Home design ideas How to Make Lamp Shades Look Custom, According to a Designer

How to Make Lamp Shades Look Custom, According to a Designer

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Recent lighting trends have been all about texture and shape (including quirky ones), but when it comes to fabric styles, there’s one noticeably absent niche: pattern. Unless you’re sourcing from Etsy, a vintage store, or a high-end fabricator, it’s surprisingly hard to come by, say, a budget-friendly striped linen sconce shade or printed cotton drum shade. One social media user has set out to change that, though, with an easy DIY that looks custom-made.

Anna B. Albury, textile designer and interior stylist, recently shared a colorful lighting upcycling trick that she implemented in her own Brooklyn apartment. In a carousel post on her Instagram page, Albury reveals a colorful striped sconce styled alongside a bedroom gallery wall, which she actually hand-painted herself using just a plain white lamp shade

“I was looking for cute and colorful small lamp shades to fit on my new brass bedside sconces, and I soon realized that in order to find the shades in the colors that I was looking for … I had to customize the shades myself,” Albury explains. Opting for a bold print, she painted thick cabana stripes around her entire shade in a vibrant red and pink color palette (as seen on the second slide of the above Instagram post). And voilà! Instant one-of-a-kind lighting.

To recreate this simple-yet-unique project on your own light fixtures, Albury recommends using acrylic fabric paint (although samples of interior wall paint should work, too), as well as high-quality cotton or linen shades. “After the paint is applied, you will see the texture of the shade through the paint, so you want to make sure the color/material of the shade is something you want to embrace and not cover up!” she adds. 

Of course, you can paint absolutely any design, from polka-dot to checkerboard to abstract swirls. But if you want to copy Albury’s exact look, she actually freehanded each stripe to maintain a handmade aesthetic. For more precise lines, though, section off strips using painter’s tape or a ruler and pencil. Either way, “if you don’t want the light to show through the paint strokes, make sure you apply multiple layers of paint and test how the paint looks when the light is turned on between layers,” Albury adds. 

Thanks to just a few budget-friendly craft store materials, this lighting hack lets you personalize fabric lamp shades to fit your decor style, in any color(s) — Albury even mixed several different paints to get the perfect tones for her bedroom. Plus, this kind of project is applicable to light fixtures of all sizes, whether a compact sconce like Albury’s or a prominent floor lamp. Even better, if you ever want to redecorate, simply just paint over the shade and start fresh!

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