How To Update a Brass Light Fixture and Spray Painting Trick

I have been itching…itching to update a few things in my kitchen – mostly to update a brass light fixture that hangs over my table. I have put most of my plans for this room on hold, but I need a few small projects to do in between the bigger ones that I still have to tackle in my studioffice. I figured why not start. This is a simple spray paint transformation to the light that hangs above my kitchen table.

Here is my inspiration photo. I love these lights.  They are simple and classic, yet a bit unique.   The light fixture in my kitchen is not quite the same, but I knew I could spray paint the brass on mine white to start giving my kitchen the light and airy feel I am after.

Dream kitchen

Source: Tumbler



When I decorated this kitchen, shiny brass was popular.   I like the warmth of gold over silver, bronze, or black, but a muted gold – not shiny anymore.  I want to add more white with color pops and less black to the room. The chairs around the table have a history. They were green when I bought them, then I glazed them yellow – then I sprayed them black about 6 years ago. Each transformation lasted a few years until I tired of it or they looked beat up.   I  am not sure what color they will be next, but I will make my decision soon.

Painted Kitchen Cabinets

The hardest part of the project was taking the light down and putting it back up. I asked my hubby to do that.  He had in down it a few minutes.

How to paint a brass light

I was going to spray paint it outside since I have been banned from spray painting in the garage since I unintentionally spray painted our cars, but I didn’t want any bugs to land on it while it dried as well as it looked like rain.  I ended up setting up a spray booth in my basement using a big box I got in the dumpster behind my local dollar store. (They always have nice clean boxes).  I have been a little too cavalier in my spray painting ways –no more over-spray on surrounding objects – like cars. Back to good spray painting practices.

Here is a mini version of a simple spray painting booth – actually a box, but that is what we called it in display – a spray booth.

-Get a box to accommodate the item to be sprayed.  If you spray paint a lot, get a big box that will accommodate all sizes. When not in use- flatten the box to store it.

-Place your item on a piece of foam. If your object doesn’t have a flat bottom, use toothpicks, Popsicle sticks, whatever to raise it up so that you can easy move the piece your spraying without actually touching it. I used foam and a Popsicle stick to hold this clock top up.  This way you can move the piece easily by picking up the foam and not the actual object to turn it around so that you get all sides equally covered with spray paint.  Pebble style foam that comes packed in boxes around TV’s and knock down furniture  works the best as the spray paint doesn’t melt it.  STYROFOAM style foam will melt if the spray paint is applied very close to the surface.  Using light coats of paint will lessen any melting of the foam.  I use my blocks a few times and then throw them out once they start melting away.



How To Use Spray Paint to Get a Glossy Finish On Metal

Here are a few tips and the steps I took to get a smooth glossy finish over the brass parts on my light.

-First wash and dry the brass to get all the dust off.

-Have a tack cloth handy. They sell them in all paint departments as well as in craft stores. It is just cheesecloth that is very sticky.  It wipes across the surface to be painted to pick up any dust and dirt.  Great invention – if you want a nice finish on any painted piece – use a tack cloth between each coat.

-Shake, Shake, Shake…and then shake some more. When spray painting always shake the can well before spraying the paint. If you are working on a large piece – shake it every few minutes as you are painting.

-Think “light” – light coats every time you spray. Heavy coats will just run and ruin your piece.

-Be patient – let each coat dry thoroughly before applying the next. If you reapply spray paint over still tacky or a wet coat you risk blistering the paint and ruining your piece.

– Since you can’t scratch up the surface on a piece of smooth metal like this light to help the paint adhere – spray on a coat of metal primer first to help the paint adhere.   Let it dry thoroughly before applying paint.

– Wear a paint mask to help lessen breathing in the paint fumes.  If you spray paint a lot  – get a good one.  Hardware and home improvement stores have a few to choose from.

