Before & After: Two Dorm Lamps Get A Grown Up New Look


There is a pervasive idea in our culture that, once you’ve graduated college, moved out of your dorm, and taken up residence in a real-life “grown up” apartment, it’s time to retire all your old furniture. Sure—that floral-printed inflatable armchair isn’t exactly the ideal for an adult living space [or maybe it is—you do you], but that doesn’t mean that all of your late-adolescent purchases need to go. The awesome thing about purchasing things on the cheap for your college dorm is that oftentimes, they’re simple enough (and inexpensive enough) to get the DIY treatment—and the results can be amazing. This is exactly what Amit Thakkar, a political consultant in California, did with a set of dull IKEA lamps he had saved from his college days. On their own, they were barebones and bland—perfectly acceptable, but nothing really special, either. With a bit of paint and fabric (and a budget of $15!), Amit was able to take these simple objects and make them much more beautiful and amazingly glam. Check out all of the photos, plus Amit’s design notes after the jump! —Max


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“The lamps were a bit drab in boring office grey with a white plastic shade, but I loved them because they were super functional, diffused light well, and because it was easy to adjust the light intensity in my eyes by just moving the lamp up or down on its pivot.  But after renovating my house and buying my first new pieces of furniture, I realized the lamps didn’t go with my dark built-ins and midcentury-ish furniture.  Plus, they were very similar in color to the grey I painted my walls, so they just disappeared into whatever room I put them.  I’ve been admiring the many black and brass lamps out on the market, but most were too expensive and I really didn’t want to waste perfectly good lamps.  Sadly, they sat unused and unloved for the past 12 months. In honor of hitting the one-year mark in my new place, I decided to take on a little project and see if I could transform these lamps into something similar to the ones I’ve been admiring for so long.”



“I unscrewed all of the removable pieces from the lamps and put them aside for a spray with gold/brass paint.  I had to rig up a little rack made up of styrofoam and q-tips to spray the tiny screws and caps.  The rest of the lamps I thoroughly cleaned, sanded and sprayed with matte black enamel.  I then taped the newly painted lamps, so I could brass up a couple detail pieces on the lamp that I wasn’t able to remove.  The taping was the longest part of the process because of how many nooks, crannies and movable parts these lamps have.  Some random black automotive touch-up paint was brushed on later on places where my taping proved less than stellar. “


“Once I put the lamp back together, the white plastic shade didn’t seem to work with the rest of the lamp.  I was determined to finish this project in one day and without having to purchase anything else.  I rummaged around and found a sample of black fabric a curtain vendor had left during the renovation.  I wrapped it around the shade, used packing tape to hold it tightly in place, and cut around the top and bottom (not as well as I would have liked, but I’m hardly Martha Stewart).  

“I’m really not at all crafty, and the projects I take on have a 50/50 chance of success or abject failure.  I actually thought this project would fit into the latter category, but surprisingly the lamps turned out almost exactly as I had envisioned and fit really well with my other furniture.  The project took two to three hours spread out over an extremely hot day, with a couple hours between coats of paint.  I had to purchase a can of primer and cans of Rust-Oleum Black and Metallic – costing around $14 altogether.”

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  1. Lisa says:

    elegant result, simple and class

  2. Dnuila says:


  3. Heidi says:

    Superb job! Elegant choice of colors and craft wise- very well done. This should inspire you to bigger and better diy challenges!

  4. Wow! Love the choice of colors, and the excellent execution. Skilled!

  5. Lynn says:

    Looks great. Well done

  6. Renee Ozer says:

    Beautiful space. And I see you’ve read Wolf Hall.

  7. cate says:

    I don’t generally comment on the projects I see here. But your lamp project inspired me. I love your simple, yet elegant, improvements to reclaim your lamps turn them into treasures for the next phase of your life. Great Job!!

  8. michael says:

    sitting beside the hans wegner papa bear chair and ottoman probably helps

  9. Deborah says:

    Graeat looking lamp redo! Can you also tell us where the side tables are from?
    Thank you!

  10. Ievey says:

    Great change! The home after looks so fresh and cosy, I love the styling, this is exactly what I’m hoping to achieve in my own home.

  11. Rachel says:

    I really love how simplistic the design of these lamps is. Great job – I’d love a lamp like this in my room and you’ve inspired me to go on a charity shop hunt and do a bit of DIY.

  12. Tina Batori says:

    Congrats on taking on this project. You’re right, those lamps give great light. I’m really impressed by how you took the time to choose which bits to make metallic — looks like you did a great job!

  13. Amy Squires says:

    Fantastic and very inspiring!

  14. Def going to remember this when I move into my new apartment. You collect so much stuff in college that you think you would never use again! Love this repurposing technique!

  15. Those Ikea lamps are truly transformed, I am a big fan of Recycling, using what you have. You did a fantastic job, they look elegant and go perfectly with your home. Well Done!

  16. Monnaie says:

    Nice interior decoration and interior furnishing!

  17. Veronica says:

    Nice job! Let’s see the rest of the apartment :)

  18. Amit says:

    Aw shucks, thanks everyone! I’m glad you liked it! I actually didn’t realize there was a comment section, so I’m just seeing your notes now! I enjoy building things and cobbling together furniture, but it’s creative and detailed stuff like this that I tend to shy away from, so your positive comments will definitely motivate me to try other things in the future. Just finished renovating my place a year ago, and almost done furnishing it, maybe after all your nice comments I’ll post a before and after, haha!

  19. They look great! I love the gold detail.. I’m wondering where you got the idea for that! It really adds a unique touch. Love them.

  20. Debbie says:

    Super job. Love it!

  21. Luna17 says:

    Seriously, genius.

  22. Eva says:

    very nice! well done!

  23. Kirsty says:

    (Lusting after that $3000 chair alongside the budget re-do!!)

  24. Ann says:

    Very nice. I’m doing a bit of lamp research, so this is perfect timing and motivational in terms of getting lamps at the right cost with good bones and DIY potential. Thanks!

  25. I really love the new look of these lamps. I have one just the same and never thought of changing them like this. Is the amount of light restricted by much?

  26. Kirstin says:

    Great transformation! I love turning plain items like these into something unique.


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