Crystal De-Light

By Kate Riley June 10, 2009

Y’all know I love the hunt for treasure at the local thrift store. Lucky me, I happened to find two complimentary crystal lamps for my master bedroom at two different thrift stores. Obviously, the reason they had been donated was because of their brass trim. But as you know from last week’s post, brass does not frighten me one bit.

The lamps had to be completely disassembled, including cutting the wires, then painted, and finally reassembled with a “make-a-lamp” kit. Along the way, I picked up some electrical lingo and taught myself how to make a lamp. Here’s how it all went down.

First, take a look at the ‘Before’ and ‘After’ for the lamp for my side of the bed. Notice the gaping hole? Yep, that happened on the way home when it fell over in my car. Crash! I cringed when I heard that sound. When I got home I realized it was a clean crack, and a little super glue repaired it nicely.

b and a k

How to Revamp a Brassy Thrift Store Lamp:

Step One: Unscrew the lamp’s harp, and then clip off the existing socket with wire cutters.

clip socket

Step Two: Before you disassemble your lamp, take pictures of the lamp’s pieces and hardware so when you reassemble you know exactly which way all the pieces go together.

take pictures

take pictures 2

Step Three: Disassemble you lamp. Spray paint the brass metal pieces with your color of choice. I used a favorite brand and color: Rustoleum’s ‘Heirloom White’. (I think even in this economy it’s time I buy stock in this company, since I use this product so much.)

spray paint lamp

Step Four: Reassemble your lamp’s pieces up to the point where you attach the harp’s bottom piece. Thread your cord through the lamp’s stem.


Step Five – Playing Elecrician. One of my thrift store lamps did not have a harp to support the shade, so I purchased a lamp kit for $9 at Home Depot.

make a lamp kit

If your lamp already has a harp, then the only thing you need to purchase is a new socket for about $3.

Once you’ve reassembled your lamp’s parts, trim your electrical wires with wire cutters, and follow the instructions on the kit. This includes connecting your wires to conductors and then covering your new lamp socket with its protective metal shell. This whole process is quite simple, if you just follow the directions on the back of the kit.

Connect the Wires:

wire to socket

Cover socket with protective shell:

attach socket shell

Step Six: Install light bulb, cross your fingers, and plug it in. You will literally screech with excitement when the light turns on ! You’ve made a lamp !

So here is the second crystal lamp ‘Before’ and ‘After’, that sits on Mr. CG’s side. A cream colored base and shade make all the difference, don’t you think?

b and a m

Here it sits on his nightstand:

mr cg side

Now, our master bedroom is still very much a work in progress, but bringing in these lamps has got me motivated to finish the space. And I like the touch of femininity that they bring, since we have a lot of dark wood and deep green in our room. And I made that fabric covered headboard myself earlier this year.

master 2

You can’t beat the price. Seven dollars !

price tag

I really love how they capture and reflect the light from the windows. They feel so very elegant to me.

catches light



So the next time you go to the thrift store, don’t overlook those brassy lamps. My research online revealed that crystal lamps retail for hundreds of dollars. If you find one, take heart – they’re quite easy to transform into something you’ll truly love.  Happy hunting, friends.


  1. Ooh love it. I adore how my red crystal ball lamp turned out. The brass made it look so hideous. Who thought of brass in the first place? I have yet to see something brass and think it looks good. To each his own I suppose. I am in the love with that last little lamp, she is a beauty.

  2. Hi Kate
    You will not believe but I too got 2 crystal lamps from yardsaling for my bedroom, one for hubs and one for me! I had the hardest time spray painting the bass part! Do you have suggestions on how to do that without the paint dripping on the sides?
    When I am done, will show them off to you :)
    BTW, L-O-V-E your blog. Cheers

  3. Beautiful! I hate brass and really want to paint my bathroom light fixtures. So, you don't have to prep the brass at all? That's awesome!

    I am so buying some spray paint this week!

  4. I love the transformation! I will look at all those gaudy, brass lamps differently now ;o)

  5. I have a brass lamp. That isn't painted. *Hangs head in shame* Would you believe that my husband has been cringing at the thought of me painting everything in our house? He's already been making decorating suggestions. While I love his enthusiasm, he needs to trust my creative vision more. =) I'm tackling that brass, baby! He'll love it once it's done!

  6. Hmmm, now you have me thinking "what can I find to paint?" :) love it!

  7. Gorgeous, but electricity still scares me. Maybe I'll try this and have the Hubs finish up the electrical part for me…

  8. This is incredible. I am finally being rewarded for my staying-up-too-late-and-wasting-time mood. I just found your blog completely randomly. I am sure I navigated myself here somehow, through somewhere else. Incredible. I am so excited to use this resource now. I am in Northern CA too, East Bay actually. We have awesome thrift stores in California (I'm sure everyone has them, they just really need to know what they are hunting for). If you're ever in the area and want to go thrifting, let me know!

  9. Lovely! again, something that wouldn't occur to me – but that's why you're Centsational Girl, and I'm not! :)

  10. I love reading your blog!

    Now I need to go search in search of brass things…just to spray paint them! LOL!

  11. Very Pretty! I used to work for a lamp manufacturer and learned how easy it is to rewire a lamp. Now, if only I had learned to do a chandelier!

