As small as they may seem as accent decors, lamp shades still offer a different visual impact to a room. Ambient lighting is important in any room and without a doubt, lamp shades help in setting the vibe and feel of a certain space.
One of the most important factors in choosing the perfect lamp shade for the room is to know the types of lamp shades available out there.
In this post, we shall narrow down some of the most common types of lamp shades as well as other considerations that would help you in getting the right lamp shade for the different rooms in your home. If you are interested in anything lamp shade related, read on.
What is a lamp shade?
Lampshades have been around for many generations. They are used as complementing decors to other types of lamps as well as chandeliers.
They either function to direct or shield some living spaces with light so it is more important as we perceive them to be.
The basic anatomy of lampshades is that it has a lamp, accompanied by a shade which covers the entire bulb, a fitting attachment, a stem, a harp and a base.
Some of the other functions of a lamp shade are as follows:
- As anti-glare protection to a living space.
- To direct light in different directions.
- To soften the room through softer glows and ambient lighting.
- As a decorative piece to a room.
Types Of Lamp Shades
Lamp shade shapes
The shape of lampshades always works wonders in the room. While lampshades are not the focal point of a living space, their shape keeps the design flow intact so it is very important that you choose the right lamp shade shape for your home.
1. Classic empire lamp shade
If you want to add a vintage charm to your home, the classic empire lamp shade is a good choice.
It comes in different shapes, colors, and sizes, but its main identifier would be its cone look with a cut top head. It also features two straight sides and a hardback shade thanks to its hard inner shell.
2. Pembroke empire
This one has the same vintage charm, unique to empire lampshades. It is usually handmade, using linen or laminated skin, laid on a card lining.
The patterns of Pembroke empire lamp shades are embroidered or hand stitched, incorporating different details using different fabrics. They can also be knife-pleated or unpleated.
3. Gallery empire
The term gallery here is attributed to a unique aesthetic element placed at the bottom of empire lamp shades.
As such, you can distinguish gallery empire lampshades with that piped wire at the bottom, conforming to the contour and body of the empire lampshade. With the gallery, the separation between the shade and the body becomes evident.
4. Bell lamp shade
As the name suggests, this type of lamp shade has a round top and curved sides that intersect to a wider bottom opening.
When it comes to accent lighting, this lampshade type is a good choice because its flared bottom opening comes with a maximum range.
These lampshades are good for rustic and shabby chic interiors and would look more regal with candlestick and round bases.
5. Square lamp shade
If you love symmetry and if your room comes with angular contours, opting for a square lamp shade is a prime choice.
For one, it features flat edges and large openings which help in emitting more light at an angled direction. Hence, they can also be used for task lighting, and in sprucing up modern, industrial and contemporary interiors.
6. Dome lamp shade
When it comes to floor lamps and overhead lighting, dome lampshades are the perfect choice thanks to their round bases, semi-circular shape, and downward lighting.
They have a large opening on the bottom and top so they are truly ideal for general lighting especially in traditional to contemporary living rooms.
This one is actually a collective term for cone, drum-shaped, and oval lampshades.
They usually come with candlestick bases for emphasis or round bases for conformity, making them good choices for stand lamps and table lamps.
It has a large opening on top for emitting ambient lighting while the tighter bottom is for more focused light.
8. Novelty lamp shade
As the name implies, novelty lampshades are striking for their ornate style not just for the backing, texture, and pleat type but also for their bases.
They can be geometric, hand stitched, printed, or embroidered and their bases can be round, hexagonal, square, or greatly random and asymmetrical.
9. Bowl lamp shade
This one is unique because the lamp shade sits on top of the reflector bowl. This bowl surrounds the socket of either a floor lamp or a table lamp. If you are looking for an anti-glare lampshade, this type is the best choice.
Also generally called horn lamps, they can evoke the rustic yet playful accent to any living space.
Their bases are usually made with metal and iron with a caduceus look, intertwining horns, or a floating horn design, among others. They are ornate lampshades, perfect as accent decors to side tables.
11. Drum shades
We all love the balanced illumination from drum shades. Drum shades are the flatter, shorter versions of cylinder shades.
Their unique characteristic is that they have more width than height. The most common types of drum shades would be the shallow drum, the classic drum and the tapered drum.
12. Cut corner inverted square bell
This one is definitely the fusion of the square sides of a square lampshade but with an ovate bottom and a top gallery. The base of this lampshade is also curvier than most and is perfect for accent decorating and as focal point for end tables.
13. Rawhide lampshade
While hard to maintain, rawhide lamp shades can be around for years. This one features a single bar from one side, rising to the top.
