10 Ways to Upcycle Lampshades | the ReFab Diaries

There is something so satisfying about creating an individual item from something that has been thrown away.  All it takes is a bit of imagination. Take your standard lampshade: remove the material and you are left with a structural joy that can be transformed into a myriad of items that you would pay good money for if you bought new. We have been looking at some of the ideas out there and curated the best 10. Come and take a look and see if you agree.



Try scouting charity and thrift shops for older lampshades as these tend to be made from welded iron and are much sturdier than modern designs. You will often find more unusual and quirky shapes too.  Reclamation yards and house clearances will also be a good source. You’ll be amazed at what people throw away.

1. Plant cloche

Whether you would like a cloche for decoration or for practically keeping your tender plants protected in the garden, a lampshade can make the perfect base for a DIY cloche. 



All you need is some chicken wire, wire and pliers. If you want to really finish it off - add a reclaimed knob for your very own, one off design.



2. Coffee table

Thinking of buying a new coffee table? How about making your own instead. By using a large standard-lamp lampshade as a base, you can create a one-off stylish piece with your very own design motif.



3. Plant stand

A lampshade frame can make a show-stopping, elegant plant holder and it couldn’t be easier to make.

You will need:

  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Spray paint
  • Plant pot
  • Compost
  • Plant



What to do:

  1. Remove the fabric from the shade using scissors
  2. Using the spray paint colour of your choice, give the lampshade frame 2 coats of paint.  Allow time to dry between coats.
  3. Measure the diameter of the top hole.
  4. Find a suitable size pot to fit through the hole.
  5. Fill with compost and your chosen plant

You can also customize this further by painting your plant pot to match your frame. 

4. Food cover

Keep those pesky flies off fresh fruit or bakes by repurposing a small lampshade into a handy food cover. All you need is some fine netting, a handle and a bit of hand sewing.  You can use a handle off an old chest or drawers.



5. Garden lanterns

Small glass shades may be out of fashion indoors, but by turning them upside down and placing a LED tea light inside, you can have a charming lantern for your garden, courtyard or balcony.


 6. Ornamental bird bath

Your garden will look beautiful adorned with this elegant bird bath - and your feathered friends will appreciate it too.  Look for a glass ornamental shade about 30cm wide.  



Simply use a pole with an upturned vase over the top and using a strong glue affix the shade to the base. Fill with water and wait.


7. Pretty bed canopy

If you want to create some fairytale magic in a girl’s bedroom, simply use a large lampshade frame and attach lengths of voile.  



You can use the same principle with an old sheet, duvet cover or curtain to create an outdoor tent or playhouse.


8. Jean jeanie



Maybe you have some light fittings you are bored with. Try removing the existing fabric and creating your own shade.  


Using denim can be a funky and original way to create a new look and we’ve all got an old pair of jeans hanging around haven’t we?

9. DIY mobile



This curvy lamp shade frame makes a perfect base for carousel effect mobile.  Placed over a crib it will keep your baby entertained for hours.  Try using bright coloured ribbons or feathers that will waft in a breeze.

10. Upcycle with wallpaper

We’ve usually got some wallpaper left after decorating so next time keep it safe and you can use it to create a beautiful bespoke lampshade.  


All you need is spray adhesive and attach it to the existing fabric.  You can also use maps or pages from a book.

TIP: a drum lampshade is the easiest to cover.

These are just some of the ideas we have discovered and with a bit of time and imagination they are a great way to create unique, useful items from something that would otherwise have been thrown away. Hopefully we have inspired you to be on the lookout for some lampshades that need some TLC and a new purpose in life.

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