Budget lighting - how to refresh an old lamp and shade

It's so important in a home to have good task and ambient lighting in our spaces. But spending money on expensive lamps and consuming new materials is not something I like to do often, especially where there are usually great vintage options out there ready to refresh! 

DIY vintage lamp with new shade

Antique markets, flea markets, and thrift shops usually have a selection of lamp bases, and sometimes you even get lucky enough to find a shade that's in good enough shape with it. That's exactly what I came across when I lived in Alberta before moving east. This beautifully shaped vintage mid-century modern lamp called to me - the base was in great shape and the shade was workable. The shade was stained so needed fresh paint on the inside and recovering on the outside. Not a problem. Here's the before and after. 

vintage lamp refresh before and after with instructions

After moving to southern Ontario, I found an amazing strip of fabric shops along Ottawa Street in Hamilton. They're gems! I snagged a polka dot cotton that's reminiscent of a 60's pattern that goes well with the lamp style. So I broke out the paint and hot glue gun. 

1. I painted the inside and outside with white latex paint to cover the stains and the bold pattern.

2. I painted the bottom brass base of the stand.

3. I cut the new material an inch wider than the shade on either side and an inch longer than it took to roll completely around the shade.

4. I used a hot glue gun on the bottom and top rim to secure the extra fabric I had folded over onto the inside of the shade. 


This project was simple and cheap: the vintage lamp was $10 and the new fabric was $6. It was a sustainable and affordable option for stylish and functional lighting. 

Kelly Anderson

Refreshed Designs

A re-designer focused on natural, sustainable and holistic design.