Monday, February 8, 2010

Let there be light

Lampshades have the practical purpose of muting the direct glare of a bulb, a seemingly simple task, but one that can be accomplished with great style. Lampshades can be custom fabricated or ready-made, fabric, paper or mica. The style of a lamp can be changed from traditional to contemporary by changing to a different shade style. And finally, scaling the shade to the base is extremely important, and some general rules apply. On a standing or floor lamp, a slightly bigger shade is appropriate, one that just covers the very top of the lamp base. When choosing a shade for a table lamp, the shade should stop an inch or less above the body, so that the neck of the lamp is just visible. Lampshades have three measurements - the diameter of the top opening, the length of the slanted side between the top and bottom, and the diameter of the bottom. The measurements are usually given in that order, for example, a 9" x 12" x 17" lampshade is a fairly standard size.

Shades styles are limited by imagination, but there are several styles that are generally familiar to most.

Empire - A round shade with a straight sloped side, the most popular shade style.

Bell - A distinctive flared shape, like a bell, narrower at the top than at the bottom, a very traditional choice.

Drum - A round or oval shape with straight sides, the top and bottom diameter are generally the same, or very close in size. A classic shape, can be used in a traditional or contemporary setting.

Coolie - A round shade, much like the Empire, but with an exaggerated pitch to the sloped side.

The Shade Shop* specializes in custom crafted shades with an extraordinary selection of styles, sizes and fabrics. Also offering a vast array of chandeliers, table lamps and floor lamps, as well.

Alluminare lets you custom design a fabric - motif, scale, colors - and then applies your creation to a pendant or lamp shade form.

Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware carry a large assortment of fabric and mica shades for the retail market.

A beautiful lamp shade can set the style of a room, and truly make a lamp shine brightly!

*The Shade Shop is a Social Media client of Gibson Design Management.


  1. Thanks, Martha, for an informative article. I find choosing lampshades a daunting task, so more information and resources are always welcome!
    You helped inspire me to write about shades on my blog -

  2. So happy to have been helpful! And thank you again for the link.

  3. This is a great article on lighting! I blog a lot about how essential a component lighting is of any design. Not only is it essential, but the style of lighting is very important as well.

    As a pro home stager I encounter a lot of different kinds of lighting - not all of them good. Not everyone understands that lighting is both essential - and stylish - in a space.

    For some great examples of design (with lights lol) visit