Properly Fitting a Lampshade

Properly Fitting a Lampshade

Adrienne Breaux
Aug 5, 2009

Earlier today we posted tips for adding oversized lamps to a room. We thought we'd hit on a subject also important to lamps: a proper lampshade fit. While it might seem like a small detail, the lampshade is a huge part of the look of your lamp, and when done properly leads to dynamic results...

If the lamp you've just purchased already came with a lampshade and you like it, you won't have to worry about fitting a lampshade any time soon. However, if you've just recently bought a lamp with a shade you hate, or you've been looking around your home and noticing your own shades looking shabby, you might need to head out for a replacement armed with these tips:

  • Where to buy It used to be lamp shades could only be purchased at boutique and specialty lighting stores, but we're lucky to have a huge selection available online and in more mainstream stores. If you have an odd-sized lamp or are looking for a special lampshade size, though, a speciality store is going to afford you the best selection.
  • The type of fitting Before you leave your home to embark on a new shade hunt, you should make notes of two things: the measurements and the type of fitting of your current lamp. Lamp shades have 4 measurements: top diameter, bottom diameter, vertical height and vertical slant. The three most basic types of fittings are the spider top with harp (the shade rests on top of a removable metal harp on your lamp), the uno (shade attaches directly to the lamp) and the clip-on (the shade clips to your bulb)
  • What sort of look are you going for? Consider why you need a new shade. If you like the way the old one looks just look for an exact replacement shade. If you want a more formal look, go for shades with more formal fabrics. If you're going for a casual or rustic look, choose paper or textured fabric shades. There are also lots of different shade shapes available today to help create a more personalized lamp look.
  • Makes sure it sits right After you've found the right shades for the look of your lamp and room, make sure it sits properly on your lamp. The lampshade should be placed on the lamp base at a height so that the bottom edge falls midway on the neck, which is the small metal piece between the socket and the lamp base. Though a small detail, this ensures that the socket is not visible and that the correct amount of light shines through the shade. This step can be more difficult on modern and contemporary lamps if they don't have a traditional neck, but use your best judgment.

Have you recently purchased new lampshades for lamps in your home? Did you consider it difficult to find a shade you liked, or easy? Did you measure your old shade before shopping, or did you just "eye" the measurements of your new shade? What do you think about the "middle of the neck" lampshade height rule? Let us know about your lampshade fitting stories!

(Image: Swank Lighting)

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