Spray Painting a Lamp In Designer Style

Are you thinking of spray painting a lamp or do you want to paint a lamp you have or found at a thrift store, but don’t know where to start? Learn how to spray paint a lamp and achieve professional results and even make it look like a high-end designer lamp in this post. It is a relatively easy and an inexpensive DIY that will save you money.

serena and lily lamp on nightstand in bedroom photo
Photo: Serena and Lily

When I saw this lamp on the nightstand in the Serena & Lily catalog I loved it, but not the $498 price tag. I like the clean look of the two color dip-dye. The contrasting tones are so simple and fresh. I wanted it for my blue and white guest room.

Serena and Lily Dunmore Lamp
Serena and Lily Dunmore Table Lamp $498.00
Thrift store table lamp and paints on table before getting painted.

So I have been on a search to find one at a thrift store ever since seeing it. After a few months, I found this ceramic lamp in a similar shape at the thrift store for $2.00. Time to get out my paints and make a DIY Serena and Lily dupe.

To make it look like a copycat of the Serena and Lily light, I used spray paint, leftover blue paint and craft store paint.

Serena and Lily copycat table lamp on white table.
Ceramic Lamp Makeover – $2.00 + Paint – $5 + Lampshade – $25 = $32

My Serena and Lily lookalike painted lamp base. Total cost: $32

close up of details on spray painted lamp

The best part of doing DIY projects… you get to be a designer and get exactly the look you want for less. :-)

Blue and white bedroom with completed spray painted lamp inspired by a Serena and Lily table lamp.

I placed my Serena & Lily DIY dupe on one of the nightstands in the blue guest room and couldn’t be happier with the results.

Where To Find Inexpensive Lamps to Paint

I am often asked how and where I find good stuff at thrift stores. I have 2 tips to share with you that you may be overlooking.

  1. I always have items in mind that I want and keep a list. For instance, this lamp. I have been looking for this shape and size ever since I saw the lamp in the decorator catalog. I knew eventually I would find one.
  2. I shop often as you just never know when something will show up. I go once a week. I am in and out of the stores in 5-10 minutes just looking for items on my list.
  3. If you find a lamp you love, but it is not the height you need, consider adding a small riser under the lamp base.

How to Spray Paint Lamps and Add Designer Touches

If you are new to spray painting and would like to learn more about how to spray paint lamps and items with shiny or smooth surfaces, first read my spray painting tips guide. How to troubleshoot common problems when spray painting:

Brush on blue paint being applied to lamp base using a lazy Susan.
Craft paint can be used over the spray painted base.

supplies needed:

  • 1 can white spray paint & primer in one formula – Rustoleum 2X Ultra-Touch Primer +Paint in Gloss White
  • Brush-on paint in a color you like. I used Fusion Mineral Paint: Liberty Blue
  • Gold metallic paint
  • 100 grit sandpaper
  • Painters tape
  • Pencil
  • Wide-bristle paint brush
  • 1/2″ wide flat artist paint brush
  • Damp cloth and dish detergent
  • Flattened cardboard box or drop cloth

Time needed: 1 hour and 15 minutes

How to Paint a Ceramic Lamp Base

  1. Prep Lamp for Paint

    Remove harp and light bulb.

    Sand the parts of the lamp you want to paint with a piece of 100 grit sandpaper.

    This sanding step is especially important on slick shiny surfaces like ceramic, glass, and metal. A quick 5-minute going over with sandpaper is all that is needed to provide some “tooth” that the paint can adhere.

    Clean well with hot sudsy water to make sure all dirt and grease is removed. Rinse well and let dry.

    Thrift store table lamp and paints on table before getting painted.

  2. Mask Off Areas With Painters Tape

    Use painters’ tape to mask off any areas you do not want painted, such as the cord and socket.

    Wind and tie cord with twist tie or rubber band, place inside lamp base if the base is hollow or cover cord with a plastic bag to keep overspray from getting on it.

  3. Set Up Painting Area

    Set up a place to paint and protect the surrounding area while spray painting using a large piece of cardboard or drop cloth outside in your yard or driveway. You can also cover a garage floor and spray with the door open.

    Spray Painting Lamp Tip: If you have a Lazy Susan, cover it with paper to protect it and place on the center of the cardboard.

    Using a Lazy Susan will allow you to easy turn the lamp so you get a nice even coat as you spray the lamp.

    Thrift store lamp set up outside on cardboard ready to be spray painted.

  4. Apply Spray Paint

    When spray painting a lamp, always use a primer or a primer and paint in one first to help the paint adhere better and prevent chipping.

    How many coats of paint should I use on my lamp? A primer coat and two light coats. If using a “Primer and Paint in One” formula, two light coats should provide coverage.

    Shake the paint can well for at least 1 – 2 minutes. Begin spraying the lamp in a light thin coat. Keep the can about 8″ away from the surface and use long strokes – this will provide a very smooth finish.

    Wait about 5 minutes and add add a second light coat. If it needs a third coat, add it within an hour. If after an hour, you will need to wait 48 hours to re-coat. If you re-coat after an hour – the paint may wrinkle. Let dry.

    Dry time will depend on the thickness of the paint coats and the weather conditions.

    Your lamp is finished or continue to add designer touches.

    White spray painted lamp base on work table with paints used next to it.

  5. Mark Base

    When paint is completely dry, use a ruler and pencil to measure and mark where the two colors on lamp will meet. Repeat a few times around the base.

    Pencil marks on lamp base to prepare for paint.

  6. Optional: Add Designer Touches to the Lamp

    Using the pencil marks as a guide, place the painters tape along them. Use your index finger to seal the edges of the tape.

    painted lamp base with painters tape to mask for second color.