1. Spray a light coat of spray paint in a glossy formula over the object you are working on. Let it dry thoroughly.  Before applying the next coat, check to make sure no dust or bugs have landed on the surface. If they have just use your fingernail to gently remove them and smooth over the areas with your finger, then go over the surface with a tack cloth.

2. Keep adding light coats of spray paint evenly around the piece and let each coat fully dry before applying the next coat.  I did about 5 coats to get the high gloss finish all over.

My light now looks like it has a right-from-the-factor- finish.

How to paint a brass light


While the light was down and I was waiting for paint to dry, I took the chain cover apart that I had made for the light previously.  I sewed the fabric into a long sleeve to cover the chain.  The previous one was made using a method that doesn’t require removing the light fixture from the ceiling.  You can find out how I made that one here – How to Make a Chandelier Chain Cover

I have the best hubs. I asked him if he could please hang it before it got dark so I could take photos of it.  He hung it back it up with no complaints and then while I was taking these photos – he was over at the kitchen island standing to eat his dinner. Thanks honey XO

Brass Lamp Makeovers

How to Spray paint a brass light





  1. says

    It looks great, Diane! Yikes on the spray paint on the cars. That is always a fear I have ~ my husband would kill me. I usually wait and spray paint in the garage when he is at work {and didn’t carpool that day} and I put mine outside on the driveway. I don’t really have anywhere else to do it now. In our old house I used to go out in the yard.

  2. says

    Just recently found your blog, and I love it! I also love your light. Now I want one like it. I need to adhere to these spray-painting do’s and don’t’s. I never wear a mask, and I have asthma. Thanks for reminding me.

  3. says

    My daughter “accidentally” painted my wicker chair. Unfortunately it was one of the good chairs. Sigh! I guess I have to paint both of them another color. There is too much “junk” in the garage to paint. Luckily I have a huge yard to paint in. My big issue is the trees. In case you need to know, I know what to do if your trees get painted. We got vandalized and have to fix my trees. You use metal brushes to clean the tree, then paint it with mud. This won’t hurt the bark and the mud will stain the tree the right color. I haven’t tried it yet and hoping to get a bunch of teens to help out. I’m hoping a pizza party will be incentive enough, never mind all the time I’m the neighborhood chauffeur. :)

  4. Linda Southworth says

    Diane, your light fixture turned out perfect! Nice to revamp an item and it feel almost new again. Now I am looking forward to the chairs revamp. I hope you post on that as well. I have kitchen chairs I am ready to renew but unsure of the painted seat. I am afraid the paint will just wear off with daily use. I bet you have a tried and true method for this. Happy painting!

    • says

      Hi Linda – the seats on my kitchen chairs are oak and I haven’t painted that part – only the top and bottoms. I have however painted many chair seats and they don’t wear away that fast. The key is to make sure 1. You sand well and prime each seat with a gripping primer. 2. Use a good quality paint and apply it in light coats – letting each one dry before applying the next. Once it is dry you can seal it with non-yellowing polyurethane. Another option would be to use Chalk Paint and age the chairs to begin with – so that whatever abuse they take it will look like the style of the chair :)

    • Linda Southworth says

      I will get brave here soon and tackle the chairs. Thanks for the instruction! I first have to finish painting the living room but its almost done. Finish one and add two more projects!

  5. says

    Beautiful! Really, they look brand new! Spray paint can work miracles and you’ve got the technique down to an art!

    • says

      Hi Robin – Thanks – I have spray painted more things in my life than most. When I first worked in display, I was the go-fer and sent to the roof of the store to spray paint. I would come back down and another person would hand me a piece they needed for another display and back up I went with a new can of paint. I used to come home and tell my husband that my title should be “spray-painter”.

  6. Pam form Louisville says

    You light looks factory perfect. I have pinned this on Pinterest so it’s at my finger tips to use later this week. Thanks

  7. Shar says

    Wow – very nice. I love how you reinterpret the high end items with a simple DIY! I always enjoy your projects — you have inspired me to do many DIY’s in my home. Thank you!
    Curious about spray painting on foam — the one time I used it as a steady base, the spray paint melted the styrafoam and I had a gooky mess on my kitchen knobs that the foam was propping up. You don’t have this problem?
    Thanks again for all the inspiration! Thanks for sharing your ideas.

