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Brass Swing Arm Lamp Makeover

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How to change the look of bright brass on any item to look more like brushed brass without the need to use any chemicals or paint. It is a fast and easy DIY technique that can be done in 15 minutes.


Making over the brass swing arm lamps in my bedroom is one of my favorite 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 bright brass wall-mounted lamps. They are bright 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

The process to knock down the bright brass color is quite easy.

supplies needed:  100 grit sandpaper  |  Hand sanding block

  1. 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.
  • Keep 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, fold a small piece of sandpaper and run the fold up and down the crevices.  Create new folds in the paper when doing this as the the sandpaper will wear out quickly.
  • For the rounded areas, use a hand-sanding block and move it you are playing the violin around the arm and light bulb socket area.

Close up of brass finish – After and Before.


For the cost of a sheet of sandpaper and 15 minutes of my time, my brass swing-arm lamps are updated.


Bedroom Lighting Decorating Tip:

  • Swing-arm lamps are perfect for bedtime reading since they don’t take up any space on your night table. You can move them around to get just the right light, no matter how you are sitting or lying on the bed.

Want to age brass with no brush marks?  Check out this post on how to do it.

How to Hide the Cord on a Wall Mounted Lamp

My swing-arm lamps are not hardwired to the wall. They have a cord hanging down. I used the magic of photoshop to remove the cord from the image from the first image in this post since it looked like it was part of the shell.

If you have a similar wall mounted lamp with a cord hanging down and can’t hardwire it, then you can place a cord cover over it and paint it the same color as the wall.

This will lessen the look of the cord. Or on some higher end wall-mounted lights the cord covers are part of the design.

Most, but not all wall-mounted lamps come with cord covers. They are either a round metal tube or a square channel that mounts out of the bottom of the fixture.

Here is one in brass swing arm lamp cord cover, but they come in white and silver finishes also.


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  1. Hello
    I like your white slipcovers
    Where do you buy those? Or did you make them?

    1. Hi Monica –
      They are semi-homeade ;-) I bought the throw over style Pottery Barn slipcovers cheap (they are seconds – rejects that Pottery Barn doesn’t want) at Ugly Sofa dot com. You can also buy perfect ones at SureFit dot com. I made cushions covers using white quilts I found on clearance. You can read more in these posts:



  2. I love this look. I would have never thought this would look so great.

    Honestly, I did not think I wanted you to do an update on your lamps……… well, I loved them. I love shiny and gold toned…… boy did you prove me wrong. I secretly wanted wall lamps just exactly like yours, but could not afford them (they get rather pricey for sure). I just happened upon two close out ones at Lowes online and quickly paid for them and could not get them in my store, so I asked Steve if he would by any chance be working in Orange Park and stop and pick them up for me… he did. Mine are ORB though, but I am embracing them because they only cost $12 each. And I do have dark bronze window frames (would prefer white), but oh well.

    You are just so very clever!

    1. Hi Brittany – I enjoyed getting to partner with you on our session at Haven. The conference went by way too fast. Hope to see you again soon. Happy Weekend!