  7. Apply 2nd Color

    If painting a lamp with multiple colors, be sure to allow each color to dry completely before adding the next.

    Since I was making a knock-off of the Serena and Lily lamp, I used brush-on paint to achieve subtle brush strokes on the blue section of the base.

    Place on the covered Lazy Susan, load a wide bristle brush with paint and hold the tips of the brush vertically against the lamp, then slowly spin the Lazy Susan.

    If you see a drip, hold the brush vertically and spin the Lazy Susan so the drip and brush stoke blends in.

    Add more paint until the section is covered in one light coat. Let dry, then repeat the painting process.

    Let dry.

    Blue paint being applied to white spray painted lamp base.

  8. Add Metallic Gold Stripe

    Using a 1/2″ wide flat paint brush, paint a metallic gold stripe along the bottom of the lamp base.

    painting gold stripe on bottom of lamp

  9. Optional: Apply Sealer

    How to protect your spray painted lamp from damage. Depending on the look you are after and the sheen of paint you used, you can apply sealer by using Polycrylic water-based sealer. It comes in brush on or in a spray can.

    Use 1 – 2 light coats and let dry.

  10. Put Lamp Parts Back On

    Once your lamp base is painted and dry, carefully remove the painter’s tape, unroll cord, replace harp and light bulb and attach lampshade.

    Enjoy your beautiful lamp with its new look.

    Serena and Lily copycat table lamp on white table.

If You Need to Buy a Lamp Shade for Your Painted Lamp

If you need to buy a new lamp shade, finding fabric lamp shades in the size and shape may take some shopping around. I find that Walmart, Home Depot and Lowes have the best and most affordable selection of lamp shades that you can buy separately.

If you need to buy a harp for the shade, the best place to find all sizes and metal finishes on a budget is online on Amazon.

What is the Best Paint for Lamps

You can successfully use just about any paint when you want to up-cycle a lamp, piece of furniture or decorative accessories that are handed down or a thrift store find.

Blue and white bedroom with painted table lamp on nightstand.

The key to getting a smooth long-lasting finish on spray painted lamps is by prepping the surface first no matter if the lamp is made of wood, ceramic, metal, glass, brass: Sand, clean, use a primer and apply paint in light coats.

Paints To Consider Using When Painting Lamps

How to select the best spray paint for your lamp project. I have tried many brands and formulas of spray paint from epoxy, appliance and enamel spray paints, they all work fine. Brands I have used and liked:


My favorite spray paint for lamps that never fails is:

Keep An Eye Out For Lamps to Paint

I like to copycat or DIY home decor dupes from high end interior design stores that look similar to expensive items for my home, but that will cost way less.

If you’re on a budget and love decorating and need a new lamp for your home, keep an eye out at thrift stores and yard sales for a lamp with a similar shape as any lamp can be painted.  

Serena and Lily Kingston Lamp

Now I am on the look out to find a thrift store lamp with a shape like this $498.00 Kingston Lamp from Serena and Lily for a space in my house. :-) It will be my next spray paint project.

More Lamp Makeovers Ideas You May Like

Blue and white decorated bedroom. Text overlay says - Serena & Lily $498 table lamp for $32

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  1. Yours looks better than the original! So awesome!

  2. This is so great!

    I think you could make your own base for the new inspiration lamp by placing an upside down basket planter on top of a painted wood bowl. I love trying to figure out how to make dupes and love your posts sharing what you have done!

    Thank you!!

  3. Wow. That looks fantastic!! I’ll be heading to thrift stores soon.

  4. Missy Noonan says:

    Great post! Now I have this lamp shape on my thrift list! Love what you did with it!

  5. You did a great job on the lamp!

  6. Love it!
    And you upcycled so even better.

  7. What a great DIY! Looks fantastic!

  8. Oh Diane! Your lamp is lovely and an exact dupe of the Serena and Lily one!! I love your tutorials. So clear and concise. Thanks for another great project idea!!

  9. I’m totally on the hunt for a lamp to try this DIY on. Please, the list of places to find shades at, are those in store or online? I need a new shade for a thrifted lamp and this info is 👌

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Dianne – The lamp shades are in store. It is hard to buy shades online as you just never know how they will look. It is best to actually take the lamp with you so you can try a few to find the best shape, size and style for your lamp.

  10. Hi Diane
    Absolutely beautiful!
    Linda from Macungie

  11. It looks just like the overpriced lamp! You are so creative, I would never think to make my own lamp! Great job! You continue to inspire me!

  12. The DIY lamp looks fantastic! A tremendous savings.

  13. You did such a nice job!!!
    Give yourself a pat on
    your back.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Great transformation project on duplicating your Serena & Lily dupe!! Thanks for the detailed instructions. I have been looking for a pair of ceramic lamp bases to paint for our master bedroom. No luck yet, but this is timely and gives me hope and inspiration

  15. Yours looks amazing, and you would NEVER know it is a knock off! Way to go!

  16. Perfect! You always seem to find the best items!!

    I have a copper lamp than my mother made using a wooden base and copper foil. I replaced the workings of the lamp and found a new lampshade. The only problem is that the shade fits over the socket and is just a bit too large. Plus the socket it a bit wobbly in the lamp so everything is always crooked. Any suggestions on how to fix this?

  17. Love this! Love Serena and Lily so much, just not the prices. But this is a great idea to get the look at a lower price point.

  18. That lamp looks amazing!

  19. It’s beautiful! You nailed this one. Great store find and great Serena & Lily dupe. Good luck finding that next lamp.