    • says

      Hi Shar –

      Good question. Some foam does melt away when spray paint hits it – STYROFOAM brand does this. I save the foam blocks that pad TV’s, and knock-down furniture to protect the item in the box. This foam is made by compressed little pebbles of foam. It does not melt as much. If the foam melted away for you – you may have been applying the paint too heavy. Light coats sprayed over the object may not melt the foam as fast or at all. I will add this to the post so readers know to use the pebble style foam. Thanks for bringing it up. :)

      • Sheryll & Critters. says

        Diane, I was wondering if she covered the foam with freezer paper it would keep the foam safe? Since I have not tried this yet, I don’t really say it will work, but was wondering.

  8. says

    Great DIY redo! One of my own mottos is “Never underestimate the power of a can of spray paint!” :-)

    It always amazes me how people pass up wonderful light fixtures (or many things for that matter) at thrift stores/garage sales because it’s the wrong color. A little spray paint and patience, and they could have a wonderful “new” piece.

    I’m excited to see what your chairs will look like too!

  9. Sheryll & Critters. says

    Oh, I think the all white is just gorgeous! I am the same way about chrome… I have never cared for chrome. Many years ago my daddy bought me a round dinette table with four chairs and all the legs were chrome, but the vinyl chairs seats and backs were black with brown on the back and the table a semi darker wood veneer. I left the brown, the wood, the black trim around the table, but spray painted all the legs black and it looked so much more expensive. Or so I thought. lol

    I have a question. My little daddy Poodle chewed the cross legs of my table chairs and they are not real wood. I am not doing well at all on trying to sand them smooth…. got any tips for ‘fixing’ them?????

    Also I have a tip. Do NOT ever leave a bottle of Future Floor Wax anywhere on a table. Be sure to put it away behind a cabinet door. I thought I had the lid mashed down and a kitty kat knocked it over and it leaked out all over one of my expensive coffee tables… I have yet to be able to sand that stuff off or even get it somewhat smooth to even think about painting them. Of course I did not notice the spill for about two days later.

    • says

      Hi Sheryll – I know the type of furniture you are talking about. It just crumbles away when you sand it. Perhaps you could glue wood moulding over the existing piece and then paint all of it the same color. If you did this on all of the chairs the molding would look like an integral part of the chairs.

      • Sheryll & Critters. says

        Oh thank you so much Diane. I knew you would have the answer for my delimna. You have been so much help to me so many times. I really do appreciate you. I wonder if folks realize what a diamond you are to us?

    • says

      Since I want a light and bright look to my kitchen I am probably going to do the same thing that I did to the light above my table. I would have taken them both down at the same time, but I wanted to make sure we still had light at night if it took longer than expected to paint them.

  10. says

    I love how they turned out! I like these better than any of the fixtures provided at regular hardware stores like Home Depot or Lowes.

  11. Anne Kinsey says

    Thanks Diane!!
    This is a great How To and just in time. I have an old (originally brass I think) from my grandparents homestead. It’s been rewired and I’ve been itching to spruce it up and actually let people see it.
    Your lamps look great! Thanks for all your great ideas.
    I recently covered a lampshade. My husband decided it was so faded, he threw it out. Could not find anything close to that. Visited a local thrift place and found the right size for $1.00. Covered it in fabric and some trim I had and it’s perfect!! Thanks also for your instructions on lampshades.
    Looking forward to more great ideas!!

  12. Anne Kinsey says

    OopS!! I have an old floor lamp. It’s really OLD but I neglected to tell you what!!

