Things You'll Need
- Plain lampshade with a smooth outer surface
- Damp cloth or clean static dusting pad
- Tape measure
- Old newspaper
- Decoupage medium
- Paintbrush or foam brush
Many lampshades, while utilitarian, are not exactly pretty. Many are basic shades of white, bland, and do nothing to add to the decor of a room. Designer or custom lampshades can be quite expensive. Why not make your own custom lampshade by tweaking one you already own? Scrapbooking paper or any other paper with fun, funky designs on it can make for a fun lampshade. Hold the paper up to a light source beforehand to be sure light comes through the paper and still looks cool with light shining through from back to front.
Remove the lampshade from the lamp if it is attached to a lamp. (For typical lamps, you can remove the shade by twisting the finial on top counterclockwise until it comes off, then lift the lampshade off.) Clean the lampshade gently with a damp cloth or a static dusting cloth. Allow to dry completely.
Decide whether you want to cover the shade in small, irregular pieces of scrapbook paper, decoupage style, or if you want to use large sheets of scrapbook paper for a more planned design. If using large sheets, measure the lampshade or lampshade panels using a tape measure, the cut the scrapbook paper half an inch to an inch larger in length and width than needed. Use a straightedge and draw a pencil line as a cutting guideline before cutting.
Place sheets of old newspaper over your work surface. Select enough sheets of scrapbook paper to cover the lampshade and have some left over. Tear the scrapbooking paper into irregular pieces if making a decoupage-style lampshade. This style is ideal if you're using many different designs or colors of scrapbook paper and you want to create a fun, unique, multi-colored lampshade. The paper pieces should be somewhat consistent in general size and large enough to be obvious once on a lit lamp.
Apply decoupage medium to the back side of each sheet or piece of scrapbook paper using an inexpensive paintbrush or a foam brush. Stick the scrapbook paper piece onto the lampshade either where it fits, if using measured pieces of paper, or in a location that's good to start with, such as a seam. Work your way around the lampshade (or along the seam) with more sheets or pieces of paper until the entire lampshade is covered. Do not work haphazardly around the shade -- keep moving around the shade so you eventually end up reaching the starting point and can finish out that area. If using sheets of paper, you will end up with what looks like a seam here, so if you're shade doesn't have one already, it may look awkward. Try to match up the pieces of paper as evenly as possible, or add a thin strip of colored paper to cover the seam, and create another that matches it on the opposite side, if desired.
Brush decoupage medium over the top of the entire papered lampshade and allow to dry completely. A gloss medium will create a shiny effect.
Place the lampshade on a lamp and turn on the light. Enjoy!
Thin fabrics also make great lampshade coverings. As with the paper, hold the fabric up to the light first to ensure the look is something you like.
If you don't have a lampshade that lends itself to a remake, check your local thrift stores and yard sales -- often you can find something funky and unusual for very little money.
To make an opaque lampshade (one through which light won't shine), you can start with an opaque plain shade or simply use opaque paper. Spray adhesive will work instead of decoupage medium for opaque shades.
Tissue paper is ideal for lampshade projects -- it comes in a multitude of colors, is beautifully translucent, and is easy to work with.
Do not use high-wattage light bulbs in lamps with paper lampshade coverings. The bulb may scorch or burn the paper, leaving permanent burn marks on the shade.
Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer who traveled the world handling numerous duties for music artists. She writes travel and budgeting tips and destination guides for USA Today, Travelocity and ForRent, among others. She enjoys exploring foreign locales and hiking off the beaten path stateside, snapping pics of wildlife and nature instead of selfies.