Bright-colored paint and decorative appliques add zing to a lackluster lampshade.

How to Make Over a Lampshade

by Mary Cockrill

Before you toss a boring or old lampshade into the trash, give it a second chance with a flashy makeover. You can jazz up a tired shade with refreshing color, appealing texture and novel embellishments to design a one-of-a-kind masterpiece on a shoestring budget. It only takes a few resources, a little creativity and a small amount of your time to rescue an ugly duckling lampshade, while saving you the cost of a replacement.

Fabric and Paper

Cover a ho-hum lampshade with fabric or paper to give it a showy new style. Decorative papers, such as scrapbooking paper, wallpaper or craft paper, offer a wide variety of pattern and color choices. Select a fabric or paper to complement your existing furnishings. First, create a template for your lampshade by laying it on plain butcher or craft paper and tracing around the top and bottom of the shade, rolling it as you trace. Cut out the template, adding an extra inch around the top and bottom. Lay your template on the fabric or decorative paper and draw around it. Next, cut out the new lampshade covering and affix it with adhesive, folding the excess fabric or paper under the shade to create a crisp edge. Hold the new lampshade covering in place with clothespins until the adhesive dries.


Spray paint is a budget-friendly way to add sparkle, color or decoration to a worn-out lampshade. Revive it with an energetic hue, such as perky orange, lime green, turquoise blue or hot pink. Add earthy appeal with sage green, brick red, golden yellow or sky blue. Metallic paint colors – silver, copper, gold, burnished bronze – give a brilliant aspect to an ordinary lampshade. Enhance a solid-color shade by painting a decorative stencil on it. Choose a stencil color to contrast with your lampshade color. For example, use creamy ivory paint to stencil a leaf motif on a dark brown lampshade.

Natural Coverings

Give earthy appeal to a boring lampshade by covering it with an organic material. Cork is available in rolls or sheets in a variety of thicknesses to encase your lampshade with simple, unrefined texture. Wrap your lampshade in flexible wood veneer to deliver a natural, woodsy appeal. Real wood veneers in deep cherry or walnut provide beautiful effects when the light from your lamp glows between the lampshade’s wood grains. Attach grasscloth to your lampshade to add natural texture with outdoor charm, or wrap it with rustic twine for a simple, down-to-earth look.


Adorn your lampshade with a variety of decorative embellishments as a quick pick-me-up for a blah shade. Hot glue assorted ornamental items, such as appliqué cutouts created from fabric, craft paper or felt, to a lampshade to deliver instant visual interest. Unusual adornments -- crystal chandelier parts, curtain pushpins, paint chip cards, snazzy buttons – can instantly revive a humdrum shade. Fasten ornamental trim, such as lace, ribbon, beads, tassels or fringe, around your lampshade’s perimeter to heighten the visual attraction.

About the Author

Mary Cockrill's education and certifications in interior design and home staging have allowed her to author numerous home-related articles. Cockrill has been a top design consultant for a renowned home store and is the owner of Starwood Home & Gifts, LLC, an interior design, decorating and home staging business. She holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education with a comprehensive major in office administration.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images