I am so excited to share this post with you. After weeks of in-store and online searching, I finally found inexpensive lamp bases and transformed them into gorgeous, modern bedside lamps. Never mind the fact that it took months to get the lampshades and actually set them up in our room. Let’s just ignore that part and focus on the task at hand.
I mentioned finding $40-or-less lamps in this post and I was all set to buy them. But then, in a last ditch effort to find something cheaper, I turned to my good ol’ friend Craigslist and struck gold – literally.
These matching lamps were…wait for it…two dollars. Total! I paid a whopping one dollar for each lamp base! The wiring was in good condition so all I had to get were new harps and shades. And spray paint because even though I love gold accents, these lamps came across as cheap and cheesy (cheapsy, perhaps?).
Step one: Replacing the harp
Screwing in a lightbulb is the most complicated thing I’ve done when it comes to lighting but it was very easy to replace the harp, thanks to instructions from Google. First, remove the socket cover. Then, loosen the screws on the socket and remove the wires. Unscrew the socket base and any remove any spacers and you’re ready to put the new, shiny harp base on. Going in reverse, the only tricky part was re-tying the wires into an Underwriters knot.
Step two: Cover up with tape
You obviously don’t want paint to get into the electrical part of the lamp so grab your painters tape and get to covering! To cover the cord, I pulled the length of it underneath the lamp and just taped around the plug. If you can’t do this with your lamp, just tape a few inches of the cord – maybe coil it and tape the whole thing?
Step three: Sand and clean
I don’t think it’s necessary but I used extra fine grit sandpaper to ever-so-slightly scuff up the surface so the paint would really grab onto the lamp base. You can probably skip this part and move on to wiping down and drying.
Step four: Paint!
I set up my spray station on our patio with a Trader Joe’s bag as my drop cloth. Based on every blog I read, I chose Rustoleum Painter’s Touch. R and I really liked the glossy marigold but my Home Depot didn’t have it so we opted for green apple in a satin finish. I applied three thin coats to prevent dripping but there were a few droplets that I had to touch up. I let them dry for a few hours, then applied two thin layers of clear acrylic gloss. This didn’t make them shiny but is going to serve as a protective finish.
What do you think? We love how they turned out. I think they look very high-end on our dark wood bedside tables. We’re not even close to being finished with our bedroom decor (still need curtains and maybe some fabric to cover the side tables and keep the dust at bay) but at least we have an upgrade from the former dinky dorm room lamps.
Ready for a price breakdown?
Lamp bases (from Craigslist): $2
Two new harps (from Home Depot): $7.94 ($3.97 each)
Extra fine grit sanding sponge: $2.97
Rustoleum Painter’s Touch spray paint: $3.77
Clear acrylic gloss: $0 (already owned but $6-ish to buy)
Two lampshades (from Target): $27.38 ($13.69 each)
Total cost: $44.06
That’s just $22.03 per lamp! And all that time I spent replacing the harp? Turns out I didn’t even need to do that because we bought lampshades that sit on the socket. So really, we could take out that cost and the lamps would only be $18.06. DIY-ing these lamps for such a low cost makes me feel ok about splurging on a few other household items that I wanted. Don’t worry, you’ll see those eventually. What kind of crazy good deals can you brag about?