When we first moved into our then newly built house over ten years ago, we knew there would be no cash left over for us to fit out the interior with everything we wanted. I'm impatient though and love to have pretty things around me. There was absolutely no way I was going to let my interior plans be pushed further and further down the 'to-do' list because the things I wanted were way too expensive. If you find yourself in this situation right now, let me show you how you can get your dream furniture when you have no cash and it doesn't mean taking out credit and getting yourself into debt to do it. Take my barley twist floor lamp for example . . .
Where to get your dream furniture when you have no cash
I decided to start scouring eBay for second-hand alternatives that would give me the look I was after at a fraction of the cost. At first, the idea was to 'make do' with these items until I could afford 'the real thing' but now, I love my vintage pieces so much they are definitely in my home for the long haul.
I bought myself some paint brushes and a couple of pots of chalk paint and set to work transforming my home little by little, piece by piece.
One of the items I knew I wanted in our lounge was a tall wooden standing lamp. I love the interior designs of Riviera Maison and the Belgian interior design company Flamant and I'd spotted a lovely white barley twist floor lamp there and was smitten. The only problem was the price – at €460 it was obviously not going to make it anywhere near the top of the list any time soon! I filed it away in the back of my mind as one of the things to look out for on eBay or on one of my second-hand trawls.
Be aware of what you need
The funny thing is, I often find the best way to stumble across exactly what I'm looking for, is to forget all about it and search for something else! That's why making a list of all the furniture you think you'll need right at the beginning of your search, is so important. You never know when the right piece is going to show up and it's usually not in the order you planned it to be – ha!
When I spotted this barley twist floor lamp on eBay and showed it to my husband, he almost died laughing. You see, the photo below is only the stand (obviously). The lampshade didn't actually make it into the house at all. I'm so sorry I don't have a photo for you because it would have made such an amazing before and after shot.
Look Beyond the ugly!
The lamp had a kind of double layer lampshade in a dirty green coloured velour. It had green trim all around the edges and huge flouncy ribbons, bows and cord ties all over. It was so large, it actually covered about two-thirds of the lampstand. It was thick with dust and years of debris had collected in the folds of the material. It was far worse than the eBay photo portrayed. My husband and son had gone to collect it and I couldn't go along because they were collecting another piece of furniture at the same time and there would be no room for me in the car. On their return, my husband said that when he saw the state of the lampshade, he almost left the whole thing there and couldn't believe I would be able to make anything of it.
Look for the potential in everything
I'm so glad he decided to collect it after all. You see, I had seen something peeking out from underneath all those frumpy old folds of material that made me really excited. It was the barley twist lampstand and although it was stained dark brown, I knew I could make it look just like the amazing barley twist floor lamp I was after. Best of all, it only cost me €12 so it was worth a try at least, right?
Barley twist floor lamp transformation
Get the look
Anyway, as I said above, the first thing I did was to get rid of the lampshade!
Next, I wiped the floor lamp down with warm water and wiped it dry.
Because the stain was so dark, I didn't want to risk it bleeding through my paintwork so I painted two layers of a water-based primer leaving enough drying time in between each coat. For a more detailed explanation on how to prime furniture, take a look at the post Easy bookcase makeover using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Alternatively, my newsletter subscribers receive a free ebook called 'How to transform your home with second-hand furniture' which has even more tips and tutorials. If you want to start transforming your home and you'd like to get your hands on a copy, just sign up for the newsletter through the link above or the image below.
Painting and waxing the barley twist floor lamp
Using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in 'Old White', I painted two thin coats over the top of the primer. The post Riviera Maison Inspired Coffee Table Makeover takes you through the painting and waxing process if you'd like to know how I did that.
I waxed the twisted floor lamp all over with Annie Sloan Clear Wax and let it sit overnight.
The base of this barley twist floor lamp had a lovely carved pattern to it. To show the pattern off more after painting, I lightly sanded over the patterned area and wiped the base down with a damp cloth.
Next, I rubbed a little bit of white wax over the pattern to make it stand out some more. I immediately wiped the excess white wax away with a lint-free cloth and let the piece sit again overnight. In the morning, I used a clean rag to buff the lamp from top to bottom.
Now the barley twist floor lamp base was finished and all that was left to do was to find a lampshade. I soon realised this was going to be a little more difficult than I had previously thought. The fixing on the floor lamp was larger than most of the modern lampshades made today. I was having such a hard time finding a shade, that I thought I was going to have to make my own. I thought I'd leave it while and started working on the other piece of furniture which had been collected at the same time as the barley twist floor lamp.
A few weeks later, while I was browsing through our local newspaper, I came across an advert for a local company which was having an end of season sale. The company was manufacturing lamps and shades for the hotel trade but the sale was open to all. I actually took the twisted floor lamp with me so that I could be sure to find a shade with the correct fixture. The company owner was able to tell me right away, which shades would be a perfect fit for my barley twist floor lamp and I ended up choosing this one which is a kind of greige colour.
Considering the way my husband reacted when he first set sights on this lamp, it's now the most used lamp in our house! It looks fantastic (at least we think so) and it cost €12 for the base, and the cost of a new lampshade. I used such a small amount of paint it hardly made a dent in the tin. Do you see what I mean about keeping your eyes open for bargains when you are trying to turn your house into a home?
If I had waited until I could afford that lovely barley twist lamp from Flamant I would still be waiting now! Instead, I have one that looks just as good at a fraction of the price and I can move on to the next piece on my list – yay!
Getting your dream furniture when you have no cash may mean you need to be a little more creative and a little more patient but it's definitely possible. For me, it has become a way of life and I love that my home is unique and reflects my creative side as a result. I still have plenty of items on my list though. Just this week I picked up a piece of furniture which I'm hoping will be the perfect solution for a tricky (and ugly) corner of our lounge. The best bit is, it was free to a good home – and that's exactly where it ended up!
Get the look
If you liked this, why not take a look at these too:
How to paint & stencil furniture with chalk paint
Riviera Maison Inspired Coffee Table Makeover
Easy bookcase makeover using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
Linda Johnston says
What a find! Liked your reminder to look beyond the ugly!
Jayne Westerholt says
Thanks, Linda! I really wish I had taken a photo of the massive lampshade which was on this piece when I bought it. It took A LOT of imagination to see beyond that kind of ugly but as you can see, it's always worth it!