Does this sound familiar?  Because I don’t spend a lot on decorating at any one time, I only bought one lamp for the living room a while back even though the store had two.  Then I rearranged the furniture and I really really needed matching lamps to flank the loveseat.  Arrgh!  What to do?  Hey, I put on my creative hat and I’m here to tell you, whether they are for your sofa table, bedside tables, or at either end of a large cabinet, you can create the appearance of lovely lamp symmetry with a little bit of hunting and some elbow grease.

As I talked about in my last post, I started with finding a $4 thrift store lamp base that was the same height and had a similar amount of curves and ridges as my original lamp.  That one had been spray painted blue a long time ago, so I simply pulled out the same can and painted this one to match.

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Then you need a lampshade similar in size, style, and color to your first lamp.  If you’re lucky, you can find something close enough that this is the end of the lamp matching process.  However.  My original shade was an unusual color of burlap and the best burlap lampshade in my price range was too small, too pale, and sat too low.  It’s on the left looking dumpy.  NOT A MATCH.

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Luckily I found this white paper lampshade from Target that had all the right proportions, and I just needed to re-cover it.

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The first step was to find the right fabric.  My goal was not to match exactly, but to create a lamp that would be close enough to create visual balance.  With that in mind I chose a linen-look fabric to cover the shade because it was a much better color match than the burlap for sale.  Like the burlap, it has a good amount of texture.

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I should mention that you need to measure the circumference of your shade so you know how much fabric to buy.  If I’d been paying attention I would have realized the bolt of cloth was wide enough to go all the way around and I could have bought less length.  Live and learn!

I spread out my fabric and used chalk to trace the outline of the lamp, leaving an inch or so of extra cloth on either side for wiggle room when I cut it out.

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Then I sprayed the lamp with spray adhesive and smoothed the cloth onto it.  Make sure to start this step at the seam on the shade so you keep your own seam in the same place and everything looks good when you turn the light on!  When I got it completely wrapped I ironed in a crease for the back seam before gluing it down, just to make everything as tidy and professional looking as possible.

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Then I glued the back seam in place, cut off the excess cloth at the top and bottom of the shade, and glued the edges down.  I used Fabri-tac but hot glue would work well too.

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At that point here’s what I had.  Looking good but it surely does need some trim.

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To finish off the edges nicely I made some bias tape.  You can buy this in many colors and it’s cheap, but I wanted an exact fabric match.

Figure out how far you want the trim to extend down the shade and cut a strip 4x wider than that measurement, on the diagonal grain (bias) of the fabric because that will enable the trim to curve with the lamp and not get all bunchy and fight against the curve.

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Fold each side of your strip of cloth in toward the middle and iron it down.  I used my yardstick as a straight edge guide to make sure it was really straight.

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Then fold it in half again and iron it down.

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That’s it!  Now you can glue it on your lamp.  When you get to the end just fold the edge under and secure it with plenty of glue.

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That’s a pretty bit of finished trim.  Again, line everything up with the back seam when you work.IMG_1024 (800x600)

Now my lamp was looking polished but it was too plain and severe for my style.  I wanted another layer of trim for texture and warmth.  Since trim is expensive and lamps are much bigger around than you think they are (I swear it’s a magic trick) I made my own out of braided embroidery thread.

90’s flashback, anyone?  This brought back memories of making friendship bracelets on the outdoor benches at recess when I was eight years old.

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Here’s what my finished trim looks like.IMG_1027 (600x800)

And here’s my happy little lamp!  All dressed up and ready to go. IMG_1033 (599x800)

Voila, the final product: lamps that “go” even though they don’t match.  It took some work, but I ended up with just what I was hoping for, a balance in weight, height, and texture so that the eye sees harmony even without the lamps being the same.

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Project breakdown:

  • Lamp base – $4
  • Lampshade – $15.79
  • 1.5 yds fabric, with coupon – $7.49
  • 3 skeins embroidery floss – $1.17

Total lamp cost: $28.45
Not too bad for a large lamp!  The biggest cost was having to buy a shade, so if you are recovering an existing shade you’d spend less.

Have you ever recovered or painted a lampshade?  Have you daringly decorated with mismatched lamps?  What’s your best tip for lighting on a budget?