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Lamp Shades: A Comprehensive Guide to Selection and Care

Lampshades, Lighting Advice

When it comes to creating the perfect ambience in your space, the right lampshade can make all the difference. But with so many options available, how do you choose the perfect one for your needs? In this guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about choosing and caring for your lampshades.

Whether you’re after a classic and timeless look or a bold and modern statement piece, we’ve got you covered. We’ll explore different styles, sizes, and finishes to help you find the lampshade that perfectly complements your decor.

Caring for your lampshades is equally important. We’ll provide you with expert tips on cleaning and maintaining your shades, so they continue to shine brightly for years to come.

Table of Contents

Introduction – Lamp Shades in Interior Design

Lamp shades are an essential element of interior design. They offer both form and function, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere while providing the necessary lighting to read, work, or relax. Lamp shades can also be used to accentuate the overall design of a room, adding texture, colour, and depth.

When choosing a lampshade, it’s important to consider the purpose of the lamp and the style of the room. For instance, a lamp in a bedroom might require a different type of shade than one in a living room. A bedside lamp might need a shade that diffuses the light, while a reading lamp might require a shade that directs the light downward.

Choosing the Right Lampshade

Selecting a lampshade is more than just picking out a covering for your light bulb. It’s about creating an ambience, complementing your room decor, and expressing your personal style.

Consider the shape of your lampshade to start, matching round bases with drum or empire shades and square or angular bases with rectangular or oval styles. If you have a round base, opt for round shades like drum, tapered drum, coolie, or empire styles. On the other hand, square or angular bases pair well with rectangular or oval shades.

The size of the shade matters too. A general rule to follow is that your shade should be two-thirds the height of its base. However, always trust your eye – if it looks right to you then go with it.

Lampshade Finishes

We offer a variety of finishes and materials for our lampshades from linens and card to raffia and silk. We also offer different linings and tape options.

Firstly, determine what form of lampshade will work best with your lamp base before thinking about colour, pattern, material, or even size. This seems like a good place to start because it serves as the foundation for all the other aspects.

Light Diffusion and Purpose

Another factor to consider is how much light diffusion you want from your shade. This can greatly affect the mood setting in different rooms. For instance, a sheerer material would offer a bright but diffused glow suitable for workspaces while denser ones create soft mood lighting. Also, adding a lining to the interior of a shade provides an opaque finish so that the light is more muted. Always remember, the purpose dictates choice.

Linen – White

 Linen – Ecru

Silk – Warm White

 Silk – Plover

 Silk – French Grey

Silk – Pot Pourri

Card – Snow White

 Card – China White

Card – Black

Patent – Black (gloss gold lined)

 Raffia – Natural

Perga Parchment

Card – Boiserie, Radica Ulivo

 Lining – Matt Gold

 Lining – Matt Silver

Lampshade Shape and Style

Lamp shades come in a variety of shapes. We offer a classic selection of drum, tapered drum, empire, coolie and tapered square and rectangular shapes in a range of standard sizes. We can also make shades in custom sizes and styles. The shape of your lampshade should complement the style of your room. For instance, a drum shade is ideal for modern decor, while an empire shade is better suited to traditional decor.

What is generally regarded as the most aesthetically beautiful lamp and shade combination? We advise looking at the base’s shape before looking for a shade with a comparable contour. We like the lampshade to mirror the lamp’s shape and often use tapered drum shades, especially with lamps in the shapes of bottles and urns.

Drum Shades

Drum lampshades provide a modern touch to a space and go well with broader or rounder lamp bases as well as floor lamps. A drum shade is exactly what you might imagine – formed like a drum with vertical edges and a cylindrical contour.

Tapered Drum Shades

Tapered drum shades are still modern but with a classic edge. These are our most frequently used shape as the style sits well with many styles of decor. Offering a classic aesthetic to modern lamp bases or a contemporary look to ornate antique lamps. The top diameter tapers in from the base diameter by a couple of inches.

Empire Shades

An empire lampshade is a traditional ‘frustum’-shaped shade, manufactured by cutting off the top of a cone while keeping the cut parallel to the base. Empire lampshades are frequently used to compliment traditional interiors or floor lamps because of the way they are designed, more light is cast downward than upward.

