15 Ways to Refurbish or DIY a Lampshade

DIY lampshade

Dossier Blog

Have you recently picked up a lamp at the thrift store topped with a bland or not-so-pretty lampshade? If so, it's easy to refurbish or transform any lampshade into a DIY masterpiece with a little creativity and oftentimes a glue gun. Consider working on the outside—and the inside—of your shade for a new look. If you use LED or CFL bulbs, they won't get nearly as hot as the older incandescent bulbs and they won't melt materials you add to your lampshade.

Here are 15 ideas that can turn a lampshade into a work of art.

  • 01 of 15

    Coordinate With Fabric Remnants

    fabric lamp shade DIY

    The House That Lars Built

    Are you looking to decorate a lampshade to better match a room's decor? Cover it with fabric. Pick out a yard of fabric in your choice of color and/or design at a local craft store. If you're on a tight budget, rummage through your craft supplies to find scrap pieces of fabric you can use to decorate your lampshade. Don't forget the spray adhesive. You'll need it to attach the fabric to the shade.

  • 02 of 15

    Be Creative With Buttons

    DIY button lamp shade

    Creative with Love

    Use an excess of spare buttons to decorate a lampshade. With some hot glue, carefully glue the buttons onto the shade in a design of your choice. To coordinate with a room's decor, pick out and attach buttons of similar colors and shades. If you're feeling creative, arrange and attach your buttons in a particular design, such as stripes, chevron, or even in an ombre effect.

  • 03 of 15

    Cover With Leftover Wallpaper

    wallpaper lamp shade DIY

    JC Crafthouse

    It's sometimes hard to find uses for leftover wallpaper. Instead of tossing it, save your leftover pieces and use them to cover the outside of an old and dingy lampshade. Pick out a piece of wallpaper that matches a room's decor, and attach it to the lampshade with a spray adhesive or craft glue. Temporary wall decals or peel-and-stick wallpaper works, too. Remember to let the adhesive or glue completely dry before putting the shade back on the lamp to prevent messes.


    Use leftover wallpaper to cover the inside of the shade for a peekaboo bit of color. For example, a plain white shade with aqua-tinted wallpaper on the inside fits into a beach-themed room.

  • 04 of 15

    Stencil a Pretty Pattern

    Stenciled lampshade

    Domestic Imperfection

    Do you love the patterns and designs of modern decorative lampshades, but not the price tag? Turn a plain lampshade into a modern staple item for any room in your home with a stencil and a little craft paint. Pick up a stencil at your local craft store in your favorite design, such as damask, lattice, or honeycomb. You can also make a stencil out of vinyl or a thick piece of plastic. Dab on your choice of paint with a stencil brush or small foam pad. Remember to let the paint completely dry before re-attaching the shade to the lamp.

    Continue to 5 of 15 below.
  • 05 of 15

    Apply Gold or Silver Inside or Outside

    Gold leaf lampshade

    Design Sponge

    Create a glitzy lampshade with gold or silver leaf. Or, use gold or silver spray paint. to transform a plain or dingy lampshade. Cover the outside but don't forget about the possibilities of the inside of your shade. For a dramatic change, spray paint the interior of the shade either gold or silver. Then spray paint the exterior of the shade matte or glossy black for an elegant result. This technique looks especially lovely when used on a drum or bell lampshade. Spray paint can work well on knife-pleated paper or fabric shades (use a foam brush to touch up any bare spots).

  • 06 of 15

    Reuse Leftover Ribbon

    overlapping ribbon lamp shade

    Midwest Living

    Reuse an abundance of leftover ribbon from other craft projects and gift bags to quickly and simply add color to your lampshade. Attach ribbon to only the rims of the shade to add a little color or cover the entire shade with a single color ribbon or use multiple colors for an added effect. You can wrap the ribbon around the entire shade in a crisscross, vertical, or horizontal design.

  • 07 of 15

    Decoupage a Collage

    decoupage lamp shade

    Fancy Momma

    Create a colorful collage of florals or scenery using decoupage, one of the easiest methods you can use to update the dingy, dreary surface of a drum lampshade, for example. Don't be afraid to experiment. For example, if you have a flat fabric drum shade, decoupage thin rice paper or even colorful napkins onto the surface. Find free artwork online to create a collage. Cut out shapes you'd like and use decoupage medium to glue it in place.

  • 08 of 15

    Rim It With Roping

    Rope lamp shade DIY

    A Butterfly House

    If you need a hint of boho decor in a room, grab some macrame cord or rope, leftover twine, or any other chunky, textured roping that's just too good to toss. Wrap it around a shade and hot glue it in place. You don't need to cover the entire shade. See how much roping you have and create a border design on the top and bottom rims or just the bottom rim.

    Continue to 9 of 15 below.
  • 09 of 15

    Stich an Embroidered Design

    Embroidered lampshade DIY


    If you love to embroider, use a lampshade as your canvas. Consider embroidering right on the shade itself if there's a layer of plain fabric on which you can stitch a simple design. Intrepid cross-stitchers are known to transfer a pattern right onto a paper shade and embroider directly onto the surface. Another way to use embroidery on a lampshade is by first enhancing a piece of cut-to-fit fabric with needlework, then gluing the finished piece onto the shade.

  • 10 of 15

    Bead a Mosaic Design

    DIY tile lampshade

    Pretty Handy Girl

    Hot glue comes to the rescue once again to place a beaded design. If you have tons of tiny beads, lightly draw out a sinuous mosaic-like design with pencil and fill it in with beads. Attach larger, chunky, or elongated beads around the rim. You may even have some old earrings, pins, or other costume jewelry no longer worn that can add unexpected visual and textural interest to the design.

  • 11 of 15

    Glamorize With Crystals or Fringe

    fabric and fringe lampshade

    Susan's Craft Cabin

    Hang teardrop crystals or fringe on the bottom rim of a tired old shade for a glamorous touch. Or, if you have smaller crystals, hang them from either the top edge so each one lays flat against the shade or dangle them from the bottom rim so they move ever so slightly in a breeze while catching the light of the bulb.

  • 12 of 15

    Upcycle a Sweater

    DIY sweater lampshade

    Amber Oliver

    Do you have a beautiful sweater that you can't bear to part with but can't wear, either (maybe it shrunk by accident)? Turn it into a cozy textured cover for a lampshade. It's simple to transform the sweater. Make a straight cut under the arms, then put the hem of the sweater on the top of the shade and glue it down for a finished look. Wrap the rest of the sweater under the bottom rim and glue that down, trimming excess fabric so it's neat on the underside of the shade.


    If you don't want to cover an entire shade with knit fabric, grab pompoms from old hats and other knitwear and glue them on separately or make a garland for a burst of added softness and color for a bedroom lamp.

    Continue to 13 of 15 below.
  • 13 of 15

    Transform With Tape

    DIY Washi Tape lamp shade

    As the Bunny Hops

    Whether it's foil or washi tape, you can rescue any old lampshade with color and design. Add a striped, chevron, or checkered design on a plain shade of any size to match the decor of your room.

  • 14 of 15

    Washi Paper Floral Lampshade

    Flower petal lampshade

    For the Love of Flowers

    With patience and skill, you can create a DIY floral masterpiece. Use Washi paper "petals" on lampshades by layering them in clusters from top to bottom in varied designs. The color and shape are completely up to you!

  • 15 of 15

    Use Cane Webbing

    DIY Cane Lamp Shade

    The Small Reno Project

    Caned accents have made a comeback in recent years, and it's easy to see why! Discard the old lampshade on your recent thrift find and replace it with caned webbing to instantly elevate your end or console table.