Ugly Lamp Contest 2015: Round One

Are your senses tingling?


Do you have unexplained goosebumps?


Is a gnawing sense of dread growing in the pit of your stomach?


That must be because the UGLY LAMP CONTEST is upon us, and it starts RIGHT NOW!!!

*fanfare, confetti, trumpets*

(Or, more accurately):

*fart noises, rancid clouds of smoke, tears of the innocent*


logo 2015

Yay! Woo! Hooray!

I can’t wait to get this party started, but first of all I must thank everyone who sent in their ugly lamp photos. You’re the reason the Ugly Lamp Contest has managed to exist for six years now. SIX years! WOW. So thank you, thank you!

I was really worried that we just couldn’t top last year’s winner, Beef Femur, but I think it’s safe to say that you guys pulled through again. Unfortunately, I could only choose 18 ugly lamps, which means a lot of truly horrendous lamps got left out. I try my hardest to choose the widest selection of ugly to offer you and your tender eyeballs, and even made a little categorized chart to organize each style of lamp to keep things evened out. In case you are curious, those categories were “Figurine,” “Animal,” “Just Weird,” and … “Demonic.”

Yeah, this year is going to be a scary one.

Anyway, please don’t feel bad if your lamp didn’t make the cut. Perhaps it was too similar to a lamp I’ve already featured in the previous years. (I was terrified to discover that there is more than one lamp in the universe made from deer feet). Or maybe you are one of the many people who sent in a pig lamp, and I couldn’t choose just one. (So. Many. Pig. Lamps. So. Many. Whys?) But in any case, thanks again for submitting your photos and participating in the contest! You are what makes it happen.


A quick recap of how this works for the new kids: There are three rounds of six lamps each. Voting is held each day, with the top two highest-scoring lamps in each round moving on to the final round on Thursday. We vote on the final six, and the triumphant winner is crowned on Friday! Please be sure to come back and vote everyday this week!


And now it’s finally here ….


The moment you’ve waited all year for …


The moment Dramamine was invented for …


The moment it’s too late to turn back from now …


Round One of the 2015 Ugly Lamp Contest has begun!



laurie-uglylampfrom Laurie

I call this one “Pepto-Painted Primate Perches Pensively in Pearls.” I admit, those tasteful strands of pearls really fooled me at first, but upon closer inspection I was like “Oh wait, this lamp might be actually be a little bit ugly after all.” (sarcasm)




from Amber

My, what blue eyes you have! My, what a … uh … nice tan you have! My, what a strange pipe you have. That IS a pipe, right? Because my only other guess is that a stray tooth has escaped the confines of your mouth and is now jutting uncomfortably out through your face.  Probably the least of your worries either way.



misseybfrom Missey B.

I like to call this one “A Reptile Disfunction.’



justme-tricia-uglylampfrom Tricia

The electricity-meter lamp is perfect for when you are a joyless bitter soul and want your guests to know exactly how many kilowatts per hour you’ve wasted on their miserable company. Now turn off the lights and go away.




kimberlyk3from Kimberly K.

Anyone who has vacationed in the islands longs to bring a little piece of it back home. Sure, you could buy some postcards or souvenirs, or bring back a little bottle of sand, but wait! I have something better. For the bargain price of $124, you can remember your tropical getaway every day for the rest of your life with this heavily shellacked monstrosity of a lamp! Made from what amounts to palm tree garbage, this ‘wishing well’ features shoddily nailed together parts, jagged and dangerous edges, and a dusty old lightbulb! You’ll ‘wish’ you’d have bought one for every room in your house!!! Aloha!



kristinawat-uglylampfrom Kristina


No words necessary.

But therapy, yes. Lots and lots of therapy necessary. And a fresh set of underwear.

Maybe two.


Vote now! And don’t be shy about leaving your own thoughts in the comments! That’s the very best part of this whole thing.

Can’t see the poll? Click here.
Come back tomorrow to see which lamps will be moving on, and to vote for the next crop of uglies in Round Two!

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Chairs in Pairs

Much like roller skates and the Hemsworth brothers, some things are just better in pairs. I happen to like chairs in pairs. Of course there is no hard and fast rule that says chairs HAVE TO come in pairs. But if you can have two, why settle for one? Who wants to skate around on one rollerskate without Chris Hemsworth? Not this girl.

So sit back and relax and enjoy some pairs of chairs. But before I forget, I must first mention that TODAY IS THE LAST DAY to get your Ugly Lamp Contest submissions in!  Email your original photo of the ugliest lamp you can find to, subject line: Ugly Lamp.

I have to tell you, the submissions I’ve already received so far this year are downright terrifying.  I might have to change the name to the Scary Lamp Contest. You’ve been warned.

And now … chairs!

Better After reader Beth seems like a kindred spirit of mine. She bought a pair of powder blue chairs at a garage sale with the intention of giving them a makeover, which she did.  Twelve years later. I totally get it.

