Hiding an Ugly Ceiling Fixture With a DIY Drum Shade - Renter-friendly

2 Materials
$17
4 Hours
Easy

The view sold me on my 450 ft2 NYC rental studio apartment, but the ceiling light fixtures, those "boob" lights, were anything but inspiring. Being a renter, I didn't want to mess with replacing the fixtures themselves so after wracking my brains, I came up with the perfect solution: a custom drum shade that would cover it up!

hiding an ugly ceiling fixture with a diy drum shade renter friendly

This is what I started with, I suppose it looks more like a flying saucer than a "boob" light but very similar in that I don't like either of them!

I'll share here some of the main steps to make the shades but I also made this very detailed video on the entire project, where I share lots more tips for each step, including dimensions, so take a look before making them, it will save you time in the long run!

hiding an ugly ceiling fixture with a diy drum shade renter friendly

*First, let me say that this type of drum shade should only be used with LED light bulbs and the it should be at least a couple of inches wider in diameter than the existing light fixtures to let the air circulate around it.


The key to making these drum shades are these wooden embroidery hoops. I used poster board for the shade material that I cut to size and then glued to the outside of the inside ring of the embroidery hoops. I used binder clips to secure it while the glue dried.

hiding an ugly ceiling fixture with a diy drum shade renter friendly

Then I covered the poster board with wallpaper (I used Mod Podge to glue them to each other and also some white glue for the joint).

hiding an ugly ceiling fixture with a diy drum shade renter friendly

I used decorative brads to make the joint stronger and then used ribbon to finish the edges at the top and bottom (I also stained the embroider hoops using vinegar and steel wool but you can use regular stain as well)

hiding an ugly ceiling fixture with a diy drum shade renter friendly

This is what the fixture looked like without the cover and I didn't want to see that from below. So I came up with a plan to use the plastic covers for fluorescent lights to make a light diffuser.

hiding an ugly ceiling fixture with a diy drum shade renter friendly

Cutting it was a bit tricky but with after a few tries, I realized that by using a sharp utility knife blade and some masking tape to score the plastic first, it made cutting it with scissors easier and prevented the plastic from shattering.

hiding an ugly ceiling fixture with a diy drum shade renter friendly

To give it a softer look, I covered the plastic with a shear white fabric, again using Mod Podge to glue it on. The diffuser sits on the rim of the embroidery hoops. The last thing was to attach the drum shade to the guts of the ceiling fixture- it already had 3 holes so I attached 3 eye screws around the top rim of the lamp shade and used paper clips to make small s-hooks to hook into the 3 existing holes.

hiding an ugly ceiling fixture with a diy drum shade renter friendly

The possibilities for this project are endless! This is another drum shade I made and I've also made 2-tier ones, which I show how to make in the video I shared earlier.

hiding an ugly ceiling fixture with a diy drum shade renter friendly

I can't describe the happiness I felt when I covered up my ugly lighting fixtures with something beautiful that reflected my style and personality! It was a very small thing, but the impact it had on how I felt about my home was huge. It was such an empowering feeling to know that even as a renter, I could also have a beautiful and functional home that was just right for me. I didn’t have to wait until I owned a home or spend tons of money, I could have it right now. I hope you're inspired to give it a try and make yourself at home, not matter where you live.

Suggested materials:

  • Embroidery hoops  (online)
  • Poster board  (office supply store)
Engineer Your Space

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 4 questions
  • Ginger
    on Apr 13, 2019

    what did you use to make the black one?

  • Sherry Phillips-Kidd
    on Apr 16, 2019

    LOVE this idea! I'm not quite sure I understand how you attached the shade to the guts of the ceiling fixture. Would you mind going into more detail about how it's attached or post a photo? Thank you!

  • Mary Lynne
    on May 10, 2019

    How did you attach shade to the ceiling and or fixture. Basically, how is the shade staying in place? A little detail I think you forgot to mention 🙃🤣❗

    • Engineer Your Space
      6 days ago

      It's all detailed in the video - I used paper clips to make small s-hooks - they hook into the existing holes in light fixture and small eye screws that I attached to the inside of the top rim of the lamp shade.

Join the conversation

2 of 9 comments
  • Marthi
    on Apr 14, 2019

    Yes for sure want some more projects for old flats to be modernised pls?

  • Sharicia
    on Apr 15, 2019

    I’m making my own lamps using milk cans for my farmhouse. I didn’t want to spend more on lamp shades than the lamps! This will really make them my originals!

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