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Lamp Shades: The Ultimate Buyer's Guide

What is a Lamp Shade?

Lampshades have the following features:

  • A lampshade barrier or covering which blocks, directs, and filters the light, often made of fabric, paper or other materials
  • An opening at the top and bottom to allow light and heat to escape
  • A frame to maintain the shape of the lamp shade
  • A fitter such as a spider fitter to connect the lampshade to the lamp
  • A shape designed to be both decorative and to direct the light in a particular shape or focus


Lampshades attach to a lamp with a fitter

A lamp shade's frame will feature fitter parts which extend inward to connect with the lamp base. A lamp most often features a harp fitter which rises up from below the lamp socket and provides a platform on which the lampshade can sit, secured by a finial.


anatomy of a lamp shade and lampshade parts

Lamp harps and spider fitters

Lamp shades are made with a metal wire frame which holds their shape and provides lightweight support. Usually some part of the frame features arms which extend from the top rim of the lampshade, in towards the center.

lampshade harp fitter

Here they usually join together at a ring or disc, which has a hole in the center. This is referred to as a "spider" fitter. Sometimes these fitters will feature notches to rest on top of the rim of a glass reflector bowl.

The lampshade is then mounted on top of a threaded post, which forms the top part of a harp fitter attached to the lamp base, and is then secured in place by a screw-on decorative lamp finial.

The lamp harp is a piece of shaped wire, similar to the lampshade frame, which rises up from below the lamp socket, up around the light bulb and joining at the top. A threaded post is joined to the top of the harp on which a lampshade can be positioned.

An alternative approach to attach a lamp shade to a lamp is with an uno fitter, which is built into a lamp shade's frame for uno lampshades. Wires from the top of the lampshade extend much further downwards, below the bulb socket, where they attach with a threaded ring. This can sometimes also allow a shade to be mounted upside down, such as for a lamp which hangs over and downward.


How to measure a lamp shade

Measuring a lampshade will help you to find the right size shade for your lamp. Follow these tips for correct measuring.

how to measure a lamp shade

Measure a lamp shade using a straight ruler or taught tape measure, measuring only in inches. You will need three measurements:

  1. The width across the top, which should be measured from the outside edge of the top rim, to the outside edge of the top rim on the opposite side. Make sure the ruler passes through the "center" of the shade to ensure you are reading the maximum distance between the two sides.
  2. The width across the bottom, which should be measured from the outside edge of the bottom rim, to the outside edge of the bottom rim on the opposite side. Ensure you measure "through" the center of the shade so that you are reading the maximum distance from edge to edge.
  3. The height, measured on a slant, should be measured in a straight line regardless of whether the shade has straight, vertical, sloped or curved edges in profile. Measure from the outside edge of the top of the shade, to the outside edge of the bottom of the shade. It's okay for this to be diagonal when the top of the shade is smaller than the bottom.

Note: Do not measure the "vertical" height. Always measure the slant from the outside edge of the top rim to the outside of the bottom rim, even if the sides of the lampshade are actually vertical.

Measuring for Oval and Rectangular lampshades

For oval or rectangular shades, please note there will be two additional measurements, due to the fact that the shade is wider than it is front-to-back.

  1. The width from left to right, as measured for the top and bottom as described above.
  2. The depth from the front of the shade to the back of the shade, which should be measured for both the top and the bottom of the shade, passing through the center of the shade in a straight line. Measure from the outside of the rim as before to the rim on the opposite side.


How to measure a lamp shade to fit a lamp base

When you don't actually have an existing shade to measure, and only have the base of the lamp, you'll need to estimate what size your replacement lamp shade should be.

In general, the taller the lamp is, the larger the shade will be needed, to maintain a sense of proportion. A large lamp shade on a small table lamp won't look right. And a small lampshade on a large table lamp won't look right.

Be sure you have 2-3 inch separation from bulb to shade, especially for higher wattage bulbs. Be sure the top opening is wide enough to vent the heat. Compact Fluorescent bulbs are great for most lamps because they burn cooler, but you may need larger harp since CFL's are taller than standard light bulbs.


Measuring lamp shades for table lamps

measuring lamp shades for table lamps

Most table lamps take a shade with a bottom diameter of 16" or less, unless the table lamp is especially tall. "Mini" table lamps will need a much smaller shade.

Measure the lamp's height from the bottom of the base to just below the bulb socket. Try to find a lampshade with a bottom width approximately equal to this measurement.

A second factor to consider is the height, which will be somewhat affected by the shape. Consider first the shape which would be best suited to the style of lamp, because for example the height of a drum lampshade will be different to the height of an empire lamp shade.

