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3 Designer-Approved Tips to Help You Choose the Perfect Lampshade

Soft neutral living room with funky lamp and large plant.

Tyler Karu

Lighting is an excellent way to make a statement at home, and table lamps specifically can be integral to any well-styled vignette. If you recently scored a beautiful lamp base and are looking for a winning shade to pair with it, you’ll want to keep the following pro tips in mind as you’re hunting for the perfect piece. 

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Complement the Base

Neutral bedroom with glass lamp.

Becca Interiors

You’ll want to choose a lampshade that complements a lamp’s base, so take shape and hue into account, HomeGoods Style Expert and Interior Designer Beth Diana Smith notes. “For a lamp with a sculptural aesthetic, I like to pair it with a pleated lampshade for an expensive and artistic look,” she explains. “However, a lamp that has a base in a saturated color, like emerald green, looks beautiful paired with a simple white or linen round lampshade.”

Color is key for more than just aesthetic purposes, though—it will also play a role in terms of function. “Don’t forget that the lighter the lampshade, the more light that shines through,” Smith comments. 

No matter what style of shade you’re looking for, remember that you can likely source something that’s sold individually. Notes Smith, “You can purchase affordable pleated or linen lampshades on their own at stores like HomeGoods, so don’t limit yourself to the lampshade that you purchased with the lamp.” 

And there’s nothing wrong with treating the browsing experience like a traditional trip to the mall, filled with “outfit changes” of sorts. “If you're ever able to bring your lamp with you to try shades, do it,” The Shade Shop’s Susanne Murray says. “It’s the best way to ensure you’re selecting the right size. Plus, it can be so fun to try on anything and everything.” 

After some time, you may pinpoint a tried and true style that becomes your signature. “Drum shades are my go-to because they are the most versatile,” Dressing Rooms Interiors’ Ariene Bethea says. “They work with most any lamp, from modern to traditional.” 

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Consider Size

Modern Scandi bedroom with large lampshade on small base.

Corner House Creatives

A lampshade may be beautiful on its own, but if it isn’t quite the right size for the base you have in mind, leave it behind—scale is imperative. As Smith says, “The most important thing is that the shade is proportional to the lamp. Personally, I choose a shade that is roughly 50 to 60 percent of the height of the lamp itself and wider than the lamp’s base.”

Murray says that when it comes to width, a shade that extends one and a half to two inches further than the widest part of the lamp on each side is ideal. But, that said, breaking the rules a bit can also make a major statement. “You can do an oversize shade or a smaller shade to exaggerate or minimize a lamp,” Bethea shares.  

And don’t forget about the placement of the lamp’s harp, Bethea notes. She notes that you should not see the switch, socket, or sleeve from eye level. If you do, find a shorter harp.

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Embrace the Trends

Funky bedroom with rattan lampshade.

Tyler Karu

Lampshades, especially affordable styles, allow for a bit of experimentation design-wise, so go ahead and sign off on a pattern that you may never select for a sofa or armchair.

“Without having to invest on a larger piece of furniture that may go out of style in a matter of months, choosing an accent lampshade is an easy way to take a risk without being tied down to an expensive, larger piece of furniture,” Kristiana Laugen, the home expert at Handy, says. “Especially if you’re someone who likes to change up your interior design based on the season, changing up your lampshade is a unique way to try out the latest interior design trends.” 

Craving something a bit more one of a kind? That’s a possibility, too. “You can also custom-order lampshades from local textile workrooms or through an interior designer,” Stephanie Purzycki of The Finish notes. “Or, make one by adding fabric to a shade you own with iron-on-adhesive tape."