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Two Easy Ways to Give A Lamp New Life

by Samantha Potter|May 03, 2022

Now and again I come across the (al)most perfect lamp. There might be one or two things that aren’t quite right – the color, the shade, the texture, etc. Whether that almost perfect lamp was at a thrift shop, was a donation from a friend or family member, or was found at a store, I used to see things as they were, not what they could be. Luckily, in the last few years, my mentality shifted; now, I have the confidence to bring new life to things. I recently brought two life two to (al)most perfect lamps that the “old” me would have turned down because they weren’t quite what I was looking for. But the “new” me made them into what I wanted. Lucky for you, the new me is about to share how I transformed both of these lamps so you can hopefully do the same one day! 

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Lamp Transformation: Rub-n-Buff

The lamp I originally wanted for Sloane’s room was a small fortune from Pottery Barn Teen – a golden bunny with a beautiful grey/blue shade. It honestly would have been perfect in her room. What I didn’t want was to pay $200+ per lamp for a toddler’s room where there was a 90% chance these lamps would be broken (YIKES!). After a quick Google search, I found another bunny lamp from a Canadian company for $160 for two lamps – WIN. However, there were two problems: the bunnies were white not gold, and the lampshade was also white, not blue/grey. Good thing I’m a problem solver, right?!

This bunny lamp was transformed from white to gold with rub-n-buff. I am relieved to say that I was really taking a chance on the rub-n-buff. This was my third time using it. The first two tries didn’t go so well. Luckily third time’s the charm, right?! Here’s what I learned from my rub-n-buff experiences:

  • you need a proper brush to apply the rub n buff (don’t use gloves and your finger – it really doesn’t work), AND
  • spray-paint the item before you rub and buff it

Both things helped the rub and buff stick and allowed for an even application.

I still have a white lampshade and I’m ok with it given the bunny is gold. I thought about painting the lampshade which would have worked. I didn’t because I know I would have missed the light that gets diffused out of the linen shade if I did. That being said, if I come across a perfect new shade, I will pick up two and fully have my Pottery Barn bunny lamp dupe.

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Lamp Transformation: Baking Soda + Paint

The next lamp I transformed was this beautifully shaped lamp from my mother-in-law. She sent a group message to the whole family asking if anyone wanted this lamp. I immediately fell in love with its shape but was less in love with the shade pattern and color/texture of the lamp. Again, I was not letting this lamp pass me by, so I jumped at the opportunity before I even had a plan. When I got the lamp – it was better than I thought. It was not only the perfect shape, but it was also MASSIVE in the best way (see below).

I contemplated using a plaster-like I did for this DIY pedestal bowl I did – and in hindsight, it would have worked really well, but I wanted something a little more efficient (you must let the plaster dry for at least 24hrs). I decided to use the paint mixed with the baking soda method and loved how it ended up turning out. I did three coats – I probably could have gotten away with two but I wanted to keep adding some texture. My ratio was close to 1:1 baking soda to paint which I found gave the lamp the greatest texture. After I was satisfied with the paint/baking soda, I sanded down the lamp slightly. Wiped it clean, and then added a thin layer of white chalk paint to give it a more antique vibe than I was looking for.

With this one, I also took the chance and painted the lampshade! Originally, I found a drum shape but decided I preferred the empire so I went with painting it. I used chalk paint for this as well. I am impressed with how it turned out, but as I mentioned above, I miss that diffused light that peeks through.

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The lamp before the upcycle

There are so many easy ways to transform a lamp into something you love. I hope you will give it a try one day! 

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Lamp after the upcycle

This article was written by Samantha from Signed Samantha.

Meet The Author

Samantha is a working mama who has always been looking to find that work/life balance.

On her website, you’ll find a daily dose of inspiration, coupled with a ton of sarcasm and a few laughs. Signed Samantha is a millennial mom who encompasses all things food, cocktails, entertaining, home decor, easy D.I.Ys, toddler activities, and everything in between.

Check out her Blog, Instagram & Pinterest!

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