I love lamps… but I love lampshades even more! Lampshades are like hats. A lampshade must be the right size and shape to be a fabulous accent! A great lampshade can totally change the entire look of your lamp! I say LET YOUR EYES BE YOUR GUIDE when trying to find the perfect lampshade. You can probably tell whether a lampshade is right for the base and you can certainly tell when a lampshade isn’t working! Today let’s talk about lampshades, guidelines, and examples!

Lamps and lampshades are one of those decor things that if you get right are magical but if you get wrong are a decorating curse! There are really quite a few things to know about choosing a lampshade! And many of us really don’t put a whole lot of thought into finding the perfect one for our lamps and the rooms we put them in!

Here are some easy to follow guidelines when it comes to finding that one perfect lampshade!


agnes lamp

A lampshade may look stunning on its own but it must compliment the lamp you put it on! 

Here are some rule-of-thumb guidelines for choosing the best size shade for a lamp. These are guidelines so there are always exceptions. Just keep them in mind!

  • the height of a lampshade should be about 3/4 the height of the lamp base
  • the diameter of the bottom of a shade should be about the same as the widest part of the lamp. A little narrower is okay but not wider than the base it will look top heavy
  • most lampshades come in standard sizes. For most lamps, go a size bigger if you are debating between two shade sizes
  • the lampshade should cover the socket of a lamp. If the throat shows that is acceptable


ginnifer table lamp

Don’t you love how the lamp above is styled! A great lesson in elevating a lamp and decorating around it! Now let’s talk lampshade shapes.

There are sooooo many different lampshade shapes! And they can get quite confusing when trying to match them up with a lamp. Relax. Remember to let your eyes be your best guide and have fun with these interesting shapes!


  • The most popular lampshade right now. It get’s its name from its drum-like shape. Best for table, pendant and floor lamps.
  • there are variations of the drum lampshade but they all have the distinctive drum look.
  • update a look with a drum shade



drum lampshade


  • the top and bottom of the shade is oval
  • often is a bell shape
  • works with lamps that have a distinct front and back side
  • sophisticated and traditional
  • great shape for tall candlestick type lamps


oval/bell shade


  • give off a modern vibe
  • dramatic, very chic
  • work with square or rectangle lamps
  • can be put closer to the wall
  • I’m crushing on square lampshades lately

square shade


  • round frustrum shape ( cone with the point cut off)
  • smaller top, larger bottom
  • very classic shape
  • coolie lampshades are empire shape

empire shade

There are many more shapes and derivations of the shapes above. But these are the most popular.


This is such a creative and personal choice. I personally like fabric shade and of the fabric shades I gravitate towards burlap and linen. But there are also paper, glass, metal and other materials for lampshades!

The lining of a lampshade should also be considered. Does it have a colored liner such as gilding? Or is the lampshade translucent like abalone or burlap? 

Do you want a patterned lampshade or a shade that gives your room a pop of color? Would a soft neutral color work best with your decor?

These are all things to consider when buying the perfect lampshade.


ina table lamp

  • Lampshades are a place I make an investment. Now I’m not talking hundreds of dollars because that’s not in my budget. But I might spend $50.00 – $80.00  for a really fabulous shade. I’d rather by a less expensive lamp and put a fabulous lampshade on it. Cheap lampshades look cheap! And a great lampshade can make an inexpensive lamp look much more expensive!
  • LET YOUR EYE BE YOUR GUIDE! That’s my advice! I think we know when something works and when it does not!
  • Don’t always settle for the shade that comes with a lamp. Trade it out for a lampshade that looks fabulous with the lamp base. 
  • Going trendy with a shade can update the entire lamp. I opt most often for drum lamps because of their very on trend look. It’s an easy way to update a room! And I’m also loving square shades. I’ll be looking for them for my bedroom lamps!
  • Go ahead, break the rules if you love a lampshade and it does not fit into the guidelines! As long as you are totally happy with it!

There is so so much more to know about lampshades like fittings and harps and areas of lighting and more! But that’s for another day!

Here are some of my favorite lampshades at reasonable prices!

I hope this makes you think a little bit about your lampshades in your home and helps you when you are in the process of finding new ones!

You might also like…


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  1. I loved all the information. I love. Lamps. To redo I have taken old brass lamps and painted them with chalk paint and have even painted the shades. Thanks for all your information.

  2. I love lamps and all kinds of light fixtures. Picking a shade has always been a daunting task. Your post was full of such wonderful information to make it less intimidating. Thank you!

  3. Wonderful! Thank you for the helpful information and pictures. I do have one question. I read and re-read the second ” rule-of-thumb guidelines” about the diameter of the bottom of a shade being be about the same as the widest part of the lamp. Most likely I am just not awake yet, haven’t had enough coffee, and I’m reading that wrong, but could you elaborate? None of my lamps follow that rule.

    1. This is a good post but if still confused, go on “how to decorate.com” and the proportions are clearly indicated.

    2. The base of the shade should be two times the widest part of the base. I know, I struggled with the wording as well.

  4. Thank you for this lampshade lesson! I am not very skilled in this area so your suggestions are very much appreciated! I was delighted to find that we do share in the kind of lampshades we like–neutral fabric or burlap! Thank you!

  5. You’ve made some great points. I have to love the lampshade on any lamps I have in my home … and I love lamps.

  6. Speaking of lamps, I miss your brass lamps. I saw one recently at a thrift store for at a steal but John balked at brass and I walked away. I returned the next day and it had sold. I’m not a big brass fan but a little in farmhouse decor can be amazing.
    Your advice is spot on. I loved it and have jotted down some of it to take shopping with me when I go loot for lamps and shades.

  7. Thanks for all the great info and tips in this post, Yvonne! Any ideas or older post on how to update a ginger jar lamp? Any help would be appreciated ?

