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On Adding Quirk – The Case For Fun Sconce Shades In Our Farmhouse Living Room

I’m not super proud of how risk-averse I was/am in this house when renovating it, but y’all I’m comfortable with the choices (and myself LOL) because I don’t want to redo any of the hard fixtures in a house, like EVER. So with a lot of the choices, I simply asked myself what was beautiful, functional, appropriate for a farmhouse, and relatively timeless/classic (as much as you can predict that). For the living room, I chose the best lighting for the room since it was dark and we didn’t have overhead recessed lights. I went with a classic shaped sconce with a fabric shade that would be dimmable and therefore provide the exact type of lighting that I like to experience in a room (even but not bright and totally adjustable). GREAT. I love these sconces – the shape is elegant and they work well with all the lighting in the kitchen, sunroom, etc. But as I am now adding another layer of quirk that is to say, more temporary and still me, I fantasized about changing the shades on these sconces from white to well, something more interesting – whether it’s shape, color, fabric, or texture.

I blame my 4-H years for this fantasy. Sadly, I don’t have any photos but I recovered MANY a lampshade in calico fabric (mostly Victorian shades which are so time-consuming, but many drum shades, too). So it’s easy for me to access the possibilities.

So on a Saturday morning, while the kids are watching their precious Mr. Beast (our approved YouTube channel that doesn’t make me want to pull the TV off the wall and burn it), I set to fantasizing about what these shades could be. And let me be clear, the white shades that come with the sconces are GREAT and I def plan on keeping them, but I’m curious if there is a way to switch them out for a while that will do something interesting to the room. Me thinks yes.

Custom Scallop Shades?

Linen Scalloped Lampshade | Raffia Scalloped Lampshade

These are an easy “yes” – so cute, fun, yet this shape has been around forever (the scallop is classic in my book, the squiggle is not – no offense to any squiggles reading this). But my team was lukewarm to these – perhaps they are actually too expected at this point? This Etsy maker can make most colors and sizes, and I was most drawn to the black. But after my team’s reaction, I thought maybe these are too predictable right now?

Custom Rounded Pleated Shades?

Handmade Scallop Shades | Elongated Scallop Shades

I like these a TON. They are sweet, cool, and classic. Great. I’m specifically drawn to the more elongated ones in the mossy green (similar to our sofas). Shall we? Now something to remember is that we have 8 sconces in our living room so these would be quite the investment. Because this is my job I can write it off and justify it, but let’s be clear 8 of these are not nothing.

DIY Painted Or Hand Drawn Shades?

gretchen mocked up this very cute idea!

I mean, YES. How incredible would this be if done right? Now if we didn’t need 8 in a room that already has a lot going on I might consider this more, but I’m nervous about doing anything too artistic on 8 sconces. However, a tiny stripe could be ok, but I don’t know…I fear that it will look like exactly what it is – like some amateur who wanted to make their lampshades more quirky so they DIY’d a paint job that looked kinda dumb in this house, in this room, on these particular more serious sconces. I think this could work so well on a differently shaped sconce, in a room that felt more wacky and fun. But y’all should definitely try this.

Added A Striped Trim With Fabric Tape Or Ribbon?

Gretchen threw out this idea and I LOVE IT. Obviously, we’d love to use the lampshades as-is so we are going to shop for a trim – either fabric tape (I’m totally blanking on the name but the ones that are already finished on both edges and you fold it over and iron it) or a patterned or grosgrain ribbon.

Recover in Patterned Fabric?

just some pretty ideas fyi, not official options:)

Top Left Clockwise: Trail | Raindrops | Market Stripe | Mini Check

I am so not opposed to it (although a more permanent change, for sure). Now, we do need to really use these sconces for light so the fabric couldn’t be too thick like velvet (would indeed be pretty), and I don’t want anything too country or sweet like a ticking stripe. We also have enough plaid in here so unless I found a perfect floral (which is SO HARD TO FIND) I don’t know if I could do this. But now that I think about it, Kelly Ventura or Rebecca Atwood might have a print that could work???!!!

I really miss living in New York in times like these. I would go to the fabric and ribbon district and just shop for hours scouring for the perfect ribbon and M&J trimmings for these shades. While you can do a lot online, fabrics are one of the few things that you really have to touch and see in person (IMHO).

