Upcycled Buffet Lamps

With a little paint and some Rub ‘n Buff, these buffet lamps became the perfect addition to my antique sideboard.

I recently replaced my beloved hutch with an antique sideboard in my dining room. The hutch covered most of the wall and didn’t allow the new wallpaper to show. My china filled the open shelves of the hutch, and there wasn’t room for other decor.

Hutch in a dining room with china

When I moved in the sideboard, I realized that I needed some new pieces to fill in the space above it. The wallpaper is gorgeous (in my opinion), but it needed to be warmed up with some decor. Buffet lamps seemed like the perfect solution. 

I found some lamps that I loved from Lampsplus, but they were $539 for the pair. That wasn’t in my budget for my dining room refresh. 

Two brass and black buffet lamps

While browsing in a furniture and home decor consignment shop with my mom, I came across a pair of buffet lamps. They had too many layers of gloppy white paint on them. I liked the shape, but they each had a bird detail at the top of the post, which I didn’t like. At $16 for the pair, I didn’t have much to lose. Still, I studied them wondering if I could remove the bird somehow.

In the end, my mother made me see reason. Other than the bad paint job, they seemed to be in good shape. The electrical parts were in tact and they seemed very sturdy. Mom pointed out that I could give them a quick paint job and resell them if I didn’t like them, so they came home with me!

The white glop has to go

You can see some of the runs in the paint job in the picture. I think the paint masks some of the pretty details in the lamps, too. This might be why I didn’t like the birds very much. They kind of blended in like two strange blobs on the tops of the posts. 


I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the lamps once I got them home, but I knew the white had to go. 


In looking at the expensive lamps that I really wanted, I decided that black and brass might be the way to go with these.

Buffet lamps painted white

Paint and Rub 'n Buff to the rescue

I had some Krylon Primer and Paint in one in matte black on hand. It has become my go-to black paint. Before painting, some prep work was needed to eliminate the runs in the white paint. I just gave both lamps a good sanding with a very fine sandpaper.

Spray painting works best when you apply multiple light coats. I sprayed four coats on each lamp. Once the paint dried thoroughly, I applied Rub ‘n Buff in European gold. This was a little tricky as I just wanted the details to be gold. To achieve this look, I used a small brush to paint the Rub ‘n Buff in the grooves in the top urn-shaped piece that is just below the birds. I also brushed it on the wide piece below the urns.

For everything else, I applied the Rub ‘n Buff with my finger. I recommend wearing a thin nitrile glove for this process. Rub ‘n Buff doesn’t come off of your fingers easily! I wanted just the raised areas to be gold. To do this without smearing the gold everywhere, put the tiniest amount of Rub ‘n Buff on your finger and lightly touch it to the raised areas. I can’t stress “tiniest amount” enough. 

Once the gold went on, the pretty details on these lamps really popped. I even liked the birds. 

painted buffet lamps

Lampshades complete the look

The lamps still needed some lampshades. I found a pair at Lowe’s that worked well with the wallpaper.

Antique buffet with two buffet lamps placed on top

The lamps have added so much ambiance to the dining room. I love how they look turned on in the evening. The photo below when the room was decorated for Christmas.

Buffet lamps turned on in dining room

The new-to-me buffet lamps are not exactly like the expensive lamps that I wanted, but I think I like them better. The bird detail on the tops of the lamps is unique and so pretty. It might be my favorite feature about these lamps. To think, I stood in the store trying to figure out how to remove them!

Hi! I’m Erin. As life evolves, so does a home. Join me as I share DIY projects to update, renovate, decorate and improve my home to complement my empty-nest lifestyle.