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DIY Painted Bottle Lamp Upcycle

by | DIY, Home

Happy Earth Day!  Finally, the earth is coming alive where we are; the grass is turning green, and I can see the fine misty bit of green in the woods that says all those bushes are starting to bloom.  In honor of Earth Day, and because I finally have the project done, I’d like to share a DIY painted bottle lamp upcycle project today.

DIY Painted Bottle Lamp |

I know many of you probably don’t drink alcohol, but admittedly, there are some pretty neat looking liquor bottles out there.  I found two in our liquor cabinet that I liked and asked Drew to save them once he had finished the stuff inside.  They were for a scotch and a whiskey, but I was told this is like rectangles and squares, where a square is a special rectangle.  The scotch is just a special type of whiskey.  There you have it -> today’s impromptu lesson in alcohol.

DIY Painted Bottle Lamp |

Anyways, I liked these bottles because the name of the liquor was molded into the glass, not etched or painted, so I could paint the bottle and have a bit of texture without labels or other colors.  And I did something I have always wanted to try – to swirl the paint inside the bottle instead of spray-painting the outside.  This way, I retain that glossy glass look and feel of the bottle without compromising on the color.

DIY Painted Bottle Lamp |

On to the tutorial!


Empty bottle
Painter’s tape
Tide stain pen or regular pen or marker to plug in the cord hole
Bottle Lamp Kit, White Cord
Old cereal boxes for funnel

DIY Painted Bottle Lamp |

1. First and foremost – clean the bottle.  My pictures are a bit incorrect because I was flying by the seat of my pants.  So learn from my mistakes and clean the bottle! Remove all labels by either scrubbing them off in hot water or using WD-40 to remove the glue residue, then wash thoroughly with dish detergent and let dry.

2. Drill a hole in the back of the bottle.  The lamp kits you buy does not require you to drill a hole in the “lamp” – it allows for the cord to dangle from the lamp socket itself, but I didn’t want this white thing hanging off the back of my lamp like some ragtag cape, so I asked my husband to drill holes in the bottles for me.  We used a ceramic cutter bit on his drill (we had it from when he drilled through our porcelain sink), and it took time to slowly drill through the glass, while wetting/cooling the area down every few seconds with water.

3. Gather your supplies for the painting part of the project.  You’ll need paint, painter’s tape, and something to block up the hole you just drilled.  Otherwise, the paint will fill the hole and then you’ll have a mess on your hands.

4. I found that a Tide stain pen wrapped in painter’s tape fit perfectly in the cord hole.

5. Plug up the hole in the bottle nice and tight and use tape to secure it.  You don’t want any wiggling or paint seeping through.

6. Time to pour paint.  I demolished a cereal box (or 3) to make a scrap funnel for pouring paint into the bottle.

7. Swirl the paint around to cover the entire inside of the bottle.  Use plenty of paint!  Don’t be afraid of using plenty of paint!  You will pour out the extra back into the can.  If you scrimp on the paint, it’s harder to roll the paint around, and then you’re really just sitting there watching paint crawl down your bottle.  If you pour a generous amount of paint into the bottle, the paint swirls around quickly and covers better, leaving a smoother finish.  (Lesson learned: On my first bottle, I poured from the can, over-poured, and thought everything swirled fantastically, but felt like I wasted paint, because I forgot to pour the extra back into the can.  On the second bottle, I spooned in just enough paint to cover the bottle – it swirled frustratingly slowly, and as it dried, ended up cracking a bit because there wasn’t enough coverage.) So one more time : Use plenty of paint!

8. Once the bottle is completely covered, pour out excess paint back into the can, and then leave it upside down to drain.  I made a round sort of “rack” out of cereal boxes to hold up the bottle so the paint can actually drip out of the bottle instead of just pooling right at the bottleneck.