    1. I have two ginger jar lamps and use the tapered shape shade … in other words, wider at the bottom than the top.

  8. I love antique laps and have a couple in our living room. Both were wedding gifts, one to my grandparents and one to my parents, so they are old. They both are very special to me. Thanks for sharing the lampshade info today.

  9. These are great tips I love lamps. Have little lamps setting in every room with my large lamps too.

  10. I usually change the lampshade that comes with a lamp and I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who does. What a difference the correct shade can make in the look!

  11. Loving all the info on shades, I have some beautiful bases but on loving the shades, will be rethinking the idea of new ones.

  12. This post should be very helpful to the majority of your readers. Lamps are an important addition to any room, and I LOVE unusual lamps! Having the wrong shade on a lamp can definitely ruin its appeal and destroy an otherwise pretty area. Crooked shades are a pet peeve of mine…OMGosh! I HAVE to straighten them in public places…OCD at work!

  13. Thanks for all the tips.I am currently looking for
    a new shade for a floor lamp and have not found
    the right one.

  14. Great information. I just purchased two lamps for two rooms. My problem is I love you decorating style so I not only want the lamp you have I want all the ot other items on the tables! Lol

  15. Thank you for the info. I love lamps and prefer using lamplight instead of harsh overhead lighting.

  16. Thanks for all the helpful information, which comes at just the right time.

    I’m currently studying lamps and lighting for the new house we’re building. I might add one thing that I’ve learned about pendants — don’t get the kind that have a bottom in them. In my research I came across a lot of pendants that had trapped, dead bugs lying on the bottom, which were then visible from where I was sitting. Lesson learned.

    Again, thanks for your help

  17. I found a lampshade I liked but in the wrong color. So I painted it and put a decorative trim at the bottom. It is in my guest room and looks adorable.

  18. Thank you for the great advice on picking out a lampshade. I love lamps and have also had a hard time with picking shades (usually too big) so now I have some guidelines to following.

  19. There have been times a lamp might be in the need of an update but in fact I really love the lamp so I choose to update the shade instead and lo and behold that was the problem.
    By the way, how is the ankle doing?

  20. Thanks for all the info! I am confused about the rules as the only lamp in all of your pictures that has a shade with the bottom diameter the same as the widest part of your base is your darling chicken lamp. What about tall thin lamps and floor lamps? Is there a rule for different types of bases? Thanks a bunch – great read.

  21. I love lamps too! ? I’m searching for the perfect lamp for my bedroom!! Thanks for the tips Yvonne!! Love it!! Have a great Monday!!??

  22. Aww,lamps and clocks…I have a strange love affair with both. My poor husband is always a little confused about me…..

  23. I find myself leaning toward silk shades with gorgeous linings over and over. Loved that this was your post for the day because I’m getting ready to go pick up a new small blue and white lamp that I ordered at my favorite lamp store. The lamp will be perfect in my newly remodeled kitchen. I used to design and make lamps some years ago. I loved doing it, but now I pretty much know what I’m willing to pay for someone else to do the work. Thanks for the article. Cherry Kay

  24. Thankyou for your very informative take on lamp shades. I have such trouble with them and now know what to look for. In fact I’m ordering one you posted! Perfect!

  25. Thanks for very good lamp and lampshade information. I love, love, love, your hen lamp and lampshade.

  26. Thank you for everything exploring the different shapes etc. I was always confused about picking the correct one, so I just left the old shade on, that looked bad.

  27. Very helpful post, Yvonne. I love all your lampshade ideas, but I love love love your hen lamp !!!!!! Hugs, Dorinda

  28. Thank you so much for so much helpful information as it pertains to lamps and lampshades. I love the ones you posted. You are good!!!

  29. Thank you! I love lamp light and I’m slowly adding it throughout our home and not using our overhead lighting.

  30. I found the lampshade episode incredibly helpful. It’s very helpful as I’m looking for shades for my current lamps. But realizing that my lamps need to be replaced too:-) I moved into a 2600 square foot home last June 5 bedrooms 3.5 bathrooms I have four kids and trying to find time to decorate is interesting. I love going out on a run and listening to this podcast. This is my favorite podcast and my first post:-)

  31. I am so glad that I found your blog. I really need to replace several of my lampshades but didn’t now how to start. But thanks to your article I can now move on with confidence. I have the knowledge that I need to make the right choices. Thank you.

  32. Thanks Yvonne!! I stress on making the ‘perfect’ decision on lamps and I never know how to judge the size of the shade! Now I can try to go out and buy my next lamp and shade with a bit more confidence this time around!! I’m crushing on the drum or square shades too!!

  33. Gee, I just re-read this post and now I’m wanting to look again for shades. I have several lamps with shades that “will do” for now, but I’m not really happy with. Maybe I have too many lamps! Thanks for this great post!

  34. OK, I have always had a problem with lampshades. I could rarely ever find anything that I really loved. BUT, do you know that it is super easy to just pick a shape that you want in plain white, and customize it into a shade that you absolutely love? Spray adhesive. Find a fabulous fabric that compliments your décor, cut it to size, and stick it on. For shades with odd shapes and panels, just cut individual panels and cover the ribs with braid or other trim using hot glue. Voila! Shades that are one of a kind and can’t be found in any store. And it’s an easy, fun project. Kind of like your burlap bookcovers, an unusual and attractive accent that isn’t common.

    1. Thanks for the tips Patsy. Really great ideas! I’d add one thing. If you paint a lampshade filtered light will not come through it. So you might want to save painting a lampshade for areas in your home that you don’t need a big pool of diffused light.

  35. Good info! Another tip, if you love a shade that is too short, you can usually replace the harp with a shorter one.