Monday, April 16, 2012

I hit the mother-load of ugly brass lamps!

I know that painting brass lamps (and these aren't solid brass, lick here to see and updated post) isn't a new idea but I have been looking all over craigslist for some nice shaped lamps to paint. So when I found these 7 brass lamps for $30, that's a little over $4 a lamp, I was thrilled. (Click here to see another one of my painted lamp projects which was featured on Better After)

ugly brass lamps

My friends just shook their heads because they couldn't understand why I would want 7 disheveled lamps that weren't working right. What they didn't know is that I like changing out lamps around the house like other people change shoes. And I was itching to try out some bold colors.
Although I'm starting to love brass again and I see it is sneaking it's way back into fashion and decor, these lamps were rusted and had mismatched gold finishes.

Now if they would have looked like this great pair of Curtis Jere mid-century brass lamps, I would have definitely kept them the way they are. At $3700 I can only say "keep dreaming"!

At least I had 3 matching pairs of lamps in my pile.

I had to buy some parts at Home Depot for $25 which included 2 Make-A-Lamp kits with harps and 2 packs of switch knob sockets. If you look at the picture, you can see that there were 4 lamps with the old 2 bulb style and a pull switch and I didn't want that. I only wanted one light bulb on each lamp.

Westinghouse Make-A-Lamp-Kit

I was actually amazed how easy it is to change out the wiring and bulb sockets. And for some of the lamps I was able to re-use the old bulb sockets.
All I had to do is unscrew all the sockets and expose the wires. For the 2 bulb lamps I had to unscrew everything and disconnect the wires that led to the single wire threaded through the lamp base. Because of the previous connection it has a split end. You have to feel for the one split end/wire that is ribbed. The ribbed wire should be connected to the silver screw, and the other wire should be connected to the brass screw. If you use new lamp sockets, make sure that the instructions aren't different then what I just wrote.

I cleaned the lamps really good with TSP cleaner and a tack cloth. They are a must for most painting jobs and if you have read any of my other posts then you know I use them for every project.
And of course you have to tape all the wire, bulb sockets and any other area that you don't want to spray paint.
Then it was priming time!

And NO, I didn't spray them in the house.

I decided on a couple of colors for the lamps: bright yellow for the one matching pair, tangerine for the other matching pair, dark grey and the good old glossy white for the last remaining pair. I like taking them out for my "white Christmas" which is always my favorite.

valspaar and crylon spray paint

So I primed the grey lamps with grey Valspar spray primer and the rest of the lamps with white Valspar primer as you can see in the above photo.

The funnest part is playing around with were to put them now that they are done.
My favorite is by far the tangerine pair of lamps. I was lucky to have a pair of off-white shades with silver lining for $6 each from Ross. (When I find great lamp shades I just have to get them and hoard them in my attic).

tangerine painted lamp, louis ghost chair, horizontal stripe curtains
The lamp color is Hacienda Tile by Valspar.

The shade on the yellow lamps are from target at $15 each. And I made the fun squirrel and bird pillow out of an Ikea fabric.

tangerine painted lamp, louis ghost chair, horizontal stripe curtains

tangerine lamps on silver dresser

lagoon dresser and pair of yellow lamps
The pair of yellow lamps.

lagoon dresser and grey lamp
The grey lamp.

I think you get my point! It's fun to have different colored lamps and play around with them.
The white ones are in my attic! Maybe I'll just have to spray them another fun color! Pink or Coral?

(POST UPDATE: you can see here that they are not solid brass lamps and that I actually like brass)

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  1. Perfect! And maybe some day you will apply silver leaf to them, or Annie Sloan will create a metallic paint that you can sand down to see the color underneath. I never understand people's disdain for brass. I have real brass lamps and I love them. Painting ugly lamps is a good way to bring them up to date. Ann

  2. I also am a hoarder of lamps. I get the death stairs from my husband every time I bring them home. Right now I have 4 that need to be painted. What I'm really having a hard time with is finding a good, CHEAP, shade? Since I also change them out pretty frequently, I want to keep the shades cheap so I can customize them to the lamps. Even Wal-Mart's cheapest shade is $14. Any suggestions? Thanks! ~Angela

    1. Hi again, I find cheap shades at Homegoods or Ross sometimes.
      Hoarding lamps is fun ;)
      I tried to leave a comment on your blog and I couldn't for some reason. Tried 3 times. I had to come over and check it out. Loooove your sunburst mirror and your blog design is fabulous. Love your background. It looks like the West Elm Ikat fabric that I used for my ottoman makeover. We appear to have similar tastes.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I showed one of your images and linked it to this post!

    1. Thanks so much! love your blog by the way, Kristy!

  5. These turned out great! Thanks for the sharing.

  6. In my opinion, you just took a few thousand dollars worth of quality brass lamps and turned them into cheap looking junk.

    1. Hi Thom, in reply to your comment I wrote a post today. You can check it out here:

  7. Love these lamps! I bought some terrible brass ones and painted them silver. But that was too simple, so I painted them yellow! So much better, so fun!!

    1. Thank you Sherry :) the guy that commented before you didn't like them :)

    2. I saw that and chuckled to myself :)
      If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all right?

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. I forgot to ask what colour your orange spray paint is called? I see it's Valspar...

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  11. Hi! Just your blog stalker again! Great lamps!! And I totally have that ikea fabric in my craft room. Its been sitting there for two years. Seriously, why didn't I think of making a pillow with it?! I will be copying you! Jenna @ Rain on a Tin Roof

  12. I came across online while googling for some other things. I LOVE this post and wish I had the time to make stuff like this. I've never been successful with spray paint! Anyway, those lamps are adorable. When you're done with these "shoes" would you consider selling some?

    1. Thanks for the kind words!
      Which ones do you mean exactly? I always consider selliing on my Etsy page.

  13. These lamps are great! I just got four BIG 'brass' lamps for $15 and I can't wait to spray those babies :) Did you put any kind of extra gloss finish on them? I love the shine! And I was thinking of doing white for mine, but now I'm eyeing that tangerine color. Wonder what the hubby would think of that... ;)

    1. Hi! Nope I didn't put extra gloss on it. ANd my hubby loves tangerine and orange so I'm good ;)

  14. [happy sigh]. I would LOVE to do this. to craigslist i go!

  15. Can you please let me know where you got your horizontal striped curtains from. I have been looking for something like this for a long time, and cant find anything..

    appreciate it


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