You'll then need to consider the height of the shade. There is usually a small "drop" from the top of the shade down to where it rests on the lamp base's fitter. This drop may be more significant for a tall cylinder or drum shade.

A good height for lamp shades for table lamps is about 3/4 of the width of the shade, or 3/4 the height of the base up to the socket.

You'll want to make sure that when the lampshade is positioned on the lamp, it will be tall enough to cover the top of the lamp fitter, and also hide the hardware, socket and part of the neck of the lamp base. When you view the lamp from the side you shouldn't see the hardware parts.


Measuring lamp shades for floor lamps

floor lamp shades

Floor lamps take a shade with a bottom diameter of 16" or 18" or larger. Similar rules apply as for table lamp shades, where the shade needs to be tall enough to cover the hardware so that you don't see the lamp socket or fitter from the side.

Also consider that because a floor lamp is much taller, it will tend to look better with a lampshade that has less of a slope to the sides, either a drum shade or something closer to a lamp shade with vertical sides. The shade also will generally be larger than that of a table lamp to keep in proportion to the base.

Adjusting the vertical position of lamp shades

If shade looks good, but vertical positioning is the only problem, the shade can be raised or lowered by using a different size harp fitter, or a shade riser. A taller harp will allow the shade to be mounted higher up, or indeed lower down, so that you can center it and cover the hardware. A shade riser is a small adapter which extends the threaded pole on top of the harp fitter. 

Sizing lampshades for a chandelier

Lampshades for a chandelier are typically much smaller than regular shades, usually in the range of 4 to 7 inches across the bottom. You'll need to make sure there is some room around the light bulb to allow for heat to flow out of the shade without presenting a safety hazard.

Mini chandelier shades are specifically designed for use with a chandelier. Most are designed to clip directly onto the outside of a light bulb, since the mini chandelier lampshades are relatively lightweight.

How to Match Lamp Shade Shape to the Lamp Base

The shape of the base of your lamp has a great deal to do with the appropriate shape for its lampshade. A well-chosen shade should complement the base's profile, drawing upon shapes and angles in order for the shade to be a `continuation` of the design theme. Different shaped lamp bases call for different shade shapes that are ideally suited to them. Consider these lamp shades for table lamps:


 A bell shade on a curved base
A base featuring a curved profile is complemented by a curved bell shade. You can see here the pattern of a curve ending in a platform is repeated from the base to the shade, albeit inverted. Bell shades match well to a curved base profile.
 Rounded drums in base and shade
A barrel, drum lamp shade or cone-style lamp base is reflected well by a rounded drum/cylinder shade. Rounded/cylindrical bases tend to work better with rounded shades than square shades.
 Repeated shapes in base and shade
Sometimes shapes are directly repeated in the base as in the shade. Here, trapezium shapes occur multiple times and the shade is an extension of the base's design theme. Since the base's view from above/below is a square, the square shade works well.
 Repeated rectangles in base and shade
Bases with a square or rectangular profile do well complemented with a rectangular shade. Since these angular shapes tend to be more modern, a square/rectangular shade is a good match.
 Repeated pyramids in base and shade
Sometimes the shape of the shade may reflect the shape of only a portion of the base. Here, trapezium/pyramid shapes are repeated in the shade and the foot of the base, as well as in the patterning of the shade itself.
 Mirrored proportions
Proportions of shade and base should be reasonably similar. Here an unusually tall/thin lamp base is well complemented by an unusually flat/thin drum lamp shade, continuing the theme of elegance. Also very narrow lamp bases look good with a drum or rectangle shade.
 Contrasting shapes in base and shade
While both lamp base and shade here are circular, since the base features a bold shape, the shade chosen is also a boldly contrasting shape. Use a partly contradictory or balancing shape of shade for added drama. Notice the shade is still round and the base is still round when viewed from above or below.
 Balanced curves in shade and base
While this lamp base bends outward, the shade bends inward. Both elements thus feature a curved surface, but they work together to form a balance. This also produces a flowing visual line from the bottom of the lamp to the top. Notice also the need for a square-style shade due to the base's square sides.


Deciding which lamp shade shape would match your base

table lamp shade
When you are missing the old shade from your lamp, and with only the base to work with, here are some guidelines for choosing a new replacement shade. If your lamp already has a shade which you are replacing, you could look for a similar shape and style, or consider these rules for choosing something fresh.

