Dream Lands Design
You're here: Home » Home Improvement » Lamp Shade Style Guide: Which Lamp Shade Should You Buy?

Lamp Shade Style Guide: Which Lamp Shade Should You Buy?

When most people think about interior design, they think about architectural elements, lighting, and beautiful pieces of furniture.

What they probably don’t think of is something as seemingly simple as lamp shade style.

image - Lamp Shade Style Guide Which Lamp Shade Should You Buy
Lamp Shade Style Guide Which Lamp Shade Should You Buy

However, lampshade buying is an important business. Lampshades may seem like minor features in the grand scheme of a home, but it’s those sorts of features that make all the difference.

Because of that, it’s important that you take it seriously.

To help you on your lamp shade buying mission, we’ve compiled this guide on the different lampshade options.

By the time you finish reading it, you’ll know exactly which pieces to buy for your home.

Keep reading to learn all about what to consider when choosing a lampshade for your home.

Consider the Size

The first thing you’ll want to consider is the size of the lamp with which you’re pairing the shade.

Think of a lampshade as a hat—if it’s too small, it’ll look awkward, while if it’s too large, it will hang down awkwardly.

As a general rule of thumb, try and get a shade that is around as wide as the lamp is long.

It should start around three-quarters up the lamp and should be wider than the base by around half an inch.

Are you unable to decide between two different shades? If so, it’s usually a good idea to go with the larger option.

However, if it’s a tall and thin lamp, a smaller shade can work in certain situations.

Keep in mind that floor lamps are going to need bigger shades. On the other hand, tabletop lamps will look strange with shades that are too large.

Read Also:

Understanding the Different Lamp Shade Shapes

When it comes to lampshades, you’ll have four major options to choose from. Let’s take a look at each one and analyze the situations and styles they pair well with.


Empire shades are those that look like a cone with the top half lopped off. Empires are universal, meaning that they can work well in nearly any style or space.

Most people choose to use them for lamps on desks, tables, and other surfaces. They work great with reading lamps and other smaller options, but they can also work with floor lamps and larger varieties.


Drum shades are in the shape of a cylinder. They have a wide opening at the top, sides that run straight down, and another wide opening at the bottom.

Given the sharper edges that drum shades have, they work well in contemporary and modern situations.

Like empire lampshades, they’re quite versatile and work well with floor lamps, tabletop lamps, and pendants. However, don’t use them if you’re after a soft light that provides ambiance. Drums work well when you need maximum light.


Square shades are similar to empire shades in that they taper out towards the bottom. But, unlike empires, their base is rectangular as opposed to spherical.

Like drum shades, squares work great in more modern or contemporary spaces. They also have sharp edges that can provide you with a more dramatic and bold-looking shade, as opposed to something soft and warm.

One of the best parts about square shades is that you can press them against a wall if you need to.

This makes them one of the more space-saving options, as you don’t have to worry about them jutting out into a room.

This also means that you can put them on narrow surfaces, like mantles and small coffee tables.

Tall Tapered

Tall tapered shades resemble long, skinny cones. As their name suggests, the opening at the top is smaller than that at the bottom, and the sides taper outward to accommodate it.

Because these shades are so narrow, you’re unable to use them in as many situations as some of the other options. Try to avoid pairing them with most floor lamps or larger tabletop ones.

Instead, place them on top of small, yet tall, tabletop lamps. They can also work well with several different lamps that are next to each other on a table or desk.

Match the Lamp Shade Style With the Room

To help you decide on the right lamp shade, it’s best to first think about the room that the lamp will sit in. Aside from helping you find the shade, this can also help you decide on the right lamp.

If you have a large, open space, try to avoid putting tiny lamps all over. It’ll look strange and be obvious that you didn’t stop to consider the scale of the room. Instead, go for a larger floor lamp.

If you’re looking for the right tabletop lamp and shade, consider the size of the surface and how many other objects there are nearby.

If there’s a lot of clutter, smaller lamps and shades might be best.

Decide on a Material

Choosing a lampshade doesn’t end at deciding on the right size. You also have to put some thought into the material that the shade will have.

Here are a few of the most common materials you can choose from.


If you’re a fan of minimalism, choosing a shade made from parchment might be the right choice.

These simple and clean-looking shades work exceptionally well in contemporary and modern environments.

Most parchment lamp shades feature a single color. Make sure that the color you choose meshes well with the rest of the room.

If the style of your home is more whimsical, get a parchment shade that someone has marbleized. These feature tons of great colors that come from paints, oils, and other mediums.

Cotton or Silk

Lampshades made from silk or cotton come in two varieties: rolled or with a pleated texture.

Rolled silk or cotton works about the same as parchment shades. They look more contemporary than some other shade options and can work well with both tabletop lamps and those found on the floor.

Shades that have a pleated texture, however, look best in quainter, more traditional environments. They look good in areas where you want to have a more vintage feel.


Linen lampshades are another more traditional option. Unless you get a striking or bold pattern (more on that below), they might not work well in a contemporary or modern room.

Many linen shades come in soft, creamy colors. As these are neutral, they can work well with many different color schemes and palettes.

Consider Color and Pattern

One of the most exciting parts about having lamps around your home is the ability to mix and match different colors and patterns.

Choosing the right style requires you to consider the theme that you want the room to have.

You can choose anything from cow print to single colors, so take the time to really consider everything.

Keep in mind that while it’s tempting to go with something neutral, lampshades also serve as fantastic accent pieces.

Don’t be afraid to go with something louder or bolder than you would normally feel comfortable with.

You can even buy additional lampshades and store them for certain times of the year.

For example, in the summer, you might want lighter and warmer-looking colored shades, while the winter may call for more dramatic, contrasting colors.

Consider Your Light Needs

Remember that while lampshades are important design elements, lamps also serve a utilitarian purpose.

You need them to light up your home, so make sure to consider how much light you’ll get when shopping around for shades.

If you need a lot of light from a particular lamp, it’s best to go with something translucent or lighter colored. This will help it to light up more of the room.

On the other hand, if you’re after a lamp that does nothing but provides aesthetic value to a room, don’t be afraid to go with a darker option, like these black lamp shades. You won’t get as much light from it, but it won’t matter if you don’t need it.

Choosing a Lamp Shade Made Easy

Lampshade style might not seem like an important design element to consider. However, as any designer can tell you, it’s the details and accent pieces that tie a room together.

To ensure that you get the right lamp shades for your home, use this guide as a resource to help you out.

Remember—you should never be afraid to mix, match, or experiment!

Are you looking for more interior design guides and tips? If you are, spend some time checking out the rest of our site.

Your Header Sidebar area is currently empty. Hurry up and add some widgets.