June 20, 2024

There are quite a few issues to consider when selecting a lamp shade. After 27 years of helping dealers, designers and retail customers match their lamps and shades these defining points which will allow you to answer this sometimes daunting question for yourself.

Beauty is not the only thing in the eye of the beholder. Individuals may already have preconceived ideas of the right size, shape, color, material, etc. for a particular lamp shades. Further, after one has looked upon and lived with a certain lamp and shade combination for years any deviation from that can very likely be perceived as “wrong”. So, how can you be sure that a particular lamp shade is right or that it “goes” with the lamp? Keep three basic points foremost in your mind: portrayal style, shade size and shade vertical location.

PORTRAYAL STYLE: First and foremost, what do you wish to portray with the lamp? Look at your lamp and decide what style it is such as contemporary, traditional, antique, funky, etc. If you really cannot discern a specific style then you must decide what is the style or look that you wish to portray with this lamp. You will want the basic look or style of your lamp shade to compliment, not clash with the lamp style itself. You generally do not want a very ornate and detailed shade if you wish to portray the clean lines of a very contemporary lamp. Likewise, you do not want a clean cut Chinese coolee type shade for a lamp that you want to portray as a traditional style. Think in terms of like styles for the lamp and shade. This does not mean like colors, textures, size etc. but general style. Once you have decided the general lamp style that you wish to portray, then you can begin concentrating on other details.

SHADE SIZE: This characteristic of your lamp shade like all the others will of course be subjective and will vary with the observer. But there are some guidelines that will help you determine the boundaries within which you must consider. You are basically looking for a balance in lamp and shade sizes that will make the lamp look neither top heavy or bottom heavy when viewed from a distance of about 20 feet away.

There are four (4) measurements to consider when selecting a shade: top diameter (across), bottom diameter (across), side length (slope), and drop. The drop is the vertical distance the shade washer is from the top edge of the shade. Do not be too concerned with the drop. The drop and the harp size will determine the shade vertical location which we will cover later. You just need to be aware that different shades do have different drops. Small changes in the bottom diameter (1″-2″) will have a dramatic effect on the look of your lamp. The same applies to the side length and top diameter. The numerous combinations of these various measurements can be mind boggling. Below are some specific guidelines that you can carry with you to the store when selecting a lamp shade.


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