Lamp Shades Tips

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What color should my floor lamp shade be?

Floor Lamp Shades

The right floor lamp shade depends in part on the purpose of your floor lamp.

For task lighting, choose a shade that directs most of the light downward toward your work. For ambient lighting, choose a shade with a pleasant color that will filter the ambient light into the room.

Many people favor gentle tones of cream, amber and pink for this purpose. Blue and green shades have a distressing tendency to make the people in the room look unwell.

Can I make my own lampshades?

How to Make a Lamp shade

If you want a replacement lamp shade to take the place of one that's ugly or out of style, don't throw the old one away! You can learn how to cover a lamp shade yourself, whether you reuse an old frame or get fresh lamp shade materials from a craft store.

If you're using an old shade, start by carefully removing the old fabric. If you're careful and cut along the seams, you can use the old fabric as a pattern for the new shade, so it's worth taking some time on this.

Lay out your replacement lamp shade fabric with the inside up. If you're using a pattern, trace it lightly on the new fabric with pencil or disappearing-ink marker. Otherwise, roll the lamp shade frame along the fabric, marking its top and bottom as you go.

Cut out your shade around the outside of the pattern you marked. (It's easier to trim away a little excess fabric than to make up for a shade that comes up short.) If there are corners, cut a small V at the top of each corner to keep the fabric from bunching up.

Use fusible webbing and an iron to attach the fabric to the frame. Do the sides first, then the top, then the bottom.

Trim away any excess fabric or webbing, and be sure all fabric is at least three inches away from the light bulb when the shade is in place.

When should I buy replacement lamp shades?

Replacing Lamp Shades

Lamp Shade Guide: Shabby chic's one thing. Shabby lampshades that the Fire Department has condemned are another. But suppose your linen, cotton, bamboo or fringed lampshade isn't falling apart. How do you know when you need replacement lampshades? You may need to replace the lampshade simply because it doesn't flatter the lamp base. You wouldn't pair a square, mission-style base with a fringed curvy Victorian fringed shade. Rectangular shades look better with square bases.

You may also need replacement lampshades if you painted your den jungle colors. A frilly pink lampshade will clash with the Tarzan theme. Glass lamp shades, rattan/bamboo lampshades, or even better, leopard print lampshades--yes, even chandelier lamp shades that Siegfried and Roy would like--welcome you to the jungle. Fabric lampshades do experience wear and tear from heat, dusting, and handling. Too-hot light bulbs too close to the shade can cause the fabric to crumble.

Not So Shady Tip: Be sure that there is at least three inches of space between the lampshade and the light bulb. If you're a fan of vintage decor, a slightly shabby lampshade creates a 1950s effect when you turn on the light. Light passing through slightly tarnished, dusty lampshades creates a charming veneer of advanced age. So when people say about your lampshade, "Not too shabby," you can either reply, "Thank you" or "I can do better."

Do dark metal lampshades enhance chandelier lighting?

Metal Chandelier Shades

Lamp Shade Guide: You want metal lamp shades but worry that there might be a medieval Black Knight effect. After all, it was usually dark in those castles. One of the biggest considerations in choosing a lampshade is how it will direct the light. This is doubly true for chandelier lamp shades.

Fortunately, chandelier lampshades are completely tailored to chandeliers just as candelabra bulbs are. Still, you think, dark metal shades restrict light and cast too much of a pall. Dark metal shades look too heavy. Not so. Kathy Ireland's ACafe Country Tuscany Square Chandelier matches copper finish metal chandelier lamp shades with European-style antique gold and copper finish on the base and sockets.

For added illumination in metal chandelier lamp shades, try pinhole trim on the top and base of metal lampshades, which you'll find on the Metal Shade Island Chandelier. Dark metal-framed glass lamp shades for your chandelier are an alternative if you're into heavy metal (shades, that is) but dislike lampshades with more armor than "Camelot."

How do I avoid glare from my glass lamp shades?

The Bulb's So Bright I Need New Lamp Shades

Lampshade Guide: You're blindingly brilliant...on second thought, that may just be your white glass or clear crystal/glass lamp shades coupled with too-high-intensity light bulbs. You know, of course, that too-transparent chandelier lamp shades don't go together with high-wattage candelabra bulbs.

Table lamps and floor lamps are no different. In the case of desk lamps, the shade isn't as important as the brightness of the bulb, but you still don't want glare interfering with your work. Most clear glass lamp shades are designed with a particular wattage in mind to eliminate glare.

For example, a Waterford Crystal table lamp comes with standard 60-watt bulbs. The Alexander-John Torchiere Table Lamp takes a frosted candelabra bulb. Show off your brilliance and choose the correct bulb for your crystal/glass lamp shades.

What lampshades are too large for a floor lamp?

Too-Large Lampshades, Big Problems

Lampshade Guide: Your torchiere lampshade is so large it's hitting your head as you try to read. Ideally, torchiere fabric replacement lamp shades should be the size of the lampshades the lamp originally came with. For example, the Viennese-inspired John-Richard Torchiere lampshade is 12 inches high, 7 inches across the base and 7 inches at the top. The lamp itself measures 68 inches high.

  • For a table lamp, the height of a lampshade should be roughly 3/4 the height of the base. Shades for floor lamps can be smaller so as not to overwhelm.
  • Chandelier lamp shades can be larger or smaller than the socket of the downlight or uplight, but are smaller than the base of the chandelier. You don't see great huge chandelier lamp shades!
  • How far down should a lamp shade extend? It should cover the electrical fittings and the base of the socket, but if you can't see to change the light bulb, you have a problem.

