Thursday, August 1, 2013

How to Pick a Thrift Store Lamp

Almost every single lamp I own in my apartment has been thrifted in some form or fashion.   The one next to my bed is an old brass/brass look alike lamp I bought at SAM (Spring Assistant Ministry), which I highly suggest, and sprayed painted oil rubbed bronze with a burlap lampshade on it.  It is probably one of my favorite lamps I have ever done.  I have a wooden one I found at Goodwill and have repainted and have it on my desk and then the ones in my living room were old brass lamps my parents had in their bed room and gave to me to spray paint again oil rubbed bronze.  To be honest I am not wild about the ones in my living room but hey they were free.  This post is about how to pick a good thrift store lamp and how to redo them so they fit your style and save you money! 
 Like I said I rarely buy a lamp from an actual store unless its a good price and well worth it.  Here is how I pick my lamps when I go to a thrift store.  
 1. Do not worry about what color it is or how it looks right now! You are going to paint it and add a new lamp shade not one those old accordion style one that it most likely comes with, YUCK!!! A great example of this is this lamp right here.  It is a way outdated hunter green lamp but that does not matter! You are not buying these lamps for their color
2.  Look at the shape!!! The one above might be hideous but it has a decent shape and might look good once its painted.  I have bought several lamps in the past few years that people are like umm Maegen that is hideous and I am like oh I know that's why I love it!!! The uglier, the better it is the cheaper it is ;) Here is a great example of UGLY, UGLY lamps but ones with good shape.  
They cost me about twenty bucks together
 This is how they turned out!!! Much, MUCH better! One and a half cans of oil rubbed bronze and they are 100% better! 

3. SIZE!!! Now a days the bigger the better! The pictures above give a great example of how a big base will look really good especially when its the only thing on an end table or night stand. 

Here is a bad example for size and shape.  They will not really add anything to your home decor.  

 4. Lamp Shades! I rarely, I mean rarely buy a lamp shade at a thrift store.  I believe I have only ever bought one except for the ones the lamps might come with.  Yes you can try and recover lampshades but in my experience that is harder than people on Pinterest make it look! Mines have come apart because of the heat and well frankly a small lamp shade will run you about ten bucks and you do not have to fuss with the recovering process! Now if you want to know where I buy my lamp shades the answer would be it depends. If I want a burlap lamp shade my new favorite store is Kirklands they sell three different colors online so you have to pay for shipping unless you are lucky like I was and get free shipping.  They run about 15 bucks and are a great size! Here is a picture of one of them on my new lamp

Other stores I like for lamp shades would be Target and World Market. Depending on the one you like you are looking at around 10-30 dollars a piece.  Let's face it the most expensive part to any lamp is the lamp shade.  So shop around! Use coupons! Do your research! And if you are really brave then try and recover one.  

Now that I have given you my tips on how to pick a lamp let me give you a few tips on how to spray paint them! 
1. Be patient! Yes anyone who knows me, knows I am not patient.  I swear that's the hardest part for me when doing any project! Here is an example of me not being patient and what happens.  

 2. Buy a good spray paint! Kylon works well and so does Rustoleum.  Now I would suggest a gloss or high gloss finish for your lampsThey look better with a glossy finish and don't look like you did it your self.  
3. Use short fluid movements when you spray paint.  Be sure to not concentrate in one area too long or you will get runs like the one above.  I suggest 3-4 light coats for it to be fully coated.  
4. Once a coat dries tilt your lamp so you can get a different angle on it and cover every single spot.  Trust me NOTHING is more frustrating than thinking your finished painting your lamp, in the heat of Texas summer, to find out you missed some spots because of not getting every angle
5. If you are working with a glass or porcelain lamp base be sure to lightly sand it with sandpaper that is at least 180 or 220 grit. The finer the better you do not want to leave marks but just to scuff it up so the paint will stick.  You might also want to use a primer for the porcelain but for my glass one I did not need it. Be sure you wipe it down again before you paint it or else you will have a mess on your hands. 
6. If you want to be sure you don't get any overspray on your cords or the part where you screw the light bulb in cover it up with painters tape.
7. Do not be afraid to use color! I love colored lamps they add a pop of color to a room and if done right are a great accent piece! 

WHEEWWW That had to be the longest post I have written to date! I hope you find all these tips to be helpful and informative.  Do not be disappointed if you do not find the type of lamp you are looking for at the first thrift shop you come to, keep searching  you will find a gem eventually! Happy thrifting (Cue Thrift Shop by Macklemore, "I'm going to pop some tags I've got only twenty dollars in my pocket")