How To Choose The Right Lampshade
Lampshades are the unsung heroes of the interior design process, and choosing the right lampshade can make a huge difference! What other design element offers as much versatility? From size, color, material/texture and translucency, the right lampshade can warm, soften or energize a room, complement your color scheme and dynamically highlight your other architectural, design and decorating choices. Are you getting the most out of your lampshades?
Before We Start!
Sometimes breaking the “rules” results in unexpected surprises! Trust your eye and individualize your lampshade experience to reflect your distinct aesthetic style.
- Visual synergy is important: if the body of your lamp is tall and cylindrical, a tall drum lampshade may be best; if the lamp has a square base and a round body, a lampshade with a square base and round top may be a good fit. A shapely lamp can take a shapely shade - your goal is to match the mood of the base.
- The more basic the lamp, the more varied the lampshades can be.
- Choose a lampshade that is roughly 40% of the overall height of the lamp and roughly double the size of the lamp base.
Above all, you want to be sure that the lamp shade doesn't expose any of the hardware underneath!
How To Measure Your Shade
Lampshade size is shown as: (top) x (bottom) x (side)
If you are replacing an existing lampshade it may help to measure it first. Start by measuring the widest part (diameter) of the top and bottom of your shade, then finish by measuring the slant/height along the side.
- Translucency refers to the amount of light that passes through the lampshade.
- An opaque lampshade directs light from the top and bottom of the shade, often used to create dramatic mood lighting.
A translucent lamp shade will allow more light to emanate around the room.
- Lampshades come in different colors and textures, each with their own translucency. (see below)
Light bulb type and wattage play an important role. Be sure you have adequate separation from the bulb to the shade, especially for higher wattage bulbs. Compact Fluorescent or LED bulbs burn cooler and are more efficient.
Color And Texture
- Your lampshade can accent a primary color scheme or highlight a subtle tone in the environment, including the colors in the lamp base.
- Lampshades come in a variety of fabrics and textures, including burlap, silk, paper and more; they can be smooth, pleated or made of different materials (e.g. strings, wallpaper, gold leaf or sticks).
- Softer textures look great with more traditional fabrics.
Smooth shades express cool, contemporary elegance.
- Pleats are more traditional and pair well with antiques.
The fitter is hardware that allows you to connect the lampshade to the lamp. There are many different kinds, so make sure the shade you love has the fitter that matches your lamp.
Washer and Spider fitters are typically the most common. These sit on top of the harp and are secured by a finial.
Reflector Bowl fitters are similar to Spider fitters, however they have grooves in the spider arms that secure the lamp shade's position on top of a reflector bowl. These are often secured by a finial.
Bulb clips are typically found on smaller lamps or chandeliers. Regular bulb clips traditionally clip onto round lightbulbs while candle clips fit onto bulbs that mimic the shape of a candle.
Hurricane or Chimney fitters are unique in that they rest on a lamp base that has a “chimney,” or glass, that extends upwards from the socket around the bulb.
Nardi or Slip Uno fitters are generally held in place by the bulb and sit on top of the socket.
Threaded Uno fitters are typically for down-bridge lamps and feature a screw thread that attatches to a socket before the bulb is attatched.
Euro fitters are very similar to Threaded Uno fitters, they sit on the socket and are usually held in place by the light bulb.
- Most lampshades are secured by a finial. Like lampshades themselves, they come in many different colors, shapes and materials. They are just another element that can add distinctive charm and personality to your lamp set-up.