A perfect pair

I’ve been wanting some new lamps for our guest bedroom for a long time now. Before, we had two small lamps that we found at garage sales. They were a little short and not exactly the style we were going for (one had a really ugly beaded shade that I had never intended to use.)


I’ve been looking for a while, but couldn’t find the right ones. Am I the only one that thinks lamps are outrageously expensive for what they are? We had set a budget of $30 per lamp, which I thought was reasonable until I started looking.  Boo hiss. They also seem to be either way too big or too small for a bedside table. Large lamps definitely make a statement, but I’m not one to forgo function. I want our guests to have room to use the end tables for their things, too.

So I had decided I wanted skinny, “candlestick” style lamps that were fairly tall but would still look ok with a medium sized shade. I saw a few at garage sales and thrift stores, but was afraid to buy one on its own for fear that I’d never fine one similar enough. And then lo and behold, I saw this sadly mismatched pair at a garage sale.


For $1 each. Andrew didn’t quite see it at first, but I knew they could work together since they’re the same height and similar shapes. Another bonus, they have relatively new wiring. I’m all about buying used stuff, but not lamps with old wires!

First, I scraped off the chipping paint on the top of the white lamp. Then I taped the cords and electrical components. We had tried scuff sanding them but without much success, so we primed them using Kilz Original spray primer. It’s an oil, so it should adhere fairly well anyway.


After allowing the primer to dry for 24 hours and sanding it lightly, I sprayed them using a DIY chalk paint made from a sample of Sherwin Williams Intense White. I used my HVLP gun to give them a smooth, brush free finish. I didn’t want to use a spray paint because I wanted them to be matte.


Using chalk paint in a sprayer leaves kind of a rough texture, though, so I sanded them lightly after the final coat. I wanted to wax them, too, so they would feel a bit smoother. I haven’t really had an issue with Minwax discoloring white finishes (it has a slight orange tint), but I’ve heard some people do, so I wanted to try SC Johnson’s Paste wax which is clear.


I finally found SC Johnson Paste Wax at Home Depot, despite an employee telling me that they didn’t have it and that it probably wasn’t actually branded as an “SC Johnson” product. Well, guess what? It is. And he was wrong. So for anyone looking for this, look in the section with floor cleaners and waxes, not in the paint and stain section. It’s also one of the cheapest wax options at about $7.


I use cheesecloth to apply waxes. It’s a very easy process! Get some wax on the cloth, rub into the paint, let it sit for a few minutes, and then buff it with a clean part of the cloth. On large pieces, be sure to work in small sections. I really liked this wax. It’s definitely clear like people say, and it has a softer consistency that makes it easy to apply and rub out. It doesn’t seem to buff to as shiny of a finish as Minwax, but that was fine for this application. I’m definitely excited to try it again and to try mixing it with my dark wax!

Anyway, after that I just needed the shades! After waiting for several weeks for Target to restock their lighting department after “back to school”, we found these pleated fabric shades for $14.99 each. It was a little more than I’d hoped, but since the lamps were only $1 we were still well under budget.


I wanted to stick with a neutral color palette for the lamps. I want to bring in color and contrast with artwork, new pillows (after we get new bedding), and a natural wood headboard, so I didn’t want these to stick out too much. They also coordinate well with our off-white/linen colored curtains.


I love that they add some height and frame the bed, but still leave plenty of room on the end table for a glass of water, a book, etc.


They also cozy up the room a lot and make it feel warmer and more homey, especially with the overhead light turned off.


Just like I hoped, they coordinate really well with each other now that they’re the same color. And they stand out a lot better against our black bedside tables than the previous black lamps.



And if I ever get tired of the white bases, they’ll be really easy to repaint! Another happy accident is that these lamps have the kind of switch that you just push to turn on and off. I prefer those to the kind you have to turn cause they’re so much easier to use when you’re tired and laying in bed!


We also had to buy a lamp kit (not the entire wiring kit, just the top piece) because the part the shade sits on was missing on one of the lamps. It was $5, so in total we spent just under $40 for the pair. Not exactly a steal, but it sure beats spending $40 or $50  a piece AND we were still under our $60 budget.

We certainly could have done it for less with cheaper shades, but these turned out to be exactly what I was wanting, not just a temporary solution to get us by. It was definitely worth it, and I love them!! I want to curl up in that room and read a book! Now we just need to get some stuff on those bare walls!

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