Repurposed Lighting


I was working my first volunteer event for Home ReSource a couple of years ago when I stumbled across this fantastic light fixture. It’s really heavy, old glass, and by the time we packed everything up and headed out, I just had to have it.

It was originally a ceiling fixture, but I decided to turn it upside down and use it as a bedside lamp. I had never wired a thing in my life, but a friend assured me it was easy as pie. So I bought a lamp cord at [unnamed big box store] and proceeded to go to work.

It really was easy as pie. Take the ceramic base apart, loosen the screws to take off the old wire, put in the new, and put the whole thing back together again. And I just love the light cast by its thick, ribbed globe. It’s somehow creamy and soft, yet plenty bright. I should add a little base to it, as there isn’t a spot for the cord to rest where it comes out the bottom. It sits a little cattywampus on the cord, but I don’t care all that much. It’s lovely as-is.

So when I decided to make another one for my boys’ room, I headed right back over to Home ReSource again. I set out 2 or 3 options, and the boys chose this super cute little retro-looking glass shade. I picked through a drawer of bases for the shiny silver (plastic-y) base. Two dollars later, we were on our way. They didn’t have any cord sets in at the time, so I had to swing by another unnamed big box store on the way home. Glass shade and cord set ran me all of $7 total. I got home feeling all smug and reuse-savvy.

And then I tried to put the lamp together.

Turns out the base I picked up DID NOT have the easy-to-work-with screws that the first lamp had. I don’t know what these things are…they look like a longish sort of grommet. I worked at prying up the sides and getting the wires down around them as the old ones had been, but it was no use. I did actually plug the thing in and it lit up the first time, but not the second. That’s OK…I would have been too nervous to run the lamp anyway, for fear it would spark.

So I’m heading back to Home ReSource to look for another base that DOES in fact, have some way of replacing the wires. But just for fun, I popped the new shade for the boys’ lamp onto the base from my lamp. Hmmm…turns out I like it even better. So maybe I’ll let the boys have this one, and look for a new iteration of my beautiful bedside lamp.

Have you tried something like this? Had good luck (or bad) with rewiring old electric fixtures? Please share in the comments section…you’ll help us all find inspiration and maybe keep us from electrocuting ourselves!


Like this ‘Reuse It’  blog post by Lisa Hensley?  Then chances are you’ll also like Going Green Missoula Recycling page,  or other Re-Use It blogs: Building an Urbanite Retaining Wall or Creating Crafty Crayons or  Heirloom Seeds.


Click here to see Lisa Hensley’s Reuse It Archive.


Lisa Hensley is a mostly-native Montanan, living in Missoula with her husband, two young boys, two cats (boys), one tiny dog (a girl!) and 4 fish (probably boys). She spent more than 10 years in the Marketing and creative field, but is now Director of Household Operations for the Hensley group. When she’s not herding kids or doing laundry, she’s shooting photos, gardening, baking, reading or taking classes—sometimes all at once. She serves on the Board of Directors for Home ReSource, which fits in nicely with her tendency to repurpose pretty much anything.

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