There are 3 main rules you need to consider when picking a lamp shade: the shape, the size and the material. So let’s look at them in more detail:
When it comes to the shape of your lamp shade you need to think about the overall style and theme of your space. Light emits from different shaped shades in different ways, which affects how far the light will reach and for what purposes it is used. Light emitting from the top of the shade produces a reflected ambient light bouncing off the ceiling, while light emitting below produces a more focused light surrounding furniture.
If you are going for a vintage or bohemian look then a ‘pleated’ lampshade with tassels could be a great option.
For a more traditional look, opt for an ‘empire’ lamp shade, that slopes gradually outward from top to bottom and will give your space a more classic feel.
If you are after a contemporary look, a straight drum-shaped shade is perfect because of its clean lines. A drum shade is typically wider than tall with the same dimensions top and bottom. which allows maximum light to emit through the top and bottom of the drum. If your shade comes with a vibrant pattern, which will instantly change the dynamics of the room, the focus of a drum shade will be on the pattern rather than on the the shape.
A ‘tapered lampshade’, which has a flared bottom and smaller top which produces more diffused light below than from the top works well with tall lamp bases or chunky bases as this make a great statement in your room, and fit well in a minimalist or simple decor. This is also great for large rooms with high ceilings, as this shape will instantly make your space look bigger.
A key aspect when picking a lamp shade is choosing the right size of the shade.
You have to make sure that your lamp shade is in proportion to your lamp base and is tall enough to cover the base’s fittings! It should also complement the base's style in order for the shade to be a ‘continuation’ of the design theme.
As an extension of your lamp, consider the furniture it sits on and the room it is part of. What shapes do you see there? What are the proportions like, as a whole and for individual parts?
As a rule, the shade height should be about 3/4 the height of the base. The bottom of the shade should be wider than the widest part of the base. Shade width should approximately equal the height from the bottom of base to socket.
Be sure you have 2-3 inch separation from bulb to shade, especially for higher wattage bulbs and be sure the top opening is wide enough to vent the heat.
Choosing the right material for your lamp shade can determine the entire look for your space. Paper lamp shades can create a casual relaxed mood whereas metal, especially copper lamp shades can instantly give you a more sleek and polished look .
Fabric lamp shades are my favourite, as you can tell from our Falomo collection! They are perfect if you want to add texture, a splash of colour and a theme to your space. Especially when teamed up with a strong lining, fabric lamp shades will instantly give your space a new dimension.
And don’t forget that light shines through the shade itself. A white or light shade allows the most light to pass through, whereas darker-coloured shades and hardback shades tend to block more of the light.
Remember if you want to change all the lampshades in your home at once then I recommend starting out with an inexpensive lamp shade or making your own lamp shade using Florentine papers and then replacing them with ones you really want once you know what shape and style you want.
Lamp shades can last you a lifetime and really transfer your setting, which is why it is important to get it right because they can make an enormous difference to your setting.
If you want to find our more about using colour in your home, download our FREE Room by Room Guide full of tips & techniques to help you introduce colour to your home with style and confidence.