How to Choose the Perfect Size and Style of Lampshade

How to Choose the Perfect Size and Style of Lampshade

Lampshades are the unsung heroes of interior design. They not only diffuse light but also add personality and ambiance. But how do you choose the right size and shape of a lampshade to complement your base?

As a rule of thumb, your lampshade’s base diameter should be at least as wide, or wider than the widest part of the base, and the height of the lampshade from top to bottom should be around 2/3rds of the height of the lamp base. 

Most vintage and some modern styles of lampshade will have a duplex fitting.  A suitably sized shade carrier is used to seat the shade at the correct height to suit both the base and the shade design. When seated on the shade carrier, the bottom edge of the lampshade should fall below the bulb holder, so this isn’t on show.  


While a shade that's too large can overwhelm, one that's too small might look out of proportion. However, a lot depends on personal taste and there are no hard and fast rules, so don't be afraid to experiment.

Now let's explore the many different lampshade shapes. It’s best to take cues from the shape of your lamp base when selecting a shade. Curvy organic styles like globe bases suit rounded shapes like a drum or empire. But more angular bases may look better with a square, rectangle, or another geometric style. However, you will rarely go wrong with a drum lampshade which will complement most bases.

Where space is limited, it may be better to opt for a tall & narrow, or oval-shaped lampshade.


Beyond aesthetics, consider the functionality of the lamp. Lampshades with straight sides, like drum or empire shades, channel light through their top and bottom rings. Conversely, conical shades diffuse light outward through their wider base ring. Smaller rings on a shade will result in less light emission.

Also consider your fabric characteristics, a darker or thicker fabric like velvet will tend to block more light, and if this is an important consideration a finer fabric may be more appropriate. 

For hard lampshades, a white PVC lining will let more light pass through the shade when lit, whereas a metallic liner will only emit light through the top and base.  However, the reflective nature of the metallic liner creates a warm subtle glow which provides a lovely ambiance.

Finding the perfect lampshade is like the cherry on top of the sundae, it adds that elusive finishing touch that ties the whole room together. If you're struggling to find the perfect lampshade, why not ask me to create a bespoke lampshade for you?


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