One of the most common questions I am asked is “what size lampshade should I use on my table lamp” Of course choosing the correct size is important but when you have just got your hands on a lovely new table lamp, or if your beloved Antique lamp needs a new shade there are a number of other factors to take into consideration when choosing replacement table lamp shades.
This is fairly straightforward. If your lamp base is round then a round shade will look balanced and will give the lamp some flow in overall shape, you can also use a round formed shade that is faceted I.e octagonal. A square lamp base will generally look better with a square shade and a long rectangular base will require a rectangular shade to suit. Irregular, organic or custom-made lamps can generally take a range of shapes and still look good.
The two dimensions to consider are Width (Diameter if the shade is round) and Height. A General rule of thumb with replacement lamp shades is as follows.
Lampshade Height = 75 % of lamp base height (Excluding the electrical fitting/bulb holder)
* Note on Height * – If your lamp is tall and is a stick or column lamp then the 75% rule does not apply – Tall stick or Column lamps look far better with a shade that is lower in height like a low profile coolie shape.
Lampshade Width = The lamp shade width/diameter should always be larger than the widest part of your lamp base.
Of course personal taste plays a big part in sizing a lampshade, one persons perfect will be another persons too large, another factor to consider is the lamps final location – Will the shade dominate the location too much, will it physically fit without causing an obstruction? Generally these points are already answered by your lamp base choice.
I have seen all types of lampshade size combinations on lamps over the years, I have seen some that should not work but do and others that just look wrong.
Balance is Key The lamp base and shade should compliment each other and should “flow”
TIP – Lampshades generally come in a range of set sizes, if you have a choice of two sizes in mind and cannot decide use a tape measure and have a friend hold the measure near your lamp base while you assess the size from the other side of a room. Then try to envisage the lamp shade outline and how it will suit your base.
There is a huge variety of lamp shade finishes and patterns available. If your lamp base is ornate and highly detailed then a plain finished lampshade is an excellent choice, if you fit an ornate lamp shade to an ornate base you can find that the two elements of your lighting will fight for your attention and will not balance. If your base is plain and more neutral in finish then a patterned ornate shade will not only be suitable but will bring the base to life.
TIP – For Antique lamps, ornate lamps or lamps with delicate details I would recommend a plain shade with a neutral lining, the lining will soften the light from the lamp and will provide a more even lighting effect to your lamp base whilst still lighting the area in which it is being used.
4. Bulb Brightness Lumens/Watts
Your new Lampshade should have a Max Lumens/Wattage label.
Always stick to this. If you use older Incandescent bulbs, this is very important as using a bulb that is too high in wattage can lead to damage and discoloration of your shade.
This wattage will often be less that the max wattage of your lamp base BUT the lampshade rules when choosing your bulb.
With modern low energy and low heat bulbs this issue has largely disappeared but still always stick to the lamp shade manufacturers recommended maximum.
TIP – When you have your new shade and lamp base combination in place experiment with different bulbs and see what suits your new combination and the area in which it is placed.
Personal taste again. If you love a lamp base and shade combination then it is correct. If you go for the ultimate juxtaposition and it looks good to you then love it and enjoy it.
Please contact me if you need any help.