Step 1:
 Look for the patterns in your lamp base when viewed from the side. Is it curvy? Is it very angular? Cone-like? Highly rounded? Rectangular? This gives you a clue about what the shape of the shade might be, unless you plan to go with a strongly contrasting profile

Step 2: Consider the shape of your base when viewed from above or below. If it is square-looking, you are better off with a shade which also looks square when viewed from above or below. Remember that how the base and shade look from the side can be quite different to how it looks from above/below.

Step 3: Consider the proportions of the base. Is it very narrow, or quite wide? Now take that sense of proportion and rotate it 90 degrees to the left or right. If your lamp base is quite tall and narrow, you would do well with a 'flat' shade. If your lamp base is quite wide, you would do well with a taller/thicker shade.

Step 4: A shade should make the base look better without competing with it for attention. Decide if the lamp base will be the "star-of-the- show", or "best-supporting actor". If your base is really unique, choose a simple shade to draw attention to the special features of the lamp. If the base is simpler, the shade could stand out more both in color and shape.

A properly fitted lampshade will match or compliment the lamp base in Size, Proportions, Shape, Style, and Color. Larger lamp bases will also require larger shades. The goal is to match to style, "mood" and design of the base, otherwise, your lamp might look like it `doesn't go together`.

Floor Lamp Tip: Floor lamps are much taller than table lamps, typically a drum shade or `floor shade` with a slight slant usually looks best. Or if the base is somewhat curved then a bell shade may be suitable. Generally empire or coolie shades are less popular for floor lamps because they may tend not to be tall enough to balance the size of the base. Floor shades are also generally larger in order to keep within the proportions of the taller base.

Matching with your furniture

Lamp shade matches furniture

As an extension of your lamp, consider the furniture it sits on or is near to. What shapes do you see there? What are the proportions like, as a whole and for individual parts?

  • Rectangular furniture: is likely to be best complemented by a more angular or rectangular shade
  • Sculptured rounded furniture: is likely to match best with a more rounded shade especially if the furniture has rounded corners
  • Proportions: Is the furniture wide and flat or tall and narrow? Consider how your lamp may complement or balance the shape
  • Decor: Consider the rest of your room's theme. Think about the textures and colors and shapes that your lamp could tie into. Is there a strong color that you'd like to match or contrast with?


Choosing the Right Lampshade Fitter 

A "fitter" is simply the way the shade connects to your lamp. Most lamps have "spider" fitters. Other common fitters include UNO or clip-on fitters. Check your existing lamp against the diagram and descriptions below to determine what type of fitter you need:


Harp/Spider Fitters

If your lamp has a harp you will need a shade with a spider fitter.

The spider fitter is part of the lampshade itself. It sits on top of the harp and is secured by a finial.

If your new shade is not EXACTLY the same size as your old shade, a new harp may be all you need for a perfect fit.

Harps typically vary from 7” to 12” and they affect the vertical position of your lampshade.

If you do not have a harp but wish to use a shade with a spider fitter you must also purchase a harp. Harps are made in different sizes, which affects the vertical position of the lampshade. The most common finial thread size for harps is 1/4"-27.

UNO Fitters

If your lamp requires an UNO fitter you must purchase a lamp shade that has an UNO fitter. The UNO fitter is built-in to the lampshade. There are two types of UNO fitters:

bowl notched spider fitter

Slip-UNO fitters 

Sit on the socket and are held in place by the bulb.

Threaded-UNO fitters

Typically for down-bridge lamps and feature a screw thread for installation above the downward-facing bulb.

Clip-on Fitters

Clip-on lamp shades are typically for chandeliers. The clip fitter is built into the lamp shade and clips over a standard medium or candelabra bulb.

Reflector Bowl Spider Fitters

If your lamp has a reflector bowl inside the shade, a reflector spider fitter may be needed to secure its position. These fitters feature grooves in the spider arms for the secure positioning of reflector bowl. Reflector bowls are not sold as part of the lamp shade - they are usually shipped with the lamp base.


Choosing the Right Drop

Shades with a spider-type or UNO-type fitter usually have some distance between the top edge of the shade down to the center of the fitter. This makes the fitting less visible when viewing the lamp from the side but does raise the position of the shade by the drop distance.

Shades with spider-type fitters typically feature a 1/2 to 1-inch drop.

Shades with a Slip-UNO fitter have several inches of the drop which varies per-shade since the fitter has to drop down to below the bulb.

Threaded-UNO fitter shades typically feature a drop of 1 to 2 inches so as to conceal electrical attachments above the shade.

A tall cylindrical lampshade will likely have a deeper drop than a regular shade, to accommodate the extended proportions and reach down to the lamp harp.


