Tuesday, December 9, 2014

DIY Makeover: Thrift Store Ginger Jar Lamps

Silk shade, matte black, and shiny silver. Love. But I'm getting ahead of myself!
Last week I found out that my in-laws are coming to stay with us on Christmas Day, woo-hoo! I lucked out and married a guy with really nice parents. They say things in front of me like, "Keith, you're so lucky you married Jen." And then they take me to Disney World. Since I won the in-law lottery, I want to make the guest room especially nice for them before they arrive. As soon as I found out they're coming to town, I got started.

Step One: Lamps.

Let's rewind to one year ago. I was standing in a thrift store admiring the shape of two fugly burgundy lamps, priced at $5 each, and wondering how well they would take spray paint. As I studied them, an employee walked by and cheerfully said, "See the red sticker there? It means those lamps are only $1 each today!" SOLD. I needed two more lamps like I needed a hole in my head, but I knew we'd be moving to a bigger place soon. A matching pair of ginger jar lamps would probably come in handy someday.

The lamps sat, sad and unused, for a year.

When I started planning our guest room, I knew they would be perfect in there with a white shade and coat of black paint. Tuxedo style lamps? Yes, please! I kept the lamps simple because the curtains are going to be bold, and the overall color scheme isn't exactly tame. I wanted to give the eye a place to rest. And I figured it wouldn't hurt to make the lamps versatile, so they'll work in other rooms if I ever decide to move them around.

The actual makeover was easy: I covered the brass parts of the lamps with painter's tape, gave them two coats of matte black spray paint, and then put a few coats of silver Rub 'n' Buff on the brass. When using Rub 'n' Buff on metal, I recommend applying it, waiting a few minutes, buffing, and then waiting a few hours before applying the next coat. When the product has time to set, it works much better. The most time-consuming part was waiting for paint and Rub 'n' Buff to dry.

See the slubby silk? And the fancy shape? This shade was so worth the extra $22.
I looked for a bargain on lampshades, but the ones I saw at Target and Lowe's were about $30 each and completely unimpressive. They came in uninteresting shapes, and they were made of a cardboardish material. So I went to Hermitage Lighting Gallery, a super fancy and intimidating store downtown, and fell in love with a pair of gorgeous pagoda shaped silk shades. They were $52 each, and that felt like a big investment. But that's only $22 more than the shades at Target, and they look and feel a million times nicer. I've always been disappointed by the way Target lampshades sit crookedly, and these are straight as arrows. So I think the extra $22 was money well spent.

Now that the lamps are finished, I need to hang the headboard. And the mirror. And change the light fixture. And repaint the dresser. And buy fabric for the curtains. Okay, time to get to work. Bye!


  1. For $1 each on the lamps, you can definitely splurge on the shades. Those look great, nice work! We know the owners of Hermitage...real nice people.

    1. Thanks! I guess I feel like I have to justify a $52 shade... it's such a luxury!

      I've always had good experiences at Hermitage. It's funny, though, because something about me must NOT look like their typical client. The sales floor staff never seem to think I'm REALLY there to buy until I start asking serious questions about the products and asking whether the item in question can be taken out on approval. Then they snap to attention. :) I'm guessing they see more designers in the shop than homeowners?

  2. These turned out so cute! I have an old ginger jar lamp in bright yellow and I have been wondering whether I should DIY it or not. I find the yellow kind of charming, but it is BRIGHT!


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