disclosure: this post is sponsored by Lamps Plus.
When deciding on a lamp do you ever have challenges with what shade works for you? Here’s a simple guide to how to choose a lamp shade for your lamp.
I love it when you ask me questions.
Did you know that there’s an unlimited question policy here at Thistlewood?
You can ask me questions in the comments or e-mail me or message me or send over a carrier pigeon with all the question marks. I even wrote an entire book filled with questions about decorating and paint colors and couches and chairs and pictures and wall treatments.
We are all in this together.
And one of the questions I get asked about is how to choose a lamp shade for a lamp.
We are talking lighting and lamp shades and lamps that we love and how to decide what works best in our spaces.
If you have a question—be sure and drop it in the comments.
I just might have an answer. 🙂
How to Choose a Lamp Shade
Q: What color should lamp shades be?
I generally like three types of lamp shades (and for totally different reasons).
- I like white shades to bring airiness and light to a space.
- I like oatmeal or bisque colored shades to provide a hint of contrast to the lamp if I need some texture in the room.
- I like dark shades in black (especially if they have a gold inside the shade to truly reflect light).
The color of the shade that you choose will determine how much light you let into the space from the lamp. For example, in this family room, I like bright and airy lamp shades because the room doesn’t get a lot of natural light. In a study or media room or a room where I’m trying to create ambiance with minimum light, a black shade lined with gold is the perfect choice.
Q: what about patterned shades?
When deciding how to choose a lamp shade, I am TOTALLY on the design fence about this question.
There have been times in my life when I’m working on a room where a patterned shade makes a room pop—especially if I’m creating a modern space with a modern aesthetic. For example, when I was working on this office, the blue patterned lamp shades add the perfect accent against the coral walls.
My best advice?
Sometimes patterned lamp shades are the perfect accent for your room and pull everything together. Sometimes? The patterned lamp shade can be a distraction and appear to be too “matchy matchy.” Tip: if you decide on a patterned lamp shade, I would make it one of your first design decisions in a space, rather than adding it at the last minute.
Q: What are the different types of lamp shade fittings?
Did you know that not all lamp shades are created equal?
There are three main types of fittings:
- Clip-on fitting: This type of shade clips directly onto the lightbulb and are generally used with smaller lamps and chandeliers.
- Uno fitting: This type of shade is built directly into the lamp and typically screws in underneath the light bulb. This type of shade typically comes with the lamp and these shades are hard to replace.
- Spider fitting: This is the standard shade that most of us are familiar with. The lamp comes with a harp that attaches to the base of the lamp. At the top of the harp, there’s a place to attach the shade by removing a finial and then using the finial to screw the lamp into place.
The reason why I mention fittings? Do as I say, not as I have done a ZILLION times. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR LAMP. It determines the type of shade and if it’s easily replaceable or not. I cannot tell you all the times I’ve bought a lamp and a shade only to get them home and figure out that they are NOT compatible. When determining how to choose a lamp shade, remember to consider how it will fit.
Q: What are some of the biggest mistakes you can make when you choose a lamp shade?
It’s so easy to choose the wrong size shade for your lamp. Here are some mistakes to avoid when deciding how to choose a lamp shade:
- Make sure your lamp shade covers the light switch. If you have too much light switch showing, this means your lamp shade is sitting too high on the lamp. Many times you can fix this when you adust the shade.
- Make sure your lamp shade is the right size. Generally you want your lamp shade to be about 3/4 of the height of your lamp.
- Don’t choose a shade that’s too small. Your lamp shade should be WIDER than your lamp.
- Make sure you match your shade to your style of lamp. Traditional lamp? Traditional shade. Contemporary lamp? Contemporary shade. Mermaid lamp? You are on your own on this one.
Q: Do all the lamp shades in your room have to match?
The short answer?
If you have two matching lamps on either side of a couch or bed like these lamps? Yes. They typically should match for symmetry—especially if they are the same lamp. But does every single lamp in your room have to have matching shades?
In fact, it’s actually better if the lamp shades are slightly different to give each lamp it’s own personality. In addition, many times the lamps are used for different purposes, so you the shades might be different for different lighting needs.
Q: how can you tell how many lamps to use in a space?
I added this question in here even though it’s not specifically about how to choose a lamp shade—mostly because it’s one that I get asked all the time.
It’s important to light up all the areas of a space and for this reason, I really like to have at least three points of light in every space.
For example, in the family room, we have two lamps on one side of the room, smaller lights on the bookcases and overhead lighting. I also ordered a chandelier for the table on the other side of the room. This gives me actually four points of light for different reasons.
- The table lamps are great for reading and task lighting.
- The overhead lighting is great for when you need a lot of light in the space.
- The bookcase lighting provides accent and helps illuminate a dark corner of the room.
- The chandelier will be perfect to light that area of the room when we play games or have dinner.
Q: what are some great basic lamps for any space?
This pair of white gourd lamps are MY FAVORITE.
Don’t tell the other lamps, but I have FOUR pairs of these.
I seriously cannot get enough of them. They come with their own shade (which makes choosing the lamp shade even easier) and they are sold as a pair from Lamps Plus.
They are sale right now and you can see them here.
This gourd lamp is a grown-up version of the smaller lamps I just mentioned.
These are the lamps I have behind the couch in the family room.
You can see them here.
It’s on sale right now, too, and you can see it here.
I just got two of these lamps for the upstairs and they don’t disappoint.
They have a slightly more modern aesthetic that blends perfectly with my traditional decor.
I just got this pharmacy floor lamp for the front room.
My husband requested more light for reading and this lamp is seriously SO PRETTY.
It adjusts up and down and you can twist the shade to where you need the light most.
You can see it here.
I hope this answered your lamp shade questions and helps you determine how to choose a lamp shade the next time you are standing in the lamp aisle.
If you have any more questions about lamps or shades, just leave them in the comments or e-mail or message me.
I might be able to shine a little light on the problem. 🙂
disclosure: this post is sponsored by Lamps Plus.
I am proud to be one of their ambassadors. All opinions are my own.
Please see my disclosure page for more information.