Sometimes it’s the details that make all the difference. Take lampshades, for instance. At first glance, they may not seem terribly important, but they actually play a major role in determining how comfortable the lighting in your room is. The right lampshade can also add to the style and feel of any room.
Even if all you’re doing is replacing one lampshade, it’s still important to consider the following factors, which will help you choose the one that’s best for your needs:
- Size: A lampshade’s height should be about 2/3 the height of the lamp itself. The width of the shade should be no more than twice the width of the lamp’s base.
- Shape: Match the shape of your lampshade to your lamp’s base: circular shades with round-based lamps, square or rectangular shades with square or angular bases, and any shape lampshade with candlestick bases.
- Fitting Attachment: The lampshade connects to the lamp with one of four types of fittings (described below). Make sure the fitting of your lampshade matches that of your lamp.
- Backing: The backing (or lining) inside the lampshade makes a difference in its durability and the quality of light it produces.
- Material: What your lampshade is made of impacts its style, appearance, and lighting properties.
We’ll discuss all these issues in detail below. Keep reading to learn more!
25 Types Of Lampshades
Choose the shape of your lampshade based on the shape of your lamp’s base. Bases come in round, square, angular, or candlestick shapes. Round bases tend to look traditional; square and angular bases have a modern feel; candlestick bases fit with any decor and shape of the lampshade.
Square and rectangular lampshades work best with square and angular bases. Their flat edges give them a sleek, contemporary look. They have large openings at the top and bottom, so they emit a great deal of light, making them excellent sources of task lighting and general lighting.
The circular-shaped class of lampshades includes oval, cone, and drum shapes, which go best with round or candlestick bases. Circular lampshades are typically used on table lamps or tall stand lamps. The top opening emits ambient light, while the bottom one provides focused illumination. Oval and cone-shaped lampshades fit into essentially any decor, while drum-shaped shades, with their sleek vertical sides, are best in contemporary, modern, or transitional decor.
Bell-shaped lampshades feature a round top opening with sides that curve down to a wider bottom opening. The flared bottom emits light over a maximum range, thus making bell-shaped lampshades excellent accent lights. In addition, the top emits ambient light. Bell-shaped lampshades are generally paired with traditional decor, and they work best with round or candlestick bases.
Empire lampshades have a relatively small, circular opening at the top, straight slanted sides, and a wide bottom opening. Most of their light is emitted through the bottom, so they are best used for accent lighting. Empire lampshades go well with classic decor and are typically found on table lamps with round or candlestick bases.
Dome shades are typically used on overhead lights or large floor lamps with round bases. They are semi-spherical in shape, and they emit light downward. Because of their large opening, they are ideal for general lighting. Dome shades are compatible with a range of decor styles, from traditional to contemporary.
Each lampshade must be affixed to its lamp by a piece of hardware called a fitting attachment. For lampshades made of materials other than glass, there are four types of fitting attachments: spider, clip-on, Uno, and screw-on. Glass shades use either fixture-type or setting-type attachments.
Spider fittings are the most common. They consist of a central ring with three metal spokes radiating from it and attaching to the lampshade’s upper frame. The central ring is attached to a harp — a bowed wire structure that extends from the lamp’s socket to above the light bulb. The spider fitting is secured to the top of the harp with a finial.
Clip-on lampshades incorporate a small wireframe that clips directly to a light bulb. They are typically used on chandelier bulbs and small table lamps with low-wattage bulbs.
Uno fittings attach directly to the lamp, with a bottom ring that fits over the lamp’s socket and is held in place by the bulb. A harp rises up from the ring and attaches to the top frame of the lampshade. Uno fittings are found on small table lamps, swing lamps, and bedside lamps.
Screw-on fittings are similar to Uno fittings, except that the ring base screws onto the lamp’s socket. A harp rises from the ring base to support the lampshade.
10. Fixture-Type (Lip-Style With Set Screws)
Fixture-type glass shades feature a lip at the open end; this lip sits inside a metal housing and is held in place with three or four screws. The screws are necessary because these shades often hang upside-down. They are typically used on overhead lights and stand lamps.
