A Guide to Unique Table Lamps

A Guide to Unique Table Lamps

Unique – Being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else.

Unique table lamps can range from the “quirky” to something that has a radical, unusual and alternative design.

A unique table lamp probably falls into the one off category of a custom-made lamp that is not repeated exactly the same anywhere else.

Since the turn of the 21st Century there has been a huge increase in awareness of up cycling and re purposing which has had a really positive impact on people who want to make something of what previously would have been classed as junk. This awareness has led to some fantastic reworking of old items into all sorts of practical and useful household pieces.

You only have to look at Pinterest, Facebook, Etsy or eBay to see what fantastic and alternative ideas people have come up with for old and unwanted bits and pieces.

In regard to table lamps – Anyone who can use hand tools can quite easily make a unique table lamp. The possibilities are endless all you need is imagination and the ability to see the potential in a used item that has history and is ready to be reused.

Don’t worry if your project item is bashed and carries marks and scars as these provide a historical feel and add character to your finished lamp.

The practicalities of making your own Unique Table Lamp.

The first thing to consider is the stability of your item, is it stable, will it be stable with a lampshade and/or bulb fitted. The answer to this question is really self-evident by holding and feeling your potential lamp base.

Next thing to consider is how the item will look when lit and in use, will it provide a shine or texture and will it have an interesting profile, just try to imagine it as a table lamp and use your mind’s eye to see it in action.

Wiring – Standards are different around the world but think about the route of your cable, is there room and can you fit cable protection grommets to any holes you need to drill to pass the cable through?

A classic Unique Table Lamp.

Back in the 1950s and 60s Infra-red heat lamps were sold as muscle relaxers and for general well-being. These great old lamps are a classic for todays up cycle world; these lamps make great looking table or desk lamps and with a little work can easily be converted.

A late 1950s Pifco Heat Lamp with original paintwork and chromed fittings converted into an adjustable table lamp.

Architectural Salvage

Architectural salvage yards can be a great place to find potential lamp bases, old steel drums, oil cans and of course Antique timber can all be converted into your own one off piece of lighting.

A piece of 200 year old English Oak building beam fashioned into a large Table Lamp

Factory salvage

Old items from factories and closing retail outlets can provide some fantastic potential for recyclers, many great items can be found on line for really small amounts of money, there are some great bargains to be had if you have a little time to search.

A vintage British foundry Mould, made from wood with its original painted finish and marks from use.

Vintage and Antique Home and Kitchen Ware

you explore your local flea market, yard sale or car boot sale you are bound to find old items of home and kitchen ware that are in poor condition internally and not safe for the original designed use BUT have a look at these items with an upcyclers eye and you will find that with a clean, a polish and some adaption you will have a potential fantastic lamp base.


A late 1800s English Coffee Pot with its silver plated finish shining as a table lamp.

A 1950s Chromed Art Deco styled kettle turned into a unique Kitchen themed table lamp.

An early 20th Century Flemish Telephone salvaged from a junk yard and given new life as a Hallway table lamp.

Vintage and Antique Sports Equipment

Old sport’s equipment that has batted its last ball or turned its last corner, again widely available at yard sales, flea markets and car boot sales. This category has loads of potential for the sports enthusiast.

An Antique English Croquet Mallet head – Now a Unique table lamp.

A Pair of used American Race Kart wheel Rims now a great looking Desk or Table Lamp

Unique, Unusual and just plain Quirky.

If you have an idea for a lamp base project that makes sense to you then go for it. If you can get your project base for a reasonable amount of money then that’s a good start.

Take your time, think about your options and let your imagination paint pictures.

Below are a few really quirky lamps that are definitely Unique.

Here we have a WW2 American Artillery Sight – A 1970s USSR Microscope and a 1950s Bronze Dentists flask.

I hope that these 3 lamps show you how almost anything can be re purposed into a great looking unique table lamp.

As always when it comes to rewiring your new lamp follow your local standards and if you are in any doubt invest a little money in having the wiring installed by a qualified person.

If you have any questions or need advice on any item of Vintage lighting please contact me and I will do my best to help.

Michael Adkins. michael@hertfordshire-lighting.com

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9 thoughts on “A Guide to Unique Table Lamps

  1. Very cool! I love the coffee pot lamp and the microscope lamp! I work in a consignment/thrift store and was intrigued by an unusual lamp that was on display last week. It brought back memories of my older brother creating a lamp as a school project and I wondered if my teenage son might enjoy this as a hobby. He was very fascinated by the Introduction to Electricity class he took. I’ll show him the pictures and see what he thinks! Thank you.

    1. Hi Theresa, its a great thing to get into, I am really into recycling and hate to see useful old items thrown away. thrift stores are a great place to look. Here in the UK we have “charity shops” which can be a good source of old and unusual items, Thanks again – Mike

  2. What a great topic! You know I had never really given any thought to this stuff before, beyond making the odd bottle lamp from an old wine bottle. I really like some of your pictures and doesn’t it make the item live on for ever? I mean look at the 200 year old piece of English Oak, really cool. The silver tea pot is pretty cool though as well 🙂

    Thanks for this it has given me some food for thought for when we move towards the end of the year. I suppose it could be extended to not only table lamps but also wall lamps too?

    1. Hi Craig, The old Oak lamp is amazing, when you touch it you can feel the history. Wall lights can also be made from lots of interesting old items, its really rewarding and I would always be happy to help if you wanted to try a “project” – Regards Mike

  3. What a nice post you wrote! I really enjoyed reading it and I could not be silent about your post so I decided to leave my comment here and say Thank You! For sharing this quality post with others.
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    So I’m happy that you decided to write about this topic and share it with people. It’s very useful and can definitely be used as a great source for unique table lamps.
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  4. I must admit, you have quite a range there and I have never seen any of them before.

    I like antique table lamps. I used to go looking for some in car boot sales and sell them on eBay. I had a few hits. I even managed to do shabby chic painting on one!

    I have one in my bedroom that I have modernized and painted too!

    I really enjoy vintage lamps. They bring beauty and a different kind of feel to a room!


    1. Hi Danielle – Thank you for the comment, Car Boot sales can be a great place to find gems, Painting old lamps is a great way of giving them new life and making a one off. I sometimes use Chalk Paint as its really forgiving and comes in many great colours. Kind Regards Mike

      1. Talk about chalk paint! It’s so versatile with it’s varied unique and gentle hues!

        I have done shabby chic painting with chalk paint on old dark antique furniture and it brings it to life.

        Vintage items are good quality no doubt.

        And the good thing with chalk paint is that it sticks on anything and makes painting a pretty straightforward job!

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