A Pretty Paris Piece: Here’s How to Transform a Lamp

Spring is a magical season in Greater Washington as things blossom and flourish.  A walk or ride around the neighborhoods, and you are likely to see flowering trees, colorful gardens, and cheerful people.  Washington, DC’s layout was created by Frenchman Pierre L’Enfant, so it’s no surprise our beloved city feels like Paris at times with its broad avenues, traffic circles, and green public spaces.  Therefore, now is the perfect time to use the colors you see around you while tapping into our city’s design by creating a Paris-inspired piece using Goodwill finds. 

Inspired by the City of Lights, Paris’ nickname, this charming lamp had lots going for it before it was upcycled. Some French flair took it from fine to “fantastique.”  It is now truly blooming!

Here’s How:

1.      See the light at Goodwill

Among the treasures you will find when you shop at Goodwill are great lamp bases and shades.  Floor lamps, desk lights, and those for bedside tables are often in abundance there.  The charming lamp featured in this week’s blog had a ceramic pink base and wire flower petals as part of its design.  Viola—into my cart, it went!

If you see a lamp base you like yet aren’t feeling the colors, pick it up anyway because spray paint is a super simple solution. 

While in that section of the Goodwill store, see what lamp shades are for sale, too.  Some lamps come complete with shades (always my ideal) and for really great prices (we all love that!).  The shade on this piece was actually gifted to me by a neighbor, so it was a match made in upcycling heaven.  And like the advice about the lamp base, you can always tweak a shade to make it reflect your unique style and design as you will read among the steps here.

2.      Protect its parts before painting

The metal parts of this flowery lamp base were worn out and weathered, so spray paint came to its rescue.  Use painter’s tape to cover and protect any lamp parts you want to keep paint-free.  A plastic grocery bag was cut in two; the cord was wrapped up and placed inside.  Painter’s tape held it in place; be sure to add tape to the section of the cord coming out of your lamp, too.  The other half of the bag covered the lamp’s socket and also was secured with helpful painter’s tape.  The pink ceramic part was given a layer, too, to keep it looking fresh. 

3.      Spray on some shimmer

Put your taped-up and protected lamp outside on a drop cloth.  A shiny metallic gold paint was lightly sprayed on all exposed parts, giving this worn-out piece some instant shimmer and shine.  Based on your lamp’s design, you might need to set it on its side to ensure all parts you want painted get a light layer or two.

After the paint dries, carefully remove the painter’s tape and plastic bags from all parts. This part is always exciting because you can see how paint can transform an item with just a couple of sprays.

4.      Shine up your shade

While this lamp already looked much better with a refreshed base and a standard white shade, consider taking things to the next level. One idea is to pick up a glittery Eiffel Tower statue and glue it on top of the shade. 

Use quick-drying epoxy glue to hold it very securely in place by adding glue to the tower’s base.  Each base part was glued on the shade’s metal cross-support wires.  An instant pop of pizzaz that will add sparkle then you turn on the light. 

However, why stop there, right? 

The white shade looked nice AND a little too tame for my taste.  To compliment the curved wire petals on the lamp base and connect them to the shade, gold paint was brushed on in the same curvy, arched look.  Since I had six base petals, I wanted to have six painted petals on the shade.  I used a tape measure to map them out; painter’s tape was placed as a marker.  The gold spray paint was sprayed in an old box then a craft brush was used to apply it to the shade.  The design made the lamp feel very one-of-a-kind, and its gold shimmers during the day and adds visual interest when turned on at night.

5.      Go with the flow and add a flower or two

Keeping with the flowering base and Spring-time theme, consider accessorizing your lamp and shade with silk blooms. Goodwill often has silk arrangements for sale that you can easily take apart and reuse, like was done here. Amongst my collection of silk flowers, I found some pink ones with glitter accents, which helped to connect the pink base, gold paint, and sparkling Eiffel Tower. 

Use your glue gun to thoughtfully adhere the flowers to your shade and the base. At each painted petal point, a bloom was glued into place. Three were added to the base to bring it all together. Tres magnifique!

6.      Set it, stage it, celebrate it—and YOU

This oh-so-charming flowering lamp will add cheer to your space and heart.  Put on a side table and add a vase of flowers.  Position it on your favorite easy chair.  Then, put up your feet and sip your tea (or champagne!) to toast our transformational talents!

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Tim Kime

Artist, Motivational Speaker, Life Coach

Tim Kime is an artist, life coach, and connector. He is the President of Kime Leadership Associates, offering executive coaching, meeting facilitating, and motivational speaking. He is also the Chief Creative Force of Transformation Junkies which upcycles furniture and other household items into functional works of art. He combined his two passions—unleashing the potential in people and transforming items with the launch of the Art of Possibilities Workshops. These workshops are part upcycling, part dreaming, and part goal setting.