17 Types of Lamp Shades By Shape And Material

Jessica Stone
by Jessica Stone

Oftentimes, the details can make a major difference. Something as simple as a new lamp shade may be exactly what you’ve been looking for to spruce up your living space. Although lamp shades serve a functional purpose by shading harsh lighting, they are also a wonderful way to personalize your home. Whether you choose to swap out a lamp shade to match a change in the seasons, achieve a different mood, or compliment some new décor, you have many options to choose from.

Lamp shades can be categorized based on a number of factors, including shape, size, and material. While the task of replacing a lamp shade may seem trivial, it’s important that you consider all of these factors in order to achieve the look and feel that you are going for.

That said, let’s take a deeper look at some of the various types of lamp shades available to freshen up your space.

How Lamp Shades Work

Although everyone has them, most do not stop to consider how lamp shades work and what purpose they serve in the home. Lamp shades are responsible for blocking, filtering, and directing the light that comes from a lamp. The openings at the top and bottom of the shade allow both light and heat to escape. Whereas, the shades themselves attach to the lamp via a fitter that connects to the lamp shade’s frame.

Lamp Shade Considerations

When it comes to choosing the right lamp shade, there is much to consider.

  • Size: The goal is to choose a lamp shade that is in proportion with the base of your lamp. Overall, the lamp shade should be approximately two-thirds the height of the lamp base. When it comes to width, the shade should be no more than twice the width of the base of the lamp.
  • Shape: The shape of the lamp shade should also match the lamp’s base. For example, circular or hexagonal shades pair well with round-based lamps, rectangular or square shades are ideal for square or angular bases, and you can use virtually any shape lamp shade for lamps with candlestick bases.
  • Material: The specific material that the lamp shade is made out of will have a direct impact on appearance, style, and especially lighting properties. You want to ensure that the shade is translucent enough to allow the desired amount of light to shine through.
  • Color: To create a focal point in a space, opt for a lamp shade with either an unusual pattern or a pop of color. For a more muted look, choose a shade in a soft, neutral color.
  • Fitting Attachment: The lamp shade is attached to the lamp via one of four types of fittings. Make sure that you choose a fitting that matches your lamp.

Types of Lamp Shades by Shape

Lamp shades are available in a number of intriguing and unusual shapes. Again, make sure that you choose the shape of your lamp shade based on the base of the lamp. While there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all regarding lamp shades, knowing the most popular shades can aid in your hunt to find the perfect shade.

1. Empire

Empire lamp shades are the standard shape, consisting of a relatively small opening at the top, slanted sides, and a wide opening at the base. Because of their classic cone shape, they emit light downwards through the wide brim. This makes empire shades ideal for accent lighting and are commonly used for table lamps.

These types of lamp shades will complement virtually any style and base, but are often seen with candlestick or round base lamps.

2. Bell

As the name suggests, bell lamp shades are bell-shaped in nature, with a round opening at the top and sides that curve downward to a wide opening at the base. The flare at the bottom of the shade helps emit light outwards, providing maximum coverage. Meanwhile, the top of a bell lamp shade distributes a softer, ambient light.

These shades are commonly paired with a classic or traditional décor style. Like empire shades, bell lamp shades work well with candlestick and round lamp bases.

3. Drum

Drum, or round-shaped lamp shades have a wide cylindrical shape, tall sides, and wide rims equal in size on the top and bottom. This allows the light to be equally distributed upward and downward. These types of lamp shades are ideal for tall floor lamps or positioning over a table. Their clean, vertical sides pair well with contemporary, modern, and transitional décor styles.

4. Bowl/ Dome

Bowl, or dome-shaped lamp shades are an adaptation of the empire shape, featuring a wide basin that distributes light downwards. They are most often used for overhead lighting fixtures or with large floor lamps for general lighting purposes. As the name suggests, they have a semi-sphere shape that looks lively with traditional or classic décor.