  13. says

    Your lamps look great! Just as good if not better than the inspiration photos :) Thanks for the the painting tips, you crack me up about painting the cars! I thought I was bad! I got the dog once, and always overspray the newspaper I lay down and have all these squares of overspray on my back patio ;)

  14. Lisa says

    Diane, I LOVE IT!!! Is there a way to do this successfully with door knobs? Or maybe tarnish them in some way? All my door knobs are brass:( Lisa

    • says

      Hi Lisa – Yes you can spray paint brass door knobs the same way. They will eventually wear since hands are constantly touching them, but if you spray them the right way – the paint will wear and not peel off. I have seen a few bloggers successfully spray paint all their doorknobs in oil rubbed bronze. They look great. Clean the knobs well to get all grease and fingerprint build up off. Then spray a few light light coats to build the paint gradually – let each one dry, before applying the next. This will lessen the chance of peeling. Once they are up, they will gradually wear in spots – if that happens – you would need to do a light touch up. There are many metal toned spray paints on the market now to choose from. Chrome – oil rubbed bronze, etc. Rustoleum makes quite a few.

  15. Cussot says

    Lovely job on the light! And I can sure attest to spray paint blistering if you don’t wait long enough between coats. I’ve had it happen time and again. I guess I’m too impatient or maybe I just like sanding off ruined paint finishes a whole lot.

  16. Becky says

    Thanks for your blog and this entry, Diane. I had been meaning to spray paint our brass fixtures but hadn’t yet gotten around to it. Fortunately, your blog entry came up in the Google search.

    The one little glitch I had (my bad) is that I used an old carboard box as my spray box. But I forgot to dust it out first and ended up picking off cat hair from my newly sprayed items. At least it was just the primer. And the spray-painted cobwebs in the corners looked kinda cool.

    I have special ordered brushed nickel spray paint from the hardware store…so it’ll be another week before I get the final result.

  17. Marco says

    Hi Diane,
    The light came out perfectly. I’m just starting to restore a few items and my first project is 15 lights. The only thing is, I am unsure what material they are, be it brass, copper or steel. Would you know if there is a way to differentiate? Any advice much appreciated.
    Warm regards,

    • says

      Hi Marco – I am no expert in this, but have cleaned quite a bit of metal and these are just my observations. Brass and steel are much harder metals than copper, so if a piece bends or is dented – it is probably copper. Copper ages with a red tinge, while brass ages golden brown and may even have some turquoise oxidation on it. Steel looks more gray black with age. The best thing to do is to use a basic metal polish – one made for most metals. Apply it to one small area to expose the metal to see the color. Also if you use brass polish on say steel and nothing is happening – it is probably not brass. Play around with the pieces and different cleaners and polishes. I am sure if you did a Google search asking the question – an actual test to determine the difference may turn up.

      • drew says

        If a magnet sticks to it, it’s neither copper nor brass, thus steel… copper is much softer than brass… if you scratch it it will gouge… brass will only scratch… brass looks more gold, where copper is a reddish tint.

  18. Barbara Shaw says

    We have remodeled a house built in the early 60’s, old brick, large front porch, traditional style, chrome faucets. We used some things we loved and had collected, and now I have collection of brass fictures,a couple of oiled bronze, some in the same room with gold picture frames and/or with the chrome fauets. I am happy with this some what, but is there anything that I can do about it. I am very fashion minded . I realize that I love some of these things because they were given to me, or I have found them and just really like them !! I can’t change the faucets !!!

    • says

      Hi Barbara – You should know that you are not alone in your dilemma. It is a very common one as homeowners update homes they often times can’t do it all at one time, so they have a mix of finishes. It is totally OK and if you look closely as high end decorating magazines – often times the finishes are all different. The homes featured in these mags are more eclectic and have more personality. They are not cookie cutter decor mags where the decor is perfectly matched.

      To make the mix of finishes work in your home is to make it like you did it intentionally. Add more metals to the room in the way of a gold vase and a chrome bowl filled with fruit. This will allow the eye to see the finishes around the room and balance the mix of finishes throughout each room and space. I hope this makes sense. Happy decorating XO

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