15 Minute Makeover: The Painted Lamp

Last weekend I popped into the Goodwill Outlet store. If you haven’t been, you should definitely check it out just to see it with your own eyes. Items are tossed into troughs and priced by the pound. There’s a lot of digging and strategizing to get the best deal—the price per pound gets lower the more you buy. It’s not for everyone and it’s usually not for me, but on rare occasion I’ll find a sweet vintage something in the rubble. Take, for instance, this ceramic lamp.

Lamp_BeforeThis actually wasn’t in a bin, but on a shelf where a few items are priced individually. When I found it, it had a shade pulled down completely over it and all I saw was the wooden base peeking out. When I saw the rest of it I thought it was pretty nice, albeit a little bland. But there were a few chips in the off-white surface that gave me a glimpse of something green and wonderful. For just $0.99, it was worth finding out what was under that paint.

Tiny_ChipAfter scraping off more paint, I saw it was a glossy green glaze under white spray paint. Fortunately it’s completely safe to use most paint-removers on ceramics that have under-glaze decoration. I took the lamp apart, spread on the stripper and after about five minutes I simply wiped it clean with paper towels and reassembled. Simple as pie.

Ceramic_AfterI used a powerful methylene choloride chemical stripper that works in about a minute. If you don’t have an outdoor space to work in or would prefer not to use harsh chemicals, you could use any of the available “green” or “safety” paint strippers on the market. If you choose that option, spread on the stripper and wrap it in plastic wrap or a trash bag for about 20 minutes to an hour before trying to remove the paint. If it’s stubborn, leave it on overnight.



I suppose the off-white paint was an attempt to neutralize the color at a time when avocado wasn’t so fashionable. Granted, it still might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I like this lamp 100% better in its original form. If you haven’t done it, the idea of stripping down a lamp might seem like a long project. In reality, the total time for this project was less than 15 minutes and I even put a new cord on it while I had it apart. So don’t be intimidated the next time you see a painted lady at the thrift store, she might just look better without all the makeup.

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  1. Susie
    Posted October 28, 2013 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    What a beauty!

  2. Laura
    Posted October 29, 2013 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    That’s awesome you can save the lamp. It looks gorgeous.

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