Scoring a pair of glam lamps

by Jessie K on August 29, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI know it’s probably a terrible idea to start shopping for decorative objects for my new house before I’ve even found said house, but when I saw these big, glam 60s lamps at the local Habitat for Humanity, I couldn’t resist. $21 for the pair!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStatement table lamps are weirdly expensive and don’t even get me started on the cost of the shades so I thought these were a nice, low cost alternative.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe metal bases are a bit beat up but nothing a little polish and elbow grease can’t cure.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut I’m torn about what to do with the shades. Both are yellowed and dingy and need to be reworked or replaced. I thought  black shades could look amazing against the shiny gold (check out Jenny’s inspiring DIY black spray paint job here) but black shades cast a somber, almost moody glow, which is fine if that’s the look you’re going for, but I’m not sure that’s what I want for my next house (though it’s admittedly way too soon to tell!!! Should probably get the house first!!).  For a more cheerful look, I thought Tiffany blue shades might look amazing against the gold, or maybe even a bright, bright white.

A friend suggested covering the shades in fabric, but I’m not sure what I think of that look. It always comes across to me as too cutesy and overworked. The height and shiny hardware of these lamps is statement enough; complementary fabric would have to be really subtle and demure.

What about you? Do you have any experience restyling old lamps? Have you ever painted an old shade? Or covered it in fabric? Would love some suggestions!


{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Peg August 29, 2013 at 1:47 pm


Why don’t you do white or beige shades and then trim them with black seam tape? You get the contrast, but still good quality light? You can do the trimming at home you would not have to buy them that way.
Just a thought..
p.s. I love thrift store scores! Makes me so happy.

Jessie K August 29, 2013 at 3:51 pm


That sounds so easy and lovely!

sarah August 29, 2013 at 2:00 pm


ive done the fabric cover again and again ..i would keep as is then when you DO get into new place finish the shades after youve done up your walls..but with baby coming just do up the fabric you like..they are so easy to switch out when you get your groove..i love your idea of bright white and or blue shades…blue is calming! and trust me with another kid you NEED calming!

Paula August 29, 2013 at 2:01 pm


I would probably go for clean new shades. They always really give a room a lift. However, I did once paint a lampshade, and that would probably work for the one that is NOT made of strips of fabric. It was the lamp from my husband’s boyhood room and was going to be in a seldom used guestroom. The shade was orange. I painted it with the same white paint I was using on the guestroom walls. It turned out fine and we used it for many years, until a cat broke it.

I love statement lamps. I drool over the table lamp that is like a metal leafy tree branch with a bird on it. Finials are nice too. My house is filled with books and my good living room lamp has a finial that is a tiny stack of books.

Crystal August 29, 2013 at 2:51 pm


I have love, love, loved wool sweater-covered lamps for a long time!

Like this one:

And I can’t wait for my future house, which I also haven’t even found yet, but am constantly planning for anyways!

Christy August 29, 2013 at 4:00 pm


If you like the shape of the shade, it’s probably easiest to paint it. You could always get a snazzy stencil to use if you don’t want a plain shade. I’ve also seen a beautiful shades that were a plain solid color on the outside and the inside of the shade was covered with silver leaf paint.

Annette August 29, 2013 at 6:33 pm


I was ready to tell you of a source for lampshade supplies that I used years ago when I had my own shop but after a little research I found that it is no longer in business. I did find a website about lampshade making and she listed The Lampshop in Concord, NH. If you Google lampshade supplies you can find the site. It is actually pretty simple to make shades using the same wire rings salvaged from old shades. If the shade is a continuous piece it can be removed carefully from the rings and used as a pattern for a new shade. Lampshade paper used to come in several different weights and colors. Large sheets of watercolor paper will work. I keep meaning to make shades again and I still have a good many sheets of lampshade paper. Maybe your post will inspire me to actually follow through. Of course that won’t help you out very much!

Kat August 29, 2013 at 11:11 pm


I’ve done a bunch of fabric shades over the years – the beauty of that option is that for just a few dollars you can create a super funky or really chill shade. And easily change your mind awhile later without breaking the bank.

Jessie K August 30, 2013 at 11:58 am


Maybe I should consider the fabric approach. The more I read about paint, the more nervous I get…especially concerning the lamp with the looser fabric shade.

Linda Wilder August 30, 2013 at 8:19 am


Yeah to you for supporting Habitat!!! Lots of people find awesome stuff there . . . good local support . . . it is a donation, not a splurge. The Habitat stores (BV and Lex) bring in enough cash each year to purchase the materials to build one house for a worthy family . . .so thanks for adding to the total!!

Jessie K August 30, 2013 at 11:57 am


Both my couches came from Habitat (which I had reupholstered). Love that store! Love its purpose!

Meaghan August 30, 2013 at 10:29 am


Oh dear God. We had lamps almost EXACTLY like the one on the right in my house well into the 90s. Nightmare. I have no advice for you, as I would have left them at the store.

Jessie K August 30, 2013 at 11:55 am


That’s pretty much what Jake said when he saw them. What can I say, I like retro style.

kara September 1, 2013 at 12:06 am


I did a fabric cover for a very similar thrift store lamp, and I love it! The secret is spray glue. Spray glue is amazingly fun.

My lamp project:

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