Rather than spending a fortune on new chandelier shades, learn how to give your old ones a makeover using Rit fabric dye.
After we added the beautiful chinoiserie wallpaper in our dining room, it became clear that I needed to do something about the chandelier.
Replacing the chandelier wasn’t in the budget — mainly because I have very expensive taste when it comes to lighting! But I could do something about the chandelier shades, which had faded over time and no longer matched the decor in the dining room.
Rather than buying replacement chandelier shades, which can be pricey and sometimes difficult to find the right fit, I decided to dye the existing fabric lampshades with Rit Dye. The makeover cost me less than $10!
The project was a snap, and it only took about an hour — not counting drying time. The dyed lamp shades give the chandelier a new look until I’m ready to replace it.
You can see what our chandelier shades look liked before they were dyed and before we wallpapered the dining room in the photo above. (Sorry I could only find a Christmas photo of the chandelier before its makeover.)
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Supplies Needed to Dye Fabric LampShades
- Chandelier shades
- Large plastic bin, deep enough for lampshades to be completely submerged
- plastic gloves
- Dish detergent
- Rit fabric dye
- Rit Color Remover (optional)
- Metal tongs
- Baking sheet or plastic bin, lined with paper towels
How to Dye Chandelier Lamp Shades
Before getting started, make sure you are using the proper dye for the fabric. I used liquid Rit All-Purpose Dye in Evening Blue for this project. I could have used Rit All-Purpose powdered dye, as well, but the color I wanted wasn’t available at my local craft store.
If you know that your chandelier shades are made from a synthetic fabric, you may want to use Rit DyeMore that is specially formulated for synthetics.
Since my original chandelier lamp shades were an ivory color to begin with, I didn’t have to do anything to prep them first. But if you’re dyeing a colored fabric, you should use Rit Color Remover first. See this article for tips on how to use Color Remover.
Make sure you have a large plastic tub or bin to use to dye the chandelier shades. You’ll want a container that is big enough to fit all the shades, fully submerged. I used a deep plastic file box I had in my attic, but any large plastic storage bin would work.
Fill the container with enough hot water to cover the shades. The ideal temperature is 140ºF.
While wearing rubber gloves, add 4 ounces of dye. Start with 4 ounces of liquid dye or one packet of powdered dye to the water. Add 1 cup of salt and 1 teaspoon of dish detergent to the mixture. The salt will enhance the color, while the dish detergent will help ensure even dyeing. Stir well.
Test the color with a white paper towel or cloth. If the color is too light, add more dye. If it’s too dark, add more water.
Wet each chandelier shade and submerge in the dye. If the water is too hot, use metal tongs. You may need to use a heavy object, such as a pan to keep the shades submerged.
The longer you leave the shades in the dye, the darker they will become. Keep in mind that the fabric will dry lighter than it appears when wet.
When the chandelier shades are the desired color, remove them from the dye and rinse until the water runs clear. Dry and drain on a baking sheet or shallow plastic bin lined with paper towels.
This easy dye technique can be used on any type of fabric lamp shade, not just chandelier lamp shades. You just want to make sure you have a container large that is large enough to submerge the entire shade.
I love how this $10 makeover turned out!
More DIY Lighting Ideas & Chandelier Tips
Check out these posts for more DIY lighting ideas and tips for choosing the perfect chandelier for any space.