How to Recycle Old Lamp Shades

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How to Recycle Old Lamp Shades

Staff Writer · Dec 8, 2009

One of the best ways to recycle lamp shades is to recover them. Depending on what type of shade you have, there is always a way to update its look. With the use of craft paper, fabric and embellishments, it’s easy to create a new decorating scheme for your living space. Additionally, there are ways to use an environmentally-friendly approach when you are redoing your lighting fixtures.

Here are some ideas for revamping your current lamp shades:

Create a Shade of a Different Color

Update a room’s look by reupholstering your existing lamp shades. Whether it’s the shades on table- and floor-lamps, sconces or chandeliers, your old hardware can get an entire new look if you replace their fabrics. Stretch shades are easy to update when you recover them with something new.

Items that work well for covering or accenting old lamp shades:

  • Craft paper
  • Cardboard
  • Upholstery fabric
  • Crocheted edgings
  • Pieces of old table runners
  • Doilies and napkins
  • Vintage linens
  • Old bedding: duvets, bed covers and pillow cases

Use Refurbished and Recycled Items

When you decorate your lamp shades, use an eco-friendly approach and focus on recycling. Buy vintage or antique shades and hardware to redo your lamps. Not only are you saving money, but you are helping to cut back on the amount of items that get shuffled into landfills. When recycling, you also lessen the burden placed on the furniture manufacturing industry.

Where to find items to dress up lamps:

  • Antiques and collectible stores
  • Thrift stores
  • Flea markets

Updating the Fabric on Your Shade

With spray fabric glue you can attach a nice element to your old shade. Spray the wrong side of the fabric with the glue. Then lay the lampshade down on it at the seam. Smooth the fabric while you press down so the fabric gets attached evenly to the existing shade’s material. A good way to do this is to pull the fabric around the shade. You can also roll the lampshade down while pressing on it.

Use a small paint brush and some craft glue to get the end of the fabric to adhere to the shade. Fold the fabric over at bit and add some fabric glue on that area to get the last bit of fabric to stay in place.

Finish off your shade by applying some decorative trimmings, like roping or beading. Glue such embellishments to the top and bottom outside edges of the shade.

Use Natural, Recycled and Green Materials

Whenever you can, select natural and recycled materials to refurbish your household items. This includes reclaimed materials. Don’t forget using items such as bamboo, soy fabric, cork and hemp, which are free of toxins. Plus, they create a one-of-a-kind look for a lamp shade.

You can remove an existing fabric from a lamp shade and replace it with a greener fabric or material. When you are buying fabrics, make sure they are not treated with chemicals. In fact, there are some fabrics that are made with certain stain repellents and dyes that are toxic. Look for fabrics that are made with low-impact or vegetable dyes.

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