This Quirky, Statement-Making Light Fixture Started with a $20 Lampshade

published Dec 28, 2023
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Head on view of a living room with white walls, a rattan rug.  Against the back wall is a low, beige couch with yellow and white ruffled cushion, in front of the couch is a low wooden coffee table, and 2 patch work stools.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Sophie Strangio

Leave it to a designer to come up with the coolest lampshade hack I’ve seen all year (and maybe ever!). For her “Hipstoric Nowstalgia” room at Small/Cool NYC this year, designer Hollie Velten-Lattrell wanted to have a statement-making light fixture that — like the rest of the space — felt like a blend of modern and vintage. Unfortunately, the light fixture of her dreams was thousands of dollars. “The budget called for DIY,” Velten-Lattrell says.

Velten-Lattrell started her project at Walmart, where she scored a plain lampshade for $20 that would serve as the base for her project. (The exact one she used is out of stock, but there’s a similar — albeit smaller — option from Amazon that’s priced at $25.) She also picked up some plain white valances, similar to these, which she planned to use to embellish the shade.

The next piece of the puzzle was adding the valance ruffles to the light fixture. You could certainly attach the ruffles directly to the top and bottom rims of the lampshade, which would be striking in itself, but Velten-Lattrell wanted something a little extra. Her husband, Sean Lattrell, stepped in for an assist.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Sophie Strangio

For the next part of the project, Lattrell picked up flexible pipe and tees from the hardware store. The idea: Create a ring for the ruffle to hang from that sat about halfway up the shade so the ruffle would appear to be floating.

To do that, Lattrell created two rings using the pipe that were both the same circumference as the bottom of the lamp shade. Each ring was created by attaching two lengths of pipe together using two pipe tees, one on each side of the ring. Then, Lattrell used a short piece of pipe fitted in the remaining openings of the pipe tees to attach the two rings together, creating a double hoop.

From there, Lattrell sewed the bottom ring to the bottom of the lampshade, allowing the top ring to “float” above it. He added the valance fabric to the top ring to create the floating ruffle.

The top ruffle was a bit simpler: All Lattrell had to do was fit the fabric over an embroidery hoop that he then sewed onto the shade. The total cost for the whole project was about $60 in materials, and Lattrell was able to pull it all together in a few hours.

The end product is anything but plain. “I just love how coquettish  and large-scale it is, like a big parasol or petticoat,” Velten-Lattrell says.

If this sounds intimidating, don’t worry: There’s a simpler version of this ruffle hack that you can do without anything beyond a lampshade and a valance. All you’ll need to do is use fabric glue to attach a ruffle to the top ring of a lampshade (you can also use a few hand stitches to secure it) and then do the same to the bottom ring. You won’t get the floating effect, but you will have a cottagecore-perfect ruffle that will take a plain lampshade to the next level.

The final piece of this project? Actually putting the shade on a light, of course. For her display, Velten-Lattrell used a pendant kit; you could also add this lampshade to any floor lamp or table lamp you already have to give it a quick new look.