Lampshade hacks to light up a lamp

June 30, 2015

A tired, old lampshade can bring down the entire room. But there's no need to replace the entire lamp when you can try sprucing up the shade with these easy tricks.

Lampshade hacks to light up a lamp

Use a light-diffusing slipcover for a shade

Lamplight owes its beauty more to the lampshade than the bulb. To soften harsh light from a fabric or paper shade, try this gathered slipcover — especially easy for a round shade. Check your flame-retardent remnants and linen closet for a lightweight fabric in a pale-to-medium colour or pattern, and rustle up some narrow ribbon to make the fabric gather.

  1. Cut the material about twice as wide as the smaller circumference of the shade (longer for a shade with one very wide end) and about five centimetres (two inches) longer than the top-to-bottom measurement. Piece the fabric if needed, perhaps alternating solid and patterned panels.
  2. Seam together the short sides of the fabric. Fold over and stitch the top and bottom edges to make one centimetre (half-inch) pockets, leaving a small opening in each. Now take the ribbon and cut lengths twice as long as the shade's top and bottom circumferences, and wrap one end of each length tightly with tape, like a shoelace tip.
  3. Thread ribbon through the pockets, playing with the fabric so the gathers are evenly distributed. Tie off excess ribbon as little bows. To secure the cover, tack down top and bottom edges with thread or double-sided fabric tape. The finished shade's look will be as soft and pretty as the lamplight.

Caution: Halogen lights get very hot, so stick with heat-appropriate shades for those lamps.

Perk up your lampshades

Did you know you can spray paint a fabric shade for a snappier look? And you won't have to buy paint if you have some craft paint or leftover latex on hand.

  • Using a ratio of one part paint to 10 parts water, mix enough to fill a regular-size plastic spray bottle. Be sure the lampshade is clean and free of dust. Protect the inside of the shade with paper secured by masking tape. Begin by spraying a light, even coat; let dry. Spray on more paint, drying between coats, until you have the intensity of colour you want.
  • Add design by using painter's tape to make vertical or diagonal stripes. Or cut shapes from a coated paper, attaching them to the unpainted shade with spray adhesive (follow instructions for a temporary bond). After spray painting, remove the cutouts once the paint is dry. For a soft, mottled effect, use the same paint formula and dab paint, a little at a time, directly onto the shade with a natural sea sponge. The fabric will diffuse the colour, creating a light and airy look.

Silhouettes on the shade

Give extra interest to a plain paper or fabric lampshade with dark or black construction paper cutouts — also a fun way to decorate for special occasions. (Think leaf patterns for Thanksgiving, snowflake silhouettes for a winter holiday, hearts for Valentine's, jack-o-lanterns for Halloween, footballs for a Super Bowl party.) A medium-weight card stock works, too. Translucent white, cream, gold, beige and pastel shades give the best effect.

When cutting out the shapes, size them to the shade — not too large and not too small. Affix the shapes to the inside of the shade with double-sided tape, taking special care that paper doesn't touch, or lie too close to, the light bulb. Now turn on the lamp and see how the silhouettes appear almost "embedded" in the light. Paper cutouts will begin to curl over time, but they're easy to remove and replace.

These crafty DIY ideas to spruce up tired-looking lampshade are genius — and give you bragging rights as well!

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