Refinished Lamp





Introduction: Refinished Lamp

These 20 year old brass plated lamps used to be popular but now they adulterate the bedrooms, lounges and home offices of young peoples first homes everywhere.

‘Here son/daughter, I thought you might find this lamp useful for your new home’
‘Is it the really cool Ikea lamp that costs a fortune?’
‘No, we were given this one 20 years ago and you’ve never seen it because we hate it and its been been in the attic since the day your Great Aunt Shirley donated it to us when we had no lamps.’

I resolved this plight by turning my old lamp into a delightfully modern and stylish lamp.

Step 1: Step 1

Take off the shade and any other parts you don’t wish to be painted and lightly sand the metal so that the paint will adhere well. Clean off any dust thoroughly and apply many thin layers of spray paint.

Warning: If your knowledge of electrics is limited to only just remembering how to change a plug, I recommend putting the screwdriver down and masking off the light fitting and wire rather them removing them and rewiring the lamp later.

Step 2: Step 2

Tear a sheet of fabric (i used an old bed sheet) into strips about 3” (7.5cm) in width. Wrap the strips tightly around the shade. Each wrap should slightly overlap the previous one. Use safety pins to hold everything in place.

Optional: Add a single white stitch line around the top and bottom. I thought this subtle addition really finished it off well.

Step 3: Step 3

Warning: Use an energy saving bulb rather than an incandescent bulb. They aren't as hot and will minimize the risk of fire.
Please don't blame me if you burn down your house, i was only trying to make it look prettier :)

Reassemble the lamp and when your generous donor asks for their lamp back (because its so awesome now), you can polightely refuse :)


  • Automotive paint is by far the best. However, it is expensive. If you can afford it, you wont regret it
  • Spray painting is not easy to do well and is a good skill to learn. With practice you will get a better finish. This link below demonstrates some good techniques.
  • Use etching primer if you want a more durable and flawless finish.
  • I made two matching lamps. They don't even need to be the same really they would still look great together.
  • Clean metal surface with methylated spirits, alcohol or nail polish remover to clean thoroughly. (Don't use nail polish remover on the painted layers. It will remove the paint!)

Thank you for reading my lighthearted Instructable I hope I was able to enlighten you :)

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    Most brass is finished with lacquer to prevent the brass from oxidizing. If this finish is scratched you will need to sand out the rough edges. If you end up with too much exposed bare metal, you should use a metal primer, otherwise the finish paint will peel off with no apparent reason.

    1 reply

    This is true and I suggested it in 'Tips' section. I didn't have any primer at the time so i didn't use any. I've been using these lamps for months and cleaned them several times and the finish is as good as the day i sprayed it (even around the base where its in contact with the desk). So far, so good.

    Thank you for your feedback though.

    Nice Job!
    I recommend that you first prime the metal before applying the finish coats. will get much better adhesion. make sure to do light paint coats. it's very easy to get runs with all the ins and outs.
    also, don't forget to replace the fineal. a simple crystal fineal is cheap and is a nice finishing touch.

    After discovering that a lamp i was working on had been rewired by a moron and posed a serious risk, I will typically rewire any lamp i'm working on. once you learn how to do it right, lamps are very easy to rewire. well worth the piece of mind.
    this is the project that had been rewired by a complete idiot. from the outside it looked fine but when i removed the socket i discovered old frayed wiring,exposed connections and a bizarre socket configuration. especially troubling since it was an all metal lamp :)

    Cool. I have some "stone textured" paint that would go great with this project. One question: any concerns with the fabric used to cover the shade and flammability?

    1 reply

    Very good question!!! This did cross my mind when i was making it but i forgot to mention in the inscrutable. I'll add a warning now.

    I changed the bulb to an energy saving bulb which is nowhere near as hot. I can touch it quite comfortably even if its been on all day. You are worryingly correct. If i used an old incandescent bulb and the new fabric had unwrapped for any reason it would very possibly catch on fire. Energy saving bulbs ftw!

    Thank you for your comment

    should i have like been born in another century?? I like antiques...and i like the brass look. (except for the shade)...I like the white too...soooo when should i have been born??? :-D

    2 replies

    Brass can look good. But on these lamps there's just to much of it. They are really big.

    I'm considering doing another version with antiqued brass rather than painted. Maybe a bit of a steampunk thing goin on. Not sure what to do about the shade though because I don't want it to just look like a really old lamp.

    perhaps a blend of modern and antique?? maybe something earthy or perhaps modern..then again ...depends on your decor theme

    Love this lamp and the Instructable too. May I suggest that this would be a perfect place to use a hot glue gun on the inside where you tuck the fabric up. I agree that the white stitch line adds to the classy look. great job.

    wow! greate job done here!

    Its a 72 pencil sculpture. I think its great. Iv made a few of them over the years. Here's how to make it courtesy of makendo

    I had some old brass lamps also and I did the same thing. I used some paint that looking like it was crackle paint and they turned out beautiful. I cheated and bought new lamp shades. But I did re-purpose the lamps. To buy new ones is so expensive.

    I appreciate your instructable. I plan to try it and follow your tips. However there is one step I am confused about. You wrote: “Optional: Add a single white stitch line around the top and bottom.” You will still need to use safety pins to attach the fabric to the lamp shade frame. Correct?

    1 reply

    Yes, I left the original fabric on the shade and tightly wrapped the black fabric around rather then reupholstering the shade properly. Every few inches I fastened some safety pins on the inside to hold it all in place. The safety pins were inexpensive so I just left them in.

    The stitch line is simply aesthetic. It only goes through the outside layer. You could stitch though all the layers if you prefer. This is a lot harder and a lot more work but it would give you a better result. It would be much stronger and you could take the safety pins out.

    Please post a picture of your finished lamp i would love to see your results and any other improvements you made.


    Very simple, but I love it! I'll try to get some old lamps and follow your tips :) Thanks !

    Well done! I have a few of these lamps kicking around at home that I might take out of storage and update!

    So pretty! Thanks for sharing and have a splendorous day!

    1 reply

    omg thats a real word. Its fun to say. Well done :)