How to Paint Lampshades

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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. 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

  2. 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!

  3. 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.