Black and Cream Scroll Chairs Before


Black and Cream Scroll Chairs

But once she decided to do it, REALLY do it, she had them stripped, painted, reupholstered and sold within a month. She even made the double welting herself! Oh, the things we can accomplish when we put our minds to it. I’m really going to put my mind to putting my mind to it one of these days.


Tamara scored with a pair of $6.50 thrift store chairs that she recovered with about $8 worth of fabric. (Tip from Tamara: most fabrics sold from online fabric retailers can also be found on Amazon, where she saved a bundle on shipping). 

Blue and White Striped Side Chair Before


Blue and White Striped Side Chair

They turned out great, and I’m so impressed with how perfectly she lined up the stripes of the fabric to the seats and the backs on both chairs. I’m sure that took much more patience than I possess. See more at Provident Home Design.


Beck actually started with four of these mid century dining chairs, but she was able to sell two of them after doing a beautiful refinishing job.  

Wood and White Mid Century Dining Chairs Before


Wood and White Mid Century Dining Chairs

I’d buy ’em too! I really love the shape, it’s got a bit of playfulness to it. Like they want to hug you.  See more at Beckwith’s Treasures.


Folding chairs can get in on this party too! Better After reader Lindsay snagged this drab little pair from a neighbor’s yard sale, thinking she could cute them up considerably.

Bright Green and Blue Folding Chairs Before


Bright Green and Blue Folding Chairs

Cuteness Level Maximum: reached!


But Lindsay had more tricks up her sleeve. She redid this musty and mustard-colored set as part of a surprise office makeover for a woman at her church. Lindsay wanted to complement her friend’s effervescent personality, and was hoping to find a fabric that said “fun and effervescent adult” and not “I’m made for a six-year-old!”

Purple Arm Chairs with Leafy Fabric Before


Purple Arm Chairs with Leafy Fabric

Bam! I think she nailed it. The frames look so great in purple too. Now I’m hankering for a brightly painted chair, and also a surprise makeover! Have you ever done one for someone? It’s really fun and rewarding, and I would totally do it for a living if I could. Maybe when I put my mind to it I will.

Don’t forget, last day to enter the Ugly Lamp Contest! Details here.


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Rank and Tile

We had a minor medical emergency at our house last night when my daughter’s ear-piercing hole decided to split open all the way down through her earlobe. Oof, sorry if you were eating or something, I probably should have eased you into this topic.  Anyway, it just happened out of nowhere.  All of a sudden, ploop! Her earring was on the floor, front and back still together.

We super-glued it shut, but she will probably need stitches. I tell you this as a cautionary tale! Apparently it happens a lot. I wish I would have never had her ears pierced; they’ve been nothing but trouble.  So, if you are on the fence about piercing your kid’s ears, it’s just something to consider.

And now, happily,  here is something lovely for you to consider. A bathroom makeover with miles of tile!

White Tiled Bathroom Before

White Tiled Bathroom

Tile on the walls, tile in the tub, and a fantastic hexagon tile on the floor.  I love the choice of a floating vanity which shows off that much more of the floor.

Christine didn’t intend to gut this space, it all started with a simple window replacement.  But then the toilet seemed to be breaking weekly, and then the tub was crumbling, and next thing you know, a full-blown remodel was underway.

White Tiled Bathroom Before 1


White Tiled Bathroom 1

Looks stunning! Did you notice the built in niche/towel holder? That was made by her husband using wood from a 100 year old piano. Same with the mirror frame.  Such a cool detail. Get even more details on Christine’s blog Simple Moments.

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Take me a-side.

Whew! Have you recovered from all the festivities lately? I’m talking about National Left-Handers Day (Aug 13) and National Thrift-Store Day (Aug 17), and National Mail Order Catalog Day (Aug 18th), of course.  ParTAYYYY, am I right? It’s like August was made just for me.

But today we are talking about side tables, and I’m sorry to say that there is no National Side Table day.  Sad trombone. (There is a National Buffet Day on Jan 2, although that is probably less about furniture and more about all-you-can-eat-good-times).

But anyhow, I say we celebrate side tables here anyway, starting with this one from the Infamous Janet, whom you’ll remember as a big winner in the Mystery Thrift Off.  Check out how she worked her creative magic on this ’80s garage sale table.  She asks “When doesn’t navy, white and gold improve something?”


Blue, White, and Gold Side Table Before

Blue, White, and Gold Side Table

Answer: never.


Next, I used to have this same little plain-Jane table, and I thought the only fix for it was draping it in a floor-length grandmotherly-style tablecloth. (I really did. I had two and they flanked my bed for yeeeeaaaarrrrss.  They were beige tablecloths and I topped them with office style desk lamps, like you might find in a college dorm. I wish I had pictures, but the whole scene was really just too exciting for your eyeballs to handle. You’ll just have to imagine it, for your own safety).

Emily gave her side table a big boost of personality with some asymmetrical stripes, and it can totally stand on its own, no tablecloth necessary!  Please someone go back in time and teach this to my 2003 self.

Aqua, White, and Gray Side Table Before


Aqua, White, and Gray Side Table

See this and more at Our House, Now a Home.

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