How to Cover an Ugly Light Fixture

Hey there! So I'm starting to recover from the craziness of last week's Share the Joy project, just in time to figure out what to make for Thanksgiving (I should probably buy a turkey soon). If you missed it, I organized a group of Central Florida DIY bloggers to redo the office space at a local foster home. Click here to see the before and afters. Since our budget was limited, we just didn't have the cash to replace all 3 light fixtures in the office. That's when the $6 DIY light fixture was born.

Here's what the existing fixture looked like.
When Christine and I were shopping at World Market for this project, she suggested buying a large drum shade to cover one of the fixtures. Great idea except we seriously didn't even have enough money left to afford one gorgeous shade from World Market. We left without one and I decided to hit up Goodwill that night in search of a DIY fix.

Here's what I found. A wonderfully ugly $6 brown (I think it was painted at some point in its life) oval drum shade. Time to get crafty.

To recover the shade:

Step 1
Cut your fabric about 2" bigger than the height of your lampshade, and long enough to wrap around your shade and overlap a little. (Might want to iron your fabric too if it's wrinkled)

Step 2
Line up the edge of your fabric with the seam on the lamp shade and hot glue along the seam in place.

Step 3
Stretch the fabric around the edges of the shade and hot glue. 
Keep going stretching your fabric, making sure there are no wrinkles and gluing the edges. I did not put any glue in the middle of the fabric, just on the edges as I wrapped it around the shade.

Step 4
Once you get back to your glued seam, trim off the excess fabric (if you have any). Leave about 2-3 inches of overlap.
Fold your fabric under and glue in place. Since I stretched the edges of the fabric so much on my way around the shade, my seam kind of ended up in a curved shape.
And that's it. You may have some extra fabric to trim around the shade and a few spots to touch up with glue. 

Once we got the shade to the children's home, my husband drilled a small hole in the center of the existing fixture cover (the dome-shaped metal thing that covers the wires). Then, we just put a screw and nut through the shade's metal bracket and screwed into place.

And, ta da, you're done. Total project time was about 45 minutes to cover the shade and install.

So if your budget just doesn't allow for completely new fixtures, hit up Goodwill and look for a shade. A simple $6 camouflage job might be all you need.
Thanks to Katie from Sew Woodsy for some of the photos.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Lisa! There were two of these brown shades. I'm kind of bummed I didn't buy the other one too. :/

  2. Such a creative idea! We have similar lights in our kitchen and I absolutely hate them, sadly we have a door opening right by one of ours so we can't have a shade. I'm so going to remember this for the future though.

    1. Thanks Sammi. I actually really like this too... thinking about places I could do it in my own house. :) I wonder if this would work on those "boob" lights too??? We have several of those!

  3. This turned out amazing. I just love this creative Idea. I love creative minds. Just beautiful . Have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving my friend.