If your lamp shade is too large, it's time to think about switching it to another lamp base.

How do I resize my lamp shade for my table lamp or chandelier?

Lampshade Fittings

Lamp Shade Guide: Spider. Uno. They both sound like card games, bands, viruses, software, Web sites...until you add clip-on. All guesses are off. Spider, uno, and clip-on are the three lampshade fittings that fasten the lampshade to the bulb. Whether you use fabric, metal, crystal, or glass lamp shades, you'll be buying one of the three fittings as part of the package. And one fitting does not fit all! There are marked differences in the three.

  • Spider: The most common fitting, usually used with a harp that can boost the lampshade height. Often has risers attached to the harp to resize the lampshade. Found in lampshades for wall lamps and table lamps.
  • Uno: Doesn't need a harp, since it's usually found on smaller bedise table lamps swing-arm wall lamps. Attaches the shade directly to the lamp socket.
  • Clip-On: Clips on to chandelier bulbs and secures chandelier lamp shades. Also fastens on to bulbs in smaller accent lamps. When buying replacement lamp shades, make a note of what fitting your old lampshades have.

Once you have your refitted lamp shades, sit down in the light and talk with your kids about their favorite bands while playing Uno.

What are some great lampshade/lamp base combinations?

Mix and Match Lamp Shades

While you can't put a square lampshade in a round hole, you can have fun mixing and matching lampshades and bases. Some suggestions before we leave you to your imagination:

  • Traditional slender iron base with curlicues and cheetah print beaded shade
  • Twist buffet table lamp base with cheetah print beaded shade
  • Bronze adjustable table lamp base with black bell gold-dotted lampshade
  • Crystal chandelier base with faux leather, eyelash trim or cream chandelier lamp shades
  • Black iron or gold chandelier base with mica hexagon chandelier lamp shades
  • Ivory ceramic table lamp base with hardback drum raffia fabric lampshade

How can I spruce up my desk lamps in my home office?

Desk Lamp Shades

Lamp Shade Guide: Tired of bottle green glass lampshades for bankers' lamps or metal lampshades that overheat when you turn on your desk lamp? You do have options. An attractive Tiffany-style desk lamp with a wooden base and stained glass lampshade brightens up even the most dismal dorm room or tiny home office.

Swingarm desk lamps can have soft fabric lampshades. For piano players, the Tiffany glass lamp shades on piano desk lamps add classical inspiration. How about opting for funky halogen desk lamps with blue bubble glass lamp shades? Plus there's Italianate bases with fabric lampshades, warm inviting mica lampshades...your desk can have pizzazz, and who knows, you might just get more work done all thanks to new or replacement lamp shades! And you thought only Starbucks could motivate you to work smarter on your taxes...

I have a small antique Belgian glass lamp that I need to buy a shade for. How do I size the shade properly so that it's neither too small nor too large?

Belgian Antique Lamp and Lampshade Size

Your antique Belgian glass lamp needs a lampshade that's roughly 3/4 the height of the lamp base. The shade should be 2 to 3 inches shorter than the base, so set your prospective shade next to the base. When you test the shade on the base, make sure the shade covers the bulb--you want the antique Belgian glass to shine the most!

Make sure you know the measurements of the shade:

1) top diameter
2) bottom diameter
3) height
4) drop, or how the shade fits on the lamp base

It's usually best to take your lamp to a lighting store to compare lampshade heights. What looks ideal online may be too small for your antique Belgian glass treasure once you try it on for size. Don't forget to ask the lighting experts in the lighting store for advice. Also, antiques experts may have some helpful hints.

What are some ways to dress up a boring lampshade?

Unusual Lampshade Materials

Tired of the same old white and cream cloth shades? Try unusual lampshades material to shed a different light on your room!

  • A metal lamp shade can be very elaborate or very plain. One look that works in "country" decor is the perforated tin shade, with the holes arranged to form an attractive design.
  • A beaded lamp shade is a guaranteed attention-getter. Use clear beads with metal wire for a modern look, or string colored beads on nylon or silk with loops and fringes for an over-the-top touch of rococo.
  • Fiberglass lampshades call up images of the "futuristic" shades of the 1950s, often displayed in unusual shapes, like layered rectangles. Great for a retro room.
  • A leather lampshade is just the thing for a Wild West-themed space.

How do I resize my lamp shade for my table lamp or chandelier?

Made in the Shade

So, you finally bit the bullet and decided to redecorate. Those gaudy, velvet-trimmed lampshades are cramping your style so it's time to drop those lamps off at Goodwill, right? Wrong! A shade doesn't make a lamp, it's actually the other way around. Just because those 70s style shades clash with your new modern and minimalistic look doesn't mean that the entire lamp is unsalvagable.

Try buying some sleek new shades to accent those perfectly good bases. You can change the entire look of your lamps by swapping out shades and you will be saving yourself a bit of cash in the meantime. So, break out the lampshade guide and pick one that's right for your new decor.

Are rustic bark lamp shades still fashionable?

Rustic Bark Lamp Shades

Lampshade Guide: Sorry to say, birchbark lampshades are a little too reminiscent of summer camp arts and crafts. If you like the rustic homemade look, try a natural or wrapped rattan lampshade. Even chandelier lamp shades can go homemade-looking—this is ideal for a kitchen chandelier.

Try a woven raffia clip-on shade. Bamboo is also a terrific choice to position before bay windows in that oceanfront house or lake cottage. If you still want to bring out that birchbark lamp you made while drinking bug juice, do so at your own risk.

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Guru Spotlight
Lynne Christen