Tips to Find the Right Lampshade

I found a vintage pair of lamps for our bedroom without lampshades, and that’s what started the ball rolling. After purchasing them, I have finally gotten around to ordering shades for them. (had to wait to find the perfect nightstands first!)

I needed to find the right lampshade for these wonderful vintage lamps!

Figuring out what was going to be the right lampshades for those lamps got me going on fixing a few other mismatched lamps and shades around the house too. 

Some of these were so ridiculously mis-sized, it’s comical how bad they looked… and how long I lived with them that way! I guess I just got used to it… plus our stuff was in storage for a year while we were renovating our house, so I’ll use that for my excuse. 😉 

Regardless, I made it my goal to reexamine each lamp in our house and critique it. Concentrating on one task while the process is fresh in my brain makes me more efficient. Plus as I’m going through multiple websites looking, I would probably run across a good one for a different lamp anyway.  

So, starting with this handcrafted pottery base light: How to Find the Right Lampshade Pottery lamp before

Yup! That’s one of the ridiculous ones!

It looked like it put on it’s daddy’s lampshade, like how our kids used to do to their daddy’s shoes after he came home from work in the evening. I’m embarrassed to admit how long this shade was on this lamp too!! Yikes! 

It was looking so bad, that I was almost going to donate the whole lamp and shade. 

Fortunately, I came to my whits and I’ll show you a little further down the ‘after’… It’s an amazing difference!

Next, is this one in the living room: How to Find the Right Lampshade

The lampshade was a bit too large on it too.

This shade came from a different lamp several years ago, and although it was originally an expensive shade, now had a couple stains and a rip on the back. 

Another lamp I needed to get a shade for was this little wall mounted lamp: How to Find the Right Lampshade

It was left in the house from the previous owner. During renovation it got tossed around, up here and there as the guys moved from one floor to the other. It’s a miracle it didn’t get broken!

After the renovation dust settled, I found a use for it in the mudroom and the ‘after’ of it is a bit different too. (you can read all about our whole house renovation project here)

Finally, here is the glass base of one of those vintage lamps I found on a Facebook garage sale site: How to Find the Right Lampshade

Since nightstands are typically fairly low, it’s nice to have tall lamps to compensate. These lamps had a wonderful vintage Colonial look to them and wound up to be just perfect in our master bedroom. 

Ok, so once I identified the lamps that looked awkward, I needed a refresher course in properly sizing a lampshade to a lamp.

Here is a wonderfully simple sketch Ballard Designs has on their site: How to Find the Right Lampshade

Ballard Designs 

Super simple.

Of course these are basic guidelines, there are exceptions to the rule, like in floor lamps etc. and there is always room for creative license. But for the most part, this is what will wind up looking balanced to your eye. 

Remember, the bottom of the lamp shade should clear the top of the lamp base, and can show a bit of the stem, but should not expose the socket part. (one site explained it like that would be a lady’s slip showing) 

The other thing to consider is color and style of the lamp base. I like the lamp and lampshade to look like a unit… Not for one to over power the other, but to compliment each other and be a unit!

Now back to the handcrafted pottery lamp: How to Find the Right Lampshade

The base has this lovely colorful glaze on it, so I definitely wanted the shade to work with that… Unlike the last shade that just was there, and made the whole lamp seem BLAH. This lamp needed something to make it really pop.

I search all over online. There were not very many shades that were the right size that would have been the right color for this lamp.

Then I found it… at

Anthropologie can be a bit pricey but they do have really unique home and furniture pieces, so I always check them out. I’ve had good luck finding things with some pretty great clearance prices, so you never know! 

Sometimes you just find the perfect thing and have to go for it. 

This lampshade wasn’t on clearance, and it was a bit pricey… I did wait patiently, with it in my cart until they offered sale, then jumped on it. (you can get burned waiting too… I’ve waited too long and had them go out of stock and discontinued!)

Here is the before and after: How to Find the Right Lampshade

Seriously, is this the right lampshade or what?! And wow… it popped alright!

Here is the link for this shade at Anthropologie, (just in case you are in need of one too.) 

Ohhh… I just checked there and it just happens to be on sale today!!! How to Find the Right Lampshade

The crewel hand stitching on the shade is really gorgeous. It would have taken many hours to create it, so the big price felt a little better. 

Plus, look how perfect it is with the rug in the office: How to Find the Right Lampshade

(The wool rug in the office is from Overstock. I have had really good luck finding great deals on some good quality items there!)