Considering Bulb Heat

Light bulbs produce heat, no matter their wattage. If your new shade is too close to the bulb, it could discolor the shade or worse: start a fire! Here's how to avoid these problems and choose the right shade

If using a 40 or 60 Watt incandescent bulb, leave at least 1-2 inches between the bulb and the shade

If using a 75 or 100 Watt incandescent bulb, leave at least 2-3 inches between the bulb and the shade

If using a 150 Watt incandescent bulb or higher, leave at least 3-4 inches between the bulb and the shade

If you are using a compact fluorescent bulb, it will run cooler and requires less space - leave at least 1-2 inches around the bulb.

Never exceed the maximum wattage. This could not only cause the shade to catch fire but could also cause an electrical fire.

If you are unsure about a replacement shade, choose a shade close in size and shape to your original shade

Be sure the top of the shade is open to vent the heat. Never cover the top of your shade with a cloth or other material, especially with hotter bulbs, as it may cause the shade to overheat and the shade or cover may ignite. Remove the plastic from your new shade once you know you will keep it, as plastic can be prone to overheating as well.


The benefits of a replacement lamp shade

Lampshades provide a number of benefits for your room and for the people in your room.

  • Shields your eyes from the harsh glare of a light bulb
  • Directs and focuses light in a way that you find most useful - e.g. as ambient light, or for reading purposes
  • Provides a decorative element to complement your interior design and room theme
  • Funnels heat away from the bulb
  • Adds a color accent to your room
  • Works together with a lamp base or light fixture to position light where you need it
  • Filters and diffuses or reflects light to change the mood of a room between soft and strong


The Practical Uses of Different Lampshades

Different types of lampshades serve a different purpose. Besides shielding your eyes from the glare of a light bulb, their shape is not purely for decorative reasons. The correct shade greatly affects the kind of light the lamp gives off, as well as where that light is directed. Different types of lamp shades correlate to different functions for practical purposes, be it sitting nearby, at a distance, or as an ambient light source. If you are not as concerned about how the lamp assists you in your daily activities, you may prefer to make a choice purely for decorative reasons.

An empire shade over a bedside dresser
Empire lamp shades for table lamp provide a spread of light for a bedside desk as well as for reading in bed.
A bell shade floor lamp over a comfortable chair
A bell shade atop a floor lamp provides a maximum area of illumination for sitting beneath to read.
A drum pendant shade
A drum lamp shade on this pendant light, radiating strong and focussed light downward over a dining table as well as illuminating the room with ambient light via the ceiling.
Using both sides of a table lamp
Bell lamp shades for table lamps provide a local spread of light for nearby seating.
Floor lamps beside a couch
A pair of floor lamps with flat drum lamp shades prove strong ambient and local light for a softer mood.
Decorative shade on a side table
The opaque drum lamp shade on this lamp provides a decorative, less functional ambient light over a narrow side-table.

How Home Lamp Shades Affect the Light

Light emits from different shaped shades in different ways, which affects how far the light is useful and for what purposes. Light emitting from the top of the shade produces a reflected ambient light bouncing off the ceiling, while light emitting below produces a more focused light surrounding furniture. Additional light shines through the sides of the shade itself, whereby a white or light-colored shade allows the most light to pass through. Darker-colored shades and hardback shades tend to block more of the light.

The shape of light emitting from a lampshade

Drum lamp shades provide an medium spread of light from both ends An empire shade provides most light from the bottom, the least from the top A bell shade provides a balance between light from the top and a wide spread of light from the bottom

Light from Drum or Cylinder Lamp Shades

Example of a drum shade
  • Focus most of the light directly out through the top and bottom
  • May or may not emit light through the sides of the shade, depending on if it is hard-back/lined or not
  • Taller cylinder shades create an even narrower funnel of light
  • Shallow drum shades can produce quite a wide spread of light depending on the angle between the bulb and the edges of the shade
  • Emit roughly the same amount of light through the top and bottom, providing focused and ambient light
  • Ideal over a table or on a tall floor lamp, or as a less functional table lamp

Light from Empire or Coolie Lamp Shades

Example of an empire shade
  • Flared bottom emits the most light, less from the top
  • Maximizes the spread of light output through the bottom to the surrounding area
  • Still covers the bulb enough to shield your eyes, but less suitable on a tall floor lamp since you may see the bulb when seated
  • Since the light is more spread out, it is more diffused, meaning the intensity of light in any given point on furniture etc may be less
  • While this shape produces more diffused light below, its amount is increased by having a narrower opening at the top