Anyway, I’m not in a crazy rush and we have a big shoot here in March that I want to have them white for so if we alter the original shades I’ll wait til after then. But you can definitely expect to follow along on the process and weigh in kindly in the comments. xx

Opening Image Credits: Photo by Kaitlin Green | From: Farmhouse Living Room Reveal

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5 months ago

DIY all the way. I hope there is ric-rac involved in some capacity.
That would be perfect for your YouTube channel- a trip to the fabric district in NYC. Or even LA.

5 months ago
Reply to  Tarynkay

Yes! What if Mallory could facetime you while she goes to M&J… and films her hunt!

5 months ago

Love the black ribbon! It adds interest while still allowing the eye to rest. You could add quirk and draw attention to the furniture by adding a silk tassel (and English country detail) to your blue cabinet. Can’t wait to see what you decide!

Megan E
5 months ago

If you go the ribbon route, make sure it has some give/stretch in it. Milliners use “unbound grosgrain” to trim hats because it has the ability to be ironed in a curve to fit the rounded hat crown. It’s a subtle difference but it matters a WHOLE LOT. Regular craft store grosgrain (and any other stiff trim) won’t!!

5 months ago

Hi Emily 🙂 This is fun!
I like the ribbon trim that keeps the shade white fabric.
The whole point of these is to provide soft happy lighting throughout, and for example a green fabric shade will make the lighting look green. We have one lamp in our living room with this exact situation – I love it during the day but then every evening I reconsider. I definitely wouldn’t want this x8.
Soapbox moment: Anything other than a white fabric (or milk glass) shade should be saved for the fun accent lighting of a room – ie don’t depend on it for main lighting.
I’m sure you could do a cool diy vintage lamp.
Keep us posted 🙂 I’m excited for the year of the farmhouse tweak!

5 months ago

I am confused by Emily’s comment about scallops vs squiggles, as I think the shade featured is more squiggle? Aren’t scallops half circles laid end to end, like the yellow trim in Birdie’s closet? While squiggles are more undulating lines like the first shade? No biggie, just puzzled by the distinction made and reason for it. On the bigger question, I am team leave the shades alone or add a simple ribbon, for the sake of function and to maintain some calm repetition in an already very busy space.

5 months ago
Reply to  Eva

You’re right!

5 months ago

How fun! I love the black ribbon trim! For me, anything too fussy or sweet like the scallops clashes with the simple, modern overhead fixture.

5 months ago

You should start calling these posts “Tweak of the Week”

4 months ago
Reply to  Addi

And the comment section “Don’t jerk my quirk”!

5 months ago

I’m squarely in the finding a great ribbon to trim out the shades corner. Can your Cali crew head to the fabric area in downtown LA for you? Forget what the area is technically called. But I have a ribbon problem, and when I visit my aunt in the OC, we always take a day to head to this area. I have found great ribbon, and ridiculously low pricing. Or, May Arts(brand name) has fantastic grosgrain ribbon. Not the crappy kind you might find at the area in LA. They have a great selection of colors and patterns. I’m sure whatever you do will be great. But I would use what you have first.

5 months ago

I like the idea of working with a maker on Etsy!! But a good DIY is always fun too and between you and your staff have enough creativity to do so! Either way would be fun to see unfold and happy to see you adding this next layer. You could go the Etsy route and have the rounded, pleated shades and keep your more neutral ones for when you need them for a shoot or certain times of the year. I’ve also seen lamp shade covers that are removable but you wouldn’t want it to lean country!

Could you temporarily cover a couple sets of shades in a fabric you like to see if you like it?

5 months ago

Instead of going the ribbon route, you could pretty easily make some bias strips out of any kind of fabric (lightweight is probably better – I’m thinking quilting cotton), and glue that on top and bottom. Lots of fun patterns for that out there! I might also suggest getting some inexpensive shades to do this on and then you can swap things out. Could look very cute!

Julie S
5 months ago

Oh please do an interestingly sculptural shape/scallop/whatever in a pale fabric, not the trim band! Do they make hexagonal sconce shades? I am not a fan of the added trim look at all, I must say – at least not in a room with this many sconces. It does look very broke-DIY’er to me, but also the visual contrast gets busy fast. My eye would be jumping around the perimeter of the room from shade to shade.

5 months ago
Reply to  Julie S

That’s interesting because I have the opposite reaction. I think adding trim to the tops and bottoms of the shades is just enough to add balance to the overall look, whereas “interesting” shades run the risk of going too far and/or looking juvenile (particularly in the case of scallops which would immediately add a clashing twee element I don’t think the room wants or needs).

