What size should my lampshade be? Our helpful guide to the perfect dimensions for all your lamps.

How big should a lampshade be? A helpful guide to get your lamp dimensions right.

What size should my lampshade be? 

Its important to get the proportions of your lampshade just right. The most important measurements to take into account are diameter and height
Here are the 'rules' to get your dimensions just right....and of course please remember rules were TOTALLY made to be broken... ;-)


RULE 1. 

The lampshade should be twice as wide as the lamp base, and one-third the total height of the entire lamp. Okay, so that all sounds fine but let's look at it in practice. 

Here the total height of the lamp is 49cm so one-third of that is 16cm...however the shade on this lamp is actually 20cm. And it looks great! A 16cm shade might not actually cover the bulb enough to create a good glow and if you walked near it you'd be blinded by the top of the globe poking out. 
what is the right size lampshade for my base?
So these rules are not hard and fast...and could even cause you problems if you follow them point blank!


The diameter of the shade should NEVER exceed the height of the lamp base, you don't want to swamp the base (I don't think I've ever broken this one).
The taller base below (pic from Pinterest) is still probably the same width as the white one on the left, however the smaller diameter and extra height really works well. 


Be sure the lampshade hides the lampholder / hardware, and the bulb (some bulbs are taller than others so you may need to take this into account).
Barramundi silk with natural log wood base


When shopping for a lampshade (or lampshade making supplies) be sure to check the diameter of the washer fitting that attaches to your lampholder - there are two sizes widely available in Australia - a 28mm Standard washer, or a 41mm European washer - check the diameter of your lampholder to be sure you are buying the correct fittings. 


Floor lamps / standard lamps - which is the best lampshade for a floor lamp?
Here the basic rule is the shade should be a quarter of the height of the base.
I must say, I am pretty loose when applying this rule - I'm more concerned about the placement of the lamp, is it near furniture, how will the light fall, is a feature or more to provide ambient light. I like bigger shades on standard lamps so I would generally opt for a larger size if you're finding it hard to make a decision. A tall 30cm diameter shade with say 35 to 40cm height can look good on a standard lamp, and the same lamp could usually also tolerate a 50cm diameter shade around 25cm tall. 
Standard lamp floor lamp with handmade custom lamp shade


Pendant Shades - I think the rules here are super flexible. A few things to consider...
  • Big room? Epic shades ;-) ...the bigger the better in my opinion
  • Small room? A smaller diameter and a taller height, or a shallow shade with a large diameter if the ceiling height is low (may also need a diffuser) ....
  • Try lining a pendant shade with wallpaper - its actually pretty easy and makes a whopping impact - comment below if you'd like a special tutorial written just for this. 
  • Will you sitting under the shade? Check that the shade is tall enough to hide the globe from multiple seated positions around a dining table and/or sofa. 

Exceptions to the rules:

Yep, go on! Break the rules! Its fun and you might just create harmony and surprise! Use your imagination - that's what its for ;-) 
I'm a big fan of very tall shades on little bases - which is why 3Chooks developed the Simple Lampbase. This base is only 10cm tall and pictured are 23cm and 35cm tall shades.
3Chooks Simple Lampbase with 20cm diameter lampshade featuring Echino fabric from Japan
Equally fabulous is a 35cm tall shade like these beauties (available for sale at the Bouddi Gallery, Killcare. 
How about a lampshade for a tall skinny lamp? In this case my preference would be a tall skinny lampshade too - similar in dimension the picture above. Or like these cuties (from Pinterest):
Pinterest - tall skinny lamps
Rather than doubling the width of the lamp, I would keep the shade the same width/diameter as the base and give it extra height. A more traditional look might be an empire shaped lampshade or coolie lampshade.  
Natural log wood base with canvas striped shade

Other helpful hints:

  • A light coloured or very fine fabric will allow a lampshade to glow casting an ambient light across a room. Where as, a dark coloured or very thick fabric will direct the light up and down creating more a statement and usually not great to read by. Keep in mind the purpose of the lamp when choosing a covering. 
vintage base green ceramic base with olives tall lampshade
  • Sometimes the print on the fabric will dictate the height of the shade. For example, you wouldn't want to chop off Frida Kahlo's head, and that little bird on the bowl of fruit deserves to make it onto the lampshade too ...Frida's Garden - Alexander Henry fabric
  • As well as the size of the shade, take the decor of the room into account - will the shade be a feature or do you want it to blend in, is it for ambient light or are you trying to direct the light onto a favourite artwork or create a reading nook? 
  • I've noticed lots of people are opting for larger shades for their bedside tables these days
and dare I say it...mismatched lamps too! I love this one from Decoist.comhttps://www.decoist.com/choosing-table-lamp-ideas/mismatched-table-lamps-in-the-bedroom-make-for-a-quirky-addition/
  • The 3Chooks Lampshade Making Kits come in a standard shade height of 23cm which I have found to be a really useful height. Don't forget you can trim the height down to any height you please really - although I'd be hesitant to go under 20cm most of the time as you want to be sure the hardware and bulb is well covered.
  • For taller shades you can either request a taller template to be included in your kit (its no problem, just ask). Or you can order the lampshade paper by the metre - its 70cm wide and can be cut to any length so let your imagination run wild and start making perfectly proportioned lampshades today ;-)
Lampshade Making Kit

Happy lampshade making!  
Love Anna @ 3Chooks 

1 comment

  • Hi, I’m wanting a lampshade made for my mum and dad’s 1950’s barley twist floor lamp. It has it’s original diffuser bowl, so I need a shade that will sit on top of that. The lamp stands 1650cm to top of the diffuser bowl. I’m thinking a modern print, barrel shade. Are you able to make a shade that has the right fitting to sit on top of the diffuser bowl please?

    Sandy Dickinson

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