Light from Bell Lamp Shades

Example of a bell shade
  • Attempts to keep more ambient light emitting from the top of the shade while also emphasizing light from the bottom
  • A good tradeoff between a drum/cylinder shade and an empire/coolie shade
  • Usually emits some light through the sides of the shade since bell shades are less often lined/hard-back due to difficulty of construction
  • Diffuses light from the bottom by spreading the light out, possibly even more than an empire shade, making it more ambient while also reflecting ambient light from the ceiling
  • The combination of a non-lined bell shade emitting light through the sides of the shade, as well as a large amount of ambient light produced above and below, makes the bell shade in general a more ambient light source

TIP: Also consider also what other sources of light are in the room - if you have bright light from a main light fixture, your lamps may provide accent lighting, or mood lighting when used alone. If you need them to be a primary light source for sitting and reading, opt for a more flared shape of shade such as empire/coolie, provided it complements the style of the base. Also consider a hard-backed shade for increasing the light output from below the shade.

Hardback vs Softback Shades

Gold-lined hardback lampshade
A gold-lined black drum lamp shade reflects light within the shade and tints it a golden color.

Hard-Back Lamp Shades

Lampshades hold their shape either due to a hard lining or with the use of a metal framework. A `hard-backed` shade is typically lined with plastic or or other materials designed to prevent light from passing through the sides of the shade. The hard lining allows the shape of the shade to be quite firm and less likely to change over time. The firm backing is glued into place behind a more attractive outer material.

Benefits of a hard-back shade

  • More of the light has to be reflected away from the interior surface (which is typically white or gold)
  • More of it will pass out through the top and bottom of the shade
  • A hardback shade can maximize the amount of light emitted above and below the shade
  • Brightens the overall perceived light output
  • Helpful when the wattage of the bulb is quite high and the light is bright, to shield your eyes when viewing the lamp from the side, yet harnessing the light output from below
  • Useful when you are using the surrounding light output for practical purposes, such as reading or other activities.
  • Require less supportive hardware in order to maintain the shape of the shade
  • The reflective surface may be tinted gold which will influence the color of the light output, making it warmer
Hardback lampshade in a room
A hard-back shade reflects maximum light from beneath the shade while shielding your eyes.

Side-Effects of a hard-back shade

  • Light is blocked from passing through the sides of the shade
  • The shade itself does not appear to illuminate as much when the lamp is switched on.
  • Reflective surface, if tinted gold, will change the color of the light, which may be undesirable
  • May cost a little more to ship to you since the shade has to ship fully assembled to maintain its shape
  • Focuses light strongly so does not provide as much diffused ambient light, but a hard-backed drum shade can maximize ambient lighting

Soft-Back Lamp Shades

A soft-back shade does not have a firm lining, although it may still potentially be lined. The lining, however, would be flexible, such as a linen or paper, and so does not provide support for maintaining the shape of the lampshade. As a result, soft-back or `un-backed` shades require additional vertical supports between the bottom and top of the shade to maintain shape.

Soft-back lamp shade
This soft-backed drum lamp shade emits light through the shade itself, for a softer light, and reveals a textured pattern in the shade material.

Benefits of a softer shade

  • Allows light to pass through the sides of the shade
  • The shades are usually lighter in color to allow more light to escape
  • The closer the shade is to white the less it will absorb parts of the light spectrum, and thus allows more light to pass through
  • A softer shade illuminates the room partly through a diffused light passing through the shade itself, and so less light bounces around inside the shade to be emitted from the top and bottom, resulting in a softer light
  • Well suited for general ambient illumination as well as some focused light below the shade, thus multi-purpose
  • Given it is structured by a metal framework, that framework can be designed to be collapsible, which may reduce shipping costs
  • Allows for the use of attractive textures and patterns or multiple colors which show up as the light emanates through the shade material
  • Permits the use of interesting materials which might not be as effective when the shade does not emit light through the sides, such as paper, linen, certain fabrics or textured materials

Side-Effects of a softer shade

  • Metal supports can tend to show up as shadows or darkened areas showing through the shade when the light is switched on
  • Metal structure blocks the light a little and has some potential to become distorted if damaged
  • The presence of the metal frame may cause a slight local distortion in the shape of the shade, since fabrics and other materials may tend to dip inward in-between the supports
  • While the metal framework around the top and bottom of the shade maintain a perfect shape, toward the center of the shade the shape may be slightly less than perfect
  • Since light passes through the shade, the bulb can at least partly be seen and there may be some degree of brightness when viewing from the side
  • Generally not so common in darker colors, since the aim it so allow light to pass through and light is blocked more as the material absorbs color


How much do replacement lamp shades cost?

drum bell lamp shade


Buying a new lamp shade for table lamps, floor lamps or light fixtures doesn't have to be expensive. After all, you probably already spent enough on the original lamp or light and would just like to add a lampshade or replace a missing or damaged one.

