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Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I love Pottery Barn style. Now, I'm not saying I'd ever want my house to be 100% Pottery Barn decorated. However, I'm constantly inspired by their mix of textures and colors.

Take, for example, this lamp shade:

I love it. Love it, love it, love it! In fact, I ripped it out of the catalog and filed it away in my inspiration notebook for a future purchase.

Then I got to thinking that perhaps I could make it myself for a lot less. After all, how hard could it be?

After googling "Embellish linen lamp shades" and "transfers on lamp shades" and every other possible variation, I realized that I was going to have to (gasp) figure it out on my own.

Figure it out I did and now I'm going to tell you how you can have your own Pottery Barn lampshade without spending anywhere close to $39!

You'll need:

1. A lamp with a decent shade. You may have a lamp ready for makeover at home - or one that would work with a new shade. Of course, you can always find quirky fun lamps at thrift stores. I found the perfect desk lamp on clearance at Walmart (normally $14, it was marked down to $5!):

2. Iron-On Transfers. You can pick these up at local craft stores or online. Expect the cost to be around $1/sheet.

Here's the how-to:

Using tissue paper, cut out a template of your shade. This is particularly important if your shade isn't an easy drum shape (like mine - nothing says Let's Try Something New like picking a difficult shape!).

Develop your design. With the plethora of digital scrapbooking designs and fun fonts on the internet, you can be as creative as you like. I made this lamp as a gift for The Niece to use on her new desk. She's a music major, so I opted for a theme that played on music and classic styling.

I worked in Photoshop, bending my design to work on the curvature of the shade. My core elements included music symbols and music-related quotations.

Print your design onto the transfer paper, following the directions on the package. Make sure you print your design as a mirror image so it will transfer correctly onto the shade!

Trim each transfer close to the image, leaving no more than a 1/4" border. Arrange the elements using your template to make sure everything fits where you want it.

Working carefully, follow the instructions for ironing on the transfers. The iron will need to be very hot - no steam - and you should press, rather than rub, the transfer in place. You want as hard a surface as possible to press against. But with a lampshade, that can be somewhat difficult. I found that a plant pot was exactly the size I needed. I simply placed it inside the lampshade and pressed against it.

Carefully peel off the backing paper and voila! You have a beautiful transfer on the shade. Continue working your way around the shade until all images are in place.

And here's the final lampshade, ready for a musically inclined college study to hit the books in the evening:

The breakdown:
  • Lamp - $7
  • Iron-on transfer sheets - $6 for a package of 10 (using my 40% off coupon at Michaels)
  • Photoshop and tissue paper - already had
  • Total cost - $15
Since a Pottery Barn lampshade (without the lamp base) starts at $39, this is a wonderful way to get a beautiful lamp shade of your own design without breaking the bank.

Now on to make a shade for myself...and by the way: This was Thing 2 on my 101 List! (Recreate something I saw in a catalog.)


  1. Oh wow. I love this look. Your are my inspiration. I really am going to give this a whirl. Hopefully it will work out and I can link a post back to you. I do, though, think I will try an easier shaped shade. :) I know - what a coward.

  2. well, hello there Marth Stewart! That looks awesome.

  3. And "creativity is never a waste of time" ....

  4. Thanks all!

    I have to say the biggest lesson I've learned is that it's ok to mess things up. I'm focusing on decorating the *way* I want to while doing it affordably, So I just remind myself that if I mess up, I've only got $15 or less invested in the there's not fear of failure.