I want turn this floor lamp into a reading light. I want all light exiting upwards from the lamp shade to point down.

Do I just buy a mirror and put it on top of the lamp shade? Then the mirror can reflect down any upward light. But is this safe? I use a fluorescent light bulb, but it still heats! I don't want a fire hazard.

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  • 5
    That "upward light" is not useless. there's three kinds of lighting: ambient, task, and decorative. That lamp is for ambient. It's unclear from the photo where you would be sitting in relation to the lamp. As is, just using a brighter bulb and sitting next to it should provide plenty of reading light. You don't want a spot light on the page, that causes eyestrain. You also don't want to stop all the airflow through the shade. A circle of Al foil in the middle, or a pie tin, about half the diameter, will return much of the light downward without having it look strange from around the room.
    – dandavis
    Commented Nov 17, 2020 at 2:42
  • Also, you can get lamps for a few bucks at habitat for humanity restore, garage sales, or goodwill, or for free behind college dorms/apts in may and aug. You can also tear apart your lamp and build it into a new one with a hook and chain that allows hanging from the ceiling (keep the wire and socket, ditch the metal parts). Paired with a flood bulb, that would make a nice task light for virtually nothing.
    – dandavis
    Commented Nov 17, 2020 at 2:52
  • 1
    Can you add a photo of how the shade attaches. There are at least 3 different methods the clip onto the bulb, ring below the bulb 3 wire and 2 wire hoop , I don’t know if I would want to use glass/mirror because of the weight. a piece of “mirrored” aluminum from an old fluorescent lamp could be cut to size and be light weight with no worries about the heat. If the light is a waste to you who are others to tell you otherwise, the light going where you don’t want or need is a waste. So I would look into a reflective metal. Aluminum foil may even work for your needs.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Nov 17, 2020 at 20:35

3 Answers 3


I would fit a disk of aluminum foil on top, either over or under the shade nut (the nut securing the shade frame to the lamp stud) and resting on the shade support arms. You could also use sheet metal, such as from the bottom of a coffee can.

This disk should not extend all the way out to the shade wall--leave at least 1/2" for ventilation to prevent dangerous heat buildup. Do not use tape or other combustible materials. If you put the disk under the shade nut you could also use a standard or fender washer to prevent damage to the foil.

I'd also use an LED bulb, which emits much less heat than an incandescent bulb.

  1. Unplug the lamp from the wall
  2. Set the lamp behind/beside your favorite reading chair/couch.
  3. Plug in lamp.
  4. Turn on lamp.

Now the majority of light will shine over your shoulder and onto your book, making it easier for you to read. When you get up for a fresh cup of coffee, more popcorn, or a bathroom break, that "wasted" light going up will help light the room so you can see your way to where you're going.

  • hunh... I guess someone doesn't think that putting a light near a chair instead of next to the TV makes for a good reading light. OK...
    – FreeMan
    Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 11:42

Get a bulb with the top half coated with a reflector that mirrors the unneeded light that would go upward back downward in your case, a floor lamp. These bulbs are common if you look for them. They do the opposite when hanging from a pendant, no light goes down as it reflects it back upward. Google "half mirror light bulb".

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