It also has a holed center for more concentrated lighting. The holed center is for attaching the harp. It also sports a lamp finial which is directly attached to the lampshade.
14. Hurricane lampshade
This is also called the chimney lampshade, which is a more fitting name, because its fitting attachment is shaped like a chimney and it is already built in the lampshade itself, starting from the lamp base and up.
The lampshade itself also extends from the sockets and then touches the bulb.
15. Upside down lampshade
This can take many shapes but it offers a unique look to a room especially that it is perfect for diffusing light around the space. Basically, it is flipped on its head. It is perfect as wall lights, accent lights, but works best as pendant lights.
Types of lamp shade fitters
For a lampshade to stand, they must be attached to the lamp through a hardware called fitters or fitting attachment. There are more than six types but these four are the most common.
1. Spider lamp shade fitter
This one is the most common lamp shade fitter, identifiable with its three prongs that meet at the center, hence, the term spider.
The center is the one attached to the top harp. The wiring is U-shaped and it protects the bulb. However, the harp is not always included for this type of fitter.
2. Clip-on lamp shade fitter
As the term implies, this fitter is clipped directly to the bulb. Low wattage bulbs are the only recommended bulbs for this lamp shade fitter because it touches the lightbulb and can be a fire hazard when high wattage bulbs are used.
3. UNO lamp shade fitter
Like the clip-on, this lampshade fitter is also directly attached to the lamp. It also features a bottom ring which fits on the lamp’s socket.
All of these, in turn, are held by the shade’s bulb. From there, a harp is raised to the ring and then it attaches to the top part of the lamp. This one is typically found among bedside, table, and swing lamps.
4. Screw-on fitter
There is only one difference between the UNO fitter and the screw-on fitter and that is the ring base of the latter is attached to the lamp’s socket while the harp is raised to support the weight of the lampshade.
Shades with a fixture-type style are unique for having lips at the open end, sitting on a metal hardware and then supported in place by 3-4-screws.
The support screws are imperative in hanging these lampshades upside down. This type of lampshade is mainly installed as stand lamps and for overhead lighting.
This one is also known as the straight type or lipless lampshade. Compared to the fixture type, this one is not held in place by screws.
Instead, it is secured by a tiny piece of round metal plate and then it is attached to a housing. The attachment of the metal plate to the housing makes the lampshade stand and be supported on its weight.
The material used for lampshades, be it for the fitting attachment, base and rays, are essential in upscaling your living space.
They are also important in getting a thematic flow for any room. Here are the most common lampshade materials that you should be aware of.
If you are into fancier design schemes, the opaqueness or transparency of glass can give you a high-end deco look. Glass lampshades can be square, rectangular or round. They are easy to clean but they are, of course, more fragile than other lampshade materials.
This lampshade material is not the most popular material but they can offer an unexpected impact in a room.
Mostly dome-shaped, industrial and modern interiors love metal lampshades because its opacity is perfect for pendant and task lighting.
Nothing could beat the prismatic vibe of crystal lampshades. This lampshade style often comes in rounded frames and then banded with reflective materials like glass and metal to make the crystal sparkle more.
If you are into opulent styles, crystal lampshades are the perfect choice.
This is one of the cheapest lampshade materials featuring different colors, stitches, textures, and shapes.
The virtually endless range of designs, prints and styles of paper lampshades make them a prime choice for personalizing rooms. You can also have them customized to give a living space more character.
Related: Homemade Decorative Lamp Shade Ideas
This one is a subtype of crystal lampshades but the crystal flakes in this one are thinner. These very thin crystal flakes are then glued using shellac, creating unique mica sheets with strong amber colors.
Mica lamp shades are often used for artsy interiors like in private galleries or in arts and crafts decors.
If you prefer a more rustic, warm touch in your interior, the timelessness of burlap is a strong choice for lampshades.
This one has a very opaque surface so all the light is projected concentratedly on the top and bottom openings. This type of lampshade is made for ambient and accent lighting.
This is the most common lampshade material. Aside from being an inexpensive choice like paper, it is also a sturdy material that comes in various colors and textures, thanks to the variety of fabric that you can choose from.
Its translucent character makes it a perfect material for ambient lighting.
This one is a subtype of linen because well, silk is fabric type. Like linen and paper, this one also comes in a variety of colors and textures.
However, as it has always been, silk is more expensive than paper and linen. While it is a very versatile material, the downside is that it is challenging to maintain.
For a tropical, outdoorsy feel, rattan, gives you a coastal flair. Typically, rattan lampshades are made of thin rattan strips, vertically arranged to allow enough light to radiate at all angles. The soft glow of rattan lampshades is always a sight to behold.
