A lampshade diffuser to soften glare from IKEA shade

I’ve always loved the look of a lampshade with a diffuser at the bottom. However, I was having trouble finding diffuser lampshades that would fit the existing lighting fixtures in my rental.  

So, I decided to make them with the IKEA lampshades I already had.

This is how the lampshades looked after adding the diffuser.

IKEA JARA Lampshade with diffuser
IKEA lampshade with DIY diffuser

Materials for DIY lampshade diffuser:

Large Lampshade (Pictured shade is 22″ JÄRA, but the newer barrel shaped NYMÖ would probably work much better)

Acrylic Lighting Panel, pictured is “cracked ice white” (link is for 5-pack, I bought a single sheet)

Masking tape (the good thick kind)

Sharpie (thin preferred)

Sturdy Scissors (pictured are my old sewing scissors, now toolbox scissors – this project will likely nick the blade, don’t use your good scissors)

I also added a diffuser to two 9″ UMFORS shades over my kitchen island, but the circle had to be extremely accurate in size. Then, it was very hard not to break or chip the acrylic when putting it in the shade. My end result has a few dabs of hot glue along the edge to mask tiny chips where light leaks through. Finally, the inside was very tight to work in when putting the shade up and the (LED) lightbulb inside.

Preparing the Workspace:

This project is going to result in tiny plastic shards scattered within a 5-8 foot radius of your workspace. I’d suggest sitting on a hard surface floor when cutting, it’s easier to clean up than carpet.

Step 1 – Trace:

Lay the sheet of Acrylic down on the floor, smooth side up. Place your lampshade on it and trace the inside circumference of the lampshade. Also, use a piece of tape to mark where the seam in the shade is, you’ll want this for reference later if you need to trim an edge.

Trace the circle of the lampshade onto the acrylic sheet

Step 2 – Tape:

Place masking tape over your line and press it down well. You should be able to see your line through the tape. The tape will greatly reduce chipping when you cut and when you put the acrylic inside the lampshade.

Step 3 – Draw:

Mark a line slightly outside of the line you traced. In the picture below, you can see that I’ve marked the original line in black partially so that you can see it, and marked my new line in red. Your finished circle needs to be slightly bigger so that it sits on the inner rim of the lampshade (not even 1/16 inch, look at your lampshade).

Drawing the circle of the lampshade and Cutting the acrylic sheet

Step 4 – Cut:

Slowly, with a firm but delicate hand, cut along the new line you traced (red line in my case) using scissors. Make very small 1/8-1/4″ cuts to slowly go around the circle. Smaller cuts chip less.
What I tried that didn’t work: I tried using pliers, they were terrible, cracks everywhere. I looked up how to use an acrylic knife, but thought it would be too hard to score the circle. I considered the Dremel or jigsaw, but this stuff is so thin I think it would break and/or send little plastic shards like shrapnel everywhere.

Masking the cut edges of the acrylic sheet with masking tape

Step 5 – Put the acrylic inside the lampshade, without chipping it:

First, lay your acrylic circle over the shade and ensure the size looks right. Trim as necessary. Remember to line up the mark with the seam in the shade – lampshades are not perfectly round!

With the RIGHT SIDE OUT, diagonally place the cut circle into the lampshade, until the upper edge is under the lip of the shade. Do not press or force the acrylic, especially along the edges – it will chip.

fitting the acrylic sheet into the lampshade

Step 6 – Put the acrylic in the lampshade, without cracking it in half:

Flip the shade over. Slowly, carefully press down the acrylic into place. I cracked my first one. If it seems like it won’t go, evaluate whether the circle is too big.

placing the acrylic sheet inside

When it’s in, remove the masking tape. If any of your sharpie lines show from the outside, a cotton swab dipped in nail polish remover makes an eraser. Just beware nail polish remover sometimes alters the shine of acrylic/plastic or smears the sharpie color.

Finished lampshade diffuser!

DIY Lampshade Diffuser for IKEA lampshade