How to Paint Lampshades

How to paint any lampshade large or small using craft paint.


I bought this brass chandelier many years ago at a flea market for $12.00. It was was old and a bit pitted even when I bought it.

I found the shades for it a few years later at a yard sale. I don’t hate this fixture as it is classic, but the brass is pitted and one side of the big round appendage ball is almost black.  I like brass as it adds glow and gleam to rooms, but I have touches of it elsewhere in the room and feel like experimenting with making this more unique to me.  

It was time…time for a DIY Brass chandelier makeover that would be easy and budget friendly.

The chandelier hangs from a two story foyer and it would require huge ladders or scaffolding to get it down, so I am working on it where it is.  I can grab it from my staircase and twirl it around.

The candle socket covers were in need of replacement which is the easy part of this makeover.


Different manufacturer’s make candle socket covers, but if you want white – don’t get the Portfolio brand at Lowes on the left as they are not opaque enough – you can see the wire and metal of the candle socket right through them.   I found the Westinghouse brand at Ace Hardware -they were perfect opaque white.


The black chandelier shades cost me 50 cents each at a yard sale. 

I like opaque shades as I think they add more drama to a room as the light is cast up and down – not all over as with sheer shades, plus if the fixture is on a dimmer it lets you play with the perfect amount of light.

If you don’t have your lights on dimmers you should seriously consider adding a one to the wall switch.  Dimming chandelier also allows you to control the exact amount of light needed for what ever you are doing, literally at the touch of a button.

How to Paint Lampshades

  1. Clean the dust off of the shades with a tack cloth.

2. I used Rust-o-leum Gloss Protective Enamel in White. I applied very light coats every 20 minutes until they were covered in a nice glossy white finish.


I love glossy white shades and now I am happy to say I finally have some.

I think we should have what we love in our homes, even if we have to make it, right?  These are probably not the last shades you will see me spraying gloss white.


I wanted the inside of the shades to be bright and cheery and chose to paint them sky blue.

To do this without making a huge mess, I used my trusty artist’s fan brush. I use this for all small paint touch ups as it feathers the paint out perfectly so you don’t see a demarcation line when the paint is dry. I use it for wall, furniture, and cabinet touch-ups.  It also works nicely in tight places like inside a small lamp shade.


The wider part of the “fan” brush runs right along the edge of the inside of the shade – no mess or painting outside the lines.  I applied one coat of gloss sky blue craft paint to each shade.


Now when I look up at the fixture – I see a pop of color and it makes me smile. It is an unexpected place to find some color, but I figure since you look up into the fixture I would use the color of the sky. I feel like I am bringing nature indoors.


With the shades done, now I have to work on the brass. It looks all shiny in the photo, but it is pitted  and discolored in many places.


So far I have only dry brushed on a bit of white paint, but have a vision and am working towards reaching it step by step.

It is an experiment and not sure it is going to work, but didn’t have time to complete it. I will show you my progress in my next post.


I covered the chandelier chain by making a cover with fabric and Velcro.  You can see the tutorial for it here:

How to Paint Lampshades to brighten the lighting in your room.

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  1. You are a genius. I love the scrapbook paper covers. Where have you found the best prices on the shades that you put the paper over?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Peggy – I found the shades at a thrift store. They were a real bargain at a $1 a shade. Lowes sometimes carries them. I would do an online Google search for them or check out ebay to see if anyone is selling plain ones.

  2. Christine says:

    Hey love the updates to your fixture!! Love the shades.
    Hope you’re having a great day:)

    1. Hey Christine-
      How are you doing? Great to hear from you. Just finished up the chandelier and looking forward to the weekend. Hope you have a good one.

  3. abeachcottage says:

    Looking forward to seeing your project finished, so far it is looking lovely. Thanks for stopping by Beach Cottage Good Life Wednesdays.

  4. Anita @ GoingalittleCoastal says:

    I really like the idea of doing a color inside the shade. The blue looks great. I wish my old chandelier shades weren’t pleated or I would just paint them too. I think I strip mine down! Mine is still shadeless since I gave it the rub n buff treatment!

  5. This is a WOW of a makeover! I have a chandy very much like yours and you have inspired me to update it. This is a fabulous project!!!!!

    1. Hi Yvonne-

      I have been wanting to do something with mine for a long time and finally was inspired after seeing gloss white shades in an online magazine. I knew that was what I wanted and then off I went with the spray paint. I would love to see yours when you are done.

