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Awesome Ideas for What to Do with Old Lamp Shades

In my husband’s childhood home he had light switches that were tied directly to certain outlets in each room. Do you know what they were for? Lamps. Over the years we don’t seem to use lamp lighting as much as we used to, but you know what? I love lamp lighting. I miss it. You can also count on the fact that any trend that isn’t as popular anymore will be thrown to the trash….or better yet the thrift store. That’s right, you can bet your bottom dollar that you will be able to find at least 10 old lampshades (and at least one old lamp base) in ANY thrift store these days. Sadly, lamp lighting is being replaced by LED lights, LED strip lights and more modern lighting. This is sad news to my vintage loving, old soul heart. That being said, what do you do with that old dingy lampshade? I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve. 

what to do with Old lampshades?

Over the years I’ve repurposed a few of my own lamp shades. From changing out a light dome with a plain lampshade to dying the top of the shade with Rit Dye, I’ve created a few easy DIY lampshade ideas. I’ll also share a few more ideas below too. 

What to do with old Lamp Shades

Take a quick run to the craft store to grab just a few supplies like a hot glue gun, new fabric, craft glue and your old shade and let’s get to work. Here’s a few ideas to inspire you. 

Replacing the Builder Grade Boob Light or Dome Light with a Lampshade 

It seems like decades ago that I transformed this ugly, cheap “boob light” (aka dome light) with a simple and more modern lamp shade. Using a lamp shade in place of a builder grade dome is a great way to elevate the look in a room. If you already have the lamp shade, then this is a free project! With just a few cuts to the metal frame in the inside of the shade and a few zip ties, you can easily put that old lamp shade to good use! 

Replacing the Builder Grade Boob Light, with Little Time, Little Effort and Little to No Money

How to Dye a Lampshade with Rit Dye 

In this simple project, I took my own lampshade and breathed new life into it with a little dye and some fun pom poms. I gained a little inspiration from a high end store and decided I could re create the look for a fraction of the cost. With a cool Ombre effect, I added a blended color from the top to the bottom of the lampshade. By the way, this is my new favorite lamp shade now!

RitDye Lamp shade with pom poms

Builder Grade Bathroom Light Fixture lamp shade Update

This is another project where I removed an old ugly lamp covering (or maybe I should say fixture covering) and replaced them with two small lampshades. This really elevated the look in our side bathroom. It’s amazing what a few shades will do to make old lamps look like new lamps. 

Quick ideas to Reuse or Up cycle those old Lamp Shades:

  1. Repurpose them as planters by placing them over potted plants to add a decorative touch to your garden or indoor space.
  2. Use them as decorative covers for hanging pendant lights or chandeliers to give them a new look.
  3. Turn them into wall art by painting or decorating them and hanging them on the wall as a unique and creative piece of decor.
  4. Transform them into a DIY bird feeder by attaching them to a pole or tree and filling them with birdseed.
  5. Use them as storage containers by attaching them to the wall or ceiling and storing items such as craft supplies, toys, or small household items inside.
  6. Upcycle them into a new lampshade by covering them with fabric, ribbon, or other decorative materials to give them a fresh and updated look. All you need is a little spray adhesive or fabric glue and some new material!
  7. Use them as a base for creating a DIY pendant light by removing the fabric and adding a new light fixture and cord.
  8. Get creative and use them in any other way that fits your style and needs, such as using them as a decorative centerpiece or incorporating them into a DIY craft project. 
  9. ​Use a piece of wallpaper (like peel and stick wallpaper) to wrap around an old plastic lamp shade. This is a great idea for those old vintage lamps that are made from plastic. 
  10. Apply a fresh coat of paint to the shade to match your current color scheme. It doesn’t matter if the fabric is hard plastic or a woven material, it can all be painted!

​If you’re changing out a room’s decor in your living room or wanting to update that old floor lamp, I hope these ideas inspire you to shop your house (or the garage) and create something new with an old lampshade. 

I would love to see and hear about more great ideas from YOU about how you plan to repurpose your old shades. My best inspiration comes from fellow crafters like you, so share away in the comments below. Even if it’s a simple design from leftover wallpaper or leftover fabric, I’m always up for seeing new and creative ways to upcycle something either on a budget or at no additional cost.  


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  1. peovee says:

    Great list!