Skip to content

Upcycle your lampshades

Published : 23/04/2010   |   Author: HOMEMAKERS | Verity Sewart

Lampshades should be the crowning glory of any lamp and it is so easy to take the most basic lamp and turn it into not only a piece of artwork, but also a creation that you love. Don’t be afraid to try new ideas when it comes to upcycling your lampshade, if you change your mind a few months later, you can simply change the look!

A well designed lampshade does more than just serve as a form of decor and art, but also serves a more practical function and therefore choosing the correct lampshade is an important choice for many reasons. A lampshade has three major functions: It softens the light from a light bulb and reduces the glare, it covers the lamp hardware for a better appearance, and it serves to focus or direct the light in a desired direction.

The lampshade should complement the style of the lamp base. Generally a square lamp base looks better with a square lamp, a tall lamp base looks better with a cylindrical lampshade and so on.

It is also to remember that light bulbs emit a lot of heat. A fabric or paper lampshade that is too close to the bulb can easily become a fire hazard. In the same way a long, cylindrical lampshade should always have enough clearance to allow for heat to escape.


How to upcycle your lampshade


  1. Make a new pattern for your lampshade by removing the old lampshade and placing it seam down on a piece of brown paper.
  2. Place a pencil on the top edge and roll the lampshade while drawing a line. Don’t lift the pen, keep the point on the paper so that it makes a continuous, solid line as you roll the shade around. Repeat this process by laying the lampshade back down where you started drawing the first line and continue until you have made a complete circle.
  3. Cut out the pattern and trace it onto your new material and cut the fabric to the pattern.
  4. Spray the reverse side of the fabric with a spray on adhesive and carefully position the fabric, starting at the seam, around the lampshade.
  5. Trim any excess fabric from the top and bottom of the lampshade and decorate your choice of top and bottom trim.


Finding Inspiration


Apart from ordinary material, there are so many items from around the house that can be upcycled and used on your lampshade.

  • Instead of buying material, use old t-shirts, tablecloths, bedspreads and curtains.
  • Cover your cylinder shaped lampshade with old bamboo placemats. This creates a natural and rustic look.
  • Paper or plastic? Paper definitely rules when it comes to making an amazing faux leather lampshade that looks and feels like the real thing. Use brown paper bags that have been crumpled into a ball, uncrumpled and torn into random pieces. Using a gel medium glue on both sides of the paper, apply to the lampshade and voila!
  • Lampshades do not have to consist of the usual material and paper creations. Why not create some ambience with an elegant beaded lamp. Lose the material and have the beads hang in vertical strips just like a bead curtain. These beads reflect the light beautifully and create a truly groovy vibe to any room.
  • Why not get creative in your handwriting and using a permanent marker let your lampshade tell a story.
  • If your hand is not too steady, how about using an old newspaper, magazine, music sheet or even map book to tell your story for you.
  • If your lampshades are still in good condition but are a boring white or natural, try tea dying your lampshades by steeping tea bags in the kitchen sink in hot water, and immerse the lampshade into the liquid.
  • Use a paper hole or scrapbooking punch with detail along the bottom of a plain lampshade. Thread colourful ribbon through the holes and finish by tying both ends together in a large bow. Perfect for any little girl’s room.

Ribbons, buttons, bottles, bottle caps and more. The options are endless and so is your creativity. Make your lampshades as individual as you are.


Remember we want to hear about your upcycled home decor stories, so send them to us so we can feature them online.


 View products our readers have upcycled!


post a comment

I would like to buy the lamp shade wiring and plastic that folds around it to make my own lamps - do you supply this?

Lynette on 18/08/2010

I am looking for a experienced lamp shade coverer and wondered if you could help with contact information.

Jenny Beddie on 13/02/2012

Leave a Comment
Name *:
Email *:
Comments *:
Remember personal info?
Notify me of follow-up comments?
Subscribe to our newsletter?
  EmailThis   PrintThis

Sign up for home improvement newsletter

Get regular updates on hot stuff!