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A guide to lamp shades: how to get the desired lighting effect in your home

The lighting in the average household is quite often overlooked as part of the complete décor of a room, and this is a shame because the different effects that can be obtained using various lighting styles and types is enormous. The ambience or ‘feel’ of a room can be greatly altered just by adding some selective light fittings or a few directional lights.

You only have to see the effects that a bright spotlight can have on an item that needs to be picked out in a room or feel the warmth that a coloured lamp shade can bring to a cold room to get an idea of what can be achieved using different lighting and light fittings.

The type of lamp shade you choose will obviously be tailored to the light fitting you are pairing it to. There are lamp shades to fit every lamp and every light fitting that you can imagine. Your tastes might be traditional or modern, colourful or plain, stylish or understated. Whatever your needs there is a lamp shade to give the desired lighting effect. Take a little time to browse through what is available before you decide.

Lamp shades can be found to fit fixed lights like ceiling lights or wall lights or to fit stand alone light fittings like floor lamps, reading lights or table lamps. Quite often a new lamp or light fitting will come with a lamp shade included but sometimes this does not give the desired lighting ambience that you want in your room.

A good lamp shade can be a focal point of your room whether it be a signature chandelier on your main ceiling light or a Tiffany lamp shade on your table lamp. Decide what lighting effect you want and choose your lamp shades accordingly.

Glass shades

It is possible to get glass shades in a wide range of colours and styles, a white shade will give a bright illumination to a dark corner whereas a coloured lamp shade will give either a cool light if you choose blues or green or a warm glow if you go for reds or yellows.


It is possible to get lamp shades with cut outs where a pattern can be cast upon a wall or ceiling and this gives a charming effect to a child’s bedroom or a playroom.


Traditional fabric lamp shades give a classic timeless feel to a room and can add a touch of old fashioned style and glamour if used in conjunction with some statement furniture items.


The trend for metallics continues this year, as such brass, copper and steel lamp shades are ideal for a variety of motifs including country cottage and industrial. Metal shades can provide a bright reflective light or a more subtle diffused style depending on how highly polished the inside of the lamp shade is.


Available in an extensive range of styles, designs and colours plastic lamp shades are easy to clean. They can give a whimsical look and are often used to create lamp shades for children's rooms, bathrooms and kitchens.

Lamp shades can be made from almost every type of material from glass through any and every fabric type to metal. Obviously some shades are going to be a lot more expensive that others and a silk hand pleated shade will be far more costly than a mass produced cotton shade, as will a polished metal shade when compared to a standard plastic shade.

There is no hard and fast rule as to what lamp shade suits any given base or fitting, but remember when adding a shade to a free standing lamp that your shade should not make your base top heavy and prone to falling over. Neither should it overpower your base and make it look out of proportion.

One thing to remember when adding or changing your lamp shades is to always follow manufactures instructions with regards the type of shade you can use. Some shades are not suitable for light fittings that give out a lot of heat, for example a plastic shade can be melted if the light bulb is too strong.

Choose a lamp shade in a colour style and design that compliments your decorating motif and colour scheme. Consider the amount of light you need in a particular area to ensure the lamp shade will be suitable for the strength of the light bulb.

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