How to Paint Lamps & Other Things That Aren’t Working for You

Have you ever had a lamp or other accessory that was the right shape and size, but not the right color for the space you want to put it in?  I’m here to tell you that paint covers over a multitude of sins!  Case in point:  my recent client bought a pair of lamps because she loved the shape, lampshades, and the color of ONE of the two.  She couldn’t find  a matching pair, but she bought them anyway!

Original Condition of Lamps Purchased from TJ Maxx


She asked me, “Can you help me make this work?”  I said, “Well, of course I can – I’m The Decorologist!”  No, I didn’t really say that, but my mind started churning, trying to figure out how to solve this First-World problem. Since she liked the greeny-blue one on the right, I decided to try to re-create it.  Knowing that would be impossible, I decided to shoot for getting close – and both lamps looking like a pair.  I could do that.  First I painted them both Benjamin Moore’s Spirit in the Sky.  Who wouldn’t love a color named that???

Benjamin Moore’s Spirit in the Sky


When that dried, I took some old walnut wood stain and began applying in with a sponge brush.  I pretty much let it run down through the cracks over the paint.

Applying Wood Stain 


After waiting a few moments, I buffed off the stain with a soft cloth.  I left the cracks with more of it, so that the details of the lamp would be highlighted.



Just a little more paint and little more wood stain, and both the lamps look as though they belong together at last:

“Aged” Lamp Bases 



So here they are now, in there places – creating a balanced effect in this soothing coastal living room.

aged lampbases

 Coastal Living Room Design by The Decorologist


Before buying new, always re-think what you already have.  If you like the size and shape, can it be painted to work into your design?   What have you painted to make something unexpected work in your own space?





  1. Kristie, I am ready to paint some brass lamps black. Do I need to do any prep work before I start? What are some of the paints that work best when doing this? Love your ideas! Faye

    • Faye,
      Probably the easiest way would be to paint them with spray metal primer, then spray paint them black. Make sure you tape off anything you don’t want painted and the light bulb socket, of course. You’ll have a whole new pair of lamps!

  2. What sheen did you use for the paint. Flat?

  3. They turned out beautifully, and what a great tip to use the stain the way you did! Just awesome :-)

  4. Very impressive! I wouldn’t have the patience to do that although you make it look so easy!

  5. Really beautiful room! Have you painted pottery or glass? I did once. It worked..I think I used a oil base paint so it would stay on better. A clear coat would be helpful too don’t you think?

    Love your blog.

  6. Magic of paint! Love the way you used the stain over to give it personality! Beautiful job!

  7. Just curious where you got the lampshades for the two lamps…looking for something just like that but can't seem to find it anywhere….not already on a lamp :-)  Thank you for your inspriation.


  8. Did you use oil-based paint on these? And did you prime them first?

  9. Hi! I am new to Pinterest and need some advice. I have a few antique brass lamps that I would like to paint and have no idea what I am doing? : ) am looking to get the dark bronze look….any suggestions?

    • You can buy bronze aging medium that can be used on any metal surface at Home Depot or Lowes. You might also find something called “debrasser” which ages brass and gives it a dark patina. Good luck!

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