Brass Lamp Makeover

My husband and I were out running errands as we drove by Goodwill. I begged like a child to please, please, please stop and let me go in. Honey Bee is a good sport but he has his limitations. I was peppered with questions in rapid fire succession-

Do we have to go today?               YES!

What are you looking for?            I’ll know it when I see it.

How long will this take?               Oh, not long 🙂

He relented – I told you he was a good sport.  As I entered the store I made a mental note that the blue ticket color tags would be 50% off and I raced towards the back of the store. That’s where all of the furniture and home goods items are located. Admittedly there wasn’t a lot to choose from on this particular day. I saw an unattractive brass lamp with a jade colored base.  I wasn’t even looking for a brass lamp but I found myself drawn towards it.  First of all, it was very heavy – the real deal as far as brass goes.  The lamp worked and it had three-way lighting.  It also had a new shade, which was too small for this particular lamp. It was priced $7.07 AND…it had a blue tag – 50% off. SOLD at $3.54!

Brass and Jade - Before

Fast forward a few days…I was in line at TJ Maxx checking out.  Another woman was in the return line bringing back large, khaki colored drum shades.  My ears perked up like a good hunting dog. I was hearing things like – “ma’am you’ve had these shades for over eight months” and ” I can only give you store credit”.  The customer took her credit and went on her merry way.  I immediately got out of my line and went to the return line. I smiled sweetly as I said “if those lampshades were stocked items, wouldn’t they be on clearance”?  The very nice cashier checked for me and stated “this is your lucky day – the shades are now $6.00 a piece”. SOLD  Even at the original price of $16.99 a great value for a 15 inch drum shade.

Bargain lampshades

Now I needed a second lamp.  I went to Atlanta Union Mission thrift store Thursday.  They were having a 50% off lamp special.  I found a solid brass lamp that I thought would compliment the other lamp.  This lamp is also very heavy.  I purchased this second lamp for $7.50

Brassy - before

I didn’t even know what I was going to do with the lamps.  I knew they had promising potential and they could be transformed. I started doing web research on how to paint brass.  Almost all of the sites recommended two coats of primer, two coats of paint and one coat of gloss.  Humph! I don’t have that kind of patience, especially on a project that I wasn’t sure was going to work out.  This is what I did instead:

  • I bought Rustoleum Universal 2 in 1…primer and paint in gloss white
  • Using plastic grocery bags and painters tape I protected the lamp harp and bulb area.  I did the same for the electric cord.
  • I laid out an old sheet in the driveway and placed both brass lamps on top.
  • I started to spray paint being sure to use slow left to right motion, being sure not to stay on one spot too long to avoid dripping.
  • I let this first coat dry for 30 minutes.
  • I sprayed on the second coat.
  • I waited one hour and the lamps were dry enough to bring into the house.  The paint wasn’t totally dry for another hour or so.

After one coat

With one coat complete, I felt pretty good about the paint coverage.

Great primer and paint in one can

This is the paint I used.  I was very satisfied with the coverage and smooth finish.  One full can painted both lamps.

Just two coats made it this smooth and glossy

You can see how perfectly glossy it is too.

I am very happy with the end result.  As much as I love the lamps they will have a new home in a clients home.  I wanted to see how they would look so, I did a quick staging.  The finials were leftover from an art project – metal acorns.

From Brassy to Classy:

This lamp was formerly shiny brass and jade...look at how beautiful it is after a makeover


This lamp used to be ugly and very shiny brass - simple makeover to a beauty


Lamp makeover - a little bit of paint makes a big difference!This lamp makeover was probably the easiest and quickest project I have ever done.  Not including drying time, this project took literally ten minutes…no kidding.  It only took two minutes to tape off the lamps.  Each spray session was only a few minutes.  Maximum result for little effort – my kind of project.   I won’t hesitate to purchase more lamps in the future.  Here’s the cost break down of the two brass lamp makeovers:

  • Lamps (2)                    $11.04
  • Shades (2)                     12.00
  • Paint                                 3.85
  • Finials                             free
  • Total                           $26.89

Not bad for two lamps!  Have you ever made-over a lamp? Don’t hesitate to look at lamps that may not be your particular style or color choice – a little bit of paint makes a big difference!


We’ve linked up this project to:

Little Red Window

Cupcakes and Crowbars

Cozy Little House

Maison de Pax

Savvy Southern Style

Canary Street Crafts

Little Red Brick House


  1. says

    Hi Vicki, I love your new lamps and what a difference some paint can make. Omg I was giggling and following along with your story telling about your husband (That would be mine too…lol) and they turned out beautiful and it was definitely meant to be on those shades. Score. Have a great day Lisa

  2. says

    These don’t even look like the same lamps! That is AH-MAZING! I gotta get me some of that spray paint! Love and hugs, Coco

  3. says

    What amazing transformations of those rescued lamps! This makes me sad for all the old lamps that I have given away that I could have just given a new life to.

  4. says

    What an amazing transformation! I am with you on the patience for all those different paints and steps. Have a great day!

  5. Lanita Anderson says

    Love your lamp makeover…!! I’ll be watching out for lamps when I’m at the thrift stores. 🙂


  6. Karen Bates says

    Hi, now that some time has passed,how is the paint holding up? Does it scratch easily? I have some brass I want to paint but have not had good experience in the past when following other directions. The key may be the paint itself.


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