Jim Lawrence Knowledge Base

How to size shades for Table Lamps

Table lamp collection lifestyle

There's no such thing as the wrong shade!

Before the ‘rules’ it’s important to bear in mind there is no such thing as the wrong shade. If you love it – it’s the right shade. Experimenting with lamp shades in new fabrics, shapes and colours is great way to instantly update your home’s style. Table lamps come in all shapes and sizes so it is important to keep the shade proportional to the size and shape of the base. You don't want your look dwarfed by a huge shade or unbalanced by a small one. A perfectly fitting shade should hide the bulb holder underneath without encroaching on the lamp base itself.

Lamp shades are sized by measuring cross the diameter at the bottom of the shade - so if the shade diameter measures 25cm across the bottom, then it is known as a 25cm shade.
  • As a rule, you should be looking for 15-20 cm wide shades for a smaller lamp base,
  • between 20-35 cm for an average lamp base
  • anything up to about 50 cm for a larger lamp base.
A rough guide to working out the size of shade you require is:
  1. Measure the height of your table lamp from the bottom of the base to the top of the lamp stem just below the lamp holder.
  2. The shade you select should then have a diameter of plus/minus 5cm of this measured height.
  3. So, if you have lamp that is 40cm tall, you should choose a shade that is 35 to 45cm wide.

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Three things to remember...

Table lampshade showing width vs height

The width of the lampshade (diameter at the bottom) should be roughly equal to the height of the lamp base.
Table lampshade showing base vs height

The height of the lampshade should be about two thirds the height of the lamp base.
Table lampshade showing base width vs shade width

The lampshade should be the wider than the widest part of the lamp base.
Square sloped shade on Darlington base

How do I find the right shape shade for my table lamp?

As a rule of thumb, we say the shape of the shade should reflect the shape of your lamp base. If the base is straight, square or rectangular, a similar shaped shade that mirrors its lines will look better than a round one.

If your lamp base is round or tapered, a sloping or straight round shade such as an Empire, French Drum or oval shade will suit it. As always, there is an exception to the rule and in this case, it is column lamps which suit any shape of shade.

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