Details really do matter. One of the quickest ways to bring a little pizzaz to an ordinary plain lamp shade is to trim it with ribbon, beads, tassels, you name it. I was quite happy with our sweetly gathered shades on our night table lamps, that is, back when I lived in New York and had gorgeous grey walls to set them off. Here in Tokyo, all the housing geared towards expatriates has this horrible textured white(ish) wallpaper and the idea that you might want to paint is greeted with horror and quite a bit of “air through the teeth sucking” by the landlord. So my off-white lampshades were left to blend into the off-white wall and I lived with them like that for quite sometime, being unable to find just the right trim.

Unlike America, craft stores are difficult to find in Japan and require travel out of central Tokyo. The mother lode of all craft stores is Yuzawaya, which stocks everything from knitting supplies, to fabric, to fake flowers, to jewelry kits, to you name it. I tend to visit the store in Kamata, but there is also a popular one in Kichijoji and others elsewhere. You can see the directory in English here. On one of our last quilting supply runs this winter I stumbled across the perfect grey grosgrain ribbon, with a small dash pattern in white.  Best of all it came in multiple widths, so I was able to purchase a narrower ribbon for the top of the shade. Since the shades are small, I didn’t want them to feel top-heavy. 

The rest of the materials were easy to get. I bought some spray adhesive at Yuzawaya too and everything else was basic supplies. I think the entire project took less than half an hour.

My big news is I have filmed a brief how-to video and uploaded it to YouTube. A first for me! Unfortunately, the camera didn’t finish recording the entire project, and once it was done, there was no do-over. But it gives a basic idea of how it is done.

The ribbon makes a big difference at night too.

Choosing the right style trim is a large part of making a project like this successful. Do you want a lot of contrast or a little? Is there an accent color elsewhere in the room that you want to highlight? In my case, I wanted the dark punctuation of the grey ribbon and I needed a classic material like the grosgrain to work with all the French furniture. Here are some other examples of ribbon trim on lamp shades.

So much happiness for so little money and effort!

Image credits: 1-5 & 9. me, 6. via A Well Dressed Home, 7. unknown catalog photo, 8. via Real Simple