Decorating DIY Projects Lifestyle Thrifting & Vintage

Lighting: What A Difference A Shade Makes

December 11, 2019

Years ago I was infatuated with the whole skeleton lampshade craze. I was obsessed with making one and added it as a ‘must do’ to my project list. Seven years later all I can say is, what a difference a shade makes!

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Today the Thrifty Chicks and I are back for our last DIY challenge of 2019. Can you believe we’re almost at the end of the year? In just two short weeks it will be Christmas Eve! This month we decided to get thrifty with lighting. What a perfect time of the year for this theme. I’m excited for you to see what we’ve each been up to, and at the end of this post will share links to all of the projects in this challenge.

Thrifty Chicks DIY projects based on a common theme.

A Sad Empire Shaped Lamp Shade

Some of you might remember back when I thrifted this little vintage lamp, and if not I wrote about it here on my old blog. It was the hammered metal body and etched Aztec-style pattern that caught my eye. And I loved the plump, roundness of its shape, but oh my, that oversized empire style shade! Poor thing had certainly seen better days.

I know there was a time and place for this has-been shade. After all, the empire shape is one of the oldest in lampshade designs. But honestly, pairing these two was just a bad idea.

Finding the Right Frame in a Shade

I remember having the hardest time sourcing a shade to skeletonize for this thrifted lamp. I hunted for months scouring the thrifts but never did come up with a shade that fit. So, I decided to break down and shop the bargain stores for something new that I could deconstruct.

I lucked out at Liquidation World and picked this shade up for a few dollars. I can’t remember exactly what I paid but I do know the price was right. Notice the proportions of this shade to the lamp? Much better I think.

Deconstructing A New Lampshade

Many might not grasp why I would deconstruct a perfectly good lampshade. Especially a pretty little new one like this, but there was a plan and I was on a mission.

You can see from the steps that it’s pretty basic. I started with the finishing strip around the top and worked my way around the lamp, cutting and removing fabric as I went. Once all the fabric was removed I painted the frame black.

Besides finding a shade in the right scale for the lamp, I needed to find one that fit over the lightbulb socket. So many of these shades require a lamp harp and finial, or have a wire clamp that fits over the bulb.

I thought it was important to keep the skeleton shade and the lamp base close together for visual impact. Also, I didn’t want a lamp harp or wire clamp to compete with the wire frame.

The last thing to think about is what kind of bulb you’re going to use. Remember, with skeleton shades there’s nothing to diffuse the light so the wrong bulb can be way too bright. The bulb is also part of the lamp’s cachet, so you want to make sure you pick something with style. Read more on how I found the perfect bulb here.

When You Love Your Lighting

Since it’s the season of sparkle and stars shining bright, I’ve decided to run with holiday styling for this post. I’ve long said that lighting is the lipstick in the room and let’s just say that even after 7 years I still love my thrifted vintage lamp and DIY skeleton shade. It’s just fun and it never fails to be a conversation piece.

I had so much fun vignetting this little lamp and shade into my Christmas decor. I love how the wire frame of the shade allows you to see the brass horn and greens on the wall behind it. Each year I do something new to incorporate this lighting duo into my holiday decor and haven’t tired of it yet. I think it’s safe to say this lamp and skeleton shade have good bones!

Remember I promised to share links to the other projects, so please don’t forget to click on each one to see what my incredibly talented friends have done!

  1. Tania from Little Vintage Cottage – Upcycled Camera Tripod Lamp
  2. Me 🙂
  3. Lora from Lora B Create and Ponder – Repurposed Vintage Glass Light Shade Pedestal Bowl
  4. Linda from Itsy Bits and Pieces – A Fun Lamp Re-Use Project
Pinned & Shared at Audrey Would

Have you ever made a skeleton shade, or are you just over that whole craze? I think if I really thought about it I would say I’m over their days of popularity, but I’m still into the one I made!

Thanks for stopping by. I’m so glad you did.

Audrey Would Vintage Home blog

Photographs © Audrey Would! Vintage Home unless otherwise indicated.

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  • Reply Tuula @ Color Me Thrifty December 14, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    Your skeleton shade is lovely on that lamp Sheila! I think the fabric was a little heavy for the base, but now it’s perfect.

    • Reply Sheila Zeller December 15, 2019 at 10:44 am

      Awwww, thank you so much Tuula 🙂 I sure hope you are feeling better. You were missed in this challenge!

  • Reply Marie December 14, 2019 at 9:22 am

    The perfect shade for this lamp, Sheila! Pinned 🙂

    • Reply Sheila Zeller December 14, 2019 at 9:44 am

      Thank you so much Marie! I really appreciate that! 🙂

  • Reply littlevintagecottage December 12, 2019 at 8:15 pm

    I love skeleton lamp shades. I thought about doing that on my tripod lamp but I think it would look weird.


    • Reply Sheila Zeller December 14, 2019 at 9:44 am

      I never thought about putting those two together… hmmm, I don’t know Tania, you might be onto something! I think the shape and size of the shade would be the key in this match 🙂

  • Reply Our Hopeful Home December 11, 2019 at 8:02 pm

    Oh my gosh I can not multitask well at all! Trying to comment while Facetiming your daughter at college is a big no for me apparently. What I meant to say was that I made one of these a few years ago and tied remnants of fabric to the top and let them dangle down. I still love mine:) Great job. xo Kathleen

    • Reply Sheila Zeller December 15, 2019 at 10:48 am

      Oh my, you made me laugh Kathleen! I can totally relate to the multi-tasking & Facetiming scenario. That sounds like me! Thank you so much for your comment and sharing your take on the skeleton shade. The remnants of fabric sound perfect for this type of shade!

  • Reply Lora Bloomquist December 11, 2019 at 7:03 am

    The skeleton shade really makes the lamp base shine, Sheila! I’ve always loved skeleton shades, too. Whenever I find an old crusty shade, I scoop it up and rip the fabric off. So many decorative possibilities!

    • Reply Sheila Zeller December 11, 2019 at 7:21 am

      Thank you Lora! And…I can only imagine the ways you have repurposed and put crusty old shades to use with your creativity. I love that you rip the fabric off and get down to the goods. The frames underneath can be so amazing, and perfect for so many things!

  • Reply Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces December 11, 2019 at 5:06 am

    I love this, Sheila! It really does completely change the look and feeling of the lamp! Great post!

    • Reply Sheila Zeller December 11, 2019 at 7:17 am

      Thank you Linda! It’s been such a fun piece in our home and I honestly still haven’t tired of it. One of these days I might, but for now it’s got a place to call home! 😉

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