11. Setting Type
The setting-type lampshade — also known as lipless or straight-type — also rests in a metal housing but is not secured by screws. Instead, a small round metal plate inside the bottom of the shade is secured to the housing, thus holding the lampshade in place.
All cloth and paper lampshades have an interior backing that helps them retain their shape. Hardback lampshades are backed by plastic or heavy paper, while softback shades have fabric as their inside surface.
Lampshades with a plastic or paper interior lining are called hardbacks. These shades tend to be less expensive than softbacks; however, the plastic lining yellows with age, diminishing the quality of light emitted. Hardback lampshades are typically associated with modern, contemporary decor.
The interiors of softback lampshades are backed with fabric. They are more costly than hardbacks, but they tend to be of higher quality. Softbacks are often — but not always — pleated, and they fit well with classic decor.
Glass lampshades can be clear or opaque; this category also includes fancier styles like Tiffany and art deco. Although they are usually rounded in shape, square and rectangular glass shades are available — especially in the art deco style. Glass lampshades are easy to clean and often striking in appearance, but they are also relatively fragile.
Metal lampshades add an unexpected touch to your decor. They are typically round or dome-shaped. The metal’s opacity means that all the light is directed downward rather than escaping through the shade (except, as in the picture below, when the shade is perforated). This makes metal shades excellent for task lighting or on pendant fixtures over tables.
Crystal lampshades are constructed of many individual prismatic crystals wired together. Their frames are usually rounded, with bands of silver metal complementing the sparkle of the crystals. Crystal lampshades add a touch of glamor to any room.
Paper lampshades are among the least expensive types, and they come in a variety of shapes, colors, and textures. Because they are relatively cheap to produce, paper lampshades are more likely to have unusual patterns or pictures printed on them, making them perfect for personalizing your decor. However, paper lampshades are very fragile.
Micas are minerals whose crystals can be cut into extremely thin flakes. These flakes are combined with a shellac adhesive to create amber-colored mica sheets, which can then be formed into a variety of materials, including lampshades. Mica is commonly used in Arts & Crafts decor. It is treasured for its uniqueness: each lampshade looks different because the combination of mica and shellac varies in each sheet of the material.
Lampshades made of burlap add a warm, rustic feel to a room. Because burlap is relatively opaque — and so all of the lamp’s light is emitted through the top and bottom openings — lamps with burlap shades are best for accent or ambient lighting.
Linen is a highly popular material for lampshades: it is a relatively inexpensive, sturdy fabric that comes in a variety of colors. The material is translucent, so linen lampshades emit a soft, pleasant ambient light.
Silk is another popular lampshade material, as it comes in a wide variety of colors and textures. Pleated silk lampshades are a staple of traditional decor, but silk shades are compatible with just about any style. One caveat: silk is difficult to clean.
22. Other Fabrics
In addition to silk, linen, and burlap, fabrics such as cotton, polyester, and rayon are commonly used in lampshades. In general, fabric lampshades offer a wide variety of shapes, styles, colors, patterns, and textures to choose from. Wire frames, concealed between the lampshade and its lining, provide structure and sturdiness.
Rattan lampshades impart an outdoorsy, tropical feel to a room. They consist of rattan strips arranged vertically, with ample space between the strips to let light out, thus creating a warm, soft glow.
Like rattan, bamboo lampshades create a natural, exotic feel. Slats of bamboo tend to be wider than those of rattan, so less ambient light escapes through a bamboo lampshade. Bamboo shades typically pair with table lamps for accent lighting.
Thin layers of wood also create lampshades that make a striking natural statement. Wood lampshades can be round or square/rectangular. Because the wood is opaque, all the light issues from the top and bottom openings; so, depending on the lampshade’s design, it may provide bright, diffused ambient light or subtle accent lighting.
Purchasing new lampshades is a more complex process than it first appears. By taking into account sizing and fitting attachments, the intensity and focus of light that you want, and the material, color, and style that fit best in your room, you can ensure that you choose the right lampshades for your redecorating project.
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