From lighthouse to lamp

I think everyone, at some point in their life, succumbs to the nautical bathroom trend. We really went for it as a family in the ’90s, and I almost fell back into the trap about a year ago in The Range.

lighthouse-originalIn an effort to rescue our plain Jane downstairs bathroom before we give it a complete makeover, I fell for a rustic wooden lighthouse.

It’s not really us, though, and the way that dust sticks to anything wooden in bathrooms gives me the heeby jeebies.

So (of course..) I decided to make it into a lamp. Still with a nautical look, naturally, but glossed up so it’s still fun but much more subtle. Here’s what you’ll need and how to do it – it doesn’t have to be with a lighthouse:

  • Choose your item. You’ll need it to have a flat top at least 2cm in diameter, or you’ll need to be able to make a flat surface for your light fitting to sit on. I did this by chopping the top of the lighthouse off.

Chop top.jpg

  • Remove any decorations from the lighthouse – you can sand down any flaked paint or scratches later.
  • Drill a vertical hole about 1cm in diameter into the centre of the flat surface, from the top to the bottom. This will allow you to connect your wires up to your lamp fitting.


  • Feed the wire up through the hole, from bottom to top, so that the wire is sticking out of the top.
  • Feed the wire through the round brass bracket, then, using your three screws, screw the bracket to the flat top.
  • Now, feed the wire through the white part of the bracket. Thread each of the exposed ends of the wire into the holes in the black part of the bracket. It doesn’t matter which wire goes into each hole – just twist each screw so that the wire stays in place.
  • Screw the white part of the bracket onto the brass bracket, and then the black part onto the white.
  • Turn the item over and, using the saw and chisel, make a small gutter from the hole at the bottom to the edge of the item. The wire will slot into this so that the lamp sits flat on a surface.
  • Now it’s time to test your handiwork!  Pop the bulb into the fitting and switch it on. All good?
  • Using sandpaper or a handheld sander, smooth the surface of your lighthouse to remove any rough edges or flaky paintwork. Once smooth, give it a good brush down and wipe with a very slightly damp cloth, to remove any dust.


  • Lay down a protective sheet in a well-ventilated area and (ideally wearing a dust mask), apply a coat of primer to the surface. Allow it to dry fully (some only need 20 minutes) and repeat until you have a smooth surface.


  • Now, apply several coats of your glossy top coat. It can be tempting to slap loads of paint on in one go, but try to resist. Gloss is prone to running, so it’s best to layer up lots of thin coats and allow each to dry fully. If the paint runs or goes bumpy, sand it with very fine sandpaper and continue to layer up as normal until you have a smooth, glossy coat.
  • Allow plenty of drying time – to be completely safe, leave 24 hours before tinkering with it (LIKE I DID NOT).
  • Find your lamp a lampshade and a home and voila! Which do you prefer? I can’t decide.





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