5. Rectangular & Square

Both rectangular and square shaped lamp shades are popular in modern and contemporary spaces. They are also ideal for pairing with square or angular lamp bases. Rectangular lamp shades feature two sides that are longer than the others, while square shades have sides that are all the same length.

Regardless, square and rectangular lamp shades have flat edges instead of circular edges, which gives them their modern appearance. These types of lamp shades emit sufficient light to be used for general or task lighting purposes.

6. Novelty

Novelty lamp shades come in a wide variety of unique sizes, shapes, and designs. These types of shades are peculiar in a nature and are ideal for those looking for something particularly eye-catching.

Types of Lamp Shades by Material

Another way to categorize lamp shades is based on the material that they are made out of. Fortunately, there are a number of different lamp shade materials to choose from and the ideal one for your home depends on the purpose of the particular lamp.

While translucent shades are excellent for providing ambient lighting and reading, opaque shades will direct the light in a more defined way, and are perfect for establishing a mood and emphasizing objects in the space.

1. Glass Lamp Shade

Glass lamp shades range from clear to opaque, and include art-glass and Tiffany glass. Although very fragile, glass shades are easy to clean. They also come in a range of shapes, but are most often found in round shapes.

2. Metal Lamp Shade

Metal lamp shades are usually round or dome-shaped and commonly used for task lighting or positioning over tables on overhead pendant fixtures. The opacity of the metal directs the light downward and, unless perforated, does not escape the shade.

3. Crystal Lamp Shade

Crystal lamp shades are made out of numerous prismatic crystals attached together to form a shade. They usually have rounded frames, with bands of silver metal that pair well with the sparkling crystals. These crystals cast glimmers of light that can offer a touch of glamor to any space.

4. Burlap Lamp Shade

Lamp shades made of natural burlap can lend a warm, rustic charm to your living spaces. Their opacity makes them ideal for ambient lighting and accent lighting, as all of the light will be distributed out of the top and bottom openings of the shade.

5. Paper Lamp Shade

Paper lamp shades are a very cost-effective choice and are available in a range of colors, textures, and opacities. To offer stability, they usually have a laminated backing. Though, in general, paper lamp shades tend to be more fragile than many other alternatives.

6. Mica Lamp Shade

Very common in Arts and Crafts décor styles, these lamp shades are constructed out of mineral mica flakes and then combined with organic shellac. Each mica lamp shade is unique, with differences in mineral deposit patterns and color.

7. Silk Lamp Shade

Lamp shades made of a silk fabric come in a range of colors and textures. Though relatively difficult to clean, silk lamp shades deliver a lovely filtered lighting effect to a space and can compliment virtually any style.

8. Linen Lamp Shade

Linen is a popular choice for lamp shades, as the material is relatively inexpensive, sturdy, and comes in a variety of colors. The fabric itself is made out of fibers that come from the flax plant. Depending on the color of the linen lamp shade, they typically provide a lovely, soft lighting effect.

9. Rattan Lamp Shade

Rattan lamp shades can bring the natural look of the tropics from the outdoors to the indoors. Their vertical bands deliver a soft filtered light, resulting in a warm, rustic, and comfortable glow.

10. Bamboo Lamp Shade

Somewhat similar to rattan lamp shades, bamboo lamp shades provide a very natural, exotic appeal. With these types of lamp shades, though, the slats are usually wider. This causes less ambient light to escape the shade. Bamboo lamp shades are commonly paired with table lamps to provide accent lighting.

11. Wood Lamp Shade

Wood lamp shades range in style from rustic to modern. Thin layers of wood can be used to create lamp shades that yield a remarkable, natural statement. These shades are usually round, square, or rectangular in shape. Since wood is opaque, the light is emitted from the top and bottom openings.

Depending on the style of the wood lamp shade, it may provide a bright, diffused lighting effect or more of a delicate accent light.

Jessica Stone
Jessica Stone

Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.

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