How to decorate a lampshade

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How to decorate a lampshade with style for a unique decorating accessory

From a design perspective, some home furnishings fall into the background in order to allow select focal points to shine. Other items are natural scene stealers. For instance, lamps demand attention when they glow in a dark room. If you're tired of the way your shade looks, give it a makeover.

In considering how to decorate a lampshade, keep in mind that there are many ways to approach this project. You're basically working with a blank canvas that can be covered and bedazzled with a wide variety of materials. Grab your scissors and glue, dig into your art supplies, and check out some of these crafty projects for inspiration.

Cover it with Fabric

Wrapping a plain shade with a unique, eye-catching fabric is a simple way to create a completely different look in a room. Measure the shade from top to bottom before going fabric shopping. Use your hands to frame the portion of fabric that will actually show if you're considering going with a larger pattern.

Are you working design magic in a neutral room? A vibrant fabric will add refreshing bursts of color. Once you wrap and glue the material, accent it with ribbon around the top and bottom. HGTV offers a full tutorial on this project. 

Paint on the Fun

Savvy crafters know the joys and drawbacks of modifying solid fabrics with a paint marker. On one hand you have complete freedom to create a one-of-a-kind design. On the other hand things can get a little crazy. Practice design ideas on a piece of paper and tape them to the lamp. When in doubt, err on the side of less is more.

To create an attractive handmade pattern, space your lines or polka dots evenly. When working with different shapes and sizes, try different patterns like making every third polka dot bigger. Allow the first color to dry before adding to it with a second one, and always start with the darkest color.

Embellish Away

The trick to how to decorate a lampshade without covering the existing material is to embellish. Glue rhinestones, rosettes or beads around the bottom and you'll instantly turn a functional light with a blah look into the room's wow factor. 

Choose embellishments in a color that contrast the strongest color in the room. Refer to the color wheel and go with opposite rather than adjacent color. For instance, blue beads would bring effective contrast to a room with yellow wallpaper (as long as the colors are in the same hue).

Button-On Design

Skip the gluing and button pleated fabric around the top. The benefit of this method is that it's not permanent so if you don't like it, switch it with another fabric. Creating pleats is simply a matter of stitching an accordion fold into the top third of the fabric, allowing the pleats to open as the width of the shade expands.

Sew buttons about an inch below the top edge of the shade, spaced so you can attach 3-5 buttons on for a firm hold. Tailor the pleats to fit, and hem the top and bottom for a clean finish. 

Surprise Inside

Say you like the subtle impact of a solid shade, but still want to add a little something special to make it feel more like you. Glue patterned fabric to the inside of the shade and you'll have a hidden focal point for any room design. Choose a funky pattern with a vivid color to catch the eye without clashing with other designs in the room. Use a stiff fabric for easier application and smooth it with a ruler as you glue to prevent wrinkles.

There's no right or wrong way for how to decorate a lampshade. Experiment until you find a look you love and be sure to take credit when guests complement your handiwork.  

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