How to Proportion a Shade to a Lamp


Which lamp shade you choose will depend on the style of the lamp and the decor of the room. Consider the lamp's placement in a room and how much light it will give off. Will the lampshade only direct light down or will it direct light upward equally? Unless you're making a design statement, don't use a tiny shade on a huge lamp or a huge shade on a tiny lamp. However, none of these measurements are hard and fast. These are general guidelines for how to proportion a shade to a lamp.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Measure the lamp from the base to the top of the light bulb socket or the top of the harp if your lamp has one.

  • Set the shade next to the lamp base. It should be the same height as the lamp base or 2 inches shorter, depending on your aesthetic.

  • Measure the circumference of the bottom of the lamp shade. It should be at least two times the circumference of the lamp, but not more than two and a half.

  • Make sure that the diameter of the shade at its widest is not larger than the height of the lamp, not including the socket or harp.

  • Check to see how much of the neck of the lamp beneath the socket is showing once you've place the shade on the lamp. About a 1/2 inch of neck should be visible. Include any length that's added by fringe or other decoration.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure the shade covers the bottom of the socket. Use a plain, well proportioned shade on an ornate lamp. Showy lamp shades work well with plain lamp bases.

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  • Photo Credit Meg Jernigan
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