How to Repurpose a Lamp Base

by Elizah Leigh, Demand Media
    The average American consumer produces 4.43 pounds of solid municipal waste each day (Reference 1).

    The average American consumer produces 4.43 pounds of solid municipal waste each day (Reference 1).

    Fluctuating trends, coupled with a constant influx of factory-fresh merchandise, inspires consumers to indulge their instant-gratification cravings more often than not. This type of purchasing enthusiasm is certainly good for our economy, but the downside is that the objects we once held in high regard are ultimately kicked to the curb far before their useful life ends. Lamp bases are a perfect example of this, since they reflect design styles that ebb and flow, but with a bit of clever tweaking, they can morph into repurposed decor superstars that will be admired for many more years.

    Items you will need

    • Recycled newspaper
    • Work gloves
    • Old lamp base
    • Oil based paints
    • Assorted paintbrushes
    • Weatherproof sealant
    • Weatherproof glue
    • Hammer
    • Grout
    • Sponge
    • Plants
    • Soil
    • Birdseed
    • Old dish or tray
    • Old garden planter

    Step 1

    Protect your work surface with several layers of recycled newspaper, slip on a pair of work gloves and carefully remove all extraneous lamp components such as the shade, finial, bulb, harp, neck, vase cap, interior pipe and electric cord from the lamp base, reserving them for other creative and practical applications. You’re now ready to get crafty with your pared down lamp base.

    Step 2

    Repurpose your lamp base immediately as an upright storage solution for umbrellas, hand-held gardening tools, kitchen utensils, artist’s paintbrushes, knitting needles or wrapping paper rolls, with no physical alteration necessary. An old lamp base can also become an elevated candle platform, a bookend or a decorative catchall for random knick-knacks or a pedestal cake tray. In all cases, a fresh coat of paint or a carefully executed design will bestow your new-to-you creation with a welcome face-lift that can be altered to reflect your changing tastes.

    Step 3

    Reuse the lamp base for garden and outdoor purposes. If the lamp base lacks holes and is watertight (apart from the top opening where the neck and vase cap were formerly located), it can be instantly repurposed as a flower vase. If it is made of transparent glass, it can become a tabletop terrarium with the addition of soil and the moisture-loving plants of your choice. Moving outside into the garden, an old lamp base can be used as a no-frills decorative accent or you can make it into a pedestal bird feeder by gluing a large weatherproof dish or tray on top. Conversely, shattering a ceramic lamp base with a hammer can yield mosaic-worthy pieces that -- when applied with glue and secured with grout -- will resurface an old planter or stud the top of a paver stone.

    Tips

    • Plain Jane lamps can be purchased for bargain prices at thrift stores and be transformed into supermodel decor specimens just by applying creative artistic strategies gleaned from craft and DIY resources.
    • If you revamp a lamp base with a hand painted or découpage design, applying a clear sealant will ensure that your art withstands the elements, particularly if you display it outdoors.
    • When repurposing an old lamp base as a storage container, a bookend or an elevated candle platform, pouring glass marbles or stones in the interior will prevent it from accidentally tipping over, especially if it is constructed of a lighter weight or shatter-prone material such as plastic or glass.

    Warning

    • When converting an old glass or ceramic lamp base into mosaic shards, wear eye protection and cover the whole unit with a towel just before shattering it with a hammer. This towel will help ensure your safety while yielding larger pieces that are easier to work with.

    Resources

    • "Upcycling: Create Beautiful Things With the Stuff You Already Have"; Danny Seo; 2011
    • "Salvage Style in Your Home: Stylish Projects and Inspirational Ideas for Using Rescued and Recycled Objects to Decorate Your Home"; Moira Hankinson and Nicholas Hankinson; 2001

    About the Author

    An eco-journalist for 1-800-Recycling, Ecorazzi, Martha Stewart’s Whole Living, WebEcoist, Organic Baby University and This Dish Is Veg, among others publications, Elizah Leigh continues inspiring readers to wade in greener waters using a unique literary voice that highlights the informational and quirky side of the green scene. She holds a Master of Arts in teaching English.

    Photo Credits

    • Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images