Cleverly Turn an Old Thrift Store Lamp Into a New Beauty Using These Surprising Materials

Thrift store lamp painted with chalkboard paint on top of table with books and beads
credit: Trisha Sprouse

What's old is new again with the resurgence of "found objects" being used as home accessories. From vases to utensil jars to lighting, we're spotting timeworn pottery in many popular designers' feeds. While we love the sustainable use of old materials, sometimes the price or availability of such relics can be a bit out of reach. So we've got a sustainable hack that turns a cheap dime-a-dozen thrift store lamp into a trendy ceramic vessel lamp that looks as though it's been aged by time. Our simple technique produces an earthy, textural finish that provides a nice contrast to a crisp white lampshade — and it couldn't be easier to do it yourself.

Thrift store lamp painted with chalkboard paint on top of table with books and beads
credit: Trisha Sprouse

Things You'll Need

  • Thrifted lamp

  • Clean cloth

  • Painter's tape

  • Drop cloth or newspaper

Step 1

Look for a thrift store lamp that has a similar shape or style of a ceramic jug, urn, or vase. Wood, metal, glass, or ceramic lamps will all work. We found this ceramic lamp at the thrift store for $4.99!

Thrift store lamp with pink and yellow flowers on small table
credit: Trisha Sprouse

Step 2

Start by cleaning the base of the lamp with a damp cloth. Dry thoroughly.

Wiping thrift store lamp clean with damp cloth
credit: Trisha Sprouse

Step 3

Wrap painter's tape around the cord and light socket to protect them from paint.

Light socket and power cord wrapped with painter's tape
credit: Trisha Sprouse

Step 4

Lay down a drop cloth or newspaper to protect your work surface, and spray paint the lamp with black chalkboard paint. Two to three light coats was sufficient to cover the original design on our lamp.

Thrift lamp spray painted with black chalkboard paint
credit: Trisha Sprouse

Step 5

Let the paint dry for several hours (preferably overnight), and then rub a piece of chalk all over the entire lamp.

Rubbing a piece of chalk all over chalkboard-painted lamp
credit: Trisha Sprouse

Step 6

Use a soft cloth to wipe the chalk off the lamp — kind of like erasing a chalkboard.

Wiping chalk off of chalkboard-painted lamp
credit: Trisha Sprouse

Now go back and rub more chalk in a few random areas. This time use your fingertips to wipe away the chalk, as this will remove less than a cloth would and will produce a more uneven, natural-looking patina.

Rubbing chalk with fingertips on chalkboard-painted lamp
credit: Trisha Sprouse

Now place a lampshade on top, and your new (old) lamp is ready to dazzle. Seriously, how simple was that? And how timeworn does it look? Total found object #goals, if you ask us!

Thrift store lamp painted with chalkboard paint on top of table with books and beads
credit: Trisha Sprouse

Tips

If you're worried about the chalky finish rubbing off, you can spray a clear matte topcoat on top to seal it in. But if your lamp is more decorative and won't see a lot of traffic, it's not necessary.


Trisha Sprouse

Trisha Sprouse

Trisha is a writer, video producer + maker with a knack for creating modern DIY content. When her hands aren't covered in paint, she's most likely holding a camera or power drill or both.