Coolie Shades

Coolie shades have an extreme slope and lend a lot of downward light. We like to pair this style with large spherical bases or in a smaller size on lamps with thin tall stems.

Tapered Square Shades

Square lampshades can fit in with both classic and contemporary homes because of their similar style to empires yet square base. These also work well for wall lights.

Tapered Rectangular Shades

Tapered rectangular shades are also good for classic and contemporary styles of décor. Because of their narrow depth and straight sides, they work well on lamps placed on consoles in hallways.

Lampshade Fittings

We offer a re-wiring service for lamps to the global market. This means that we can supply many different fittings for our lampshades too. When ordering lampshades, it is very important to be specific about the fittings so that we can ensure that your shade sits perfectly on your lamp base.


  • To be used with shade carrier BC fit for UK, ES fit for EU (available in various heights to suit the size of shade and lamp)
  • Suitable for table lamps & floor lamps

BC Fit (30mm diameter)

ES Fit (40mm diameter)

BUTTERFLY CLIP (mostly in the UK & EU)

This fitting is most widely used for smaller wall light, ceilings light or chandelier shades. The clip is designed to fit neatly on top of a golf ball bulb.


This fitting can be used for wall light shades or table lamp shades. It is very important to specify the ‘inset’ dimension from the base. The gimble can sit flush or 1 or more inches from the base depending on how much of the lamp base bulb holder requires covering.

BC Fit (30mm diameter)

ES Fit (40mm diameter)


This fitting is for use with a harp and decorative finial, which is the most common fitting in the USA. As we represent many US brands such as Palecek and Bunny Williams we like to keep this feature to maintain the integrity of the lamps’ original design. Harps are available in various sizes to suit varying shade sizes.

Lampshade Maintenance

To keep your lampshades clean dust the inside and exterior of the lampshade while keeping it attached to the lamp. It’s preferable to turn the light off before starting and letting the bulb cool. 

A clean, soft-bristled paintbrush works well to reach the dust in confined spaces or on pleated shades.

Paolos Top Lampshades

We provide a broad selection of stunning and fashionable lampshades in different colours and sizes. Whether you choose a lampshade for a table lamp, a standing lamp, or a pendant light, you can be confident that it will match our variety of high-quality lampshades.

Please get in touch with our sales staff if you don’t see what you’re looking for; they are willing to go over other choices.

Lampshade FAQ’s

What are the 3 types of lampshades?

The three main types of lampshades are drum, empire, and bell. Each has a distinct shape that affects light distribution.

What is the rule for lampshades?

The golden rule for lampshades: they should be about two-thirds the height of your base and roughly twice its width.

How do I know what size lampshade to buy?

To get a fitting shade, measure your base’s height from bottom to socket. The shade’s width should match or exceed this.

What is a spider fitter lampshade?

A spider fitter sits atop the harp with an attached finial. It’s common in UK homes due to its versatile design.


In conclusion, the selection and care of lampshades are fundamental aspects of interior design that often go unnoticed but can significantly impact the ambience and aesthetics of a space. We have explored the intricate world of lampshades in this comprehensive guide, shedding light on various essential factors to consider when choosing the perfect lampshade for your home.

From understanding the importance of lamp shades in interior design to delving into the nuances of selecting the right one, including finishes, shape, style, and fittings, we have covered the critical aspects of this often-overlooked accessory. We’ve also emphasised the significance of regular maintenance to ensure your lamp shades remain both functional and visually appealing over time.

As we conclude this guide, it’s important to remember that the world of lampshades offers an incredible array of options, allowing you to express your personal style and enhance the atmosphere of your living spaces. Whether you prefer the classic elegance of a silk empire shade, the modern simplicity of a drum shade, or something entirely unique, the right choice can truly transform your home.

To further aid you in your lampshade journey, we’ve provided Paolo’s top lampshade recommendations, giving you a curated selection to consider for your own interior design projects. Additionally, our lampshade FAQs have addressed some of the common queries and concerns that may arise during your selection and maintenance processes.

In the realm of interior design, every detail matters, and lampshades are no exception. With this guide in hand, you are now well-equipped to make informed decisions when it comes to selecting, caring for, and enjoying the perfect lampshade for your home. Illuminate your spaces with both practicality and style and let the world of lampshades elevate your interior design endeavours.

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