lampshadesChoosing a lamp shade might seem like a relatively simple task, but in truth, there are several things to consider. The wrong shade can not only turn your new designer table lamp into an eyesore; it can also throw off a room’s entire lighting scheme. Below are some things to consider that will help you select just the right shade to compliment your lamp and enhance the overall lighting in your space.

Shape – This is probably the easiest rule to remember when shopping for a lamp shade: match the shape of the shade to the shape of the lamp base. A rounded base, for instance, should get a round shade, while a square or rectangular base should get a square shade. Bases with a combination of curves and angles can happily go either way.

Proportion – More important to shape is the size and proportion of the shade you choose. A lamp shade should measure about one- to two-thirds the height of the base, and two times the width. It should be tall enough to cover all of the lighting elements and hardware without covering up any of the base, and the widest part of the lamp shade should be about a half-inch wider in diameter than the widest part of the base.

Color and Texture – There is no hard and fast rule about choosing the color or texture of a lamp shade. These should both compliment the base of the lamp as well as the room’s general décor. Keep in mind your tolerance for having to dust when considering pleated shades, which will take a little more effort to clean than a smooth shade.

Translucent vs. Opaque – When taking into account your overall lighting scheme, this is the most important thing to consider, as it will have the greatest effect on your lamp’s light output. Translucent shades create a soft, ambient lighting effect, whereas opaque shades cast a stark, dramatic dual uplight and downlight effect, essentially cutting the light in two. The former can be used to draw people into conversation areas and provide comfortable light for reading, while the latter makes excellent accent lighting for highlighting artwork hung above the lamp or decorative objects surrounding the lamp base.

Bookmark these tips and use them as a guide the next time you find yourself shopping for a new lamp shade to help you find the perfect match.

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