15 Ways to Refurbish or DIY a Lampshade

Woman making a custom lamp shade

Robert Niedring / Getty Images

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. If you use LED or CFL bulbs, they won't get nearly as hot as the older incandescent bulbs so there should be no worry of anything melting or causing danger that you add to your lampshade. Consider working on the outside—and the inside—of your shade for a new look.

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

  • 01 of 15

    Coordinate With Fabric Remnants

    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

    Do you have an excessive amount of spare buttons? Use your lot of spare buttons to decorate your 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 extremely 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

    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 does the trick, too. Remember to let the adhesive or glue completely dry before putting the shade back on the lamp. Not only do you want to make sure the wallpaper sticks but also to prevent any messes.

    Tip

    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

    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.

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  • 05 of 15

    Apply Gold or Silver Inside or Outside

    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 and 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

    Do you have an abundance of leftover ribbon from other craft projects and gift bags? Reuse your collection of ribbon pieces 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

    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, elegant artwork online to create a collage. Cut out shapes you'd like and use decoupage medium to glue it in place.

  • 08 of 15

    Embellish With Appliques

    You don't need to be good at painting to create a richly colored and textured lampshade design. Head to the craft store and find embellishments and appliques of various sizes in a coordinated theme that you can use to create a scene around any shape of a lampshade. Layer them on using hot glue. For example, create a beach scene using appliques of shells, beach chairs, beach balls, boats, waves, and tropical trees. Or trim a lampshade with a theme of appliques, such as dogs or cats for pet lovers.

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  • 09 of 15

    Rim It With Roping

    If you need a hint of nautical or coastal decor in a room, grab some dock 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.

  • 10 of 15

    Stich an Embroidered Design

    Do you love the embroidered lampshades? If you're experienced or just beginning 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.

  • 11 of 15

    Bead a Mosaic Design

    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.

  • 12 of 15

    Glamorize With Crystals

    Hang teardrop crystals 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.

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  • 13 of 15

    Upcycle a Sweater

    Do you have a beautiful sweater that you can't bear to part with but can't wear it, 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. 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.

    Tip

    If you don't want to cover an entire shade with knit fabric, why not 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?

  • 14 of 15

    Transform With Tape

    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.

  • 15 of 15

    Flourish With Silk Blooms

    Silk floral blooms you see in craft stores aren't just for adding to wreaths or for wedding arrangements. You can create a DIY floral masterpiece anywhere with a glue gun, especially on a lampshade. Use blooms on lampshades by cascading them in clusters from top to bottom in varied designs. You don't need to cover the entire shade, just a portion with the blossoms of your choice.