Painted lampshade - on & off

Table lamp - before

You probably remember this lamp. Its first makeover was four years ago. Frankly, the fabric-covered lamp shade was a disappointment, and brass just isn’t my thing. When I found an eBay store that sells nickel-plated lamp parts at unbeatable prices, I almost cried tears of joy. Then all I needed was a new lamp shade to paint. This off-white fabric drum shade was perfect.

This isn’t my first time rewiring a table lamp either. Last time I used a lamp kit and didn’t go into much detail. This time I’ll show you how to assemble the individual parts, which should be of more use to you.

Tutorial and photos after the jump!

The reason for this makeover: I bought new table lamps for my living room, so this lamp was moved to the bedroom to use as a bedside light. It was a bit tall to reach the switch from bed, so I needed to replace the turn-knob with a pull-chain.

Handmade lamp finial

I’ll even show you how I made the ball finial. Sure, I’ve made finials before too (such as this painted one and white one), but this finial is different—and easier. No painting involved.


How to paint a lamp shade

Painted lamp shade - after


  • white lamp shade (I used this one)
  • craft paint or flat indoor house paint—I used Ralph Lauren “Aged Mint” (IB25), available at The Home Depot
  • newsprint or drop cloth


  • paint brush
  • blue painter’s tape or FrogTape
  • scissors
  • tall vase (optional)

Apply tape pattern

1. Apply painter’s tape in your desired pattern. My chain pattern has 3- by 2-1/2-inch links, spaced as evenly as possible. Use scissors to cut the tape with clean, straight edges.

Paint entire lamp shade

2. Cover your work surface with paper or a drop cloth. Coat the entire outside of the lamp shade with paint.

Tip 1: Use only flat paints when painting fabric because the sheen will leave unsightly streak marks.

Tip 2: To keep paint from bleeding under the tape, try painting a coat of clear matte medium first. I didn’t try it myself and had trouble with bleeding paint.

Tip 3: Most paint is opaque, which blocks light and makes your shade look darker when the light is on. If you want a more transparent color, try lightly coating your shade with spray paint instead or mix your paint with a clear matte medium.

Remove tape

3. Place the lampshade on a lamp or a tall vase to dry. When dry, remove the tape, then get started on your lamp (below).


How to rewire a table lamp

Lamp parts


You can buy the majority of these lamp parts at this Lamp Parts eBay store. Some parts only come in multiples, but even so, the prices are amazing. Just save the extras for your next lamp project. Or you can buy entire lamp kits.


  • small adjustable wrench
  • screwdriver

Unscrew the base

1. Unplug the lamp. Remove the lamp shade and light bulb. Remove and discard the felt from under the base. Using a wrench, unscrew and remove the nut at the base of the lamp.

Tip: Save all the pieces when disassembling a lamp (except where noted above). It’s even a good idea to lay them out in the correct order, as a guide for reassembling the lamp later.

Remove socket

2. Remove the socket cover.

Detach the wires

3. Unscrew the screws attaching the wires to the base of the socket and disconnect the wires.

Pull cord out

4. Pull the cord out through the bottom of the lamp. Do not remove the second nut from the pipe.

Clean with mineral spirits

4. Because I couldn’t find a silver lamp base, I spray painted my old base. If you want to do the same, first clean the base with mineral spirits to remove oils, etc. that might limit adhesion.

Spray paint

5. Then spray paint the base following the instructions on the can. I used Krylon Metallics Bright Silver spray paint. I also used my handy-dandy spray-painting tent.

Feed cord through base

6. Feed the new cord through the hole in the side of the base, then through the nut, washer, weight, and top hole of the base—in that order.

Feed cord through pipe

7. Continue by feeding the cord through the pipe.

Tighten the nut

8. Tighten down the nut underneath the base.

Lamp body

9. Slide the main lamp body onto the pipe.

Connect base of socket

10. Slide the check ring and saddle onto the pipe, then screw the base of the socket onto the pipe. Tighten it down securely, keeping the lamp body centered over the lamp base.

Attach wires

11. Loosen the screws on the socket, then curl one bare wire around and underneath the head of each screw. Tighten the screws back down to hold the wires in place.

Cover the socket

12. Insert the socket into the socket base, then pop the socket cover onto the base. It will click when it’s locked down.

Insert the bushing

13. Gently pull out some of the slack in the cord but not all of it. Clamp the plastic bushing around the cord, then insert it into the hole on the side of the lamp base.

Stick on the felt circle

14. Peel off the backing from the felt circle. Adhere its edges around the rim of the base.

Insert the harp

15. Insert the harp into the saddle, screw in the light bulb, and get started on your finial (below).


How to make a lamp-shade finial

DIY finial - after

Supplies and tools

DIY finial supplies

1. Hold the drawer pull on top of the button finial and wrap the chain around the seam. With scissors, cut a length of ball chain that’s exactly the right circumference.

Apply glue to finial

2. Apply a dollop of glue on the top of the button finial, then press the bottom of the knob onto the glue.

Glue on ball chain

3. Gently apply a thin line of glue all the way around the seam, them wrap the ball chain over the glue. Let dry at least 24 hours before attaching it to your harp. You’re done!

Tip: The glue is still wet and slippery at this point, so handle the finial gingerly until it’s dry.