5 months ago

Am I the lone voice saying I prefer the current lampshades on the sconces as is? I fear even a small stripe makes them too busy for the space, since it is open to the kitchen, entry and sunroom!

5 months ago
Reply to  Marie

I’m with you! I’m all for more quirk, but I don’t think the light fixtures are the place to do it. I’d start by making the styling of the flat surfaces near the sconce vignettes more unexpected and/or colorful first 🙂

5 months ago
Reply to  Marie

I agree. I went back and re-imagined all the choices and think the original simple white form is perfect as is in each of the spaces and repeats beautifully. I question whether it needs fixing! 🙂

5 months ago
Reply to  Marie

I totally agree. I think anything with color is going to look silly on the bright white walls.

5 months ago

I would do mossy green bias tape on them! Love that you’re now able to take more time and mental energy to add your own quirk to the farmhouse 🙂

5 months ago

I have trimmed out lampshades with ribbon many times. I have never used the special ribbon that someone else mentioned— I never even knew it existed! But even with regular ribbon, they’ve turned out great. For small shades like Emily’s I’ve always been able to use a small piece of Velcro on the back of the shade; and of course on the ribbon twice — once to attach it to the shade and one to attach the ribbon to itself making a loop. When you do it this way, you can change out the ribbon easily whenever you feel like it and if you don’t want the ribbon any more, you can’t really see the Velcro on the back of the shade (of course it needs to be similar color to the shade). I have not had any problems with it slipping or falling off but you do need to measure carefully and pull it tight around before you attach. I use white small sticky back velcro dots on white lamp shades.

5 months ago

I’m liking the raffia or patterned if you want a change of mood or look from time to time.
To me, the black edging reads kind of formal/glam and I think the green could be just a lot of solid green in the room.
What are the squiggles you referred to? Is there a pic missing?

5 months ago

I guess I’m one of the few (only?) that LOVED the opening image with the blue squiggle one! Are squiggles really out? I was just starting to get into them. I always feel behind in fashion and decor, it seems to take me two years before I find a new look acceptable or enjoyable (reference the post on chrome…I’ve always been a silver gal, and just got several brass light switch plates, and now I find out brass might be out, lol.) Anyway, love the squiggle ones, fun but in one color I think they’re still elegant.

5 months ago
Reply to  Kasia

I also loved the opening image with the blue scalloped shade! Especially since it pulls out the blue of the wall. But I also like Em’s leaning towards black which like you said could look elegant but fun.

5 months ago

Maybe a little scallop trim? Dark colours so the shade stands out a bit more from the wall and you don’t just see the hardware.!

5 months ago

Fun post, I love contemplating small tweaks like this. My favorite are the elongated round pleated Etsy shades. They read more modern than traditional to me bc the pleats are big and, as the name implies, rounded. I think they’ll bring a fresh, sophisticated touch. I would let the shape be the star and stick with a white or cream color, plus you won’t have to sacrifice light this way.

5 months ago

I absolutely LOVE the rounded pleated shades. Since there are 8 in the room, call me boring, but I believe the shape adds “quirk” enough and I would do a soft white. Maybe it’s being from the South, but I have seen many a ribbon trimmed sconce shade in my day and I just don’t love it for your home. Although it seems simple, my eye wouldn’t know where to look with 8 ribbon-trimmed sconces. It is a bit too busy in my opinion!

5 months ago

How about rattan?

5 months ago

Hi from a local PDX-er and sewist! And I have the scoop on the best spots to look for bias tape locally!

Bolt Fabric has some super cute bias tape options as does Modern Domestic. They are both on NE Alberta St.

Bolt has their options up online and ModDom has a similar amount of options, but not online.

5 months ago

I think what makes this difficult is that the sconces are in multiple rooms. IMHO the elongated scallops in whie are the most like your “style” and a solid white will keep them calm. Or leave the sconces as-is. The elongated scallop shades would add a bit of whimsy/modern/movement/energy, but not add another color to the rooms. Bottom line: do what you love and what makes you happy. It is your home.

4 months ago

If it’s quirk you want, have you checked out the chandelier/sconce shades at Stray Dog Designs? Some are quite singular; in fact you may not want all 8 — but it would be less pricey to just choose 2, say, and leave the rest white (or add trim). Did I hear ricrac? Yassss! I love Stray Dog — their lights just make me happy.