Lamp Makeover: Turn Beast Into Beauty With These Quick & Easy DIY Tips

Do you have an old, ugly lamp hiding away in your storage gathering up dust and taking up precious space? Let’s bring that baby out! With just a few quick tweaks, you can transform even the ugliest of well-shaped lamps into a show-stopper. Let that lamp take center stage and become the belle of the room’s décor.

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We’ll also let you in on some great spray painting tips that will leave your lamp looking perfectly professionally polished, with not a drip to be seen. What are we waiting for? Let’s get started!

DIY Level: Beginner

Materials Needed:

  • Lamp
  • Spray paint in the color of your choice
  • Large tights or leggings in the color/print of your choice
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks

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Step 1: Clean lamp. Make sure the lamp of your choice is in working condition. And you’ll want to make sure its “bones” are good – does it have a nice silhouette but an unfortunate color? When you’ve decided upon your lamp, wash and dry it well.

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Step 2: Tape off lamp parts. This particular lamp has a great brass base that I wanted to keep. So I pushed the lamp cord into an old plastic bag and then taped the base off to prepare for spray painting. Spray Painting Tip: Use smaller pieces of overlapping tape rather than one continuous piece for angles and small details.

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Spray Painting Tip: Use plastic bags, taped at the opening, to cover and protect awkward shapes from the spray paint.

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Step 3: Place lamp on ground cloth in a well-ventilated area. If there’s no wind, outside is always best. Try to keep your lamp out of direct sunlight or other extreme weathered areas.

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Step 4: Using very light strokes, spray paint the first coat. Keep the can upright whenever possible, and use very light sweeping sprays about 10”-16” away from your lamp. Whether you spray vertically or horizontally will likely depend on the shape of your lamp; follow its natural lines whenever possible.

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Spray Painting Tip: It is far better to do 14 very light coats than 2 thick, gloppy ones. (Although you won’t need 14 coats. That’s an exaggerated example. But it gets the point across, right?)

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This photo shows the lamp base after one light coat; you can see the paint is not uniform, and there are places where the original color shows through clearly. Don’t try to cover everything on the first coat. Simply spray lightly using long strokes, then leave it alone until it dries.

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Step 5: Spray paint the second coat. Use the same methods that you used for spray painting the first coat – use a very light hand to spray methodically. You will start to see a more even paint job during this coat, but the goal is not necessarily complete coverage yet. Focus on getting paint to all the surface area of the lamp using long, light-handed sprays, but don’t worry about the solid color quite yet.

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Step 6: Let dry, then paint the third coat. By the third or fourth coat, you should begin to notice smooth, even coloring around the entire surface of your lamp. Gently tip the lamp one way then another to make sure you’ve gotten all areas. Repeat this method for as many coats as necessary for a perfect paint job. Spray Painting Tip: (It’s worth repeating) No matter if it’s your first or fifth coat, never spray more than a light mist over an area at a time; spraying a light spray over all areas enough times will result in a perfect, factory-esque finish.

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Step 7: Find some printed, patterned, or textured tights. Depending on the size of your lamp shade and the size of your tights, you might be in luck enough to simply slide one tights leg onto your lamp shade and skip to Step XX. But for those of you whose tights aren’t large enough to cover your lamp shade, here’s a quick fix.

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Step 8: Cut both legs off.

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Step 9: Carefully cut a single line down the length of both tights legs. Then open up your tights legs; you should now have two wide, flat tights legs.

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Step 10: Sew tights legs together length-wise. Placing right sides together and lining up the tops of the tights legs, sew the length of your tights on one side. Then sew the length of the other side. Basically, you are creating one giant tube out of the two smaller tubes (previously tights legs).

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Sewing Tip: Use a zig-zag stitch on a very large (baste) setting. Sew as close to the two layers’ edges as you can while keeping the line as straight as possible.

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Sewing Tip: Pull the tights taut as you sew them. Because you will be stretching this giant tube over your lamp shade, you want your stitches to have some give as well. Which means you have to stretch the tights as you’re sewing them.

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DIY Tip: If you get frustrated in the midst of a DIY project, just remember the final goal, the end result. Looks good, right? Keep going, you’re almost done!

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Step 11: Cover the lamp shade with the new larger tights tube. Don’t bother turning your tights tube right-side out. Instead, hang the top (larger) part of the tights tube in the bottom (larger) part of the lamp shade. Reach through the tights tube and pinch-hold the end of the tights to the edge of the lamp, then pull the tube down over itself and the lamp shade.

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Tip: Another set of hands is helpful here. Be careful not to snag or rip your tights as you do this.

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Tip: Keep your seams straight and vertical; although they’re not hugely distracting, these seams will be visible.

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Step 12: Cut tights tube about 1”-2” away from the lamp shade. You want a big enough lip of tights to be able to glue to the lamp shade, but you don’t want so much extra that it’ll show through when the lamp is on.

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Tip: Make sure seams are directly across from each other on both the top and bottom, which will help keep the alignment. Particularly important if you’ve used tights with stripes or geometric patterns.

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Step 13: Hot glue the edge. Working in 4”-6” strips, run a line of hot glue directly under the lamp shade lip on the inside, then press the edge of the tights into the glue. Repeat, circling all the way around the lamp shade.

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Step 14: Trim any excess.

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Step 15: Repeat gluing process on the other end of the lamp shade.

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Step 16: Place lamp shade back onto lamp base. Make sure your lamp base has had plenty of time to dry.

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Step 17: Celebrate. You did it! You made a beauty out of a beast.

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What type of pattern or print would you love to see on a lamp shade in your house?