Picking the ideal lampshade for a lamp—be it table or floor—is about style, scale, and the support of the base. It must also fit the occasion and place, complement the area without being overwhelming, and draw enough attention so it can be noticed. It’s a lot to take in, but it’s more straightforward than it appears, and we’ll talk about everything you need to know so you can choose the best one that will fit your needs.
Flatter the base
The first step in picking your lampshade is checking the lamp’s general shape. For example, if the lamp’s base is round, a similarly round-shaped shade tends to work best. The same goes for angular silhouettes. However, there will always be exceptions to all decorating rules—candlestick lamps can go with most shapes, thanks to their curves and angles. And if the lamp has a square shape but the table supporting it is round, you can use round shades.
Patterned, smooth, and pleated
Lampshades are as much a decorative and functional item as they are fashion statements. A smoother shade usually complements a contemporary, cool, and refined design. On the other hand, pleated lampshades are more traditional and cosier, pairing better with antiques than modern furniture and fixtures. Lastly, patterns and many more custom details can fit either category and are show-stopping pieces to be used as focal points.
Opaque or translucent
Whether you go for opaque or translucent will depend on how you want the lamp to function. The former generally uses paper, sheer fabric, and other similar materials to add some ambient lighting to the space. In addition, it’s an excellent choice for reading. Conversely, opaque lampshades are made of silk, laminated card, or thick parchment that directs the light in up-and-down, defined beams, making them ideal for highlighting specific objects or setting the desired mood.
However, remember that the bulb you use will play a role in achieving the intended effect, whether you choose an opaque lampshade or a translucent one. So, consider the bulb carefully before you commit to any purchases.
Match the size
Similar to hats, lampshades can look silly if they’re too small or big on the head that wears them. However, the effect can be curiously satisfying and harmonious if you get its proportions right. A few things to remember when matching the size of your lampshade are the following:
- The lampshade’s height should be around three-quarters of the base.
- The lampshade’s base width must be nearly equal to your lamp’s height.
- Ideally, the lampshade should be an inch wider than the lamp’s base to look balanced.
Picking an appropriate lampshade can be confusing. You can be forgiven for feeling more than a little overwhelmed with so many different styles and designs. However, by considering the base and size of your lamp and carefully considering what you’re looking to get out of the item, you’ll be able to find the right lampshade for you.