Painted & rewored lamp - after

Southwest lamp base - before

Jill Rosenwald lamp

Inspired by Jill Rosenwald's gorgeous lamps found at mainecottage.com

My friend Julie Chai (watch her videos here) at Sunset magazine gave me this lamp base as a project. Southwest isn’t my style, plus it had rusty hardware and a tattered, taped cord. I adore Jill Rosenwald’s lamps from Maine Cottage, but they’re out of my price range. So I decided to rewire and paint this table lamp instead. I got a bit carried away with all the flowers (in eight different shades of green/blue), but it was so darn fun! All the supplies I had on hand, which would make the lamp practically free—except I got soaked on the $50 lampshade. It still beats $425, though. In the end, my favorite part was the super inexpensive DIY round finial.

How to rewire and paint a table lamp

Supplies

  • ceramic lamp base
  • lampshade — I found mine at Lamps Plusicon
  • various house paint samples
  • water-based primer
  • 1 small sheet of felt
  • 1 sheet of cover stock paper
  • light socket & cord—or lamp kit — available at OSH
  • 1-1/4-inch wooden head bead  — 4-pack for $1 at Jo-Ann
  • clear spray lacquer
  • drop cloth or newspaper
  • scrap piece of wood & a nail
  • craft glue — I used Aleene’s Tacky Glue
  • button lamp finial — like this one

Tools

  • foam paint brush
  • small paint brushes
  • screwdriver
  • scissors
  • pencil & mars plastic eraser

Disassemble the light fixture

1. First unplug the lamp. Remove and discard the bottom felt piece (if it’s still attached), cut the cord, and disassemble the light fixture. Remember how to reassemble the pieces. Set them aside.

Primer coat

2. Paint two coats of primer onto the base. Let dry 15 minutes between coats.

Base coats

3. Apply two coats of your base color paint. (I custom mixed this color green.) For the finial: Hammer a nail into a scrap piece of wood, then place the wooden bead in the nail to paint it. (Thanks to Highjumpgirl for this suggestion.) Prime and paint the bead as above.

Sketch your design

4. When the paint has completely dried, lightly sketch your design onto the lamp base.

Paint the design onto the lamp

5. Using your smaller brushes, paint over your sketch. I used ten different shades of blues and greens in my design—spare paints I had on hand. You can use acrylics from an art store or samples from a paint store. When the paint is completely dry, erase any wayward pencil marks.

Clear topcoat

6. Spray two coats of clear lacquer over the painted base and finial. Let dry 15 minutes between coats.

lamp-making kit

7. Rewire the lamp, replacing any necessary parts. I replaced the light socket and cord, but reused the rest of the original hardware. The directions are on the back of your lamp kit. Two of my original hardware pieces were rusted, so I removed the loose rust with a wire brush and spray-painted them silver.

Rewired lamp

8. String the cord and hardware through the lamp. Assemble the pieces per the directions. Make sure you tie the cord in a knot inside the hole at the base of the lamp to prevent the cord from accidentally being yanked out. Insert the harp into the harp bottom.

Make a pattern for the felt

9. Trace the base of the lamp onto a piece of card stock.

Felt and card stock for the base

10. Cut out the card stock and felt the same size. Glue the circles together. Let dry, then glue them—felt side facing out—to the base of your lamp. Let dry.

Hand painted finial

11. Insert the metal finial into the hole at the bottom of your wooden bead. Press them tightly together. The fit should be snug enough that no glue is required.

Tha back of the lamp

12. Attach the shade and finial, then flip the switch. Let there be light!