Aug 22, 2014

Thoughts on decorating and a (thrift store) lamp re-do

We've had our house for two years but I feel like I am just beginning to really know my style - not that I could sum it up easily but I am starting to see more clearly what I like and what will work in our home.

I think it takes trial and error and learning to trust your instincts. Looking at what others do for inspiration helps but ultimately you have to like something because you like it, not because someone else does. Case in point - I have always admired people who's home decor tastes are bold and bright and original, and so for a while I thought I should be more brave and just paint a room fire engine red. Okay, that color never actually crossed my mind but you get the point. I felt like my tastes were boring. But one day I just came to terms with the fact that I love neutrals. I like the way they make me feel peaceful when I walk into a room - white curtains and light colors, a feeling of airiness.  And I'm beginning to see that neutrals can be a backdrop for interesting things and creative choices - a room is much more than just the paint color on the wall or the type of curtains you have hanging. (And by the way, I still admire bolder tastes - it's just not, at least at this point, for me.)

Something else I've realized over the past couple years is it really takes time to make a house into a home. Back when I used to clean houses for a time, there where several that looked like the owners had just gone through the Sears catalog or ran through the Brick picking the contents for their entire living room in one swoop. Nothing old or thrifted or made, nothing with a story to tell. A good room, to me, has all these. And besides, how many of us really have the money sitting around to just buy everything brand new and all at once? Boring, anyway.

Thus over the past couple years I've slowly (accomplishing things and adding two babies to the family doesn't always mix well) been doing projects here and there and poking around in thrift stores to find little things to make our home. I thought I would share a recent project because it is so simple and there are so many possibilities, in making over a thrift-store lamp.

There it is for you, in all it's before and after glory. I wanted a lamp for our desk but didn't feel like shelling out big bucks and in the back of my mind I thought I had read something about the possibilities of spray paint...a quick google affirmed my suspicions and pinterest told me there existed a magic product called Rust-oleum that came in this beauty of a color called oil-rubbed bronze.

One day I held my breath and went to goodwill and rushed back to the electronics area and it didn't take long to find this svelte old thing. It was gold and it was dated and it was ugly (unless it is your style) but it promised me some spray paint might make me change my mind. I left without it, telling myself if it was meant to be (or something like that) it would be waiting for me four days later on 50% off day. The happy ending, of course, is that it was.

$4.04 and a bit of time, newspaper, and tape later, I had this baby mummified and ready to go. 

(Perhaps unnecessary, but I took this picture so if you attempt something like this and you're like me you won't stare at it for several minutes pondering how to prepare it for paint.)

And then I took it outside and sprayed away. I did three light coats about a minute apart (you don't have to wait long, bonus!)  and called it done.

You can see a bit in the picture that I didn't worry about completely covering the gold - it was unintentional but I realized I had went a little light in spots along the edges and liked the look.

I have to say, this turned out ten times better than I thought. It feels so durable (the spray paint is a paint and primer in one) and I don't think you would ever guess this was a painted finish. I immediately started dreaming of gold chandeliers and light fixtures at the habitat restore here that could be completely transformed with this stuff. (But that is what such thoughts shall remain for the time being, a dream.)

So the total cost breakdown is $4.04 for the lamp, $11.99 for the shade I found on clearance at Target, and then I probably used $2-3 worth of the $10 can of spraypaint. Not a bad lamp for under $20!

And it's fun to think "I made this" (sort of) every time I click it on in the evenings. As for accomplishments, I can also think about how many diapers I've changed over the course of the day but that isn't quite as fun ;)


  1. It looks good here but it looks even better in person!! We just did a lamp transformation tonight - I haven't spray painted in years, thanks for the reinspiration - our lamp isn't quite as snazzy as yours though but it's perfect for what I needed! :D
    As for decorating - yes, the best rule of thumb is to go with what you love! And it's neat to see all the different styles people have! You have a lovely, inviting home! And I can't agree more about pieces having a story! I love that!!

    1. Can't wait to see what you did! I keep seeing lamps now and thinking about all the possibilities - there are so many colors and I like the look of fun, bright lamps with neutral shades too. And you've told me for years to "just go with what you love" - I think it just took some time to sink in ;)

  2. Mine are next! Bring on the paint. They have been around for probably 30 years and need a makeover. I love your lamp!

    1. I think yours would look great painted!

  3. The lamp is perfect! I love the clean contrast of the black and white. I have re-done most of my lamps as well. There is something about transforming other people's trash into something useful and lovely. =)