Monday, April 26, 2010

trash to treasure

How to make your house look like you buy everything from 1st Dibs for $1000:

The find:  Two amazing and beat up lamps which are both in need of rewiring.
Price:  $25 for the two. 
Next stop:  antique lighting shop.  I take these lamps to the shop and the guy tells me I need new bases and a rewire which will cost $125 for each lamp, but offers to buy the lamps from me for $50.  Then I look around his store and his antique lamps are going for $500 a piece.  Nice try!

Here's what you will need:
Phillips head
Wire cutters 
Two extension cords
Two new pull chain lamp sockets
Two decorative pull chains
Start by unscrewing the washer on the bottom of the lamp and then cut the cord where it comes out of the lamp (see below).

Pull the old socket out through the center of the lamp.  I liked the patina from the old socket, so I replaced the cardboard socket insert, but I left the old brass casing on, so that the new casing didn't look too new.

Then I cut the end off of an extension cord and threaded it back through the center of the lamp.

Using the wire cutters, I shaved the protective plastic off of the tip of the cord and split the cord in two.

Then I removed the protective cardboard casing from the socket and loosened the two screws on the socket and wrapped each of the wires around the screws and re-tightened them.

The put the socket back on the lamp and pull the cord tightly through the bottom of the lamp and screw the washer back in place.

Using Windex, I cleaned the lamp and polished the brass base and the harp and finial with a couple of coats of Brasso.  I wanted to maintain the patina of the tarnished brass, so I just gave it a quick polish, but I could have shined it up to a high brass color if I kept going.  I then cut the socket pull string and replaced it with an antique-looking decorative pull from the hardware store.   The whole thing took about an hour for both lamps and cost $24.

This is a lamp shade from another lamp in my house and it is too small, but you get the idea.  Sorry for the poor quality pictures...


  1. Corbett - Really good post - You'll have fun finding nice shades for these beautiful lamps. LOVE the offer that you declined from the antique dealer - he didn't know who HE was dealing with!

  2. holy crap. didn't know you had it you. Well done

  3. unFlippinBelievable!
    T. Rivera

  4. Some girls collect shoes....honestly I'm a lamp girl and I REALLY love nifty old ones. The pair that you found are really beautiful! I found a beauty at the Long Beach swap meet for fifty bucks (which in my mind was a steal) and then proceeded to find a lamp shade. Same thing, the lamp shade shop complimented me on the lamp and offered to give me 40 for it. How RUDE! Keep in mind this was a "nice" lighting store so of course I was deeply offended and so me and my beauty left.
    Back to your that you have demonstrated so nicely (watch out HGTV) just how easy it is to re-wire, I can go back to my collecting with more $ in my pocket and a confident smile on my face!
    Thank you.