Updating Light Fixtures with Paint

This weekend was pretty amazing in my book. Not only did we get some much-needed R&R and family time, but we also added an air compressor to our collection of DIY tools (big deal!). We bought it to use with our new spray paint gun and I’ve been spraying basically everything in sight for the last 24 hours. Well, mostly just the doors in the house, but the baseboards are whispering my name. As are all the ceiling fans.

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We spray painted the old, outdated fan in the laundry room a bright white in semi-gloss and I loveΒ how it turned out.

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I think my new spray gun would do an even better job than the aerosol spray paint though. Good thing we have about 15 other ceiling fans in the house to paint! :)
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I think ditching the old glass globe shades and upgrading to big, round sputnik-esque bulbs really helped too. (More after the jump…)

I found these bulbs at the hardware store and thought they could be cool.

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I confirmed they fit in the sockets before taking down the fan, taping off the electrical parts and giving the whole thing two good coats of white spray paint.
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Ah! So fresh and so clean.
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I’m trying hard to rework and salvage as many things in this house as we can now that most of the demo is done. It feels good to save the cash and to be less wasteful. Plus, have you shopped for ceiling fans lately? Not pretty. All-white at least sort of disappears into the ceilings.
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This little light, however, was not salvaged (but chances are he’s probably still available at our local ReStore if you’d like to use him in your house?). :)
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We sort of ran out of time when we were trying to figure out a new over-the-desk light fixture. We went to Home Depot hoping they’d come through for me again in the lighting department. I wanted something vintage feeling though, so I was pretty sure I’d be leaving empty-handed.
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Just as we were getting ready to leave, I spotted this three-bulb light that had globes that reminded me of one of those school-house pendants.
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The globes felt a little bare though so I picked up some green nail polish that looked a little like the color of jadeite glass.
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Then I taped off a 1/4″ band and got painting.
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The lines aren’t perfectly painted or even super-accurately taped, but I still really like the look. It’s character, right?
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I like that the globes look unique now and the fixture doesn’t scream “hardware store find!”
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Back to my new-found love (the spray gun). All weekend long I’ve been wondering why on earth I took so long to buy one of these things!! Hopefully I’ll have some photos to share of the painting process tomorrow.
  1. Tanya

    We bought an industrial spray gun when we built our current house; it was such a great investment!!! There is nothing more satisfying then doing a job in less time and having it look fantastic. Can't wait to see what else you have painted!!!

  2. Jojo

    Such drastic differences and that green stripe is brilliant!

  3. boops

    Other than fitting the socket, don't light bulbs have to match in wattage?

  4. We have that same Home Depot light in our bathroom. I like how you added the color to it though.

  5. Those bulbs make a huge difference!
    And a spray gun!? How fun is that! Major envy.
    You are a genius with that nail polish stripe.

  6. I swear I have those exact same ceiling fans. We're going to spray them white, too, when we get around to it.

  7. Kat

    Hi Jenny,

    Your lighting looks great! What type of sprayer and compressor did you buy? We want to get one and would love a good recommendation! Thanks!

  8. Erin

    If you find a minute, I'd love to hear how you decided on the green for that stripe on the new light fixture. Was it thinking about warm/cool color balance like you've talked about before? Or was it a different thought process altogether? It's tiny little moments of perfection like that which make all the difference!

  9. This made my morning because that schoolhouse-edque light is the exact one I just picked out for my kitchen and it's nice to know that I have good taste. ;) Your laundry room is lovely and I love how the fan turned out!

  10. I recommend stocking up on those cool big lightbulbs – with the advent of new regulations, standard bulbs may not be on the market for long –

  11. Now that you have a compressor, can a nail gun be far behind? My friend swears by his nail gun, says it saves enormous amounts of time. Loud, so buy really good ear protection. Will make installing those floors move right along.

    Love the changes you're making in that house!

  12. Dani

    Your comment about being less wasteful really resonated with me. I think there is a lot of wisdom and confidence that goes into that train of thought. I agree with you about the fans being painted and disappearing–they really are a necessary evil. No reason to highlight them or invest more just for the sake of change. Love the bulbs!

  13. Jill

    Nail polish on lights!? You are seriously a genius!! Once again you amaze me! Looks adorable!

  14. I love the risks you take, they always pay off! Have fun with your new sprayer, you will love painting furniture with it too.

  15. I would love more information about the spray gun. I may need one too.

  16. Kelly

    This made such a difference! Thanks for giving all the little details that are needed to do this project successfully!

    • Mickey

      The genius store callde, they’re running out of you.

  17. Would also love to hear what brand/type of sprayer that you bought. Love how your laundry room came out. So fun! ALMOST makes me want to do laundry.

  18. RD

    Does using nail polish so close to a heat source pose a flammable problem at all? Like combustion?

  19. Air compressor is on the top of my tool wishlist. I think it's on my Dad's too, given how often I borrow his. Like the other commenters, I'd love to hear details about your spray gun. We have a bunch of doors to paint, and I'm thinking that spray gun is the way to go.

  20. I've been considering buying a spray gun for ages and you've just convinced me to do it! And that stripe is brilliant!!

  21. You probably took so long to buy one because you haven't had this kind of reno or this kind of storage for it before. :) Love the touch to the new light fixture!

  22. love the painted fan look, so so chic, and good for you for reusing what you already had in the house. And that line of nail polish? GENIUS.

  23. So fresh and so clean and sooooo much better!

  24. I did the same thing a couple of years ago with ORB paint for our front porch fan. It worked great and doesn't scrape off when I clean it, which is all the time!

  25. I am always amazed at how resourceful you are. I hate ceiling fans, but they are a must have in our house, and Im not spending $500. to get a fancier one that still looks like a ceiling fan. Great job..gotta hear more about this spray gun!
    xo Nancy

  26. brilliant. for me that's the biggest bummer about living in az, that ceiling fans are basically necessary. I'm replacing the one in our living room with a big urchin chandi anyway. Husband thinks we'll all die of heatstroke, but I figure we'll just get one of those sleek dyson air multiplier fans.
    anyways, loving the house updates.

  27. WOW & you are so smart with the nail polish! I'm going to remember that one. {www.thepinkzipper.blogspot.ca}

  28. Mary

    I love the green stripe so much! Would those shades work on a ceiling fan light kit?

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  30. When you spray paint a ceiling fan, what do you have to do to prevent the paint from gunking up the motor? Tape off, disassemble, or nothing?

  31. Keiko

    Have you been to Water Heater Depot in Phoenix yet? They have some great deals on light fixtures that come from local hardware stores, including Home Depot. It's small and you have to dig, but they are the nicest people and you can score some great stuff.

  32. Is there any chance you could post a how-to on painting a ceiling fan? I would love to do it but I'm honestly worried that I'll paint something such that it won't work anymore – ack!! Thanks and it looks great!

  33. I bought the same schoolhouse fixture when I was doing an on-the-cheap makeover in my powder room recently. I never would have thought to make them more special by adding a stripe with nail polish. Jenny, you always slay me!

  34. lighting with paint was very nice, the design that you create makes me want to try it at home, thank you this really helped :)

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