Easy Lamp Makeover With Milk Paint

Cindy Rust
by Cindy Rust
2 Hours

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!

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.

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!

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

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.

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.

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!

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!

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.

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!

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!!

antique gentlemen’s dresser

You probably want to see more about that gorgeous gentlemens 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??

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

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 🙂

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 🙂

Pin any of the images in this post so you can share this idea with all of your Pinterest friends!

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Cindy Rust
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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  1 question
  • Susan Susan on Sep 22, 2021

    I love that you left the shade bare. It looks amazing.

    I have a question about the gentleman’s dresser, where did you find the drawer pulls? I have a piece that has the same ones only I’m missing a couple of the nipple shaped nuts that hold the black knob part on. I have looked and looked to no avail. :(

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4 of 8 comments
  • Deb Deb on Sep 07, 2021

    Wow. Looks fantastic. Thanks so much for each step, mistakes and all. Wonderful instructions and amazing results.

    • Cindy Rust Cindy Rust on Sep 08, 2021

      Mishaps and mistakes are all part of the process! I love sharing those aspects of projects in hopes they will inspire others to tackle the project and learn from their mistakes. Thanks for saying so - that made my day!!

  • Deborah Frakes Deborah Frakes on Sep 08, 2021


    I really like the crackle effect. Gives it

    So much character

    • Cindy Rust Cindy Rust on Sep 08, 2021

      Me too! The crackly adds a layer of texture :). Thanks for reading the post!