22 Creative Ideas for Decorating a Lampshade in Less Than an Hour

diy fabric lampshade
Photo: Marty Baldwin

Give ordinary lampshades a lift with easy add-ons that take less than an hour. Our roundup of DIY lampshade ideas has something for every style.

01 of 22

Painted Lampshade

lampshade with colorful mod geometric painted shapes
Painted lampshade by Liz Kamarul. Carson Downing

Stylist and muralist Liz Kamarul used interior house paint from various projects around her house for this fabulous lampshade. She started by lightly drawing her shapes with a pencil, then used a 2-inch angled brush to apply paint in thin, even coats, letting it dry between each layer. Liz's trick for keeping her lines neat is to go slow. "I didn't use any type for this design, just went nice and slow, taking my time with the paintbrush to get a crisp straight line," she says.

02 of 22

Dip-Dye Lampshade

lampshade with pink and purple colorblock dye
Dip-dye lampshade by Rachel Mae Smith of The Crafted Life. Carson Downing

It took two shades of RIT All-Purpose Dye (Rose Quartz and Royal Blue) for DIYer Rachel Mae Smith of The Crafted Life to complete this dip-dye look:

  • Fill a tub partway with hot water, then dip the shade into the water to test the level.
  • Add dye and stir gently.
  • Dip in a strip of paper towel to test the color, adjusting dye as needed. Add the shade to the water and soak for 10-15 minutes.
  • Drain water, flip the lampshade and repeat with your second color. The first and second dye baths should barely overlap.
  • Let dry for 24 hours.
03 of 22

Pleated Fabric Lampshade

lampshade with bold fabric and black fringe trim
Lampshade design by Beth Diana Smith. Carson Downing

Interior designer Beth Diana Smith covered a linen shade with a pleated piece of African wax print fabric she already had on hand. She measured the circumference of the shade's top and bottom, adding an inch seam at the top and bottom, which she ironed and secured with fabric glue. The top was 8 inches smaller than the bottom, so Smith made eight 1-inch pleats, using binder clips to hold them in place as she worked. With pleats in place, she ironed them and secured the tops and bottoms with dots of fabric glue. She coated the inside of the fabric with spray glue, then secured the pleats, seams, and fringe with fabric glue.

04 of 22

Watercolor Lampshade

lampshade with painted food coloring-based green watercolor
Watercolor lampshade design by Mat Sanders. Carson Downing

Designer Mat Sanders made his own watercolor paints with a food coloring-based recipe by Happy Hooligans. He used two different shades of green, muting one by mixing in a bit of coffee. The recipe calls for corn starch, so the trick is to stir well to avoid clumps. To prevent drips, use a natural-bristle brush that's damp but not wet.

His inspiration? "I quarantined in Tucson and was so inspired by the pattern of all the Saguaro cacti," Sanders says. "I thought it would be great to create a pattern out of the trunks and arms of the majestic plants. I want to recover a sofa in this pattern!"

05 of 22

Botanical Lampshade

lampshade with detailed romantic painted floral details
Botanical lampshade design by Inslee Fariss. Carson Downing

Artist Inslee Fariss used Angelus Leather Paint to create this DIY lampshade. "It is so easy to work with, adheres well to whatever you put it on, and dries fast," she says. "It is a perfect viscosity and requires no water mixing." Inslee planned her botanical composition to include a variety of flowers and small insects but relied on an overall green and white color scheme to tie all the florals together. If you're not confident painting freehand, start by tracing simple plant shapes with a pencil. And remember, even if there's a drip, there are no mistakes, says Fariss: "It can always turn into an intentional leaf or bumblebee."

06 of 22

DIY Decoupage Design

diy fabric lampshade
Marty Baldwin

Create a custom lampshade using your favorite fabric and decoupage. This beautiful watercolor drum was made by cutting floral designs from spare fabric. Decoupage medium and bias tape create a polished design. Don't be afraid to mix patterns or overlap large cutouts for a garden-fresh collage look.

07 of 22

Golden Glow

glass lamp with black lampshade on marble table
Brie Passano

To make this sleek black and gold DIY lampshade:

  • Start with a plain white drum shade.
  • Cover the top and bottom edges of the shade with painters tape.
  • Carefully spray the inside of the shade with two coats of gold spray paint.
  • Once dry, remove the tape and paint the outside of the shade with several coats of black fabric paint.

Let dry and pair with a contemporary lamp base, such as this industrial bubble design.

08 of 22

Ombre Effect

painted ombre lampshade with white base green
Brie Passano

Ombre designs aren't going away any time soon, and we're embracing them with this DIY lampshade makeover. To make the design, paint the outside fabric with paint colors ranging from light to dark. As you add the colors from the top-down, wet your foam brush with water to blend the colors. Work quickly as you paint because it's difficult to blend further once it's dry.

09 of 22

Coastal Charm

lampshade with wallpaper wrapped around inside
Brie Passano

Make a subtle change to a plain white lampshade by dressing up the inside. We added fun, bright wallpaper to the shade's interior for this DIY lampshade makeover. Measure the wallpaper to fit the shade's interior and cut to size. (It's always best to cut it slightly larger and go back to trim precisely.) Insert the wallpaper into the shade and use Mod Podge or glue to secure at the seams.

10 of 22

Rope-Wrapped Lampshade

rope-wrapped lampshade on table with glass lamp base
Jacob Fox

A linen-covered lampshade gets a makeover with a nod to nautical style by adding cord to the bottom edge. Get the look by wrapping .28-inch-diameter cord around the base, hot-gluing as you go. Switch colors after a few passes to create alternating cream, white, and gold bands.

