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How to Choose A Lampshade - Top Tips From Helen Round

How to Choose A Lampshade - Top Tips From Helen Round

This is definitely the subject that we receive most questions about and there is absolutely no such thing as an awkward question when choosing a lampshade or base!

There are lots of things to consider; some of the things to think about are the colour, shape, design and size of each lampshade you buy.

We know that it can feel like a difficult decision, so read on, we are sure that we can help!

What Size Lampshade Should I Order?

To find the best sized lampshade for your lamp base, start by measuring the lamp base itself using a tape measure or ruler. 

Duck Egg Blue Linen Lampshade from the Garden Collection by Helen Round with Instructions on How to Size a Lampshade

The first measurement you’ll need is from the base of the lamp to the start of the bulb fitting, don’t include the actual bulb holder in the measurement. 

Scribble down this measurement (c).  

Next measure the width of your lampshade, that’s (b).  To keep the look of the lampshade in proportion c (the height) should equal b (the width of the shade). 

Remember b = c and/or c = b!

In the diagram above if the base is 30cm tall (c) then the diameter of the lampshade (or width (b) should be 30cm. 

Do I go bigger or smaller? 

It’s likely that the exact measurement may not be available in the lampshade that you are choosing.  If your lampshade falls between two sizes, if in doubt GO LARGE, since an undersized lampshade can look bottom heavy.  So if you’re not sure, choose the larger size.  That way you will have a generous lampshade and more shade to reflect the light from the bulb.

One of the other considerations is that the lampshade should fall at least 1.5cm either side of your base width or the chunkiest part of your lamp base, depending on the shape (d).  In the diagram, above you can see that the balloon shade base is well within the overall width of the lampshade.

There are always exceptions to every rule! 

What About A Narrow Lamp Base?

With a narrow table lamp (see below) you are looking for a shade that doesn’t overwhelm the base, so can opt for a smaller shade.  This is a 30cm shade.

 Raspberry Red Linen Lampshade from the Bird Song Collection by Helen Round

With a floor lamp, due to the length of the base, a general rule is to go for a quarter to a third of (c) the height of the base and here common sense and proportions might dictate your choice.  You may also want to consider the design of the base and the amount of available space you have around the lamp in your room.

This tripod base follows the guidance on height and width.  

Slate Grey Linen Lampshade with Fish Shoal from the Quayside Collection by Helen Round

How Can I Be Sure That I Have The Right Size? 

I find that the best way to work out what size of lampshade you need is by rolling up a piece of card to see how it looks around your lamp and how it sits in the space around the lampstand and then simply measure the diameter!  This is the size you will need. 

We offer cylindrical or drum lampshades in fittings of 20cm, 30cm, 40cm and 50cm widths. 

What Shape of Lampshade Should I Buy?

The simpler the lampshade base, the greater the range of styles it can take.

Generally, it's good to reflect the shape of the base in the shade, but a good designer can break the rules!

We find that our drum lampshades tend to suit most lamp bases.

Mustard Linen Lampshade from the Hedgerow Collection by Helen Round

What Colour and Design Would Suit My Room?

This is largely a question of personal choice.  You can create a pop of colour in a room with a  bright contrasting lampshade or you can choose to co-ordinate with the existing colour scheme or choose a neutral shade, which tends to co-ordinate with most colour schemes.   A new lampshade can transform a room. 


Natural Honey Bee Lampshade with Co-ordinating Cushions from the Honey Bee Collection by Helen Round

We also make co-ordinating cushions with all our lampshades, to help translate the colour and design throughout the room.

Bee Natural Linen Cushion from the Honey Bee Collection by Helen Round and Mustard Linen Cushion from the Hedgerow Collection by Helen Round

What Kind Of Fitting Do I Need?

We offer two fittings, "table lamp", which is for everything that attaches to a base and is free standing and a "pendant", which is for a fitting that hangs from the ceiling.  Be sure that you order the correct fitting since they are different!

Do You Sell Your Lamp Bases?

We don’t sell lamp bases, but they can be bought online from loads of shops.  Our blue and metal lampshades both came from John Lewis!

Indigo Linen Lampshade with Metal Base from the Hedgerow Collection by Helen Round

I hope I've helped to answer your questions about the exciting opportunities that choosing a new lampshade will bring.  It's a wonderful way to update or freshen up your room without the expense of buying a new sofa or getting out the paint charts.  All of our lampshades are individually screen printed and hand made to order by a small team of local artisans here in our studios in South East Cornwall in the UK.

If you are still struggling to work out which lampshade to choose, don't hesitate to get in touch.  We are only too happy to help you with your choice.

Linen Lampshades in the Studio at Helen Round

If you’ve have any questions or comments about this article please feel free to get in touch with us, and do please post pictures of your purchases in your homes or any questions on our social media pages; find us on Facebook or Instagram.

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