Clip-on lamps are super practical. They are flexible, adjustable, lightweight and easy to move around. If you’re the DIY hardcore fan, then you have at least one of these in your home. Oftentimes, this is the lamp that will keep you company when it’s late at night, everybody’s sleeping and you’re burning the midnight oil. However, as practical as they are, clip-on lamps eventually start showing signs of wear and tear. For the most part, the aesthetics of a clip-on lamp isn’t all that appealing, but it isn’t until the wiring fails that we usually start thinking it might be time for a DIY lamp makeover project.
Clip-on desk lights come in a variety of shapes and looks. You’d usually have the standard USB LED lights that are supposed to provide for enough light to actually be comfortable reading. In my case, I decided LED clip-on lights aren’t exactly my thing, so I hit the thrift store and found this beauty.
The trouble with my thrift store clip-on lamp is that it had no wiring whatsoever and it wasn’t quite the modern, cool light fixture I was looking for to match the aesthetics of my workspace. It was a steal though: paid only $5 for it.
While I really liked the metallic look, I wasn’t very happy with the plain, boring interior. So before I started working on the wiring for this clip-on light, I decided to give it a nice and fast DIY makeover.
I decided to spray-paint the shade’s interior a funk pink for a bit of visual excitement. Some could argue it was a bit girly, but hey, a little bit of pink never hurt anybody. You can easily switch colors and go for gold, blue, a rainbow, or even Pantone’s color of the year. Spray -painting the inside of a clip-on desk lamp is super easy and it will allow you to customize the shade just the way you want it to be. If you want to go the extra mile, you can use stencils to create a cool look, like in this chic golden pattern lampshade project.
1. Use Painters' Masking Tape to tape off any sections of the lamp you don’t wish to paint.
2. Spray on primer per the package’s directions. Allow to dry before adding 2–3 coats of your chosen color.
Here’s my lamp, before and after the DIY spray-paint makeover job:
This lamp was missing all electrical components except the socket, so it was easy enough to wire it from scratch. If your clip-on desk lamp has its own wiring, but it’s damaged, I put together a step-by-step guide to show you how to take an old lamp apart and put it back together (without losing your mind or any lamp parts).
Step 1: Get a wiring kit. I used this one. It comes in 5 different color combos so you can choose the one that is the best fit for your lamp.
Step 2: Insert the lamp cord through its base, from the bottom to the top.
Step 3: It’s time to wire the socket of your clip-on lamp. You can see a step-by-step DIY wiring tutorial here and here. If you’re using a lamp wiring kit, the electrical cord ends should come pre-stripped for immediate use. Otherwise, you can easily strip your own cord ends with a wire stripper. This tool, found in hardware stores, lets you easily strip the plastic insulation from a length of cord to expose the wires within. You’ll need to expose the wires in order to attach them to the socket terminals. Same goes if you’re using cloth covered wire.
Step 4: After you wire the socket, gently pull the cord back into the lamp so the underwriter’s knot tightens and the socket terminal sits snugly in the socket base. Add your light bulb and voila, the finished lamp assembly.
Our E-book, Old Lamps, New Life: The DIY Guide to Repurposing and Rewiring Vintage lamps will guide you through the process of wiring old thrift store lamps. Part instructional handbook and part DIY project tutorials, it will give you the confidence to identify the various parts of any type of lamp, wire a new lamp in less than ten minutes, and determine which thrift store lamps make the best candidates for makeovers!
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