DIY Faux Brass Lamp – IKEA Tertial Lamp Hack

by Meghan Fowler

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. While clicking these links won’t cost you any extra money, they will help us keep this site up and running!

When I was putting together my office (which, let’s be honest, is an ongoing project), I got it in my head that I really wanted a brass task lamp. The trouble was that a proper and pretty brass swivel-arm lamp costs a lot. Too much for me. So… enter the IKEA Tertial Work Lamp! At a whopping $14.99, this fit within our real-life single income budget, and gave me an excuse to do some DIYing, which I love (obviously), with SPRAY PAINT, which I also love! I can promise you there will be lots more spray paint magic on this site in the coming posts.

This project is fairly easy, but can be slightly finicky, because you have to disassemble much of the lamp in order to properly spray it, but it’s totally worth the effort if you want a brass lamp but can’t shell out the big money to secure a real one. And if you like crafting, the effort shouldn’t feel like too much of a chore anyway. [And besides, why are you on this page if you don’t like crafting?!]

So, without further ado, here’s how I went about transforming IKEA’s dark grey Tertial Work Lamp into a faux-brass beauty:


For this project, I used:

Matte Black Spray paint (I used chalk board, because I had it on hand – and trust me, it’s handy to have chalboard spray paint, er… handy)

Rust-oleum Metallic Gold spray paint

Rub ‘n Buff Antique Gold

– Painters Tape

– Fine grit sand paper

– Rags and paper towels

Tertial Work Lamp


Plan. Start by deciding which parts you want black, un-sprayed, or gold.

My plan at the outset was this:

Spray black: the piece that pivots the lampshade (leaving the little plastic bit in there white), it’s nut and bolt, the nut and bolt at the bottom of the lamp arm, the knobs that the springs attach to, the cords, and the springs.

Don’t spray: the cords, inside of lamp shade, plastic piece inside lampshade pivot contraption

Spray gold: everything else

Disassemble.  *MAKE SURE* before and as you disassemble, to take pictures of the way it is assembled, how little parts go together and come apart, etc.. Otherwise you’ll be left with a confusion of little screws and bits and be lost about how it all goes back. Trust me, it’s worth being organized here. This is from someone who is guilty of quickly opening up tightly packed electronics only to realize I would have to return them and could not, for the life of me, get it all to fit in the box again.

But wait – don’t spray yet! First…

Sand and wipe. After disassembling, give the frame a light sanding – this will make the spray-paint less susceptible to chipping. Don’t sand the inside of the lamp shade, though, as you’ll leave that white. Next, wipe the whole thing down. I used a slightly soapy cloth, and then wiped it again with a clean wet cloth to get that residue off. Also wash whatever nuts/bolts/screws you’ll be spraying. It sucks to apply spray paint and then discover that there was something greasy underneath that has botched your beautiful spray job. DO A PROPER PREP JOB. This is hard for impatient folk (like me) but really worth doing. It has taken me 35 years to learn this. Please learn faster than me!


“Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!”

If you have kids or were a kid in the 80s or early 90s, you obviously know those sage words were spoken by Ms. Frizzle (Magic Schoolbus). All this to say, it’s time to spray your project!

For the parts you are spraying black, get clever: poke the screws through some cardboard so that the tops stick out and can be sprayed. Or pinch the bases between gloved fingers… I made a contraption for spraying the springs, and it worked wonderfully. I just got an old board and nailed in 4 sets of 2 nails, spaced just far enough apart to pull the springs taut so that the spray could get on every bit of each spring. Like such:

There are lots of black pieces that can’t be easily disassembled, or can be taped easily enough to warrant leaving them on the frame. In those cases, you can definitely just spray them haphazardly like I did, with the intention that once they are good and dry, you will tape them off so you can spray the frame gold and they’ll stay black.

Notice that when spraying the black knobs and things on the frame, I did tape off the cords, because I never wanted any spray paint on those. You could maybe afford to be more uptight than me on that front, because I definitely got some spray on them, but I don’t mind.

Tape off those knobs! And get out your sweet gold spray paint!

Spray the frame gold. Be patient. Do thin coats. Let stuff dry between coats. A bit tedious but still, take your time!!

Tape off the inside of the lamp shade nicely so that you can spray the rim.

Take off the tape and start getting excited!!


You can see in the pic above that I had already started applying the Rub ‘n Buff. This step is really optional. If you like the really fancy glitsy sprayed gold look, don’t bother with this. If you want a more burnished brass-y look, then I think this product really helps to achieve that. Apply it with your finger and wipe it around until you get the texture you want. It should be a gloved finger but I like really controlling how things are going on so I forgo the glove, at my own risk. Experiment applying in strokes or in a circular motion. Do what you like.

Once everything is dry – BE PATIENT! – reassemble the lamp and admire your handiwork. Way to go! You’ve got yourself a cheap faux-brass work lamp, complete with a swivel arm and black details. Love it.

Here are a few pics of it in it’s probably-final position. It’s SO handy to be able to swivel this bad boy left or right to light up either half of my long desk. Awesome for sewing, awesome for devo time in the morning, awesome for drawing or whatever.

If you have dreams of a brass work lamp but don’t want to foot the bill, give this IKEA hack a try. And be sure to leave your encouraging or helpful comments below!!


You may also like