Dear Debbie: I have a plain, boring beige drum lampshade that I'd like to paint with an abstract pattern. I'm confused by the many paint choices. Given that heat will be generated from the bulb, what type of paint do you suggest? Your advice is greatly appreciated. - Vera
Dear Vera: Replacing or revamping a lampshade is a quick and easy way to freshen up your decor. You have lots of options. If you choose to paint, fabric craft paint is a good product to use. The heat won’t bother it once you allow the paint to dry completely. It is difficult to get solid coverage with paint, and the variations are noticeable when the light is on. Your abstract idea is a good one. Lightly draw the abstract pattern you have in mind onto the shade and mark on your color code before you start painting so that you have a feel for the overall design. Colors and shapes should balance each other from all angles. Once you start painting, it’s permanent, so take the time to do this prep work.
An alternative to paint is paper – any type from boldly patterned wallpapers to fine tissue and rice papers. Adhere the paper with spray adhesive or craft glue. You can overlap pieces, creating a decoupage effect; the edges will be evident when the light glows through the finished shade, but this has its own appeal. Once dry, apply three or four coats of acrylic varnish in a satin finish to protect the paper.
Covering a shade with fabric is similar; however, choose a fabric such as cotton or silk, which won’t stretch. Draw a template of the shade and use this to cut out the fabric, adding 1/2 inch to the top and bottom for overlap. Adhere the fabric with craft glue, and secure with paper clips overnight.
Check out the fringes and trims at your sewing store. These really dress up the shade and give it a professional touch. For a painted shade, choose a simple trim for the bottom edge that matches the color of the shade. For fabric shades, to apply fringe, using a hot glue gun, run a bead of glue around the bottom edge of the lampshade and press on the border. In the romantic shade shown here, I fashioned an unusual finial; an empty egg shell protected by four coats of varnish.
Dear Debbie: We are making some cosmetic changes to our bathroom and would like to paint the shower surround, which is aluminum with a polished-brass finish. Is this possible? We have replaced our other polished-brass fixtures (taps, etc.) with chrome. There is a wide black frame around the bathroom mirror. We were thinking black or white or silver for the surround if it can be painted. Thank you for your advice. – Rosemary
Dear Rosemary: Yes, you can paint the shower frame; however, it’s a short-term solution, and you will have to do some prep work to ensure that the paint sticks. Clean and degrease the surface with TSP, rinse and dry. Apply an etching primer or metal primer to the aluminum frame and let dry for four hours. Now you can paint with an acrylic enamel, which will give a durable, easy-to-clean finish. I suggest you paint silver to match your new chrome fixtures, or white if you have white tiles. The shower frame is not meant to be a highlight.
Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at www.twitter.com/debbie_travis. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.