How To Measure A Lampshade

So just how do you measure a lampshade? And what are the rules in deciding what is the correct size of lampshade for your lamp?

These are two common questions, and we'll try to shed some light (excuse the pun) on the subject.

Lampshade and Lamp Bases


So how do you measure a lampshade?

While this seems like the obvious question, it is generally not what you need to know. Lampshades come in common sizes, and this is clearly shown, certainly on lampshades in the UK. The more common question is "what size of lampshade should I choose for my lamp?"

Some simple rules of thumb can help you make the correct choice and get the proportions just right. Just follow these simple steps:

STEP 1. Measure the lamp base to obtain the width and height measurements.

STEP 2. Apply the following rules to choose the correct size of lamp shade:

  • Rule 1 - the width of the lampshade should be similar to the height of the lamp base.
  • Rule 2 - the height of the lampshade should be approximately two thirds of the height of the lamp base.
  • Rule 3 - the lampshade should be wider than the widest point of the lamp base.

By applying these simple rules, you should be able to keep the proportions correct and ensure that your lamp and shade work in harmony. As with all 'rules', there are exceptions, so if you get chance put the lamp base and lampshade together and see if it looks right.

How Do I Choose The Right Shape Of Lampshade?

Different shape of lamp bases need different shape lampshades. Choose the wrong shape and your lamp will simply look odd. Odd is not good; stunning is what we are after.

Tapered Lamp Shade On Horse Sculpture Lamp Base

Here are our simple guidelines for choosing the right shape lampshade:

  • Tapered or Round Lamp Base = Sloped or Rounded Lampshade (known as Empire or Drum)
  • Straight, Square, or Rectangular Lamp Base = Square or Rectangular Lampshade

Apply these simple guidelines and you will ensure you avoid an odd looking lamp.

What Is The Best Material For A Lampshade?

The 'best' material for a lampshade is subjective. Most materials will be hard wearing if looked after properly.

Card, cotton, or linen are all effective materials that will go with most lamp bases and will look good in most room settings. If you want something more elegant, silk can look stunning, and silk is certainly the best choice of material for a pleated lampshade.

Table Lamp On Table

To achieve a contrast between your lamp base and lampshade, consider using a smooth lampshade on a textured base, or vice versa. To achieve a unified feel, match the texture of the shade with the base i.e. texture on texture, or smooth on smooth.

What Colour Lampshade Should I Choose?

This question is not quite so simple to answer as it will depend on your overall colour scheme and personal preference. If in doubt, choose a lampshade with a natural tone in a single colour. This works perfectly on lamp bases of a single colour. If your lamp base has colour variations within it, you can pick up a colour from the base in the lampshade. This works for both a single colour shade or patterned shade.

Patterned Lamp Shade On Wooden Lamp

We are not so keen on patterned lampshades - getting the look right can be tricky. However, if you want something vibrant, make sure you pick up a colour that is in the lamp base.