Easy Lamp Makeover with Milk Paint

If you love thrifting and an easy lamp makeover that’s fast and fun, then this tutorial is for you! You’re going to love this easy lamp makeover project! Let’s get to it!

Pinterest graphic with lamp makeover project

easy lamp makeover

One of my favorite projects to makeover is a lamp. New lamps are so expensive and when you consider how fast they go out of style, those dollars can add up!

I have an easy solution! Paint, of course. Not just any paint, but Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint!

where to buy a cheap lamp

First, let’s talk about the lamp. Head out to your thrift store or a local yard sale and you are bound to find some brass lamps with wire shades that someone is sick of looking at.

In fact, they probably spent big bucks on the new lamps that replaced the ones they donated to the thrift store!

I find shiny, glaring, brassy lamps all the time at yard sales and while I am out thrifting.

thrift store lamp makeover project before it is finished
thrft store brass lamp makeover project with lampshade fabric removed

how do you redo an old lampshade?

Let’s talk lampshades, ok? I really like to find lampshades that have a frame to them like the one below. They are the easiest to transform and when you add an Edison bulb to them, it just breathes a fresh vintage look to the lamp.

I start by ripping off the fabric. The fabric can be glued down pretty well, so grab some pliers and pull! Use a pair of scissors to clip around the joints on the frame.

I used an Exacto knife to scrape off the excess glue on the metal. Then I used a sponge-type piece of fine-grit sandpaper on all of the framings.

SurfPrep makes some of these flexible foam sanding pads and they are phenomenal!

lady using fine sandpaper pad on wire lampshade

There were a few spots that I used a wire brush too. The wire brush can get into the corners of the frame.

fabric removed from thrift store lamp shade and lady using wire brush on metal

how to prep brass for painting

Next, I scuffed and cleaned the lamp base with a heavy-duty Scotch Brite pad. These pads are super abrasive and they scuffed and cleaned the brass at the same time.

After that, I wiped down the lamp base with a very damp microfiber cloth.

easy lamp makeover project showing how to clean and rough up surface

how to spray paint a lamp

My first thought when deciding how to restyle this lamp was to spray paint it. Rust-oleum makes amazing spray paint that I use in my workshop all the time. I hadn’t used the Pure Gold yet and I thought it might make this shiny, glaring brass a bit more updated.

thrift store lamp makeover with spray paint in gold
brass lamp being painted with milk paint for easy lamp makeover project

how to paint a brass lamp

I didn’t get the result I thought I would, so I painted the lamp base in Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in Typewriter. I have had lots of success with this milk paint on lamp bases and I knew I could expect great results!

Don’t be alarmed at the scary first coat! This is so normal with milk paint!

first coat of milk paint on thrift store lamp

how to spray paint a lampshade

While the first coat of milk paint was drying on the lamp base, I pulled out my old stand-by Rust-oleum Metallic Paint and Primer in Soft Black Iron.


This is an easy way to paint the skinny wireframe. A couple of coats later and boom, vintage-style lampshade!

You’ll notice I sprayed the harps and the finials too!

spray painting a thrift store lampshade

how to wax with milk paint

Just like on furniture, the lamp base needed a bit of smoothing. Milk Paint leaves a chalky, gritty finish and it is easy to smooth that out.

I used the same sanding sponge I mentioned earlier. I also did a very light distressing while doing this step.

lady using fine sandpaper on milk painted lamp

Next up was to seal the milk paint. I used Miss Mustard Seed Furniture Wax in Natural. It’s as easy as applying with a chip brush and then buffing lightly with a soft lint-free cloth like a blue shop towel.

Start at the base and work your way up so your other hand can steady the lamp!

lady applying furniture wax to milk painted lamp
thrifted lamp makeover project before the makeover

refurbished lamp ideas

I also pulled out a couple of other lamps to paint and found this resin-style candlestick lamp and shade. After cleaning and scuffing, I painted it the same as I did the first lamp. I did do something different with the shade but that sounds like another post!

easy diy lamp

And here is the lamp all finished! Isn’t this such a transformation?? Scroll back and look at that first image and then come back here and look at this beauty! Such a difference, right??

BTW, did you notice the backward writing on the chalkboard? Keep reading and you’ll see that I hosted a Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint Live on their Instagram account. The letters were readable to the viewers!!

finised lamp makeover using milk paint and staged on top of antique dresser with a plant, stare decor, candle and wall decor

antique gentlemen’s dresser

You probably want to see more about that gorgeous gentlemen’s dresser that the lamp is sitting on, don’t you?? You have to hop over to this post to see more! It is soooooo gorgeous!! Click below to see more!

Antique Gentlemen’s Dresser Makeover

how to use milk paint

Milk Paint can be unpredictable and that is one of the things I love about it! Take a look at the crackling effect that happened! Doesn’t it just add to the vintage feel of this lamp??

close up detail of milk painted brass lamp showing crackle effect

An Edison bulb seals the deal on this vintage makeover! I found this shape of the bulb on Amazon (where else, right??)

side view of lamp that had a makeover with milk paint and is staged on top of vintage dresser with a plant and wall decor

diy lamp makeover ideas

This is another lamp makeover. This shade was easy too. Now I know I will have to write another tutorial dedicated to lampshade makeovers!!

See the lamp in the background? That one is in for a makeover too. Don’t worry, it’s not an antique even though it looks like one. It is a reproduction 🙂

lamp makeover staged on top of antique dresser with various items like a plant

Here are a few more easy projects that I know you will love and want to try yourself!

Easy Handmade Wreath Tutorial

Easy Beginner Painting Project

Boxspring Button Christmas Trees

join our journey

Thanks so much for stopping by for this easy lamp makeover! I hope it inspires you to restyle your own lamp or one you find while out thrifting! Tag me on social media with your project! I would love to see it 🙂

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Pinterest graphic with lamp makeover project

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  1. This is so wonderful Cindy! Do you think the milk paint would crackle over the bare metal too? I’m actually working on a project right now on how to organize these milk paints – I have so many but want to do more milk paint projects 🙂

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      So glad you enjoyed the post, Karen! Thanks for popping in!

  2. Another fantastic project Cindy. Great tutorial as always. I love the technique you used for the lamp and deconstructing the shade is perfect. Love the look.

  3. The Edison bulb and lampshade give this a cool industrial vibe!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      I’m crazy over Edison bulbs! I have them all over my house! So glad you stopped by Marie! Thanks 🙂

  4. Oh, so many great ideas! I just picked up an old lamp at a yard sale. Thanks for the makeover inspiration.