Best Lampshades

Updated August 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

36 Models Considered
18 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
60 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Buying guide for best lampshades

Ideally, every room in your home has more than one source of light. Natural light shining through a window is great for daytime, but chances are good that once darkness falls you switch on a floor lamp or table lamp in the bedroom and living room. The choice of lampshade on that lamp makes a big difference not only in its appearance but also in the intensity and direction of the light it casts.

There are seemingly endless lampshades to choose from in every style and color you can think of. That’s why it’s helpful to be familiar with the various factors to consider when choosing a lampshade before shopping for one, everything from materials to size to shape.

Deciding which is best for your needs can be a little overwhelming, but we are here to make your decision easier. Our buying guide includes what you need to know to choose the right lampshade for your home. We’ve included some of our favorites too.

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lamp shades
The right lampshade completes the style and look of your lamp.

Key considerations

There are four important factors to consider when choosing a lampshade: shape, material, size, and color.

Shape

Lampshades come in many different shapes. Here are four of the most common.

Drum: Currently one of the most popular styles, drum lampshades are the same diameter at the top and bottom, or very close to it. These shades work well with just about any lamp base and have a fresh, contemporary look. They’re especially good with lamps that are wider or taller than average, and a great choice for a floor lamp. Drums direct light almost equally up out of the top and down out of the bottom.

Empire: The traditional lampshade style, these conical shades typically have around half the diameter at the top as at the bottom. Empire shades are a classic style that works well with any rounded lamp base. They direct much more light out of the bottom than the top, making them a good choice for a reading lamp.

Rectangular or square: These lampshades are best with a square or rectangular base or with an unusual or novelty base. They have a modern flair and direct light fairly evenly upward and downward.

Bell: These classic lampshades are similar to empire shades but with gently curved sides. Some have a scalloped bottom edge. This style works well with traditional or Asian decorating themes. Match a bell shade to a rounded or ornate base. These shades direct more light out of the bottom than the top.

Material

There are many materials used to make lampshades, but some of the most common are paper, parchment, silk, linen, cotton, and card.

Typically, light diffuses best through cotton, linen, and paper shades, while thicker parchment, silk, and card block more of the light. If you’ll be using the lamp for reading, task lighting, or to brighten a room, choose one of the lighter lampshade materials like cotton or linen. But if you want to set a mood, create some drama, or adorn an accent lamp, it’s hard to beat a silk, card, or parchment lampshade.

Lining

The lampshade’s lining also makes a big difference in how much light it casts. Some shades have a heavy lining that serves to hold the shape of the shade, but it also keeps much of the light from shining through the material. The most dramatic shades have a boldly colored lining or even a metallic coating, such as gold. Use these shades on accent lamps.

Unlined lampshades or shades with a soft lining let more of the light shine through the material, casting a wider glow that’s great for reading or general brightening of the space. However, it’s sometimes possible to see the light bulb or the lampshade harp or fitter through an unlined shade when the light is turned on.

lamp shades 2
DID YOU KNOW?
As a general rule, match a round lampshade with a round base and a square or rectangular shade with an angular base.
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Size

A lampshade that’s too big overwhelms your lamp. Too small and the lamp looks silly. The right size shade gives your lamp a balanced appearance, whether the lamp is sitting on the floor or a table. Use the following guidelines to find the best size of lampshade for a lamp:

Measure the widest part of the lamp. Often this is the base, but on some lamps it might be a different part.

Multiply that number by two. That’s the right width for the lampshade. A lamp that measures 8 inches at its widest point needs a shade that’s around 16 inches in diameter at the top or bottom. When choosing the shade for a floor lamp, look for a shade that’s at least 16 inches across the bottom.

Measure the height of the lamp. As a rule of thumb, the right lampshade is around two-thirds the height of the lamp. If the lamp is 24 inches tall, look for a lampshade that’s around 16 inches tall. For a floor lamp, the shade should be tall enough to conceal the shade’s fitter and the bulb.

Color and pattern

White, eggshell, cream, and various shades of beige are by far the most common colors for lampshades, and for good reason. These light colors let through the maximum amount of light, work with almost any other color in the room, and have a clean yet unobtrusive style.

Still, don’t feel limited to a white or cream shade if you’d prefer something bolder. You can find lampshades in black, red, metallic tones, and just about any other color you can imagine, although you’ll likely have to search harder to find them.

There are also lampshades with patterns ranging from simple stripes to complex geometrics to animal prints to freeform designs. Use these bolder or more unusual lampshades to add a touch of whimsy or drama to a room or draw attention to a gorgeous lamp.

Drum shades are one of the most popular styles today. They add a fresh, contemporary look to a room.

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Lampshade prices

Inexpensive: The price range for lampshades is a broad one. Prices depend on the material, size, and quality of the shade, but as a general rule, unless the shade is small, lampshades that cost less than $40 aren’t likely to last long.

Mid-range: The sweet spot for a good-quality lampshade large enough to fit an average-size table lamp is between $50 and $100. For that price, you can expect a quality product that will last for years without fading, tearing, or discoloring. You can also find a large assortment of colors, sizes, shapes, and materials.

Expensive: Above $100, you can find very large shades, higher-end materials such as silk, designer shades, and unusual colors, shapes, or designs.

lamp shades 3
DID YOU KNOW?
The lighter the color of the lampshade, the more light will glow through its sides.
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Tips

Once you’ve found the perfect lampshade, keep it looking its best with regular care.

  • Dust lampshades weekly. This includes the interior of the shade, light bulb, and the lamp itself. You can dust the shade with a feather or microfiber duster or use a lint roller to whisk away dust, pet hair, and other indoor grime.
  • Clean very dirty fabric shades (other than silk) carefully. Fill the bathtub with warm water, and add a couple teaspoons of a gentle dishwashing soap. Submerge the shade completely. Let it soak for 15 minutes or so. Wipe the shade with a clean cloth or nonabrasive sponge. Drain the tub, and refill it with clean water. Lift the lampshade up and down to rinse away soap residue. Repeat if necessary. Air-dry the lampshade in a warm spot with good airflow, but not intense heat or sunlight. Let the shade dry completely before putting it back on the lamp.
  • Do not wash paper lampshades. Do not submerge them in water or expose them to soap. Instead, use a barely damp clean cloth to wipe away any spots or heavy dust.
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Use an unusual lampshade to set a mood or add some pizzazz to a room.

FAQ

Q. Can I paint a lampshade?

A. Absolutely! Painting a fabric lampshade is a fun and easy way to change the look of not just the lamp but the entire room. Spray paint is the easiest way to paint your lampshade, but you can also do the job with a brush. Go for a solid color, paint stripes or other geometric shapes, or create an elaborate painted scene. The choice is yours.

Q. How do I choose between a pleated and a smooth lampshade?

A. Deciding on a pleated or smooth lampshade is mostly a matter of taste. Pleated shades are traditional but a little old-fashioned. They work well with traditional decorating styles, as well as country, rustic, or other relaxed looks. Smooth-sided shades are sleeker and more contemporary, so they work well with equally contemporary décor.

Q. What is the lampshade fitter?

A. The lampshade fitter is the metal framework that attaches the shade to the lamp. There are three basic types of fitters:

Clip-on fitters have a clamp that clips directly onto the bulb.

Spider fitters have three prongs that meet in the center of the shade. These fitters attach to a lamp harp, which is a U-shaped wire structure that surrounds the bulb. Some shades include a harp, but many require you to purchase the harp separately if the lamp doesn’t already have one in place.

UNO fitters have three prongs that attach to a metal ring that sits on the socket that holds the bulb.

 

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