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Super-Easy DIY Rehab of This Sweet Mid-Century Modern Swirl Lamp

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By Lisa Brunette

I've been obsessed with so-called 'Millennial pink' for some time now, and I'm not even a Millennial. My pink preoccupation reached its zenith this fall when I finally got around to rehabbing a Mid-Century Modern swirl lamp I'd rescued from a junk shop. And how delicious is that sweet lamp? It's like Willy Wonka meets 'I Dream of Jeannie.'

True Millennial pink, however, is the pastel version, which you can see in that coaster next to the lamp above. A note about that coaster: It's actually a 1920s vintage enamel ash tray made across the river in Belleville, Illinois (where I went to high school), possibly at a company called Peerless-Premier, which still exists. But I opted for Barbie pink as a reference to the focal point in our living room, a painting given to us by Anthony's mother when she died in 2011. It was painted by the Puerto Vallarta artist Marta Gilbert

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A habit of collecting original art is one of the many things I had in common with Anthony's mother, A. Grace. I've written about her previously on the blog, as she inspired the character Amazing Grace in the Dreamslippers Series. She was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, of Spanish, Mexican, and Native American descent, specifically the Zapateca and Pueblo tribes. Honoring that heritage was central to my design for our living room at Dragon Flower Farmhouse, which I'll show you more of in next week's post. For now let's just say there are pink hues throughout, captured most dramatically in the painting that inspired it all and with this lamp.

I spotted the lamp on the top shelf in a back corner of a junk shop here in Maplewood. (Sadly, the place no longer exists, another pandemic casualty.) The lamp had no shade, and as you can see, the white paint had chipped off in a few places, but I saw a diamond in the rough. It only cost me $7 (USD).

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Its genie-lamp shape really did remind me of the fantasy sit-com from the 60s, 'I Dream of Jeannie.' I'd debated about what color to paint it for some time, as the pink in the living room is balanced against its complementary hue on the color wheel, green. But in the end, the pink won out. Those swirls just take me in a delectable candy direction, and I couldn't fight it. 

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Fortunately, all I needed was enough paint to fill a sample size, so I didn't have to invest in an entire gallon of princess-room pink that I wouldn't otherwise have a use for. (I know; you pink lovers out there are going, 'Oh, but there are so many uses!'). 

There was no need to use spray paint this time, as the ceramic lamp would easily take latex. I always use low-VOC brands, to minimize the off-gassing from the volatile organic compounds in most house paint. 

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It was easy - and fun - to brush this luscious pink onto the lamp, and it only took one coat. I managed this in a weekend afternoon while also making my first sourdough pizza crust from scratch (!), a topic for another post. I used tape around the base of the lamp, but honestly, I wish I hadn't. I always do much better cutting in without painter's tape, which always pulls some of the paint off when I remove it. I have a pretty steady hand and was trained to paint by my ex-husband, an artist and professional painter/exhibit builder. So, yeah, who needed the tape? Not me.

Here's the finished base. 

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After that, all it needed was a shade, which I purchased online, choosing a large white drum style, which to my eye balances that curvy base without detracting from it. The lamp makes me happy every time I look at it, and these days, we could all use little glimpses of joy in our lives. My six-year-old niece squealed when she saw it, too; it's her favorite color, of course.

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