Lamp Shade Switcharoo

Got a ho-hum lamp shade that could use a little spicing up? New lamp shades can be very pricey (pretty shades here are always at least $50. Usually closer to $100/$150+!). I had an old white silky shade on hand that I decided to paint red a couple weeks ago. I tested two different colors,…

Got a ho-hum lamp shade that could use a little spicing up? New lamp shades can be very pricey (pretty shades here are always at least $50. Usually closer to $100/$150+!). I had an old white silky shade on hand that I decided to paint red a couple weeks ago. I tested two different colors, but I knew I wanted the Oxblood color from the get-go. I think it’s a really good idea to temper bright, garish colors with muddy, off-tone colors in a space.

I had an old quart of glossy red paint on hand that was the perfect color (Man, I wish Home Depot still carried that Ralph Lauren paint line! Those colors were so pretty!). So, the trick to painting lampshades? Either water the paint down, or better yet, thin it down with paint conditioner. I’ve used this brand with great luck.
But the real trick to painting lampshades (or furniture, or really anything with a brush) is to load the brush with a consistant amount of paint every time, lay the paint down smoothly the first time and then resist every temptation to go back over what you have done! Just let it dry. Once it’s fully cured in a couple hours, you can lightly sand the whole shade and give it a second coat to cover up any imperfections in the first layer.
Don’t forget to paint the inside rims, but I like to stop where the fabric hem rolls in. Leave the inside white or black (or line it!). You can paint paper shades too, but I wouldn’t water your paint down in that case- use the conditioner or just straight paint. I’ve painted a couple different types of shades and most of the time it works great, but it should go without saying I wouldn’t mess with a really lovely expensive shade. Reserve this project for those approaching-nasty yellowing shades that so often come with lovely vintage lamps!
PS The Homies are out again! (They always sneak up on me, so thanks to those of you who nominated and voted for me already in both the Best DIY blog and Best Home Design categories – I’m not holding my breath, but I am super flattered. xox) I love the Homies because they make it so easy to find really great, new-to-me blogs! It’s risky business though, finding a new blog that fits you so well you just can’t go to bed until you’ve read through to their very first post! :) Dare I click through the list before the weekend?!
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47 thoughts on “Lamp Shade Switcharoo

  1. OMG! I have multiple pairs of beautiful vintage lamps that need new shades- I have been brainstorming on how to come up with new shades without breaking the bank. This is PERFECT!! I'm so excited- I'm throwing on clothes right now (still in jammies, sipping coffee) and heading to Lowes to get some paint and conditioner. Thank you, again, for a great idea!!!!

  2. I can't wait to try this on my cheap shades from Ikea–there are six on my brass chandelier and I'd really like them black but hate to spend the money! What do I have to lose? I am always inspired by the color palettes you choose–sophisticated but happy. Thanks!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this DIY!

    I think it's time you had your own show – seriously! Think about it.

    Jena Solak

  4. I wouldn't have guessed it was painted, it looks incredible! I have heard that HD still has the RL paint codes in the system and will mix them up if you ask. Worth a try if you love the color!

  5. that is just stunning. i may paint a shade or two actually. was just thinking about what i could do with some. you of course, have the perfect mix of colors

  6. This is awesome, and weird, because I was going to ask where you found that stunning red shade when you posted the gold frames last week! But I assumed you found it at some fabulous NY shop. I have been scouring for a red shade…now I'm just going to paint my icky one! Brilliant…as always.

    I voted for you, btw…and was shocked to see I'd been nominated!!??

  7. Jenny, I was so sad when Home Depot stopped carrying that line too. We have a local paint store that is FAB, and they carry the Ralph Lauren line. You could maybe try local paint specialty shops?

  8. love this idea. I like the gloss finish, too. I have a bit of a vintage lamp collecting habit, so I'm sure I'll be trying this. Thanks

  9. haha, I had voted before you even mentioned it :)

    Good luck, and also this is a great time to remember to say thank you for all the inspiration and fool proof instructions.


  10. Thanks for the lamp shade painting tips! I have a few that have seen better days and could definitely use some sprucing up :)

    Also, congrats on being nominated in the Homies! Best of luck to you!

