Sunday, October 7, 2012

Not all vintage is appealing..

So, a friend gave me this lamp from the 1980's, the appearance of which proved beyond a reasonable doubt that not everything vintage or retro is pretty!  It's huge--over 5' tall and very heavy--made from a plaster-like material that has a rough bumpy texture in a horizontal pattern and painted an ugly shade of mauve.

I had it hidden in the back room where no company was allowed for about a year and was actually considering giving it to Goodwill when I found an interesting idea--on a DIY board on pinterest, of course!

The project I found was actually done on a damaged hardwood floor in an older home and I loved the way it looked. The home owner glued random-sized pieces of brown wrapping paper onto her wood floor, stained it a rich brown shade and then varnished it. The result totally changed the appearance of the room for the better and brought to mind the look of rich polished leather, so I decided to try a variation of her application on the lamp...I figured, it couldn't hurt, right? Anything was sure to be an improvement over the 'mauve monster'...

I purchased a roll of basic brown wrapping paper from Walmart. If you are old enough, you will remember the paper sacks checkers used to pack our groceries in before they began using plastic bags.  I ripped irregular pieces off the roll of paper--approximately 2"X3" or 3"X4", soaked them in warm water for about 30 minutes and then glued each piece onto the lamp base in a random pattern using slightly watered-down Elmer's Craft Glue. I overlapped each piece over the one next to it to be sure every spot was covered.

Tip: Whatever type of white glue you begin your project with, continue using the same type/brand. If you change glue brands or types, you may get a different result and your project won't look cohesive.

When I had the lamp base covered in brown paper, I let it dry completely for a few days and then painted a coat of glue over the entire base for a slightly glossy appearance.
I generally use whatever materials I have on hand, but to make the paper covering more permanent, a coat of varnish might be a better choice. Here are a couple of photos of the project in various stages of progress:

The lampshade I thought went well with my brown paper lamp is also one of my creations, refashioned after an idea I read about on
 As the website states: 'Because imitation is the highest form of flattery'

The website shows how other DIYer's have copied items that they personally would love to have, but don't want to pay the high price tag commanded from stores such as Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, Horchow, Anthropologie, etc. When I saw this knock-off of the Ranunculus Swirl Shade from Anthropologie by Terra of Mama Says Sew, I knew I had to try it, myself. Here is the link to hers:

I had an old drum shade from a yard sale lamp that was water-damaged, so I decided to attempt my own version of Terra's knock-off.
Since I am clueless when it comes to hot glue crafts, I chose to sew my flowers onto my lampshade. I had two vintage curtain panels--a lace one and a sheer panel with embroidery, but you can use any fabric you choose, keeping in mind that the heavier the fabric, the less light you will get when you turn on the lamp.

 I wanted larger fabric blooms, so I cut strips--approximately 30"-35" long and 2" wide, folded them length-wise and hand-gathered them with needle and thread.  I then made each gathered section into a basic 'flower' shape, by holding it my palm and flattening it as I rolled,  sewed the backs together, so they would stay in form and then stitched each fabric flower onto the lampshade. The sheer embroidery fabric had more volume to it, so the blossoms made with that fabric are a bit larger, but I like the irregular look of it.
Because of the placement of the bottom row of fabric blooms, the lower edge of my lampshade was still visible when I finished, so I sewed some gold vintage lace around it. If you would rather have blooms only, be sure your bottom row of fabric flowers hangs down past the edge of the shade a bit...

Tip: Shorter strips of fabric will make smaller flowers, so choose lengths accordingly. My 30"-35" strips make flowers about 3"-4" across.

You can also hot glue the fabric blooms onto the lampshade, providing you are proficient in the use of a hot glue gun, as these flowers are heavier than you would expect; it may take several spots of hot glue to get them to stay where you want them.  Otherwise, you can stitch each flower on as I did, which assured that the fabric flowers are securely fastened onto the lampshade.
 Tip: One drawback I found in sewing the fabric flowers onto the shade---the inside of the lampshade is not pretty, with thread bunched here and there. What can I say...? It was my first attempt!
Here are some photos of the steps in the fabric flower construction:

Yes, it took me quite a while to sew all the fabric flowers onto the lampshade, but I love to create different looks and this lamp is definitely a unique piece.
Here is a photo of the finished Anthropologie knock-off decor lampshade:

And here is the former 'mauve monster', refashioned into a cool lamp:

This 'makeover' was recently featured on, as well. Once again, appreciation to Beckie for posting for me!


  1. I love it, turned out beautiful!!

  2. Thank you, Cynthia! I love the unusual look of it, myself. I appreciate your comment. Have a great weekend!

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