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

2 Materials
4 Hours

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!

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!

*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.

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).

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)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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)

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


Have a question about this project?

3 of 8 questions
  • Sandra England
    on Jul 6, 2019

    I have a stone fireplace and it causes one part of the living room to be dark. My colors in my living room are blue and white with touches of tan. I would like to brighten that area. Could I paint that fireplace and how would I go about that?

  • Jeannie.mcquaid
    on Oct 9, 2019

    Do you get much light from this fixture with the solid shade on the sides?

  • Ilene
    on Oct 10, 2019

    I have a builder grade light in my closet; vertical plastic frame over bulb, all attached to the wall on metal backing. Do you think I could do a shade similar to the one you did and attach it vertically?

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