Transform a vintage coffee percolator into a lamp

My friend Susan Schneider of and I concocted another upcycling project: Transforming vintage percolators into table lamps. We came up with the idea when we did our first video — “Put a Bulb In It.” Susan — a professional lamp-maker — then used my percolator, found two more on her own, and turned out these adorable lamps.


lamp made from vintage coffee potI really like this idea because I see these vintage coffee pots for sale dirt cheap — all the time — there is a surplus, for sure! — and I would love to have one as a lamp to admire and use a practical way.

lamp made for vintage coffee percolatorIn the video, Susan talks about the process, explaining why she consulted with a professional metalworker and glasscutter to help with some of the drilling.

lamp made from vintage coffee potShe also shows off the finial made out of the percolator cap (the piece where you always see the coffee perk!) and the lampshades she made from vintage wallpaper.

These lamps are cute as a button, but not in a too-much-sugar in your coffee kind of way. Susan now has the three lamps she made for sale in her online store.


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  1. daniel says

    i have a percolator, but not one with the glass bit on top where you can see the coffee brewing. it’s a new one. wish i had found one that had a globe on the top.

  2. TappanTrailerTami says

    Oh, these are wonderful Pam! Thanks a lot for unwittingly spending more of my money for me, LOL. I just purchased the chicken percolator! I LOVE that lamp! I’m a little concerned because I went back on her website after I paid for it, and it doesn’t say it’s sold……hopefully her system won’t accept someone else’s money on it too, as I assume it’s the only one there is (so far).

    A little whimsy for the kitchen is a great thing! Thanks again!


    • pam kueber says

      Cool, Tami. I just emailed Susan to make sure she saw it. I am pretty sure that her online-shop is set up to only sell a single item once! Congrats! Hey: That was the percolator I found and which started this latest escapade. It’s Retro Renovation History!! 🙂

      • TappanTrailerTami says

        This lamp (and I am a HUGE lamp/lighting lover) will have center stage in my kitchen.

        I’m a bit surprised by the less than enthusiastic response by some readers, but never the less, to each their own.

        I tend to be a purist most of the time (don’t paint wood furniture; don’t split up sets of anything just to get it sold and/or get a better price; don’t rip out perfectly good old stuff to replace with “greige” or pottery barn etc)……but, this percolator lamp is an already done thing, by someone who has wonderful creative talent, so I view it as a piece of art rather than destroying of a percolator.

        I proudly already own two fabulous all original percolator sets that are left alone in their unmolested original state so I don’t feel bad that now I can have a great percolator combined with my favorite thing….more lighting!


  3. says

    I gotta say that I *really* dislike the idea of upcycling – recycling yes, all for it. But upcycling seems to denote taking perfectly functioning objects in their original state and “bettering” them. This is not “bettering”, it is destroying. I never see any sort of statement about using DEAD items for such projects. Just because something is found cheaply, doesn’t justify doing THIS to it.

    • pam kueber says

      Hi, Cee, I appreciate your point of view — I thought some folks might oppose. As I tried to point out in the post, I tend to think there is a real surplus of these old percolators. Way more than are likely to be reused. In addition, vintage electric appliances really should be rewired — which is likely to be prohibitively costly. So why not turn them into something functional that can be enjoyed?

      • helaine says

        I have seen these in a few lamp stores in Montreal.Things like an old coffeemill,old grinders,even nut-choppers(With the glass jar base),and old flour sifters.The lampshades are what really can enhance the look of the item.As for giving life to old percolators,Ive picked them up for next-to-nothing and they are in my garden filled with little plants.I receive many compliments. For a friend who was recovering from surgery,i chose one of my “Better” ones- a very old Green French Enamel teapot,brought it to the florist and had them do an arrangement .Talk about recycling! Now ,6 months later,it is in Her garden with something She has planted in it!!

  4. Cara says

    Hey, I just cleaned 10+ of these out of my grandparent’s house dating from 1930 through the 80’s. I somehow restrained myself to only taking the art deco one!

    I agree with Cee that it is a shame to wreck them but we had $1 a piece on them at the estate sale and sold only one (similar to the aluminum one in the top photo). Their next stop is the thrift store where if they don’t sell they will be recycled or tossed into the landfill.
    For those of us cringing at the thought of upcycling something we might regret someday one can always have the cord at the base of the bulb and find a way to make it a lamp without drilling holes.

    • Justin says

      for a $1.00 each, I would have bought the whole lot. I love the percolators. I have a small collection of my own with about 20 total. Can never have too many.

  5. JKaye says

    I personally view stainless steel percolators as the best way to make coffee, so I don’t plan to turn one into a lamp. I probably wouldn’t bat an eye about an aluminum coffee pot being turned into a lamp, or one of those plastic coffee pots from around the 70s, that have the daisies on the side. (I have one of those, and it is so very cute. But I can’t bring myself to make coffee in it since it is plastic and that seems so weird. What if it melts?)

    I have two old GE percolators that are used for coffee making, and they both make the most flavorful, hot coffee ever. I love the chug-chug sound they make, and the way the coffee splurts up into the little glass thingie on top. Also, they look very handsome sitting on the counter.

  6. says

    I like the idea. It allows you to appreciate the beauty of the design of a percolator and give it a new life in our modern world. Sometimes the useful life of an item has come to an end, or there are just much more convenient options. For instance, I like the look of a rotary phone but I really don’t want to dial a phone number on one all the time anymore.

  7. says

    I do admit that it makes me sad too as I find these things so beautiful and useful still. But to each their own and does look like there is a huge profit margin to be had!

    • pam kueber says

      Eartha, I personally know how much time Susan takes to make these lamps, and how much it takes her to maintain her studio and inventories. The profit margin ain’t that great. That said: If you want to take the time to gather the materials and learn to Do It Yourself, you can save a lot of money — time = money. That’s why we are showing these ideas — to provide inspiration. This reminds me of when I showed those Christmas wreaths made out of vintage Christmas ornaments. They were $75. One person wrote that she knew should could make one of her own cheaper — my post was a DIY tutorial — but she said ‘I know I never will’ so coughed up the cash to buy one direct. Hey, I think that’s called The Economy! 🙂

  8. Jeffinprov says

    Uhm, while perhaps it’s a happier world where Never Is Heard A Discouraging Word, am I the only reader who thinks this is tacky? Further, having sold several vintage coffee makers on eBay for rather surprising sums, there are clearly people out there who appreciate them as objects.

  9. pam kueber says

    A reminder, the #1 commenting rule of the blog is: “No one can be made to feel bad for their choices.” I let this dialog go on because… the stakes are pretty low… we’re talking about vintage percolators, not trading in stolen kidneys or solving for cancer.

    Even so: Please don’t use words on this blog like: Ugly, Hideous, Horrific, Tacky, etc., because they insult folks who think their tastes and decor are Beautiful, Lovely, Pretty, Happy, etc. I have never ever ever met anyone who was not trying to create a home that was beautiful. Please take care to ensure comments are constructive and not unnecessarily hurtful. Thank you.

  10. Debbie says

    I love this ideal. I purchased a percolator at an estate sale and this is just what I needed to do something with it. It will be great in my new condo, I think I will put in on top of my pie safe. Thanks for the ideal.

  11. says

    Pam, I love this idea and though I don’t have the time to re-purpose them myself, I will now be on the lookout for cool retro percolators for my shop. It’s great to see vintage items being enjoyed all over again. I have several groovy coffee carafes, any ideas for re-purposing them?

  12. says

    I LOVE the idea of Upcycling no longer usable objects! I have so many percolators on display that cannot run, but are FANTASTIC in shape and design <3 FABO idea!

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