How we Customized our House with Spray Paint. Part One: Light Fixtures
Spray paint has been involved in some of my most favorite things in our house. This is my love letter to spray paint. With those little cans, you can make some high impact changes without a whole lot of work and definitely without breaking the bank. If you haven't gone down the spray paint aisle lately, you might be surprised by the selection and quality that you can find. I remember the first time I noticed the Rustoleum cans with pictures of furniture on them. I was in love. All of the possibilities.
I can't actually remember my very first spray paint project. I want to say that I painted something for my first apartment – an end table from a garage sale. That piece is long since been left behind. But its siblings, the products of my fascination with spray paint, live on in our current home and I know for certain that there will be many more.
Before I go on, I want to mention that there is a lot to be said for chalk paint and the art of antiquing a piece of furniture or a light fixture with it. I did our dining room chandelier with chalk paint and the circular mirror that currently hangs in our living room. But, my first love for furniture and lighting rehab has to be spray paint. I bring this up mainly because you will find in scouring the internet that chalk paint is many people's go-to for many of the items that I will show you I have spray painted. My obsession for spray paint lies mainly in the fact that I started doing this stuff way before chalk paint was a thing, and I used it to create the same effects that chalk paint will give you, without ever knowing that chalk paint was or would be an option.
So, what exactly have I spray painted in our home? Here is the short list: all of our overhead lighting with the exception of the ceiling fans in our bedroom and the dining room chandelier, our current living room coffee table, countless vases and candle holders, my beloved silver chair rehab project and last but not least – the legs of our dining room table and chairs. In fact, besides the end table that I mentioned above, the dining room table and chairs was one of my very first spray paint jobs. I am absolutely positive that I am not remembering every spray painted object but I am almost absolutely certain that you are going to be surprised by some of the outcomes.
I'll start with the lighting projects because they are some of my favorites because I am obsessed with lighting and have a deep hatred for ugly light fixtures. This is what you need to know: for the price of a can (possibly two cans depending on the size of the light fixture), you can take most any light fixture and make it an actual showpiece, or at the very least, one that you don't need to spend any more money replacing. We'll start with the least impressive and work our way up to my most prized lighting. But before we do that, I also want to mention that if the globes on your fixtures are a style you don't like, you can simply replace the globe/glass cup, or even remove it/them all together (the last light fixture below). Your lighting aisles at Home Depot, Lowes and Walmart have a nice selection of replacement globes for very reasonable prices.
Onto the lights.
This hallway light used to be one of those cheapy brass jobs. I don't have a before picture because I did it long before I started blogging. You know what kind of light I am talking about though – they run you about $15-20 at any store and are “contractor-grade” at best. I think every house that I have ever lived in had at least one of these brass guys up on the ceiling. A few swipes of the spray paint on the brass portion of this fixture, wait for it to dry for about 45 minutes then a second coat and voila!
I am going to pause right now and add that all of these light fixtures were removed from the ceiling and brought outside onto the patio to be painted. I also want to add that George is the brains behind any and all electrical handiwork. This particular fixture didn't require any electrical work because the brass and globe portion could be removed separate and apart from the electrical. What do you need for spray paint set-up? Some newspapers/cardboard, something to cover the ground and some space so the residual paint doesn't get on other stuff. That is it.
Moving on. The light in our powder room was another brass boy. Again, I don't have a before of this one because I was more on a light painting rampage than concerned with photos for a blog but I think that you can imagine what this would look like in brass. Rather than spend $100 for a new fixture, I used the same can of spray paint from our hall light and fixed this one up too. We also flipped this one so the lights are facing up rather than down. Just liked the look better.
Our stairway light is one of my most favorite light upgrades. When I first bought this house, this was a major eyesore. It is a rather dainty light but it was guess.... BRASS, and it also had these dated late 90s glass panels surrounding it. The other issue with this light was that regardless of what I decided to do, it was going to require a major conquering of heights – the electrical is about 20-feet high up. So regardless of whether I bought a new fixture or painted this one, it was going to be a feat. In comes George. Have I mentioned that he is pretty handy? One day this past summer, he surprised me on a Friday and brought home a super tall, flexible kind of ladder that would allow him to position the feet at different heights (i.e. one set would have to be positioned on the steps – eep!). We also had to paint this part of the stairway so we did all of that the same weekend. He removed the light and I got to painting it right away. I actually think that I ended up using the same can of spray paint that I had used on our hallway and powder room lights. We also decided to remove the glass panels but keep the little clasps to add some interest. It looks like an old-timey kind of lantern now and we used some candleabra style Edison bulbs to complete the look. P.S. Don't believe the people that tell you that Edison bulbs are a trend – they are lying. Here are some before and afters.
I saved my most favorite light for last. I've talked about this one before but I couldn't exclude it here because it is the one for which I am most proud. The red light in our den. This one required some electrical work from George because I wanted it flipped from a downward facing light fixture to a chandelier-style light. He flipped the wiring and I got to painting. We removed the globes permanently to give it a cleaner, more updated and formal look. Here it is.
Next up on the blog will be a look at some furniture and houseware projects that I did with spray paint. You're probably wondering where the tutorial is on how I painted all of these lights that I showed you, right? The thing is, there is no tutorial for spray paint. All you need are your cans of spray paint and the area where you will work. You need to work in an area with lots of ventilation – I have only spray painted outside because we have never had a workshop - yet! You may went to make a few test sprays on the paper that you have laid to protect the ground to get an idea of how the can is going to spray. The trick is usually to make short even sprays and kind of glide your hand in a swing back and forth sort of way. You do not want to coat heavily as the paint will start to bubble. You want a flat even surface. Oh! This is big! Always clean and thoroughly dry the surface you will be painting before you start to paint. Wait about 45 minutes to an hour between your first and second coats. That is truly about all that you need to know. One thing that you may want to invest in is a spray paint trigger – they sell them at Home Depot or Lowes in the spray paint aisle. for less than $5.00 The triggers make it a little easier on your hand for a big project because believe me, your hand starts to hurt.
My hope for this article is that you can start thinking about some big changes you can make in your own home without spending very much money at all. In fact, the grand total for re-doing all four of these lights was about $20 TOTAL! It can be done. We do it all of the time. And it is actually very, very fun to do this stuff. We hang a new light that we worked on and we just stare at it for a few minutes, proud of our work.
Thank you so much for stopping by, it really means the world to me. Don't forget to follow me on Instagram and Pinterest and that you can read me in the Apple News format. Until the next time!