4 Expert Tips To Choose A Light Shade

Affordable and available in a dizzying array of patterns, materials, and colors, it's easy to update your room's decor with a new light shade. To help you choose the best light shade for your home, we're going to share our top interior design tips. Here's all you need to know to pick the perfect lamp shade.

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How do I choose the right shape of light shade for me?

Here are some of the most popular shapes of light shade to consider when choosing your new model.

Empire

The classic, quintessential light shade shape, empire light shades are shaped like cones, but with the top cut straight.

The top diameter is approximately half the diameter of the bottom, giving them an aesthetically pleasing, straight sloping shape. This timeless light shade shape is the most versatile and it will work well with any style decor.

Cotton Empire Light Shade in Indigo
Yellow Linen Empire Lamp Shade
Empire Lamp Shade in White
Cream Silk Empire Lamp Shade
Off White Linen Empire Light Shade
Natural Beige Empire Lamp Shade

Bell

Similar to empire light shades, bell ones have sloping sides. However, they also slope inwards for a softer look. This makes their lower edge flare out slightly for a more dramatic lighting effect.

They complement curved lamp bases and add a traditional and feminine touch to your decor. Opt for models with braiding or beads to add a decorative touch to traditional or shabby chic decors.

They are also a nice addition to your side table for late-night reading.

Aqua Blue Silk Bell Light Shade
Glass Bell Light Shade
Yellow Bell Light Shade
Bell Light Shade in Off Cream
Bell Lamp Shade in Eggshell Color
Traditional Bell Lamp Light Shade

Drum

Cylindrical in shape, drum light shades work best in a contemporary or modern setting.

Their straight lines and clean looks make them a popular choice. Suitable for use as pendant light shades or for table lamps, this no-frills style also works well in a minimalist setting.

Natural Color Drum Light Shade
White Linen Drum Light Shade
Black Linen Drum Light Shade
Large Drum Lamp Shade
Green Linen Drum Light Shade
White Silk Drum Lamp Shade

Rectangular

Rectangular lamp shades make a great choice for table lamps as they fit flush with your walls. If you have a rectangular side or console table, consider pairing it with a rectangular light shade, especially in narrow hallways or landings.

Oval

Oval light shades can also be useful for fitting in tight spaces. More forgiving to the eye than rectangular versions, they take up less depth than round models, making them another good choice for hallways.

What type of material is best for light shades?

Light shades are available in a variety of different materials. Here are some of the most popular options to consider.

Cotton

Cotton light shades are versatile and durable.

Suitable for use in any room of the house, cotton light shades are best teamed with a rustic or traditional decor. As cotton is also easy to clean, you can use it in your living room or other areas of the house where it may get dirty or accumulate dust.

Silk

A classic, luxurious choice, silk is best suited to intimate sitting rooms and the bedroom.

It can complement a traditional decor, shabby chic or even modern with an unusual color or print. It makes an elegant choice, although it can be difficult to clean should it get dirty.

Faux Silk Drum Light Shade
Navy Blue Cotton Drum Lamp Shade
Cotton Empire Lamp Shade
Cotton Empire Lamp Shade Set in Navy Blue
Grey Silk Drum Light Shade
Faux Black Silk Drum Light Shade

Linen

With its earthly, cozy look and often slightly wrinkled appearance, linen lampshades work best in traditional rooms that have a lived-in look.

Farmhouse, shabby chic or traditional decors all look great with linen light shades. It is also a highly durable material that will hold its looks for many years.

Paper/Parchment

Ideal for a minimalist or modern look, paper light shades are available in a variety of colors and prints.

Choose a bold color that stands out against your decor or opt for a geometric shaped pattern. Marbled painted lamp shades add a touch of creativity and individuality that can serve as decoration and contrast with a more neutral background of block colors.

Ivory Linen Empire Lamp Shade
Linen Rectangular Light Shade in White
Linen Bell Lamp Shade
Old Paper Empire Light Shade
Black light Shade with Paper Liner
Paper Empire Candelabra Shade Set

How do I choose a complementary light shade color?

If you are looking to choose a complementary light shade color, we recommend picking up an accent shade from your existing decor. It might be a secondary or even tertiary color that crops up throughout your room.

If you have a modern style room, you may want to choose a light shade in a bright color, teamed with a neutral background. This approach can also work well in a minimalist setting devoid of decoration.

Installing a bright-colored lampshade is a great way to provide a focus, without adding unnecessary extras to your rooms.

Translucency

Aside from color preference alone, you should also consider how much light your lamp shade will let through.

If you need ambient light in your room then go for a light colored shade that will allow more light to pass through. If you are looking for a light shade as a more decorative addition and are not going to be relying upon it light for reading or complete illumination of your room, then feel free to opt for an opaque lampshade in a dark solid color.

Purple Satin Empire Clip-on Lamp Shade
Aqua Blue Empire Light Shade
Black Drum Lamp Light Shade
Linen Empire Lamp Light Shade in White
Empire Light Shade in Grey
Bell Light Shade Set in White

What size light shade should I buy?

Choosing the right size of table light shade depends upon two main factors: your style and the size of your base.

  • Choose a light shade for a table lamp that is approximately 75% of the base's height. This way, your stylish base won't be overwhelmed and reaching any interior switches won't become problematic.

  • Larger, very wide light shades with narrow bases can lead to an unbalanced look. While this may work in a quirky or modern decor, it won't look good in a traditional, more elegant decor.

  • Traditional advice is to purchase a table lamp shade with a width that matches the height of your base.

  • Floor light bases generally suit shades starting around 18 inches upwards.

  • For pendant light shades, consider the size and shape of your room, as well as the design of your light shade. Dramatic, large lamp shades can easily overwhelm small rooms, so be careful to take their dimensions into account.

  • Match your surroundings to the size of your shade - for uncluttered, modern, or minimalist rooms, an oversized lamp shade can work well as a focal point.

  • For small rooms with a lot of decoration, a smaller light shade will work better.

Similarly, table lamps on large empty surfaces will look good with a  shade one size up, whereas those on tables with other elements are better with a shade that matches the above size guidelines

Jessica started out as an interior photographer, but her love of pretty settings took her to the field of interior design, where she can combine two of her greatest passions, creating and then capturing the beauty of homes.