to me. The result looks great! Good job on the shades!

    1. Thanks! I was just a little bit in shock when I added up how much I spent on this project and it was over $40! But we've never ever bought lamps before (all of ours were hand-me-downs) so I guess I didn't have a real idea of how much they cost:)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. CUTE! I love a good upcycle! I recently searched all over for lamps for our nightstands and ended up DIYing my shades as well since I couldn't find the perfect ones. Gotta love a good project! I popped over from the Ohio Valley Blogger Meet + Greet page! I look forward to meeting you at the event!

    ~Abby =)

  4. Your post has been selected as the featured post at this weeks Making a Home - Homemaking Linky!

    Congratulations and thanks for linking up! Hope to see you again this week! :)

    1. Wow thanks so much! My first feature:)