Make lamplight polka-dot bright

By Donna Erickson

The simplest kind of lampshade, once redesigned, can light up a room in more ways than one.

I love lampshades and how they create character in a room. Sometimes they hearken back to a more romantic time. Just walk into a specialty lampshade store and notice the beautiful silk and pleated shades in lovely curving shapes that seem to have popped right out of a Victorian parlor. And all that fringe!

But there’s something else about lampshades that I like: Their inexpensive versatility. The simplest kind, once redesigned, can light up a room in more ways than one. This is great news for budget-minded families and for kids who wants to jazz up their bedrooms this fall, or for college-bound teens who are hankering for a more sophisticated space.

Whether you pick up a new, inexpensive plain-white fabric shade at Target or touch up one you already own, you’ll quickly discover they’re a perfect canvas to showcase your child’s bright ideas and creativity. To get started, make your first attempt easy. Why not start with the happiest and simplest of designs — polka dots?


Here’s the stuff you’ll need:

— Inexpensive, standard, plain-white lampshade without pleats

— Acrylic paint from craft stores in a color that provides an accent to the room

— Pencil

— Newspaper

— Paintbrush

— Flat buttons and glue gun (optional)


Here’s the fun:

  1. Lightly sketch circles freehand on the lampshade with the pencil. When you are ready to paint, spread out newspaper on your work surface. Dip your brush in the paint bottle and start filling in all those circles. Go dot to dot from top to bottom. Let dry.
  2. Pull out your button jar and hunt for flat buttons in contrasting colors that are smaller than the painted dots, and glue them to the center of a few or all of the dots. Add more buttons around the top and bottom rims of the shade, if you wish. Place on your lamp base.


Extra-bright ideas:

If your kids want to connect more dots, let them go wild. “What else can I decorate?” they may exclaim. Well, they can paint polka dots on wastepaper baskets, planters and placemats. Or, arrange colorful dot stickers on scrapbook covers, picture frames and school binders.


Donna Erickson’s award-winning series “Donna’s Day” is airing on public television nationwide. To find more of her creative family recipes and activities, visit and link to the NEW Donna’s Day Facebook fan page. Her latest book is “Donna Erickson’s Fabulous Funstuff for Families.”


© 2020 Donna Erickson

Distributed by King Features Synd.