Replacement lamp shades for regular-sized lamps typically range from $20 to $50, mostly depending on size. Large lamp shades tend to be more expensive. Small lamp shade for chandeliers and other mini lampshades cost much less, usually around $10 to $15.

At Lighting Source we've made significant efforts to reduce the price of lamp shades, in particular by manufacturing our own shades and reducing shipping costs. With hundreds of lamp shades to choose from in every size and shape and color imaginable, this is the best place to find a new or replacement shade.

If all you have is a lamp base without a shade:

Fear not, because you can actually figure out the exact right size of lamp shade you need based on the size and shape/style of your lamp base. Consult the section of this guide regarding how to measure a lamp shade for tips on what size shade you'll need depending on your lamp base size.

Generally you'll want to get an idea of the right "size" of lampshade you need first before you consider the shape or color, otherwise it won't have appropriate proportions and will look too big or small.

Once you have an idea of the size you may need, consider the shape of the lamp base to help you decide what kind of lamp shade to look for. While it may be easy to just throw a typical empire shade onto your lamp, it will look better when the shape of the lampshade complements or balances or brings out the shape of the base.



Popular Lampshade Colors

Lampshades feature a wide spectrum of colors to suit almost any lamp base and environment. You will likely want to complement the base of the lamp by choosing a lamp shade color that is either understated (as to let the lamp base be featured), or to make the shade a focal point (e.g. with a more understated base). It's also possible to strike a balance between the two components, for example picking up colors in the base to bring out with the shade - similar to how you bring out the color of your eyes.

Black Lamp Shades

A black lamp shade can allow a lamp to be understated but also gives your lamp and air of sophistication, and can also be quite a modern look. Sleek black shades might match your black furniture or act as a balance against white or brightly colored elements in the room. 

White Lamp Shades

A white lamp shade similarly can give your lamp a look of elegance and sophistication especially allowing the lamp base to be featured if it is colorful or interesting. White shades are clean and purifying, and may reflect upon white elements in the room or act as a canvas for other colors you wish to feature. 

Red Lamp Shades

Believe it or not, red lamp shades are one of the most searched-for colors on the internet. A red shade would likely highlight warmer tones in a lamp base or be a striking statement against an understated lamp base. Red shades might just highlight your favorite color ro pick up red or warm accents in the room. 

Orange Lamp Shades & Yellow Lamp Shades

Orange or yellow lamp shades are not typically as popular as a color choice, since yellow tends to be quite a bright color which will stand out in a room.  You'd probably pick an orange lamp shade or yellow lamp shade if it particularly matched the lamp in some way or is part of your room's color scheme. 

Green Lamp Shades

Green lamp shades also are one of the less popular colors for a lamp, mainly because green is quite a distinct color and tends not to be featured in lamp bases. Green shades may however complement a green or earth-toned or natural theme in your room and could complement a natural-toned lamp base well. 

Blue Lamp Shades

Add a blue lamp shade to your table lamp or floor lamp and you're instantly into making a cool statement. Blue is actually one of the most searched-for- colors of lampshades online, perhaps due to the relative rarity of blue coloring in nature in general. A blue shade will likely look quite contemporary and give your lamp a deliberate, designer look. Pair it with a lamp with blue in the base or perhaps white or black. 

Purple Lamp Shades and Pink Lamp Shades

Yes, pink is in. And purple too. Pink lamp shade are quite sought after and perhaps this is due to the fact that many people replacing lampshades are women. It may be a stereotype, but yes, women do seem to like to buy pink shades. And some men too, of course. A pink shade would look great on a white or gray or perhaps red or pink lamp base. Perhaps a pink or purple lamp shade would look great in a girls' bedroom. 

Cream Lamp Shades

Cream lamp shades are a classic. Not so pure as to be white, but somewhat softened and warming. A cream lamp shade will match well to many lamp base designs and colors especially more classically or traditionally styled lamps. Sometimes cream includes off-white or egg-shell which are more neutral or reddish tones. 

Beige Lamp Shades

Beige is all the rage. A beige lamp shade suits many modern homes where beige and browns provide a soft, comforting and nurturing the environment. Beige shades can complement well with brown furniture or perhaps a beige couch. Often a beige lamp shade will complement a fancy decorated lamp base well. 

