Lamp Shades - The Complete Guide



We always use lampshades with our light fixtures (except of some specific cases like indirect lighting, strip LED lighting, or decorative lights made in a shape of a retro light bulb). Lamp shades have many advantages, such as:

  • The main purpose of lamp shades is to protect the eyes of the people in a room since the light of uncovered bulb is too bright and irritating.
  • Lampshade can aim the ray of light to the needed direction - to illuminate working area or highlight some art work.
  • The lamp shade itself is a decorative item, very important for the whole interior design. People most often are choosing lampshades for their decorative purposes, sometimes even neglecting other significant features and characteristics.
  • Lamp shades conduct heat away from the light bulb. This is especially important when incandescent bulbs are used, because in this case almost 90% of electric power is turned into heat.
  • Lampshade can add a desirable color accent to the overall theme of the interior.
  • It can reflect or diffuse light, thus making it possible to vary the ambience in a room.

There is a widest range of different lamp shades in stores all around the United States. The process of shopping for the perfect piece for your room can be overwhelming, while knowing the main types and styles of lampshades can really narrow the choice. So first let's take a look at the main types of lamp shades.


Soft Lamp Shades

Soft lampshades are usually made from fabric. They often are made up of two layers. For the inner layer a dark colored dense fabric is used, while the outer layer is decorative, with various designs and patterns.


Hard Lamp Shades

These shades are made of fabric or paper that is attached to a plastic vinylbenzene lining. The materials of lamp shade are wrapped around the upper and lower wire rings and attached with a glue.


Now let's take a brief look at the basic shapes of lamp shades. This list will be useful when you'll have to decide which lampshade will perfectly fit in your interior or be best for your existing light fixture.


Cylinder Lamp Shade

These shades are made in a shape of a tall cylinder. They are usually not wide and used mostly with the floor lamps. Some lamps with tall bases can also be equipped with such shades.


Drum Lamp Shade

These lampshades look like a drum, they are also made in cylindrical shape, but are wide and comparatively flat. Such shape is very popular, it is used with pendant lights, floor and table lamps.


Floor Lamp Shade

Since floor lamps are usually tall, they look best with comparatively large drum shades or special floor styled lamp shades. Floor shades are much alike the drum shades with a minor distinction - their sides have a slight incline.


Empire Lamp Shade

This style of lampshades is mainly used in table lamps, and less often in floor lamps. It is characterized by sloping straight sides and is extremely popular among homeowners all over the world.


Coolie Lamp Shade

These lampshades are a bit flatter than the empire shades, and the slope of their sides is larger. The sides aren't always straight and can be concave. These items are very narrow at the top and wide at the bottom, so the light is spread widely. Keep this in mind when making your choice.


Bell Lamp Shade

This style of lamp shades provide stylish and casual look for a lamp or light fixture. Bell shades are very often used in table lamps with curved lamp base. This is a widespread shape of lamp shades, but with such a diversity of designs and materials you'll surely find a unique option.


Oval Lamp Shade

Some lampshades are made if a shape of an oval, so when viewed from above, you'll see an oval and not a conventional circle. This unusual solution can make your lamp really unique. The oval shape can be combined with the different styles of lampshades when seen from the side, forming such shapes as oval empire, oval coolie, oval cylinder and so on.


Rectangular Lamp Shade

Such types of lampshades are used mainly in modern floor and table lamps with rectangular lamp base. For the square lamp base, a square lamp shade should be used.


Octagon and Hexagon Lamp Shade

These types of shades feature six or eight sides. There are a lot of variations combined with the other types of lamp shades. Their sides can be straight or sloped, smooth or concave. If you prefer such style of lamp shade, you'll have no difficulties to find the best product for your needs, since the choice is truly wide.


Tiffany Lamp Shade

This style of lamp shades was designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, an American artist and designer. He created a stained glass leaded lampshade style that became a real timeless hit. Tiffany lamp shades are expensive option, but always stylish and elegant. They are also practical because the materials used are solid and long-lasting. Tiffany lampshades are made in different styles, shapes and sizes, so they can be used in almost any type of light fixtures and lamps - from floor and table lamps to accent lights and chandeliers.


Art Glass Lamp Shade

Such lampshades are made of a special toughened glass. This is more strong and lightweight option compared to ordinary glass or Tiffany glass. These lamp shades are often unique and hand-made. Such pieces can have thousands of shapes and designs. You may find art glass lampshades in a form of animals or flowers. For more traditional look there are art glass lamp shades made in regular shapes which we have already mentioned above. The material and workmanship will make the difference though.


Mini Chandelier or Small Lamp Shade

A chandelier usually consists of several arms where the light bulbs are located. As a rule, each bulb needs its own lamp shade, and usually it's a comparatively small one. The whole set of chandelier mini shades can be replaced, thus creating a totally new look for the light fixture and consequently the overall interior design. The variety of styles, shapes and designs is almost infinite.



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