11 of 22

Thread and Needle Shade

embroidery floss in geometric pattern on white lamp shade
Adam Albright

Embroidery floss is made for more than just friendship bracelets. Use it to dress up everyday items around the house! Find a plain lampshade and use the floss and a needle to make trendy geometric patterns. Make sure all tied ends stay on the inside of the lampshade. These contrasting colors pop against the white fabric, and the freshly painted lamp base looks sharp.

12 of 22

Fabric-Covered Lampshade

See how easy it is to roll a swatch of your favorite fabric onto a lampshade. Bonus points if you can use extra fabric from a curtain or linens used elsewhere in the room. This project requires no prior sewing skills.

13 of 22

Dainty Dots

painted red dots on lampshade in front of yellow curtain panel
Cameron Sadeghpour

This lampshade looks like it's covered in embroidered French knots from far away. But once you take a peek up close, you'll see that those actually aren't knots. They're paint dots made with the same dimensional fabric paint you used to collect for decorating shirts. This DIY lampshade makeover is easy for any skill level. Use our pattern to make marks on the shade where the dots go.

14 of 22

Fabric Dye Lampshade

pink dip-dyed ombre lampshade with glass base
Jacob Fox

Use fabric dye to add color to basic accessories easily and quickly. For a dip-dyed lampshade, mix powdered dye in a large container. Dip all but a few inches of the shade in the mix, holding for three to four minutes. Lift out a few inches of the shade, then hold again to create a darker hue. Repeat to create a gradually darker hue. Let dry before using.

15 of 22

Cardstock Design

lampshade with scalloped cardstock circle flowers
Jacob Fox

Bring the garden indoors with this floral-inspired shade. Punch out 1-inch and 1-1/2-inch scalloped circles from several hues of pastel cardstock. Draw wavy stems and branches onto the lampshade with a paint pen, then hot-glue the punched papers to the ends of the branches. If you're hesitant to draw freehand, make a pattern and tape it to the inside of the shade to trace.

16 of 22

Recycled Fabric Lampshade

gray t-shirt dress wrapped around lampshade with glass base
Jacob Fox

Give an old T-shirt dress new life on a lampshade. First, wrap the hem around the bottom of the shade and hot-glue it in place. Next, work the rest of the dress down around the shade, scrunching it to create folds. When you reach the desired look, trim the dress 1 inch above the top edge and hot-glue the cut edge to the inside of the shade. Note: A stretchy dress in a small size works best for this project.

17 of 22

Fabric Scrap Shade

blue scrap fabric wrapped around lampshade and embellished with pearls
Jacob Fox

We found the perfect solution for a piece of pretty scrap fabric; add it to a lampshade!

  • Measure the height of the shade and subtract two inches.
  • Measure the circumference of the shade, 1 inch from both the top and bottom edges, and add 2 inches to each measurement.
  • Cut the fabric to size and gently pull strings on the long edge to create fringe.
  • Wrap the band around the edge and hot-glue to secure.
  • Embellish as desired; we used a strip of fabric with long, raw edges and adhesive pearls to cover our overlap.
18 of 22

Spraypainted Shade

spray-painted geometric teal and gold lampshade
Jacob Fox

DIY lampshade makeovers don't get any simpler than this spraypaint hack. Use painters tape to mark off a geometric pattern on the shade, wrapping the tape ends around the top and bottom edges. In a well-ventilated area, use a wide, sweeping motion to spray-paint the shade. Paint until desired coverage is achieved. Let dry. Peel off tape and use a gold paint pen to glam up the edges.

19 of 22

Felt DIY Lampshade

gray and white strips of felt folded around lampshade
Jacob Fox

Strips of felt add color and texture to a boring lampshade.

To get the look:

  • Trim 2-inch-wide strips of felt that are 1 inch longer than the height of your shade.
  • Fold the strips in half lengthwise.
  • Hot-glue the strips to the lampshade, letting them extend 1/2 inch above and below the rim.
  • Glue strips close together, switching colors every now and then to create a striped pattern.
20 of 22

Copper Update

lampshade with copper foil tape adhered in geometrical line pattern

This luxe lampshade doesn't cost nearly as much as it looks. With inexpensive copper foil tape, you can have something beautiful without even buying a new shade! Although the change may be small, it will elevate your space with chic metallic sparkle. Apply the foil as easily as you would apply stickers to a piece of paper, using your finger to smooth out any air bubbles or wrinkles.

21 of 22

Geometric Design

various shades of blue cardstock hexagons attached to lampshade
Jacob Fox

From a distance, you'd never guess that this ombre lampshade is adorned with paper. To make:

  • Punch hexagons (or other desired geometric shapes) from light and dark shades of solid blue cardstock.
  • Cut five lengths of cotton cord to fit around the shade, with room for overlapping.
  • Hot-glue each cord 2 to 2-1/2 inches apart.
  • Fold each hexagon in half from point to point.
  • Place a dot of hot glue at the center of the fold, and adhere to the cord with the fold vertical.
  • Continue adding hexagons, spacing them so their ends touch when unfolded.
  • Arrange rows with paper staggering from light to dark for an ombre effect.

Editor's Tip: In place of cardstock, use paint chips collected from a hardware store.

22 of 22

Silhouette Shade

linen lampshade with inside silhouette of cherry branch
Jacob Fox

Think inside the lampshade with this clever silhouette hack. Attach a stencil (ours was designed like a cherry branch) to the inside of a lampshade with stencil adhesive. Let dry. Then dab black paint into the stencil openings with a small brush. Remove stencil and let dry. Reposition and repeat until the stencil covers as much of the shade as desired.

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