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Thrift Store Table Lamp Makeover

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A thrift store table lamp makeover for $31 to look like one sold in decorating catalogs for $250.

I have been wanting a new table lamp for the console table behind my sofa, that has been in the room for the past few years.

I still like the table lamp and will use it in the foyer now that I switched out a small sideboard with a larger dresser in that space.

4 table lamps on display at a Pottery Barn store.

For the living room, I wanted a larger scale lamp, a handcrafted earthenware style with simple lines like these I recently found at Pottery Barn.

I love these table lamps, but not the $250 – $350 price tags.

Mcgee and Co white handcrafted ceramic lamp

I also love this table lamp from McGee & Co, but not for $350.

Thrift store lamp before getting made over
Table Lamp BEFORE Makeover

Instead, I searched for a thrift store table lamp in a similar scale and shape and found this one for $9. Not so pretty?

But with a little DIY, I transformed it to look more like the lamps currently being sold in decorating stores/catalogs.

DIY makeover of an ugly table lamp. After image of the newly transformed lamp on a sofa table.
Table Lamp AFTER Makeover

I couldn’t be happier with how my thrift store table lamp makeover turned out. I bought a new white lamp shade that brought the total cost of the makeover to $31!

How to Makeover a Thrift Store Table Lamp

Transforming a thrift store or any ugly table lamp to look more like a handcrafted textured ceramic or earthenware lamp is quite easy using lightweight Spackle. The process was like icing a cake. It took about an hour of time actually working on it, but it won’t be complete for a day or two as you have to wait for drying time between coats.

The same technique I used for the lamp can be done on any object – like vases, jugs, planters and more.

Using regular Spackle would have made the lamp heavy to pick up.

supplies needed:

Time needed: 2 days.

How to Transform a Thrift Store Lamp to Look Like It Came From a Decorating Catalog

  1. Prepare Surface

    Clean surface with detergent and hot water. Rinse well and let dry.

    Spray one light coat of spray primer on surface. Let dry.

    how to spray paint a lamp base

  2. Apply Spackle

    Using a Spackle knife, spread a thin coat of Spackling over the surface of the lamp making sure to get into any recessed areas.

    Let dry.
    Close up of spreading Spackle over base of thrift store lamp.

  3. Apply Another Coat of Spackle

    If needed, apply a second coat of Spackle to ensure there is an even coat over the entire surface.

    Let dry for about 20 minutes.

    Adding a layer of Spackle to a thrift store lamp to transform it so it looks like one from Pottery Barn

  4. Apply a Water Wash

    About 20 minutes after applying the second coat, dip a 2″ – 3″ wide paint brush in water. Lightly brush it over the Spackled surface to smooth out Spackle.

    Let dry.

    Brush water over Spackle to smooth it on lamp.

  5. Sand Surface

    When the surface is completely dry, use 220 grit sandpaper over the surface to smooth it and remove any ridges or bumpy areas.

    Sanding block to smooth spackle on lamp

  6. Optional – Add Felt Protector to Bottom of Base

    Cut a round piece of felt to fit the bottom of the base to use to protect your table.

    How to make a protective felt bottom for a table lamp

  7. Variations for the Finish

    I chose to keep my lamp mostly white to look like the lamp that inspired me from McGee & Co. This is only one variation you can do.

    I did not seal the finish, at least for now. If I do, I will use a matte or flat water-based sealer.

    You can add a thin layer of liquid glaze mixture with any color paint to make a transparent color finish. When this is rubbed into the surface and then wiped away, the nooks and crannies of the Spackled surface show up more.

    You can do the same thing with dark wax used to seal chalk paint or even shoe polish.

    Another zero cost option to use over the Spackled finish is to rub dirt, yes – dirt from your yard all over the surface to bring out the texture of the Spackled finish so it looks like a piece of earthenware.

    As you can see – there are many options. All are right – it just comes down to choosing the one that fits your own style.

DIY makeover of an ugly table lamp. After image of the newly transformed lamp on a sofa table.

With a container of $8 Spackle and about an hour of total time actually working on the lamp – the thrift store lamp makeover is complete.

DIY makeover of an ugly table lamp. After image of the newly transformed lamp on a sofa table.

Just the look I was after. :-)

I did one more thing to update this lamp to make it better – I will share that in an upcoming post. So stay tuned.

One more reason why I love thrift stores and DIYing. I get the decorator look I want at a fraction of the cost.

A few lamps that inspired my table lamp makeover:

Textured ceramic monochromatic table lamps that you can buy.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

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DIY makeover of an ugly table lamp. After image of the newly transformed lamp on a sofa table. Text overlay says Thrift store lamp $8 makeover

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  1. Blown away, once again at your transformations! I think this looks better than the Mcgee & Co. lamp! Beautiful, Diane!

  2. What a great job! I love when you take something inexpensive and make it resemble something very expensive. You are always full of inspiration!

    1. Hi Jane – Thank you. I had the idea a few months ago, but all the thrift stores around me have been closed because of Covid. I was happy when the Goodwill opened up again and I found the perfect shape and size lamp.

  3. This is great! This technique could be used on so many things – vases, jugs, etc. Have you done this before and not painted the spackling? I’m wondering about it yellowing over time.

    1. Hi Lisa – The Spackling process could be used on so many objects. It is so easy to do. I didn’t seal the surface, but I may. I don’t think it will yellow over time since I primed it. If it does start to look yellow or dirty it will take on the look of an earthenware lamp. :-)

      If over time it does yellow and I don’t like the look – I would use flat watered-down white latex paint over it.