before and afterDIY

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

by Maxwell Tielman


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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