before & after: industrial sconce makeover

Lately, we’ve been really into metals here at D*S, but there are a few instances where metals can go wrong, and no metal walks that thin line between beautiful and tacky quite like brass. I’m sure we’ve all seen examples of good brass and bad brass. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what throws off the look, although we think super shiny brass looks best when contrasted with darker colors like charcoals, black or navy.

In the case of this wall sconce, we fully support Kristine’s decision to paint over the brass and swap out the shade; what’s more, we’re very impressed with the rusting job she’s done on the simple lamp cage. The result is a lovely, sophisticated, industrial sconce — a total transformation from the original, which was suffering from a bit of “granny style” (no offense, grannies!). The best part? This beautiful new look cost less than $40! Great job, Kristine! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

More before and after images after the jump . . .

Time: about 1 hour (plus paint drying time)

Cost: $20 (excluding the cost of Edison bulbs): $16 for the lamp guard cage and $4 worth of paint

Basic Steps

1. Paint sconce arm with iron paint. Allow to dry.

2. Paint plastic cage with iron paint. Allow to dry (30 minutes).

3. Paint plastic cage with second coat of iron paint. Allow to dry (1 hour).

4. Spray rust activator on cage using an atomizer in one fine coat. Allow to dry.

5. Assemble light and insert bulb.

6. Flip the switch and enjoy your awesome new industrial-style light!

If you don’t have a sconce, you could easily re-create this look with any standard ceiling pendant. The iron paint and rust activator is quite pricey, though you only need a tiny bit to give great coverage. Edison bulbs are not essential though do help complete the vintage industrial look. — Kristine

  1. Talia T. says:

    Love it! Where would I be able to find a plastic cage like that?

  2. Carrie says:

    “the silence of the lamps”

    (really sorry, couldn’t resist!)

  3. Andrea says:

    I know I ought to know this, but did you take down the sconce to paint it, or just tape around it and leave it in place on the wall? Thx!

  4. AnnaZed says:

    That is so impressive, I love it.

  5. Caroline says:

    Where did the lamp cage come from?

  6. fabi says:

    wow! that IS cool! you really gotta have a good amount of imaginaiton and tatse to get to this. the lamp seems to have gone from horrid to great in seconds! congrats!

  7. Jamie says:

    Plastic cages like that are cheap and plentiful at stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc.

  8. April says:

    Amazing creativity – I wouldn’t have been able to envision a final product like that by looking at that before pic. Impressive!

  9. Kristine says:

    Thanks for featuring me D*S!

    You can visit my original blog post here:
    for further details about the supplies I used.


  10. It looks like a totally different lamp! I love this project!

  11. Bonnie says:

    Love that steampunk sconce!

  12. imemine says:

    as a lover of rusted metal ( and who would know the difference ) i am sold !

  13. amelia says:

    YES! I knew there was fabulousness in those plastic cages. You found it!

  14. David says:

    Love the look!

  15. This is an excellent and innovative idea, fabulous thank you

  16. donna says:

    FAB FAB FAB!!!!! thank you for sharing this gorgeous success!

  17. Jeff says:

    How do you attach the scull??? That’s the whole reason I clicked!

  18. Debbie says:

    Can u please tell me how u get the skull head onto that cage. I’m so interested in making two for my garage lights? Please email me back.


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