Boob lights be gone! I'm so excited to show you this project, guys, because I really took my time (unusual for me) and executed it carefully (also, kinda unusual for me) and it turned out great! What da-ya know? I'm on a mission to get rid of the '70s factor in our house. Every single knob, cabinet, outlet cover and light fixture in our house dates back to 1978, but I'm slowly changing all of them. The boob light at the top of our stairs is my most recent victim. When I painted our landing black, the light really stood out like a sore thumb. I knew I wanted a drum shade fixture, so I bought a shade and got to work.
The shade I bought, FYI, has a 15" diameter and it's 9" tall. Just in case you wanna change your own light, 'cause most of them are about the same. I kept the plastic on the shade the whole time until the very end, just in case something didn't work out and I needed to return it.
Next, I removed the finial and took the glass boob shade off. Then I unscrewed the nipple--that's the threaded rod that extends from the light to the finial. Since I wanted to be able to remove the shade to easily change bulbs, but also have the bulbs covered, the shade needed to hang upside down. That meant I needed a much longer nipple, so I headed to Lowe's. The only nipples in the lighting section were 6" (too short) and 3' (uh...way too long.) A threaded rod from the hardware section wouldn't work because the threading was different (I learned that lighting nipples are typically metric.) So I went back to the lighting section, bought the 3-footer and had my husband cut it down with a hack saw. To get the right length, I screwed it into the light and slid the shade up to the point where I wanted it to hang, leaving a little gap between the shade and the ceiling for heat to escape. I marked the nipple with a sharpie about an inch below the shade so the finial would have enough length to screw onto.
Are you with me so far? Here's where it gets interesting. When I knew the shade would hang upside down just fine, I had another problem to solve. I wanted to cover the bottom so the bulbs wouldn't show, so I had to make my own diffuser. Here's how I did it:
DIY Lamp Shade Diffuser
Nap Rating = 2 naps
Tools and Materials
- Large roll of freezer paper
- Clothes iron
- White wire hanger
- Wire cutters
- Needle nose pliers
- Hot glue gun
- Trace the shade onto freezer paper.
- Fold the freezer paper over to make two layers.
- Cut the circles out slightly inside your pencil line.
- With the waxy sides together, iron the circles using an iron set on medium heat with no steam on a hard surface (not a padded ironing board). This will join the circles together, making your diffuser stiffer.
- Turn your shade upside down and place the freezer paper circle on top. Press your finger to make a slight impression in the center of the washer-top spider where the finial will screw in. Use scissors to snip a small circle out of the freezer paper circle.
- Next, use wire cutters to snip 1 1/2" lengths from the wire hanger. You'll need about 9 of them.
- Using the needle nose pliers, bend each little wire up to almost a 90-degree angle. (see above photo)
- If you want to cover your shade in another type of fabric, now's the time to remove the plastic from the shade and do that. I covered mine in linen.
- Now, hot glue the wire supports around the inside edge of the shade at evenly spaced intervals. These will act as little "shelves" which will help hold the diffuser in place.
- Place a bead of hot glue around the washer ring on the spider where the finial goes, and adhere the diffuser. This will help keep the diffuser in place when you hang the shade.
- Set your shade aside. Screw the finial on on the nipple as far as it will go. Using a Sharpie, mark the nipple where the finial stops. Take the finial off again. Now, put a washer slightly above that mark. This will give support to the shade so it won't wobble.
- Place the shade back on, tighten the finial, and you should be good!
Check out the other ways I've updated our '70s fixtures:
Ways to Add Class to a Builder-Grade Home
Transform a Builder-Grade Home with Trim
Spray Painted Light Fixture