  12. Stop. Just stop. It's too much. :)

    I uttered that exact same screech when I plugged in my colander light and it actually worked. It's like magic, I tell you!

  13. Those lamps turned out beautiful. I like the one on your nightstand, it turned out lovely.

  14. They are fabulous, Kate!!! :) Great job, and thank you for sharing all the steps with us! :)

  15. I am embarrassed to admit now just how many brass lamps I have actually thrown away over the years. If only I'd known! Funny, now I will actually be looking to acquire some! The transformation is unbelievable – you are right, they are so elegant on your bedside tables, catching the light. And the brass one for your office, I love it – so very Art Deco-ish, and very beautiful, as well. And I also have tons of Heirloom White by Rust-oleum in my garage! I've been on a spray-painting binge, myself, ever since I found your site. It's amazing what a can of paint that costs less than $4 can do for my home! Thanks for the inspiration…

  16. I love it! I recently did eeriely similar lamps in an eeriely similar color. Yours look great.

    I stumbled on your blog (not quite sure how), but I have to tell you that you are a girl after my own heart! I will be back, for sure!

    Off to see more now…

  17. Thanks for posting this! I just found some really great lamps at a thrift store, and I have been wanting to work on them…I'll be using your tutorial for sure!

  18. Wow, I live and learn here and caanot wait to tune in! You are maing me look at things very differently! Thanks for posting such great things…it's so nice of you to share your talent!

  19. I love it! I did the same thing with my crystal lamp, but I painted mine black. ^_^

  20. Thank you for the inspiration! I found myself in the lamp section of Value Village (Savers) today, considered a crystal lamp with brass trim (with your blog in mind), but I rejected it because it was too small. THEN I spotted a pair of brass lamps for $5 each and grabbed them. They are now in the garage, enjoying a new off-white coat of paint, and awaiting some new shades!

  21. Great job on the lamps. Don't you love to "save" something and make it useful?

  22. I LOVED how you transformed the outdated brassy lamp into shabby chic! Oh so simple and it really inspired me so I hit the thrifts and antique shops all weekend. I was so excited when I found a lamp just like it! but they wanted $25 for it, not 6.99! I guess I'll have to keep hunting :)

  23. ohhh this is a GREAT tutorial :) thanks! i just painted a brassy 'ol chandy but have a lamp to do that may need new hardware…so thanks again! :)

  24. Those are beautiful! I saw this post the other day and then just today I found the exact same lamp at the Salvation Army. I can't wait to fix it up now. And I don't even have to play electrician, because my husband IS one. Yay! :)

  25. I had to come back and comment on this post…saw two very similar lamps at Salvation Army yesterday, and I remembered your post! I didn't buy them b/c I was scared of playing electrician, but I think I may go back tomorrow and see if they're still there. :)

  26. Love this! I just bought a crystal lamp from Goodwill and cant wait to try this makeover myself. Did you happen to spray paing the cord? It will show a bit in the area i'll be using this lamp and the dark brown that comes with it is absolutely unsightly. However, I wouldn't want to make a huge electrical no-no. Your advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!

  27. This project has completely excited me (at 10 at night) to transform one of my FH's small crystal lamp with paint and a new shade. Maybe it'll be nice enough to use as our night table lamp as the current one is ugly and.. unfixable.

    Thank you so much!

  28. I can’t wait to do this!!! Thanks for the info…what an inspiration!!! They are beautiful!!!

  29. Just read this post last week and thought it would be great to find an old brass/glass lamp to try this idea out for my daughter’s bedroom. Was in a local thrift shop and found a pretty lamp that was perfect to try the paint update on – the best part…only $3. My lamp parts are currently drying in the sun right now as I type. This is going to look gorgeous in her room with her little glass drawer handles and chandelier. Thanks for the tip!

  30. I love this and can’t believe that I just threw away some old lamps that my sister had left in my basement that were almost just like these several years ago. I have just recently gotten into the cottage look leaving behind the country look after a recent move. Hindsight…

  31. How funny, I picked up a lamp nearly identical (only the brass base was different) at a thrift shop this weekend for $10. I shamelessly copied you and painted it Heirloom White – now to find a mate for it!

    BTW, you can almost always reuse the socket, I do!

  32. One more tip for cost saving: using extension cords for re-wiring. When I have all the basic pieces, but just need new wiring, these work perfectly. Just split the cords, and remove the plastic to expose the copper wire, the wrap around the screws as you describe. Sometimes you can even find them with the switch on the cord.

  33. I have a lamp that DH needs to get a new lamp kit for and fix. What is the secret to picking out the right shape and size of lamp shade? I have some crystal lamps in my living room that I bought at JC Penney’s probably 22 yrs. ago and they were like $69 it seems each if my memory is correct after all those years..I’d hate to price them now. What was the reason for not leaving the brass base on? I didn’t think it would look nice but after I’ve seen them, the white base seems to soften the look..Thanks for sharing this with us. Another thing I need to learn to do in 2012.

  34. Was just looking up ideas to revamp my lamps that we got from my husband’s grandmother. No joke, they are the exact same lamp as the first on shown on this page. Thanks for posting!!

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