September 10, 2018  

Thrift Shop Challenge: A Modern, Preppy Lamp Makeover

Giving thrift store finds a makeover is my favorite way to decorate on a budget, and I have a fun, thrifty project to share with you today! Keep reading to see this thrift store lamp makeover!


Hunting down amazing thrift store treasures is one of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday morning. You just never know what you’ll find! So when my blogger friends invited me to participate in a Thrift Shop Challenge, you better believe I jumped at the chance to work on a thrifty project. And that, my friends, leads us to today’s thrift store lamp makeover!

I was wandering through the aisles of the local Habitat ReStore when I spotted the perfect candidate for today’s Thrift Shop Challenge: a huge wooden lamp! Is it just me or do lamps seem ridiculously expensive these days? That’s why when I found this large lamp with a small price tag of $10, there was no question I needed to snatch it up!


Although this lamp was actually in excellent condition as is, the do-it-yourselfer in me just couldn’t leave well enough alone. The wheels started turning as I dreamed up all sorts of ideas for this thrifty DIY lamp makeover.


I debated styles and ideas for this lamp makeover for a long time before I finally landed on the navy velvet lampshade with white and brass base.

I originally painted the base white and the lampshade black. But it just didn’t feel quite right, so I went back to the drawing board.

My favorite color these days is navy, so I started toying with the idea of a navy lampshade. I turned to Pinterest for inspiration and landed on this photo of Emily Henderson’s lamps:

Image Source:

I love anything navy and white and her lamps look gorgeous! I was reenergized to get back to work on my thrifty lamp makeover and remembered the navy velvet fabric that I found at the thrift store a while ago. I’ve been saving that fabric and waiting for the perfect project!

I’ve seen plenty of lamp makeovers where people cover lampshades with fabric, but I wasn’t totally sure if velvet lampshades were really a thing. But I know velvet is super trendy right now, and a quick search brought up tons of expensive velvet lampshades, like this one from Anthropology:

Image Source: Anthropologie

So I searched around and found that pretty navy fabric I was thinking of and, thankfully, there was just enough to cover the full lampshade!

Like many of my thrift store makeovers, all this lamp makeover really required was a bit of paint and creativity to completely transform it. Take a look at the before and after!

Now let me show you how I made this lamp!

Thrift Store Lamp Makeover Tutorial

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Supply List

1 | Paint The Lamp Base

Start by painting the body of your lamp white, using painter’s tape to protect any parts of the top or bottom you don’t want to be white.

I recommend either a quality white spray paint or this white DecoArt paint. I actually started with some spray chalk paint I had, but ultimately decided I wanted more of a smooth, shiny surface than the chalk paint provided. The DecoArt paint I used is a bright white and I love that it cures to a glossy hardness which means you don’t need any kind of topcoat.


Once the white paint dries completely, use tape and plastic shopping bags to cover up all of the white so you can paint the brass sections.

My thrift store lamp had a gold base and gold around the top where the light bulb screws in, so I decided to spray paint those a metallic brass.


2 | Cover The Lampshade

While the paint dries, go ahead and cover your lampshade. A round drum shade is easiest for this project! Lay your fabric flat on a table with the velvet side face down. Then roll the lampshade across the fabric, using a black Sharpie to trace along the top and bottom rim of the shade.


Using the Sharpie lines as your guide, cut the fabric to fit your lampshade. Leave an extra inch or so on either side of the Sharpie lines you traced so you have extra fabric to fold over the rim of the lampshade.

Once your fabric is cut, use spray adhesive to attach it to the lampshade. Lay the fabric flat on the table and apply adhesive to a small section, then slowly press the fabric onto the lampshade. Carefully fold the excess fabric over into the inside rim of the shade.


I found that it worked best to adhere a 4-5 inch section of fabric to the outside of the shade, then add more adhesive to the excess fabric to make sure it fully stuck to the inside of the shade. I used a piece of scrap paper to protect the inside of the shade when I applied extra adhesive.


Finish off the fabric by slightly overlapping the two ends, making sure the exposed end of the fabric is cut in a clean, straight line.

NOTE: For simplicity, I chose to leave the edges of the velvet fabric raw. I suppose I technically should have dug out my sewing machine and hemmed the cut edges, but the fabric wasn’t fraying when I cut it so I decided to leave the edges exposed. It’s not like this lampshade is going to endure a lot of handling or washing, so I think it will hold up just by being glued in place.

3 | Add Tassels

Tassels are so on trend right now and I’ve noticed them on lamps lately so I thought I’d give it a try! These little tassels are a fun extra touch to this thrift store lamp makeover.

I made my tassels with embroidery floss and they were surprisingly easy to make! I purchased my embroidery floss at the store because I was in a hurry but honestly should have done some more thrifting because I almost always see bundles of assorted embroidery floss at thrift stores. So definitely keep your eyes peeled for some when you’re out thrifting!

I’ve been wanting to try my hand at DIY tassels for a while now, and I learned that they are super easy to make. Click here to see the tutorial I followed.


I love how this lamp makeover turned out! It feels fresh and fun with those modern colors and playful tassels.


Although I know some people will think I shouldn’t have painted that beautiful wood lamp in the first place, I can tell you that I’m completely happy I went for it! Thrift store makeovers are the perfect opportunity to take something that’s already great and make it more your style, which is exactly what I did with this navy and white lamp makeover.


This lamp has found a nice home on my nightstand. It’s a huge improvement for the too-small (and really cheap) lamp I used to have by my bed.


It really is so fun to be able to transform a cheap thrift store find into something pretty for my home. I may not be made of money, but I’m slowly adding stylish decor to our house one small project at a time.


Be sure to check out the other ladies’ thrift shop challenge ideas too!

Metal Bar Stools by Love & Renovations

Thrift Store Play Kitchen Makeover by A Crafted Passion

How To Paint Candlesticks by Green with Decor

How to Upcycle A Shabby Chic Mirror by Home Beautifully

White Pumpkin Decor by Making Manzanita

DIY Modern Wind Chimes by Love Create Celebrate

Spray Painted Picture Frames by Amber Oliver

Thrift Store Lamp Makeover by Small Stuff Counts (that’s me!)

Looking for more thrift store projects? Take a look at these:

Have a great day!

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About the author

Emily Counts is the founder of Small Stuff Counts, a home and organization blog she created in 2013. Her goal is to help moms make home life easier so they can create beautiful, organized, and thriving homes. She shares life at home as a mom juggling two young kids and being a working mom with a corporate job. The Iowa-based blogger lives in the suburbs of Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband, two children, and rescue dog. Emily has collaborated with brands including The Container Store, Cricut, Command Brand, Bissell, Sam's Club and Rubbermaid.

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