Brown Lamp Shades

Brown lamp shades add a darker, comforting warmth to a room. A brown shade can complement a more decorative lamp base of many colors or more plain design. With a brown shade, you can pick up on the browns in your furniture or textiles in the room. 

Gray Lamp Shades

A gray lamp shade is unusual but may strike a modern compromise between elegance and understated charm. If your lamp base is silver or clear or perhaps strongly colors, a gray shade can provide a neutral accent allowing the lamp base to be featured.  

Glossary of Lamp Shade Terms

Coolie Shade
Simple designed straight-sided shades that usually feature a bottom width 3-4 times larger than the top, resulting in a shade that emits most of the light from the bottom.

Distance from the top of the shade to the center of the fitter.

Drum/Cylinder Shades
Drum and cylinder shades typically feature vertical or near-vertical sides and differ mainly in their proportions. Drum shades tend to be wider and cylinder shades tend to be taller. In some cases the difference between them is hard to distinguish - a tall drum shade may be similar to a short cylinder shade.

Empire Shades

Simple designed straight-sided shade that usually feature a bottom about twice as wide as the top.

Faux Leather
An artificial shade fabric with a texture similar to leather often accented with real or faux leather stitching.

An ornamental decoration made of ceramic, metal, stone, crystal, wood, etc. used to securely fasten the lampshade to the harp. Finials often attach to a 1/4"-27 thread.

The metal structure that attaches the shade to the lamp base. The most common type is the Spider Fitter which resembles a spoked wheel and connects to a harp with a finial. A Clip-On Fitter features metal loops allowing the shade to attach on top of the bulb. Larger clip-on shades are designed to attach directly to a standard Edison bulb, while smaller chandelier shades have smaller loops to fit a candelabra bulb. An Uno Fitter is designed with a larger center opening which fits snugly into the socket. Slip Uno Fitters feature a large drop and rest on the socket of a table lamp. Threaded Uno Fitters actually screw on to the socket so it can hang downward, typically on down-bridge floor lamps.

Flecks/Nubbly texture
A feature of the thread used to make a lamp shade, where sections of the thread are thicker or more frayed than others. When woven into a lamp shade this produces areas that are a different texture or color. This added dimension of texture is usually most visible when the light is shining through the shade. The degree of flecks ranges greatly from subtle to eccentric. Some shades will feature a second thread for the purposes of adding texture and dimension. Silk and Shantung shades often feature natural flecks or nubbly areas.

Floor/Empire/Coolie Shades
Slope-sided shades of varying degrees. Floor shades feature steep sides. Empire shades feature a medium slope and are typically in proportion for table lamps. Coolie shades feature the most gradual slope with a smaller top diameter and wider base, ideal for particular styles of lamps.

The metal structure of a lamp shade which maintains its shape and extends toward the center of the shade in the form of a fitter. The fitter is a part of the frame and in many cases is the only visible part of the frame. The frame is often outlined covered by a trim. Some lamps ship with a collapsible-frame shade where the vertical struts collapse and can be locked in place upon installation, re-expanding the shade.

A vertical/flat band around the top and/or bottom edge of a lamp shade. This can take the form of tassels, beads, crystals, loops, braids, rope, lace or an extension of the main shade. The gallery is usually vertical and sometimes moves freely, but at rest forms a band around the shade, as if a `viewing gallery` or `decorative wall` around the shade. Sometimes a shade will feature a gallery or band around the top of the shade.

A form of braid used to accent the edges of a lampshade. The gimp may also be referred to as braiding, rope, cord or other decorative terms. Popular gimp styles feature a figure eight pattern.

A stiff backing applied to the inner surface of a lamp shade to keep its shape over time. During the creation of a hardback lampshade, the fabric is laminated over a stiff but bendable backing material, typically a plastic such as a styrene. The hard backing helps the shade to keep its form, prevents drooping or warping, and extends the life of the shade. With a hardback shade it often becomes unnecessary to use extra metal framework running between the top and bottom of the shade, since the backing maintains the shape. This removes the shadows or blocks to light caused by the presence of vertical framework showing through the shade.

A vertical U-Shaped metal support used to attach the shade to the lamp base. Harps are typically 6-12” high. Changing the size of the harp often helps your shade fit better. Harp threads are often 1/4"-27.

A leaf-like scroll pattern that is printed or embossed into a fabric, used to make a lampshade. `Jacquard` is a classic design having been used for many centuries. Jacquard shades feature leafy-scrolling patterns.

Lamp Base
The actual body, typically made of crystal, brass, ceramic, resin, stone, etc. The base is wired with a socket and cord.

