I believe that every room needs "something old." One of my favorite ways to add that something old is through vintage lighting. Lighting is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to add a vintage piece to a room, compared to a piece of vintage furniture that probably needs to be refinished or reupholstered. With a $15 lamp kit and a $20 shade from Target, you can make a tired vintage lamp look brand new.
I spotted this classic ginger jar lamp with blue and white bamboo detailing at an estate sale on Saturday. The estate had a ton of lamps, but many of the lamps were rusted, dirty, and otherwise unappealing to most people. But not to me.
I wish I had a good "before" picture of the lamp before I took it apart. Sometimes I feel like photographing the whole project from the very beginning will jinx me and make it not turn out (I have several sets of complete photographs of botched projects), so I waited until I took the lamp apart to show it to you.
The lamp was in BAD shape. All metal pieces were completely rusted; the electrical wiring was beyond repair; the white wooden base was badly discolored. But the porcelain lamp body itself was beautiful. It is a ginger jar shape with gorgeous blue bamboo branches. I thought it would be just the right lamp for my new office area.
When I took the lamp apart, I found that the inside was covered in red clay mud, leading me to think it had been sitting outside through at least a few rainstorms. No big deal- I was going to replace all the wiring anyway.
So I set to work on getting it squeaky clean and safely working. Before doing anything, I made sure the lamp was unplugged. I've learned the hard way on that. To take the lamp apart, unscrew the socket at the top of the lamp until you reach the cord; then cut the cord. Once you pull the cord out from the bottom, the whole lamp will basically come apart.
I knew the lamp base needly to be painted, so I used a quick coat of black Rustoleum.
Because the original rod was so rusty, I used a new rod to go inside the lamp to stabilize it and hold the lamp pieces (base, ginger jar, and lid) together. Sometimes finding the right length can be tricky, but Lowe's and Home Depot have many sizes. I added the "lid" to the ginger jar and placed a brass washer over the top to stabilize it.
This is where a lamp kit comes in. You can buy these for around $15 at Lowe's or Home Depot. They include a new cord, socket, and brass fittings.
First you run the new cord through the lamp, starting at the base.
Then you push it through all the way out the top of the rod at the top of the lamp.
Then you screw the brass "neck" that is part of the lamp kit on to the rod, and it makes the entire lamp tight and stable.
Next, add the u-shaped harp base that is part of the lamp kit. Even if you plan to use a harpless spider shade, it is still nice to have the option to use a harp. If you don't add this piece now, then you have to completely rewire the lamp to add it in the future.
Then, screw on the base of the socket that is also part of the lamp kit.
After you have checked and re-checked to make sure that the lamp is not plugged in, then you start on the wiring. The switch has two screws- one is silver, and one is gold.
The cord is split into two pieces. The rubber coating around one of the wires is ribbed.
Wrap the wire in the ribbed coating around the silver screw. Wrap the non-ribbed wire around the gold screw. Then tighten the screws.
It is 99% done. Just slip the metal sleeve over the socket and switch, and it is ready to go.
Then add the shade. I used a black shade here since I have a black base.
So with a lamp kit and a new shade (and a little patience), you can easily modernize any vintage lamp! I love my new (old) desk lamp. Stay tuned for more office/ playroom progress!