How To Choose A Lamp Shade

Often you’ll find lamps are sold with both base and shade, making lighting your room stylish and easy. This is not always the case, so what do you do when you have that perfect lamp base but are faced with choosing a lampshade to pair with it? With our handy guide and a few interior design tips, you’ll be picking your ideal lamp shade in a flash.

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How Do you Determine the Right Size Shade for Your Lamp?

Generally, the rule of thumb is the lamp shade height should measure 1/3 the height of the base. The lampshade width at its widest point should be two times the width of the base. For example, if the lamp base is 24 inches tall, the shade’s height should measure 8 inches.

How do you Select the Right Shape of Your Lamp Shade?

Let the shape of your lamp base guide you in the shape you choose for your lamp shade. Take note, not all shades are the same width at the top opening as they are at the bottom if they have a tapered design, so no matter the shape of your shade, be sure it is two inches wider at the bottom opening than the width of the base.

  • Round (Bell and Cylinder) - ideal for round or curvy lamp bases.
  • Oval - pair this shape with an oval lamp base for the best effect.
  • Rectangular - for wide rectangular bases use the same shape.
  • Square - a short or tall square base will pair nicely with a non-tapered square shade.
  • Hexagon - bases with this shape work nicely with round or scalloped shades in a hexagonal shape.
Blue Linen Empire Lamp Shade
Silk Shantung Bell Lamp Shade
Metal Linen Drum Lamp Shade
Silk Shantung Novelty Lamp Shade
Clip On Linen Rectangular Lamp Shade
Uno Linen Fabric Square Lamp Shade

What is the Correct Shade Fitter for Each Base Fitter Type?

To keep the lampshade securely attached to the lamp base, both shades and bases are equipped with fitters. You will need to determine which fitter your base has before choosing a shade. The base will have either a harp fitter that extends up and over the light bulb or a plain socket for pairing with an Uno fitter. Details of all fitters are explained below.

  • Spider Fitter

Shade fitters, made of lightweight metal, are often found with a spider design—metal rods extend inward from the top interior of the shade to a middle point fitted with a disc or ring. This allows for pairing with a harp base fitter that has a screw at the top to be thread through the disc and then secured with a plain or decorative finial.

White Pleated Shantung Empire Spider Fitter Lamp Shade
Tencel Fabric Bell Spider Fitter Lamp Shade
Blue Pleated Linen Empire Spider Fitter Lamp Shade
Fabric Linen Empire Spider Fitter Lamp Shade
Steel Spider Fitter Bell Lamp Shade
White Linen Spider Fitter Drum Lamp Shade
  • Uno Fitter

Alternately, some lamp shades come fitted with an Uno fitter that extends down into the shade so its ring can properly rest around the base socket and be secured by installation of the light bulb.

Uno Fitter Silk Shantung Empire Lamp Shade
Uno Fitter Animals Linen Bell Lamp Shade
Orange Black White Uno Fitter Leather Rectangular Lamp Shade
Elephant Gray Uno Fitter Drum Lamp Shade
Off White Uno Fitter Linen Empire Lamp Shade
Floral Uno Fitter Empire Lamp Shade
  • Clip-On Fitter

A clip-on fitter can be used in place of a harp fitter as it secures to the shade’s spider fitter with screw and finial then clips directly onto the light bulb. This negates the need for a base fitter.

Clip On Fitter Silk Empire Candelabra Shade With Trim
White Clip On Fitter Linen Empire Lamp Shade
Satin Empire Clip On Fitter Lamp Shade
Clip On Fitter Yellow Silk Shantung Bell Chandelier Shade
Clip On Fitter Blue Linen Drum Lamp Shade
Clip On Fitter Leather Suede Empire Candelabra Shade

How Do You Find the Ideal Lamp Shade Material & Color to Match Your Décor Style?

Available in an array of materials and design details, lamp shades are valuable not only for projecting and softening light, but they also add valuable aesthetics often overlooked when decorating. While you want to take into consideration the shape, style, and color of your lamp base, you can use general styling tips below.

  • White or ivory linen shades are the most common and versatile as they translate across many décor styles, such traditional, transitional, contemporary and modern. They also pair nicely with metal, ceramic, or glass lamp bases.
  • Knobby woven materials such as grasscloth lean towards rustic style. Pair them with wood or metal bases for a complementary look.
  • Smooth materials and sleek metal shades speak to contemporary style.
  • Leather or animal skin shades make a fun addition to country, rustic, or lodge-style interiors. These rugged shades handsomely top off a wood, metal or mixed medium base.
  • Pleated shades, usually made from white or ivory linen or silk, lend themselves to a more formal aesthetic in a traditional setting.
  • Colorful shades in vibrant hues add a pleasant pop to a modern or boho style space.
  • Pastel hued shades enhance bedrooms and living spaces with soft lighting for a sense of calm.
  • Patterned lamp shades make a personality statement in a boho or eclectic home.

Interior Designer Quick Tips for Choosing a Lamp Shade

  • Take your lamp base with you when shopping for a perfect match and fit.
  • Consider the other materials and colors in your room, such as furniture, rugs, and pillows to ensure your lamp shades will enhance the space.
  • Match the shape of lampshade to the shape of your base.
  • Your shade should be 1/3 the height of your base.
  • Make sure your shade’s width is twice the width of your base.
  • Don’t forget to match your shade fitter to your base fitter.
  • Rough textures and rugged materials lend themselves to a rustic or country style.
  • Smooth textures are contemporary.
  • Pleats are traditional.
  • When in doubt, ask a salesperson.

While lamp shades are often an after-thought or not considered when decorating a home or office space, you’re now aware of the plethora of possibilities the right lamp shade can bring to the function and aesthetic of any room. Putting in the effort to figure out the best lamp shade in terms of size, shape, style, color, and texture will increase the beauty and function of your space.