How to Choose a Lamp Shade

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Lamps are one of the most versatile accessories in any home. Not only are they portable, which makes it easy to change their location, but they are also easy to modify to conform with the decor. One of the easiest ways to alter the look of a lamp is by changing the lamp shade. But with all of the shapes and styles available, it can be intimidating to select the correct one.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Pick the right size shade. The lamp shade should be about 75 percent the size of the lamp base. Sticking to this ratio ensures that the shade does not look too large for the lamp. The bottom of the shade should be no larger than the measurement from the bottom of the lamp base up to the light socket.

  • Pick a shape that mirrors the lamp base. This means that if the lamp base is square, you should select a square shade. If the lamp base is round, oval or tubular, then a round shade will look best.

  • Determine how the lamp will be used. If the lamp is used for reading, select a light-colored shade with a broad bottom to allow plenty of light through. If, however, the lamp is used mainly for mood lighting, choose a darker shade with a smaller bottom to restrict the amount of light.

  • Do not pair a highly ornate shade with a highly ornate base, as they will overpower each other. If the lamp base is hand painted or very colorful, then a subdued, single-color shade looks best. If the base is a single color then you can choose a more decorative shade that contains fringe, cording or other decorative elements.

  • Determine how long the lamp will be turned on. The longer a lamp is turned on, the more heat the bulb produces. For this reason, lamps that receive frequent, long use should have wider tops to allow for proper distribution of heat. Drum- and cylinder-shaped shades provide the best ventilation of heat.

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