Transformation: Update Brass Lamps


Last week I was a speaker at 2 sessions at the Haven conference in Atlanta. I spoke with two other bloggers, Brittany from Pretty Handy Girl and Mandy from Vintage Revivals.  Before each session we each told a little bit about ourselves and a description of our blog and style. I said that I am all about affordable and thrifty decor that I sometimes create using a different method other than the norm – a bit of improvising to get the look I desire on a dime.

The project I am posting today is one of these types of projects… where I use a method that isn’t mainstream DIY, but one that works all the same.

I have been making over my bedroom and needed to update the brass lamps. They are polished brass swing arm lamps – one on each side of the bed.

I like brass, but the polished brass on the lamps looked a bit dated.  The latest brass trends are slightly brushed and are not so yellow. My lamps were in perfect working order, so instead of buying new, I transformed them and didn’t even have to pick up a paint brush.

All I did was use sandpaper to remove the polished look.

How to Update Polished Brass to Brushed Brass without Paint:

supplies needed:  100 grit sandpaper  |  Hand sanding block

All I did was rub sandpaper over the surface in one direction only. This is very important. You don’t just want to rub the sandpaper any which way – only in one direction so the scratch marks resemble a brushed metal finish.  I used vertical strokes – long strokes on the flat parts and short strokes on the detailed areas.


After is on the left. Before on the right.

  • I kept the sandpaper flat and pressed hard so that it would leave long scratch marks in the surface of the brass.
  • To get brush/scratch marks into the crevices, I folded a small piece of sandpaper and ran in up and down the crevices.  I had to use a few folded pieces since the sandpaper wore out quickly
  • For the rounded areas, I used the sanding block and moved it like I was playing the violin around the arm and light bulb socket area.


Close up – After and before


For the cost of a sheet of sandpaper and 15 minutes of my time, my brass swing-arm lamps are updated. I know they are not perfect, but I don’t need perfect – I am very happy with how they came out.


Decorating Tip:  Swing-Arm lamps are perfect for bedtime reading since they don’t take up any space on your night table.  I also like that you can move them around to get just the right light no matter how you are sitting or lying on the bed.

Have you done any “improvised” projects lately?

Want to age brass?  Check out this post on how to do it.

How to age brass



Sharing with: Living Well Spending Less


  1. Kim says

    Thank you so much for sharing this idea. I would have never thought of it. I used this technique on a brass lamp that we were not using anymore because it was too bright of a brass and it worked great. I am now putting the lamp in our family room. Thanks again.

  2. Phyllis says

    I love this idea and the way your lamps turned out! Are they real brass or just brass-plated? Now I wish I hadn’t donated mine to the local thrift store, LOL! Do you think this idea might work well with brass-framed fireplace glass doors? I don’t think they are real brass. I was debating about painting them with high-heat spray paint, but if comes in very limited colors (only black and white, I believe!_) and this would be much, much easier–I wouldn’t even have to take them off the fireplace. What do you think?


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