Decorative covering, usually fabric, used to diffuse and direct the light from the bulb. A properly chosen shade will enhance the base and bring out its best features without competing with it for attention. (The life of the party can also use it as a hat late on a wild evening.)

An additional surface applied to the inside of a lamp shade, used to filter or reflect light. A reflective lining such as gold or silver helps to reflect light away from the shade surface and focuses it out of the top and bottom. This keeps the outer appearance of the shade the same color and tone as when the light is off. This is useful for dark or black shades that you want to stay dark-looking even when the lamp is on. It also prevents the shade from absorbing some of the light, increasing overall light output. A reflective lining also hides the appearance of a bright-spot from the light bulb, as seen through the shade. Other types of lining include plastic, linen and other fabrics, each with its own degree of diffusing and reflecting light. Some linings allow some light through while also increasing the output through the top and bottom of the shade.

Vertical pipes of material running up the outside edge of a lamp shade. Piping is a hollow pipe made of fabric, usually flattened and applied to the shade surface, but sometimes also made from braids or solid tubes. The piping accentuates the shape of the shade particularly in areas that are flat and void of features. A shade with piping typically features several pipes arranged evenly around the shade, or spaced attractively. Piping can conceal joins in the underlying shade surface and can create surface tension to help maintain the shape of a shade over time.

Where the shade fabric folds back on itself creating a pleat. There are many forms of pleating creating different patterns, pleat sizes, edging and shapes. Sometimes the top and bottom of the side of the shade is stitched into place creating flat pleats, while the pleats may also proceed all the way to the top and bottom creating a sawtooth edge. Pleats can form straight lines or fan designs.

Reflector Bowl
An open-top bowl usually in the shape of a hemisphere and often made of frosted, opaque or colored glass. It sits on the socket along with the harp and causes the light to be deflected, diffused and reflected upwards. The glass is usually frosted/opaque to diffuse the light through the sides of the shade and to direct most of the light toward the ceiling for indirect lighting. It also disguises the bright center of the light bulb to reduce glare and present a more `even` light. Ridges on the reflector spider fitter allows the top of the shade be centered over the bowl and kept from slipping. Reflector bowls usually come with the lamp base.

A small metal cylinder used to raise the shade. Usually, 1-2”, a riser screws into the top of the harp and the shade sits on the riser and the finial screws on top of the riser. Risers are an alternative to changing the harp to properly fit your shade.

The variegated contour of the top and/or bottom edge of a lamp shade. The shape of the scallop suggests the shade material is draped and hanging. Scalloped edges are often offset by fancy trims, tassels, and beads.

A heavy lamp shade fabric with a rough nubby surface, made of spun wild silk, rayon or cotton. Non-silk shantung is intended to be an imitation of silk.

Slant Height
The measurement from the outermost tip of the top edge of a lamp shade, to the outermost tip of the bottom edge, on a diagonal and in a straight line. We use the slant height to describe the `height` (length of the side) of the shade. The slant height is easily measured outside the shade, even when the shade is installed, and should be measured in a straight line regardless of any curvature in the shape of the shade. Bell shades are just as easily measured, measuring in a straight line from top to bottom, ignoring the curved surface. (Since most shades do not have vertical sides, it is difficult to get an accurate vertical measurement, usually requires the shade to be removed from the lamp. It is easier and more intuitive to measure the outside of the shade on the slant from top to bottom.)

Square/Rectangular/Hexagonal/Oval Shades
The shape of a lamp shade when viewed from above or below is typically a circle, but can be other shapes. Oval shades are popular and are wider than they are deep, requiring two diameter measurements for both the top and the bottom to describe their shape. An oval shade adds an extra dimension to your lamp. Shades are also found with square perimeters, rectangles, hexagons, indented/cut-corners and many other styles.

Metal receptacle at the top of the lamp base that holds the bulb and usually contains the switch. A slip-UNO fitter or a harp generally sits beneath the socket.

The way that a lampshade is finished and the surface contained around the top and bottom edges of the shade. The trim creates a more pleasing profile, conceals the edges of the main shade materials, highlights the shape of the shade and buffers the edges of the shade against knocks or damage. The trim also hides the metal frame of the lampshade which runs around the edges of the shade. Some shades such as certain types of pleated shades may not have any trim at all, to show off their jagged edges.


Regardless of where you land on which type of shade is right for you and your lamp, Lighting Source has the shade you’re looking for. Looking for a bigger change? We also stock a full line of table, floor, and ceiling lights. Don’t settle for less when it comes to lamps and lighting.