    Desert Domicile

  11. Loving your DIY series! And all of your pieces look great together! If you love the base of that lamp, I just found a Greenhouse fabric the other day (10085 – Spa) on our site that looks pretty similar. Can't wait to see what's next!

  12. Oooh-the red is much better. I've never heard of paint conditioner before, I'll have to test that out!

    Congrats on getting nominated for the Homies! Exciting.

  13. I just found you through the Hommies! Love the paint conditioner tip for making colorful lampshades. I want a red lamp for our 1900 Victorian renovation. Can't wait to try!

    Laurel -

  14. Jenny,

    I just recently discovered your blog and I am completely hooked! I'm pretty sure I've at least skimmed every post! FYI, I used Ralph Lauren's "Raffia" at our lakehouse about 5 years ago, and just last week I took the can to Home Depot and they were able to access the Ralph Lauren paint formulas in their computer and mix more paint for me even though they no longer advertise the whole line of color. Maybe if you have some "must keep on hand" colors you can still get them mixed at Home Depot.

    New Faithful Midwest Reader

  15. Did you know that one can get old, no longer available paint colors from discontinued lines matched? If you go to a decent-sized paint store and tell them the name of the color and manufacturer/designer, like Ralph Lauren's "Stadium Red" or Martha Stewart's "Tortilla", once made for K Mart, the computers usually have the formula or "recipe" in them to replicate the color. You don't even need a sample. The technician can print out the labels with all the info. – you don't even have to buy the paint at that moment, just hold the info. for future use at your favorite paint store; they input the info. and out comes the paint you wanted. Special items, like Ralph Lauren's Duchesse Satin line are harder, as they have out of the ordinary elements in the mix.

  16. I cannot believe that lamp shade is PAINTED! I admired it in an earlier post and assumed it was a custom-ordered shade. Amazing. Can't wait to try this myself!

  17. Jenny, this is a great project. I recently found a lucite lamp at HomeGoods on the UWS, but the shade it came with is pretty awful. I was planning on buying a black shade from Broome Lampshades, but I'm definitely going to take a stab at this DIY first. Do you know of any stores in the city (preferably downtown) that sell Easy Paint conditioner? Maybe Pearl on Canal?

  18. What a great (and simple idea). I love projects like this because they can totally change up the "look" of a space without breaking your budget (plus, new bright colors in a room always tend to mae me happy!)

    Thanks for sharing.
    Here's another lamp makeover that I tried out: javascript:void(0)

  19. Genius! I've been following you since you reworked A Cup of Jo's bedroom & I live what you do! Inspiring:) I am going to put some brass pulls on a newly painted dresser, thanks to you!

  20. I have never commented before (but LONG time reader) and I decided to go crazy and comment 3 times today!

    I don't understand how you aren't sweeping the Homies. I save your blog in my reader to be read during my special happy quiet times. I don't want to just read you on my phone while waiting in line or feeding my son (he's a baby) – it is like saving the best show on the DVR…

    This in inarticulate – but your blog is by far the best design and DIY blog. I like the frequency with which you post – a lot of other blogs post TOO frequently, with a lot of filler crap. You have a quality not quantity approach to your blog, your design, probably your life – and I regularly ask my husband if we can fly you to San Diego to decorate our home. You are wonderful, and thus I'm giving you a Homie, right here in the comments section. <o That is supposed to look like a home.

    I'm going to go back to reading your blog without commenting, as I'm clearly unable to write a coherent comment – but THANK YOU for giving me giant smiles and lots of great ideas. Keep up the great work!

  21. I must get husband to read your blog. He keeps saying I redo everything all the time-which, compared to you, I do not come anywhere close. Ha, ha. EVERYTIME I google how-to something your blog comes up-I use it all the time. Thanks!

  22. I just stumbled on y’all. Never heard of your notebook site or you, blogger. I have been doing the au courant rage of doing you’re own, everything, all my adult life. In previous decades (don’t ask, OLD!) I’ve been laughed at or just a raised eyebrow,.but, success speaks loudest when you spent $4.00 and they $4,00, and they still suffer from “badtastism”. Moral: you have a good eye and from experience I can tell you’ll go far. Thank you for the introduction to BLOGS. WHATAWORD!

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