9. Wait for bottle to dry.  Wait and wait and wait and wait.  I swear, this took days.  Rainy humid days don’t help.  I finally put the bottles next to an air filter hoping the circulating air would help it dry.  Days, I tell ya.

10. Buy a generic bottle lamp kit from your local hardware store, and follow the instructions to install the lamp kit.  You’ll want to thread the cord into the bottle from the hole you drilled and have it come out the top and then screw it into the lamp hardware.

11. Lampshade time.  Here’s another lesson learned: don’t use Ikea lampshades unless it’s an Ikea lamp.  Their shades are neat and modern, but the attachment doesn’t fit the socket from a lamp kit.  I ended up using 2 lampshades from Target which fit on the lamp socket perfectly (after some slight adjustments using masking tape).

DIY Painted Bottle Lamp |

DIY Painted Bottle Lamp |

Do I find it a little odd that I painted two whiskey bottles a very girlie shade of Sherwin Williams Ardent Coral?  Just think, both I and my husband were able to get some goodness from these bottles!

Have you seen my t-shirt crochet rug?  It’s also a great upcycling project if you’ve got unused t-shirts around the house!

Crochet Rug from Repurposed T-shirts


  1. Kara

    This is beautiful! Love the color too!

  2. Melanie

    Wow! Your table is so pretty!

  3. Patricia B

    I love your bottle lamps!! The color is wonderful. Thank you for sharing! I’ll keep an eye open at the thrift stores to find some bottles….. I love your projects!

  4. Adrianne

    Okay, I have tried all the “hacks” for putting a hole in a bottle, and NONE of them have worked. I am glad to know your method does! I resigned myself to the idea that I’ll have to buy a few things at the hardware store to finally make this happen. (I actually got a drill press for Christmas that I haven’t set up yet.) Do you know if there are other bits that would work equally well (or better)? I’m just wondering if the ceramic bit was a case of using what you already had and making do, or if it’s truly the best choice.

  5. ChiWei

    We totally just fudged this. That’s why I didn’t even bother cleaning the bottle before we started drilling because I figured we were going to break the bottle. Yes, we used the ceramic bit because we had it, but I’ve heard a diamond bit is even better. I could say something smart about diamonds and DIY women, I suppose. Also, Drew said that a drill bit would work better because it stays steady and can drill without exerting pressure, instead of me holding the bottle and him trying to drill and push down at the same time. Hope that helps!

  6. ChiWei

    Thanks Patricia! I imagine any wine bottle would work!

  7. ChiWei

    Thanks Melanie!

  8. ChiWei

    Thank you Kara!

  9. Dee

    I love your bottle lamps. The paint color makes them fun looking.

  10. ChiWei

    Thank you!

  11. Nancy

    the color is perfect, just perfect.

  12. ChiWei

    aww, thanks! I love it too 🙂

  13. Marie

    AWESOME!! You did a beautiful job! Can’t wait to do mine! 🙂

  14. Marie

    Awesome!!! You did a beautiful job!!! Can’t wait to do mine! 🙂

  15. Chrissy

    I know I’m a little late, but I just found this on Pinterest and I love it! I love recycling wine bottles because they are actually very pretty with the writing on them and I just finished posting a blog post about making candle holders out of wine bottles! I need a coral lamp for my desk and I will be trying this! Thanks for sharing!

  16. Nick

    Great instructions and photos. A lot of people have at least one of those ‘keepsake’ bottles they just can’t part with. Now they can put it to use!

  17. Pantja Pebruantoro

    i really like , it is beautiful

  18. Rachelle Hijazi

    I’m curious about the paint part. I assumed you’d paint the outside and was surprised when you said you poured it inside! Any reason besides it’s easier?

  19. Mark

    Really good idea. Lamp looks great! Is the paint you used a water based emulsion?

  20. ChiWei

    I simply used craft paint!

  21. Nathalie

    Painting inside will prevent scratching the paint and offer the glass finish of the bottle instead of the raw finish of paint.

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