You Light Up My Life

Remember Steve Carell’s character in Anchorman’s famous quote: “I love lamp”?

Well for moi, it’s true. I LOVE lamps. So much so that I’m incredibly picky when it comes to buying one brand new from a store.

This obsession first took root when I began hunting for a nice, yet affordable, floor lamp last year.

After months of searching, I either found pieces of rubbish for too much, or glorious pieces for too much. The end result, no lamp for me 😦

And, as with all of my furnishing needs, upcylcing saved the day!

After many fails, (one including a 70s relic affixed to a blue-movie type chain, and a hand glued feathered frock MR. RQ refused to let me hang,) I came across a post about simply spray painting a brass lamp.

This introduced me to what I compare to the fountain of youth for lamps. Endless lamps, all the time, just the way I want!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Enter this beaut.

Tall Lamp Collage




She didn’t look like this when I got her for about $15 at ‘Find’ (A local not-for-profit thrift store where I live.) She was a brass mess with no shade. I got a new $11 shade from HomeSense, used some fabric I had in my fabric bag, a couple coats of white spray paint, and voila! She cost me no more than $40 tops.

Compare her to this pricy lamp selling at a popular lighting store online.

Expensive Lamp


Here are a couple of other lamps I have upcycled over the last year:

Past DIY Lamps 

OK, it’s tutorial time!

I wanted a lamp that looked like this, but at a much cheaper price.

Purple Lamp


I made my lamp using the base from my Mustard Palm Lamp from above. It was time for something new, so I recycled the base I previously recycled.

1) Find the fabric you want to use on the shade. I have a great membership at Fabric Land. I get 20% off on everything all the time, but on long weekends they have 50% off sales on all stock for members! This type of fabric was originally $25 / meter, but I got it for $12.50.

Geometric Fabric


2) Thoroughly clean your lamp surface with a mild soap, or other cleaner. (Use cruelty free if possible! This is all I had in my cupboard. Haven’t’ used it in years.)

Lamp Base before


3) Protect everything you don’t want painted. (I also covered the socket and switch with a plastic bag.)

Lamp tape collage


4) Time to paint! I used ‘lagoon’ in satin from Painter’s Touch in the Rust-Oleum line. Love these spray paints.

Lagoon Paint

Tip: Don’t try to cover in one coat! You’ll get icky drip spots. Spray from about a foot away and constantly move in even strokes as you go around the lamp. Use a couple of coats to make sure you get all spots.


Once your lamp is painted, let is dry and move on to your shade.

It’s hard to find good quality shades at the thrift store. It’s possible, but I haven’t had much luck. Drum shades are especially hard to come by in my area.

Thus, I resort to buying them new and on sale. I got this one at HomeSense for $9!


5) Remove the trim from your lamp. Be gentle when removing it because we’ll be using it again later.

Lamp shade deconstruct


6) Lay down a piece of paper large enough to trace the shape of your shade on. I used some dollar store wrapping paper. Cheap, and big enough to use.

Lamp Shade Roll Out


7) You need a pattern for cutting your fabric, so you have to trace the shape of the shade onto the paper. You do this by holding a pencil to the edge starting at the vertical seam, and tracing it along the paper as you roll the shade, keeping the shade and pencil lined up. Sounds much more complicated than it really is. This may take a few tries, but please don’t give up if it seems tough.

Tip: Most shades have a tapered shape…meaning the top is smaller than the bottom. If this is the case, your traced shape will NOT come out in a straight line! It will curve upward, so make sure you have enough paper to accommodate this.

8) Once you trace, cut it out and lay your piece of fabric face down, and secure the paper to the fabric. You can use straight sewing pins (time consuming) or a bit of low-tack painter’s tape.

Cut about half an inch around the pattern. This will leave room to overlap if that’s what you want. I did not do this in this case.

Lampshade Template Collage

9) It’s time to put your fabric on your shade.

You’ll need some low to medium tack spray adhesive for this.

Lay your fabric down on a covered surface and spray evenly with the adhesive. A little goes a long way, but use your discretion. (And it gets everywhere! Make sure you do this in an area that is covered, and doesn’t have a lot of items for the spray particles to settle on. Trust me, you’ll be scrubbing for weeks!) 

Let dry for about one minute until it gets tacky.

I’m terribly sorry I couldn’t take pictures of this part 😦 My dog was the only one home with me, and he unfortunately doesn’t have thumbs.

10) If you are not going to overlap the edges, trim around the shade to make the fabric flush with the edge.

11) When your fabric is on, you’ll want to fold the overlapping seam about a centimeter to make a nice finished seam. Press down the rest of the fabric so it adheres.

Folded lamp shade seam


12) Re-attach your trim to the top and bottom of your shade. I used a bit of rubber cement for this because the spray adhesive was not strong enough. A little goes a long way!

Tip: If your lamp is tapered, make sure you have the right trim for top and bottom. You can tell by how long each piece is. (A memory lapse caused me to completely forget to take pictures of this part. Sorry, gang.)

It’s time to check your lamp! If it’s dry, proceed. If not, wait.

13) Once dry, take off all tape and protective covering. You can now place your shade on your lamp! And voila, new lamp!

Painted lamp base





Lamp After Final Collage

I think the two are quite comparable. They expensive lamp has the advantage of great lighting for the picture, but my final product definitely makes me very happy.



2 responses to “You Light Up My Life

  1. Pingback: Dressed to Impress | Redeemable Qualities·

  2. Pingback: Kicking Some (Br)ass | Redeemable Qualities·

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