How To Restore A Lamp

Posted by Dani on September 10, 2013

vintage yellow lamp
This is my favourite kind of find – free! I found this little beauty sitting forlornly by the side of the road in the rain, looking for a new home. I happily obliged, and now my oldest has a funky new bedside lamp.

Don’t you just love that we can do this here in North America? I am talking about helping yourself to items discarded at the curbside. Notice how I did not use the word “garbage”? Because “garbage” is a little judgy, don’t you think? Kind of harsh? After all, one person’s garbage may be another person’s treasure. And this little baby is the perfect example.

vintage yellow lamp

I can’t think of how many gorgeous things I have found by the side of the road. I’ve often crammed various odds and ends in the back seat of my tiny car, usually tucking them in around my bewildered (and embarrassed) girls. So many times I’d hit the brakes while driving and put the car in reverse to check something out while my kids wailed “Mo- ommmm!!!” Here’s an example – look at this adorable old chest I found in the neighbourhood this summer. I left this one for the next lucky person, but during my girls’ Harry Potter heyday, this would have been an amazing surprise to bring home – their very own Hogwarts trunk.

old trunk with H monogram

Curbside shopping would never happen in some other parts of the world. Those stylish Europeans frown at this kind of thing. They may have all kinds of killer handbags, but they are missing out on LOTS of cute lamps, that’s for sure.

Which brings me back to the topic of this post – how to restore a lamp. But first I have to pay tribute to one of the first bloggers I ever followed, the talented Chris from StyleNorth. He’s supremely proficient at restoring worn furnishings, and he always shares his tips. Through his blog I have found some great products that make the job easier. One of these is Blue Magic, which really is magic. This is what I used here to make this baby new again.

Blue Magic

Nothing, NOTHING, makes me more excited than finding the perfect tool or product for the job. Well, some things do – but not many. This Blue Magic Liquid Metal Polish somehow restores old rusty chrome to a beautiful shiny finish, almost effortlessly. I have no idea how, but it does the trick. You can’t imagine how thrilled I was to see the chrome come back to life with just a few wipes of Magic. For any of you who love hunting for Craigslist finds, this product is a must-have.

I loved the retro lines of this lamp. It’s a little Jonathan Adler-esque. And the price was right. I think it turned out so sweet, and looks perfect in Olivia’s room.

How To Restore A Lamp

1. Start taking apart the lamp. Most lamps have a decorative portion and a base. The electrical wiring runs through a threaded pipe inside the lamp, that goes from the bulb portion at the top down through the base at the bottom. This pipe is usually held in place by a nut and washer at the bottom of the base. Dismantle the lamp by unscrewing the nut at the bottom and pulling the cord out of the lamp. In my case, the plug was cut off the cord, making it very easy to pull the bulb portion and the wire out of the rod from the top. If you need detailed instructions on how to take apart the bulb portion so that you can pull the cord out of the lamp from the bottom, have a look at this excellent tutorial on how to rewire a lamp.

2. Make sure you take apart the lamp carefully, paying close attention to all the little bits and pieces so that you can put it all back together in the right order. Taking a few pictures as you go really helps. Here is what the parts looked like after the lamp was dismantled.

dismantled lamp

3. Inspect the lamp to see what needs to be replaced. In my case, the lamp wiring was cut, but all the other parts were in good working order. I found a replacement cord at Canadian Tire, where they also sell all kinds of other lamp supplies. The hubby took care of attaching the new cord – have a look at the tutorial above if you want some details on how to do this yourself.

lamp replacement cord

4. Clean the parts. This was the big challenge in my case. The yellow ceramic base cleaned up easily with a little bathroom cleaner and some elbow grease. But the chrome was in pretty bad shape, as you can see here, and I wasn’t too optimistic.

vintage yellow lamp base

vintage lamp base

Well, the Blue Magic came through like magic. I was able to easily clean all the exterior chrome parts, and even the pipe, nuts, and washers. Have a look at the before and after shots. Everything looked almost new. Thanks, Chris at StyleNorth!

Here is what the parts looked like all cleaned up.

how to restore a lamp

how to restore a lamp

how to restore a lamp

5. Reverse the dismantling process to put the lamp back together. Make sure the threaded pipe is attached tightly at the top and bottom so that everything is held securely. In my case the only other thing I needed was the perfect shade, which I found at HomeSense. Voilà!

It’s a unique and stylish lamp, with a vintage feel you can’t quite get from something new. And nothing beats the price.

vintage yellow lamp




28 Responses to “How To Restore A Lamp”

  1. Wow, that lamp turned out great!! I’ll have to keep my eye out for that polish, I’m glad it worked out for you!

  2. mara says:

    Incredible. I love that lamp. My husband found a really cool trunk in the storage room of a store that was going out of business.

  3. that lamp is gorgeous, what is the name of the yellow?

  4. Awesome find and great clean up! and the post, timely, I have an old lamp that needs to be rewired. Now I have the know-how! Thanks for sharing. Love the thought of your girls shrinking down in their seats as you do your curbside pickup!!

  5. Bianca says:

    I’m so in love with your lamp, I would buy it! Yellow is also my favourite colour 🙂

  6. My favorite 4 letter word, FREE! This is so adorable, I love it!

  7. I’ve never heard of this product and definitely need to find it! I have so many projects that use this little boost of help – thanks so much for sharing! And your lamp looks amazing, BTW!! 🙂

  8. Suzanne says:

    Wow – gorgeous lamp D!

  9. Christy says:

    I’m always so in awe of all of you amazing DIY-ers. What a great find – and a fabulous restoration. Here’s hoping that the more info I get from crafty bloggers like you, the more inspired I get to break out the glue gun for myself! 🙂

  10. Dani, that lamp is AWESMAZING! What a find, and it cleaned up beautifully. Nicely done, lady!

  11. Okay, that lamp is GORGEOUS! What an awesome find! LOVE things like that! 🙂

    • Dani says:

      I was thrilled when I found this lamp – I guess it’s true what they say about one man’s trash being another man’s treasure!

  12. Kathryn says:

    Wow! I can’t believe it cleaned up that well. The yellow is amazing!

  13. Heather says:

    that is so freaking gorgeous! I love how it ended up looking, you did a fab job!

  14. kelli says:

    omg, the before and after is crazy! I’m running out to get some of that magic blue stuff…i thought once chrome was that ugly, the only thing to do is toss it. Absolutely *love* the lamp now…even Pinned it! 🙂 thanks!

    • Dani says:

      That Blue Magic is going to save a lot of chrome from the trash. I have no idea how they do it, but I can promise that the lamp actually looked worse than in the pics. Blue Magic is an appropriate name!

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