Besides the perfect color, (for the lamp and the room!) quality workmanship, the new lampshade is now the appropriate size for the lamp and now looks like a lovely ‘unit’.

Moving on to the living room lamp: How to Find the Right Lampshade

I couldn’t get my camera to capture the true color, (at least it doesn’t show quite right on my monitor). But the color on the lamp and the color of the lamp has a little more chartreuse than gold in it. 

So once again, no only is the shade the perfect color and shape, it is also the appropriate size for the lamp. How to Find the Right Lampshade

Then to those pair of vintage glass lamps in the bedroom.

I finally found the right nightstands. (After staying in Maine this summer, I fell in love with the idea of navy blue nightstands. Here is where I found the perfect navy nightstands! )

The little Colonial style arrow finials on the lamps were what caught my eye. So sweet! How to Find the Right Lampshade

In my search for the right lampshade, since the lamps were white, I wanted the shades to be darker. Navy is the main accent color in the bedroom, so that color for the shades felt perfect. How to Find the Right Lampshade

I found these linen weave shades in the right size and shape at Ballard Designs. How to Find the Right Lampshade

I’m thrilled with their vintage charm. I should note too that although this picture doesn’t show it, the shade does show the top of the lamp. I took the picture with the camera angled down so you could see a little of the table top. So, yes, it is sized right for the lamp. 🙂 

Oh wait, one more lamp to show you… How to Find the Right Lampshade

That little wall mounted sconce that somehow didn’t get broken during the renovation found a home in the mudroom above the coffee counter. 

I painted the tarnished metal arm black. The clip-on lampshade is from a gal that makes and sells them on Etsy. 

Aha… if you noticed at the beginning, where I talked about the ‘rule of thumb’ rules for the right sized lampshade, I mentioned that the socket isn’t supposed to show. Well on this wall sconce it does, but it really had to because there really isn’t enough room in the height for it not to. I actually tried a larger lampshade first and it looked huge on this petite lamp. So I guess I’ll claim that ‘creative license’ on this one. 

What a difference it is when you find the right lampshade! All of these lamps boast a pretty convincible arguement for that.

How about you? Do you have a lamp that needs a critical eye? Go through your rooms and take a second look… You may be surprised what you’ve gotten ‘used to’!

Thanks so much for stopping by! Please feel free to follow and share this blog with your friends, as well as on Facebook,PinterestFlipboardBloglovinYouTube and now Instagram! I appreciate you reading along.

Thank you HOMETALK for the huge feature!! 

Reader Interactions


  1. Margarite says

    Happy New Year? I ‘m like you where I like to either change off a lampshade for a “new” look, or I sometimes pull a switcharoo, (if the lamps are compatible), and place the shades on them. Many times this has worked..I have quite a few lamps, perhaps that’s why. I love all of your lamps and lampshades (especially partial to the beautiful crewel work one). I’m a crafter and crewel work is one of my fortes. Now, this is just MY opinion (which doesn’t mean anything lol). I think your pottery base lamp is very pretty and has it’s uniqueness. However, I don’t. see the crewel shade on it. To me, it looks a bit “off.”

    • Liz says

      Margarite, thank you for your comment… and you’re absolutely correct, we each have the right to our opinion. I’ve learned both in design work with clients, and just being married (LOL) how different what’s pleasing to one’s eye can be from someone else! Thanks for stopping by, hope you come back again.

    • Liz says

      Yes, this post is about figuring out how to find the right shade for a lamp based on a design equation of sizing, color, shape and style. Hope you found it useful. Thank you for stopping by.

  2. Donnamae says

    Great post….very helpful. And,,,I love the shade you chose for your pottery lamp. It never would have occurred to me to put those two together. But, they look fantastic together. Good eye!

    I’ll have to check on Ballard’s site…I have two lamps in our living area that maybe could use an update? If I sound unsure, it’s because I am. They are cone shaped and pleated…and there is nothing wrong with them. So, I’m hesitant to replace them just because. Have pleated shades gone out of favor?

    All of your lamps look great. Thanks for the sizing guide! ?

    • Liz says

      Thanks Donnamae! Yes, we don’t see as many pleated shades as we used to, do we? I too have a hard time throwing something when it is perfectly good. I love that Goodwill is always happy to receive donations, then I feel I’m helping out as I’m updating. ☺️

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