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How to choose the right size lampshade

Simple guidelines to help you find the right size lampshade

Choosing a lampshade is a personal decision and will include various deciding factors like functionality, atmosphere, and style. Learn all you need to know about how to choose the right size lampshade in this post.

Before you start, think about why you want the lamp in the first place, is it for practical reasons? In which case how much light do you need from your shade? This may affect the size of lampshade you go for.

If you’re replacing a lampshade and want to go for the same size as your old one, simply measure the old shade (See here for details on how to do this) and use these measurements as a guide to find a new shade of the same or similar measurements. Below is a guide showing you the important measurements needed

If you’re replacing an existing shade and can’t find one with the exact same measurements, the height is the most important to replicate.

How to measure a lampshade

5 Points to remember

1-The bottom edge of the lampshade, when in situ, should fall below the bulb-holder in order to hide this functional aspect of the lamp base. You also don’t want the socket or the switch to be visible.

2-When buying a lampshade the size of the shade refers to the base diameter.

3-For a look that is pleasing to the eye, mimic the base of the lamp, and the shape of the table.

4-Check what fitting you need to attach the base to the shade.

Be brave! Many lamps and lamp stands look great with any number of shade shapes and styles so you don’t necessarily need to choose a shade that’s exactly like the one you’re replacing. Experiment and do some research to help you (see our Pinterest board on lighting fashion here).

Follow these three golden guidelines to help your decision

1-Make sure that your lampshade’s base diameter is at least as wide or wider than the widest part of the base. Two times the base diameter is a good rule to follow.

2-In most cases, your lampshade height should be roughly 2/3 the height of the lamp base. This offers a balanced look. The taller the lamp base, the shorter the lampshade in most cases, especially floor lamps.

3-Another useful guide is to make the lampshade width similar to the visible height of the base.


Mirroring the shape of the base is a useful guideline to use if you’re feeling uncertain, though it’s not a hard and fast rule by any means. For example, sloping, round or curved lamp bases often work well with a similar shade such as empire, drum or bell. Square, angular and straight bases work well with similarly angled lampshades.

When in doubt, go for a well-balanced look, keeping everything in proportion to ensure your base isn’t dwarfed by a huge shade or unbalanced by a teeny one. Do this and you shouldn’t go far wrong.

These are guidelines and there are always exceptions. If you have a good feel for what you like then go with that, after all, it’s you who will see the shade most.

Top interior designer Tip

Interior designer Verity Coleman of Rascal and Roses, has given us her top tip for choosing a lampshade:

The most important thing when choosing the right size lampshade for your base is to look at the proportions of the two together. To get your eye in takes a little practice, but it’s easy to spot if you take a step back and look at the lamp and base in their space (rather than from too close up). A good starting point though, is to ensure the width of the shade is approximately the height of the base and the height of the shade is no more than 3/4 the height of the base. There is always a little trial and error to make the perfect pair, but this is a good start!

Below is a useful post on the matter from our Lampshade makers Group on Facebook (including a useful tip suggesting using a template).

The comments show just what a personal and non-exact matter this is:

Image Credit, from left to right: Ella Johnston Art Iron Lamb Juliet Travers Candid Owl Melodi Horn

Abigail Ahern Juliet Travers Kettle of Fish Designs Kati Harris Design Shady Bea Designs

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