At the moment I’m helping Mum organise and re-design the little nook (parent’s retreat) off her and Dad’s master bedroom.

Whilst the complete room reveal is still a whiles away I wanted to share the finished upgrade of the wall sconces.

If you’ve read this blog more than once then you’d probably know I like the creative challenge of making the most of what’s already there, so rather than replace the lights completely (which, let’s face it, could probably have been done relatively cheaply and easily) I decided to flex some inventive muscle and see what I could come up with. That said, without my magic wand the frilly glass shades were a certain loss. Luckily, I already had an idea….

A while back I had stumbled across these plastic bulb cages.

(If you’re in the US then there are products like this everywhere – just Google ‘lamp cage’ or ‘lamp guard’ – though here down-under they are elusive so I was pretty pleased with finding them – even if $16.90 is a bit pricey if you ask me).

They are just standard lamp guards intended for industrial use (such as on building sites, in work shops etc.) though I thought they had definite adaptability potential so I tucked them somewhere in the back of my brain. Luckily, they stayed put in there, and when I was pondering a solution for Mum’s new sconce shades they jumped out from hiding.

“Hmmm, they could maybe work”, I thought to myself, and after checking some dimensions I ordered my cages.

Now, if you’re a ‘safety yellow’ kinda gal you could leave them as is though I wanted a more natural look so it was always my intention to use a paint-based disguise. The trouble, however, with painting plastic is that sometimes it can look like, well, painted plastic, so I thought I’d try this amazing metal effects paint.

(I bought mine from my local Bristol paint specialty store. See my ‘At a Glance’ quick guide at the end of the post for some helpful links).

The reactive iron paint contains real metal pigments and the rust activator generates real rust, so rather than a faux finish it is actually real (okay, so have you got my point about it being real?). This is high quality paint which sticks to just about anything and is a cinch to use. Just apply two coats of iron paint, allow to dry for at least an hour then use an atomiser to spray on the rust activator (you can go here to view a really clear and easy-to-follow manufacturer video tutorial). This paint is kinda pricey, though it’s so good only a small amount is needed to give ample coverage.

So, after just a little bit of craftin’ here’s Mum’s new sconce….

I love the instant patina this seemingly magic paint imparts.

For contrast, I only used the rust activator on the cages and simply left the sconce arms coated with the iron paint alone, which has an awesome textural graphite appearance. I swear, if it wasn’t quite so dear I might paint an entire room with it!

The clasp, which hinges the cages to allow for changing light bulbs, is incredibly tight to open and close so inevitably the paint does rub off from this small section when it is used. So, to combat the bright yellow which was peeking through I simply coloured the clasp area with a permanent brown marker – easy. The marker ink blends in seamlessly with the rusted iron and has so far stayed put so there is no longer any visible yellow plastic where the clasp pushes in and out.

To complete the look I used reproduction Edison bulbs. I contemplated painting the brass bulb capping black (to match the sconce sleeves) though I think I like the hint of tarnished gold.

For all my Aussie readers I finally found some bayonet cap Edison bulbs here in Oz – where else but on eBay of course (find the link in my ‘At a Glance’ list below). They’re not as ample or affordable as the ones in the US though I’m learning to live with it :-)

I’m happy to admit this style is not everyone’s cup of tea though I’m really pleased with how it turned out.
I reckon Mum’s lights would thank me if they could, plus it was a fun, fast, easy and cheap (about $20 per light – excluding the globes) way to burn off some creative tension and get a good DIY decorating fix!

Wouldn’t even know it was the same light, huh?

AT A GLANCE
SOURCES
Cages: Online Lighting, Amazon
Rust Effects Paint: Modern Masters, Dulux
Edison Bulbs: eBay, Amazon