March 13, 2014

DIY Lamp Makeover

Here is the second project that I mentioned I've been working on for a while! This poor ugly lamp needed a makeover. It was previously sitting on a table in my mom's living room, and she had been wanting to replace it for years. The shade was quite sad looking; it used to be lined but it got a tear in it. My mother eventually cut the torn lining out so whenever it was on, you could see the light bulb quite easily. 

Anyways, my mom finally got a new lamp to replace this tired one, and I asked if I could have it. It may be ugly, but it was a really nice lamp back in its hey day. She said yes and it has now been sitting in my apartment as is for over a month. 

But no more! The same day Corbett helped me build my mirror frame, we spray painted the lamp! It certainly looks better white. I also recovered the lampshade. 

So this post is really a two-part DIY. How to spray paint an old lamp and how to recover a lampshade!

1. Tape off the electrical parts. This is pretty simple and self explanatory. Grab yourself some painters tape and tape away. To cover up the cord, I got a grocery bag and put the cord inside, then taped it shut. 

2. Sand it first. Even though spray paint is oil-based and sticks to everything, it is always a good idea to sand your item first. I found out that I am terrible at this, so if you have no idea what you're doing, ask a knowledgeable friend if you've done it right.

3. Cover your work space. We used a garbage bag. This eliminates most of the mess.

4. Paint outside and not in cold weather. Unfortunately for me, the day we painted was pretty chilly. Cooler weather makes the paint dry very slowly. SO! Don't do what I did. Paint on a day when the temperature is around 50 degrees.

5. Give it at least two coats.  Mine could have used three, but I was impatient to get this done and didn't give it another go over. One coat will definitely not be enough though.

Once it was dried I was very pleased with the end result! It looked so much prettier. Once it wasn't bronze, I realized I actually liked the shape and size.

Alright, now for part two! That pesky lampshade.

You will need...
1 yard of fabric, depending on shade size
Spray adhesive (I used Elmer's)
Hot glue
Ribbon that matches your fabric

1. Pick a fabric and create a pattern. I used a brown grocery bag so I would have a stiff pattern, but in a pinch you could use another piece of cloth. (Also, if your lampshade is round, cutting out your pattern will be much easier. You could even opt to just measure it and forgo the pattern altogether.)

2. Pin your pattern down and cut out pieces. My shade had 6 panels, so I cut out 6 pieces of cloth. I bought 1 yard and had plenty of extra. (In fact, I had more than enough to cover a book! Recognize the fabric from my fabric covered books DIY?) 

**Be sure you leave a half inch on the top and bottom of your fabric panels so you can fold them over the rim and glue down later.

3. Spray one panel with spray adhesive and apply fabric to a panel. Smooth our wrinkles. The spray adhesive is NOT what is going to keep your panel of fabric on the shade. It simply helps get rid of wrinkles and keeps the fabric flat on the lamp shade. 

**I suggest laying down newspapers, because spray adhesive gets everywhere.

4. Trim the side edges of the panel of fabric so it fits perfectly. Don't worry about it looking messy along the seams where the panels of fabric meet; we will fix that later. Also, don't worry about tucking the top and bottom edges under the rim yet.

5. Hot glue the fabric down. Start in the corners, and if the edges need it, apply there as well. Again, don't worry about the seam where the fabric panels meet.

6. Turn your lampshade on its side and tuck the top and bottom edges under the rim of the lamp shade and hot glue down. Trim any fabric off that you can once the glue dries.

 7. Repeat these steps for the remaining panels. 

8. Add ribbon! Remember those ugly seams where the panels messily meet? Time to fix them! Cut yourself a piece of ribbon that is 2 inches longer than your lamp shade. Hot glue one end to the inside of the top rim in alignment with the seam. Gluing as you go, carefully press the ribbon down the length of the seam. Once you reach the end, hot glue the loose end under the bottom rim. Repeat for every seam.

**I glued ribbon around the inside on the top rim on my lampshade to give it a more finished look. (See below picture) While not necessary, it is a nice touch, and if you have extra ribbon, why not?

Once you're done, stand back and enjoy your gorgeous lamp shade! 

Reattach it to you lamp base and add it to your decor! Then stand back and admire it again. My boyfriend was actually extremely surprised at how well it turned out. I'm not sure if I should be upset that he had so little faith in me or happy because I have amazing hot glue skills, but either way, I have a gorgeous lamp that I only paid $4 for (and that $4 is from the fabric and ribbon). 

How do you like it in my apartment? (And please ignore the ridiculously ugly couch. I wasn't there to help the housing board pick it out back in 1968.) The mirror and the lamp really helped to make the whole space seem less empty and more me. I hope to post an apartment tour sometime soon!

Anyways, I hope you all enjoy this DIY, as well as a sneak peak into my apartment!


Obsessed with the transformation of Lizzie's lamp? Like her 1968 couch? Interested to see the rest of Lizzie's apartment? Leave us a comment below!


  1. Are you kidding about the couch?? It is adorable!
    Your lamp tutorial was great - easy to follow and the end result looks great. Nice work!

    1. WOW such high praise from an amazing expert! Thank you so much for your kind words, and I'm glad SOMEONE likes my couch, haha :)
      xoxo Lizzie

  2. Wow! That lampshade is totally gorgeous! That DIY feat is totally a success, seeing as how you magically transformed that. You really did a great job on that, Lizzie! Thanks for sharing that! Kudos and all the best to you!

    Gwendolyn Haynes @ Table and Bedsides Lamps


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