Nope, it's not dirty or faded, it's actually painted to look like this.
My first thought was to just replace it. I collected up a number of pretty sconces on a pinterest board, but at $30 - $300, I wasn't chomping at the bit to just order one.
The current fixture happens to have this cool feature where it only comes on in the dark, so I can turn it on when I leave for work, and it'll welcome me home if I come home after dark 12 hours later, without wasting electricity all day. Only the fancy models have this feature, so then we'd be in the $150 - $300 range. Yikes.
I figured if we were going to replace it anyways, it might be OK to try refinishing it, with the potential of ruining it.
Tommy flipped the breaker and removed the fixture from the house. I taped over all the electric parts, like the wires and the daylight sensor.
I bought this cool spray paint from the hardware store (Rustoleum Hammered Paint and Primer) - they do something fancy to it where it creates a hammered texture. Not only does this forgive any dents or wear and tear on the item (that high gloss paint would highlight), but it looks pretty cool, too. It was $8, so on the high end for spray paint, but cheap-o for a new light fixture.
I didn't have to, but I primed the fixture first. (Before buying the spray paint - I didn't realize I wouldn't need it)
Then I sprayed three coats of the hammered finish spray paint, which ended up being the entire can.
I let it dry for a while, then discovered the underside needed a few extra spritzes. I had to wait 48 hours from the first spray session, so this added days to the project. (If you spray a second coat between 1 and 48 hours after the first coat, it can cause wrinkles in the paint)
It came out SO WELL! The black makes the fixture contrast well with the brick on the house, and ties it in with the handrail.
Eight bucks for a brand new looking fixture sure beats $30 - $300! Plus, the whole project took about 20 minutes of hands-on time. Drying time added more hours, but that's OK with me.