Like rattan lampshades, bamboo lampshades give a very grounded, organic vibe to a room. Compared to rattan strips, this one features thicker bamboo slats. This is also good for ambient lighting and is good as accent décors for end tables.
This one is another earthy and natural looking lampshade material that would really evoke a low-key, rustic look.
The most typical wood lampshade shapes would be square and rectangle. The opacity of wood makes wood lampshades perfect for accent lighting thanks to the warm, diffused, ambient glow of this lampshade type.
Be it paper, linen or cloth lampshades, all types feature a backing which functions for lampshades to retain their shape through the years. This is not that complicated as a feature because there are just two backing types: the hardback and softback.
Lampshades that come with a paper or plastic lining are called hardback shades. Compared to softbacks, they are cheaper and are typically mounted or laid as decorative pieces in contemporary interiors.
The downside of this backing is that they get discolored with age, smearing the amount and quality of light they emit.
Compared to hardbacks, softback lamp shades have a fabric backing. Although more expensive than the first one, they are more durable and have a more luxurious feel. Softbacks are almost always pleated so they are perfect for classic and vintage interiors.
Factors to consider when buying a lampshade
When it comes to buying the right lampshade for any room, there are five basic factors to consider and it would be the following:
- Room style: The room interior, the shape, as well as the size and color of the space are important considerations to cling to if you want to have a good lampshade. More than the light it emits, the manner of how the light will be diffused and where it will be placed, a lampshade should complement the vibe of the room well.
- Light: Always ask yourself about where the emitted light will be focused or how much light the room needs. You should also put in mind what type of lighting you want: is it diffused, ambient, or concentrated? Will you use it for task lighting or purely for decorative purposes?
- Bulb size: As per rule of thumb, the bulb should be 2-3-inches away from the shade so that the latter would not burn. For fabric and paper linings, at least 4-inches and more are recommended. This spacing is enough to determine the bulb size that you should get for your lampshade.
- Lamp base: Will it be the focal point of the room? Would you want your lampshade to draw visual attention? Would you want it to just low-key be a source of light? From shapes, materials and all, you have a lot of options when it comes to the type of lamp bases out there. You just have to pick which one is the most suitable for your preference.
- Lampshade size: Of the four considerations, this is the trickiest to consider. Note that lampshades differ in shapes and sizes, so when in doubt, master the following pointers.
- The harp indicates the height of the base, relative to the socket and top of the shade. You should bring different harp sizes when you are shopping for lampshades.
- Always remember that the height of the shade should be 3/4s the shade’s base height.
- Lastly, the bottom part of the lampshade should be wide enough to cover the widest part of the base.
What type of lampshade gives the most light?
There is no standard answer to this because the shape of the lampshade has a lot to do about the amount of lighting it gives to a room. But in the lineup, it is said that bell, empire and drum shades can offer the most illumination to a room. Of the three, bell and empire lampshades can emit the most light.
How do you attach a lampshade?
By standard, there are six steps to follow when you are attaching a lampshade. If you are going down the DIY route, here are the steps to follow.
- For safety, disconnect the lamp first.
- Unscrew the bulb from the socket.
- Get the new shade and slide over the lamp’s top stem. Whichever fitter you choose, make sure that they are all safely attached. The easiest to attach are the slip-on fitters and the UNO fitters.
- Test the whole thing if it fits. You can do this by checking the washer fitter which is located on the shade’s top stem.
- Next, place your new bulb and fit in the socket.
- Plug in the lamp and see if everything works.
Do all lamp shades in a room have to match?
No. This is a misnomer when it comes to lampshade arrangement. Identical lamps are considered outdated but if you are working on a classic or vintage interior design, matching lamp shades could aesthetically work.
Nonetheless, having lampshades that do not match but in some ways are related to each other when it comes to materials used, color, and others could help in keeping the cohesiveness of the room.
How many lamps should be placed in the bedroom?
In terms of interior arrangement, there is a concession that four types of lighting source would provide ample illumination and ambient lighting to a room. In this case, one ceiling light, bedside lampshades and one floor lamp would suffice for a bedroom.
Lampshades are very low-key accent pieces and lighting features but it does not mean that they should be taken for granted. From the types and materials alone, one can already deduce why lampshades have been default pieces for a long time.
If you intend to shop for one, you must know that more than the shape and style, other important considerations should be thought of.
Some of the most important factors to consider would be where they will be placed and how much light a room needs. The aesthetic part and even the budget could come secondary as long as you have a ready answer for the mentioned two.