  6. Diane- I love the chandelier makeover-especially the pop of sky blue inside the shades. Welcome home to Mandy!!

  7. Katharine says:

    Diane, you have done it again. That is so pretty with the blue underneath. Katharine

  8. Roses and Rust says:

    I have been wanting to do this to my brass chandelier for the longest time so am following with interest. Did you just dry brush straight onto the brass with no sanding or priming or anything? Please let me know. Thanks Sharon

  9. Carolyn@SweetChaos says:

    What a great idea! I love the way the shades turned out, and I can’t wait to see the final transformation :)

  10. Brooke @ Inside-Out Design says:

    I love how you added color inside the shades! Can’t wait to see this finished!

  11. Lesley Litrento says:

    Neat transformation… neck is killing me just thinking about you doing this while it was still hanging!!!!! lol

    1. Hi Lesley-

      I don’t have to look up at it as I work on it. I stand on my steps and am level with the chandelier. I will have to take a picture to show that is it not as dangerous as it sounds. :)

  12. Kathleen Weishaar says:

    Hi Diane – I just love your blog – every element seems so fresh to me – from the projects you choose – to your design (and ‘re-design’) approach, your aesthetic sensibility, your photographic style – and, last but not least, your writing. I appreciate the context you provide through generous personalization. I think it’s the combination of professional-level aesthetics and personalization that makes your blog exceptional (and I read a lot of blogs) – and inspiring. Thank you!

    1. Hi Kathleen-

      Thank you so much. I get many nice comments about my blog and the projects I do, but yours has truly made all that I have done with my blog worth it. In a “perfect world” I would have loved to be a magazine editor. Right after college I did work for Redbook as an assistant to the beauty editor, but that was as close as I ever got. Having this blog, lets me be my own editor-in-chief and I love it. It doesn’t feel like work as I am so passionate about DIY, decorating, crafts, style, and everything creative. It is what make me – ME. I can’t cook very well or balance my checkbook to save my life, but coming up with projects, posts, and other items to share here is what I love. It makes me extremely happy to know that you are finding so much inspiration in all that I have been doing here. I don’t think I will ever run out of topics or projects to post about as I have so many plans and ideas that I want to do – just need more time and Html smarts to see them all come to fruition.

      Thanks again – I may have to copy your comment and hang it in my studioffice to remind me of the positive good things when I am having a bad day.

  13. love it! Adding the blue to the inside is a nice switch from the gold. I hope you have a fabulous time with your daughter! Have a great week.

  14. Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says:

    Nice update, Diane! I love the pop of blue you put on the inside of the shades.

  15. It’s looking better already! Can’t wait to see it finished. I really LOVE the sky blue color on the inside of the shades! Hugs-Diana

  16. The chandelier is already looking so nice and updated. Can’t to see the finish product, I’m sure it’s going to be beautiful!

  17. Marty@A Stroll thru Life says:

    Love the chandelier, and the new redo is looking fabulous. Can’t wait to see it all done. Hugs, Marty

  18. I have been thinking about adding shades to my chandelier and your post is pushing me to take the plunge!

    Here in Pennsylvania Dutch country, we call Bott Boi “Pot Pie” but that totally confuses people who think they are going to eat something with a crust! Standard (for the rest of the country) pot pie is called chicken pie here. There is nothing comparable to Pennsylvania Dutch pot pie. It still freaks me out to have noodles AND potatoes in the same pot!

    1. Hi Suzan-

      The recipe I have doesn’t use potatoes, but that sounds like it would be a good addition. It sounds a little like Perogie Casserole – which is a hit in my house too. My mom’s relatives were from the coal region – just a bit north and west of you. My mom got the recipe off the package back in the 70’s for the Bott Boi I make .

      I like adding shades to a chandelier as it takes away the glare from the light bulbs, especially if the fixture is slightly above eye level. Makes it so much easier to look at. Lowes has a few different types at pretty reasonable prices.

  19. Magali@LittleWhiteHouse says:

    I have a chandelier that I intend to make over during the summer, so your post was really inspirational. Great job!

    1. Thanks Magali-

      This is the second chandelier I have worked on and wonder why I didn’t make them over sooner. It will be a perfect project to take on over the summer – especially if you can take it down and paint it outside.

  20. Bonnie @ Creative Decorating says:

    I love what you have done with the chandelier so far! The shades came out just great. Can’t wait to see the finished project!

  21. Stephanie@cre8tive says:

    Oh me oh my, I wish you would of shown a picture of how you are working on it by swirling it around! Be careful! How exciting that your daughter is coming home, I hope you share that wonderful recipe. The chandelier is already looking so fresh and updated, I can’t wait to see it when it is done.

  22. Sherry @ No Minimalist Here says:

    Hi Diane, The shades look wonderful painted white with the inside blue! I already like the chandy better and I bet it will be fabulous when you finish. Have a great week.

  23. Steph @ Crafting in the Rain says:

    Great transformation!!