5 Steps to Choosing the Right Lampshade Tips for buying the right lampshade to suit your lamp
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If the base is very plain and simple you might want to consider a shade with some decorative embellishments or color.
Four dimensions are important when measuring for shade replacement; top and bottom diameters, depth and drop. The following diagrams illustrate the necessary measurements.
So if you’re buying a new lampshade make sure you’re getting the right one for the lamp and the room. Here are some things to consider:
Keep in mind that these are guidelines only. Occasionally you’ll come across a lamp that will call for an overscale shade or even a smaller-than-usual shade. Assess what will look best in your space and then choose the appropriate one. Trust your eye – if it looks funny don’t buy it, but if it looks good even though it doesn’t follow the rules, go for it.
The bottom of the shade should just cover the lamp switch so be sure to measure the harp before buying. The harp will tell you the height from the base of the socket to the top of the shade. (You can try using different sized harps while shopping.)
Ironically, the first thing you do when you’re trying to pick the perfect shade is to look at your lamp. What’s the general shape? If your base is round, then a round shade usually works best. A square or angular silhouette tends to look better with a square shade. And, of course, there are always exceptions to any decorating rule – candlestick lamps, with their combination of curves and angles, can handle just about any shape. And, if your lamp is square and your table is round, a round shade can complement both.
Decide if you want to call attention to the base or the shade. If the base is unique or bold use a more subdued lampshade.
Sometimes it’s interesting the things we overlook. Take lamps, for example. Since lampshades and lamp bases are often sold together, we usually don’t give much thought to the shades. Which is odd, when you think about it because the lampshade will inevitably have as much impact on the room as the base. Lampshades are a valuable opportunity to add to the decorating story of your room through the size, shape and even the color or pattern of the shade.
If you ever come home from the antique market with a new lamp base sans lampshade, take heed of this golden rule before rushing out to grab any old covering. For one, lampshades come in a variety of shapes (empire, square, drum, oval) and an overwhelming range of sizes. Thankfully, the golden rule is actually an equation of measurements that will point you to the perfect lampshade to match your newfound lamp. First, measure the base and height of your lamp. The shade should be twice as wide as the lamp base, and one third of the total height of the lamp. So for a 6-inch lamp base, the shade should be at least 12 inches wide. And if the total height of the lamp (including the bulb and harp) is 24 inches, the shade should be 8 inches tall. If you prefer to follow rules with a visual aid, watch this video and never come home with the wrong lampshade again.
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Generally, the height of the shade should be about ¾ the height of the base.The bottom of the shade should be wider than the widest part of the base.
Picking the perfect shade is a lot like choosing the right jewelry – it has to fit the place and occasion, complement without overwhelming, and draw just enough attention to be noticed. And if you put it on and it doesn’t make your heart beat a little faster, keep looking. There’s something better.
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Think about the color and style of the room the lamp will be in and decide whether you want it to stand out or blend in with the surroundings. Either way, they should complement each other.
You need to make sure that the shade is big enough to allow a 2″ to 3″ space between the shade and the bulb (so that it doesn’t burn). Also, make sure that the top of the shade is big enough that the heat can escape.
It all depends on what you want your lamp to do. Translucent shades of sheer fabric, paper or alternative materials are great for reading and adding ambient light to your room. Opaque shades of silk, thick parchment or laminated card direct light in defined, up-and-down beams, perfect for highlighting objects and setting a mood.
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This is the tricky part. Some lamps call for shades of unusual sizes, but there are some general rules you can follow.
10 Shade Shopping Shortcuts Round lamp base –Choose a round or hexagonal shade. Square or angular base – Opt for a square shade. Can’t decide on a shape? When in doubt, go empire! Shade height – Your shade should be 2/3 the height of your base.
Shade width – Your shade should be twice the width of the base. Pleats say traditional. Smooth leans contemporary. Your lamp neck, harp, and all hardware should be hidden underneath the shade. If you can, take your lamp with you shopping.
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Now we’re talking fashion. Smooth shades say cool, refined and contemporary. Pleats are cozier, more traditional and tend to pair well with antiques. And custom details like embroidery, decoupage and paint can transform your lampshade from accessory into a show-stopping focal point.
How much light do you need and where should it be focused? Dark shades don’t usually allow light to filter through while light shades do. If it’s a reading lamp you’ll want a fairly wide lampshade base so that you get plenty of light.
Now that you know your shape, it’s time to grab a tape measure. Your shade should be about two-thirds the height of your lamp base (give or take an inch). Proportion is the key – too tall and the effect will be top heavy, too short and your lamp will look out of balance. And just like a slip, you never want your harp to show. If your lamp sits on a mantel or close to eye level, this is especially important.
To figure out the right width for your shade, measure your lamp base and multiply by two. For a round base, measure straight across; measure diagonally for a square base. The widest part of your shade should be at least a half-inch wider than the widest part of your base on each side. And when you’re considering width, don’t forget location. If your lamp is going next to a bed or in a busy hallway, pick a narrower shade to avoid flying elbows.