I am really into DIY-ing, especially because it helps with saving money.  I can be pretty cheap frugal, and I hate spending money on stuff that I can recreate at home.  Sometimes, this works really, really well (like making my own laundry soap and cleaning products) and sometimes….. it doesn’t.  If you are familiar with the term “pinterest fail,” you will relate.  I coined a new term, “Do It Yourself…Badly” (DIYB).

My latest project was making over a large lamp that I pulled out of the trash on the side of the road.  Behold, in all it’s 70’s glory:

Not pictured: the 16" high mustardy brown lamp shade
Not pictured: the 16″ high mustardy brown lamp shade

This thing is a BEAST.  It’s super heavy and stands very tall.  My big dream for this lamp was to spray paint the base and then recover the lamp shade with fabric, turning it into a beautiful, eye-catching piece for our living room.  So I put this project on my to-do list and set to work right away (or, several weeks later).

I’ve written you a nice “how to” guide, just in case that you want to rehab a lamp, too!

Step one:  Buy $6 spray paint.  Spray paint lamp base. (Only $6!  And the lamp was free!  Saving money already!)

Ahhh.... much better!
Ahhh…. much better!

Step two:  Put spray painted lamp base, along with lamp shade, in garage, just knowing that you will be getting back to it SOON (probably tomorrow).

Step three:  Allow lamp shade and base to sit in said garage for 2 months.

Step four:  Argue with husband about why the giant lamp shade and base are still sitting in the garage.  Go to the store THAT VERY DAY and buy white spray paint for the lamp shade.  HA!  That’ll show him.  (Total cost now: $12).

Step five:  Spray paint lamp shade.  Look in horror as the spray paint does not cover up the brown mustardy color at all, only clings to the tiny fibers of the shade and makes it look 100x worse.

Step six:  Allow partially painted shade to sit in garage for 2-3 weeks.  When husband asks about it, send HIM out to buy new spray paint for it, hoping that this new paint will work miracles (Total cost: $18).

Step seven:  Spray lampshade with new spray, realize immediately that it won’t work, and give up.  Put lamp shade back in garage with lamp base.

Step eight:  Wait 2-3 more weeks.

Having fun at Great Grandma's, where we picked up our free fabric! Score!
Having fun at Great Grandma’s, where we picked up our free fabric! Score!

Step nine: Become convinced that you can cover the lampshade yourself using fabric after watching a really easy video on DIY lamp shade covering.  So simple!

Step ten:  Obtain free fabric from generous grandmother, then let fabric sit for at least a week before attempting project.

Step eleven:  Bring lamp base and shade inside and set up the lamp, relocating the old lamp to a nearby table on top of a pile of books, and leaving it unplugged.  This will help you get an idea of how awesome the new lamp is going to look when finished.  Remove horrible mustardy brown shade and put in craft room.

Step twelve:  Let lamp base sit in the living room with no shade until husband is driven crazy and removes the lamp shade from the relocated lamp in order to cover it.   Curse yourself overtime you walk through the living room and look at the two lamps, one with no shade and one with a horrible mis-sized shade.

Does this shade make my base look big?
Does this shade make my base look big?

Step thirteen:  Bribe your mom to come over and help you with the project of covering the shade.  Try to show her the easy to follow video while she plays with her grandson and only half pays attention.

Step fourteen:  Begin drinking.

Step fifteen:  Spend 20-30 minutes ironing the fabric that you plan to use, making sure to get all of the creases out.

Step sixteen: Work with mom to trace lamp shade onto fabric, cut out pattern, and spray with sticky adhesive spray (which you already purchased, bringing your total cost to $24).  Step several times during this in order to make sure that toddler feels like he is “helping.”

Step seventeen:  Attempt to roll lampshade onto sticky fabric smoothly by going slowly and carefully, but also quickly because THE GLUE IS DRYING.

Step eighteen:  Step back and admire your new lampshade!

IMG_9178 IMG_9179 IMG_9180



Step nineteen:  Go online & buy a lampshade.  Realize that the total cost of your project was $74 (lamp shades that size are EXPENSIVE).  Tell yourself that you are NOT allowed to pull things out of other peoples’ trash cans again.

Any other DIYB tales out there??? I can’t be the only one!



  1. Gramma Nell

    Chelsea darling this is so funny I have laughed all the way through these many many steps of taking a cheap lamp and turning it into a very expensive lamp. OK do not be discouraged with your work Gramma has plenty of fabric just waiting for you to start another project. I will add I do like what you did to the base of the lamp a lot. G.


  2. Nanna / Sue / Ma

    Incredibly funny post, Chel!


  3. Trish

    Gawd Bill you’re funny!!


  4. tmm

    OMG!! I am absolutely cracking up, and I lived it w/o even a chuckle!!! Sorry for the big, fat FAIL on the shade – but hey, the base is awesome. . .


  5. Jackie

    Never say never… There’s going to be another treasure in someone else’s garbage…


  6. Nancy

    I think you get an A for effort and an A+ for the blog!!!


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