Wednesday, February 24, 2016

shedding some light on lamp shades

I have always lived in older homes. I grew up in a 1932 lakeside cottage and currently live in a 1929 brick Tudor. Neither of these homes have a ton of overhead lighting, in fact, most of the lighting for both homes had to come in the form of lamps and wall sconces. Watching my mom deftly handle this lighting issue is probably what got me into lamps. 

One of the benefits of working in residential real estate is picking up on tips that help to make a home warm and inviting. A trick I learned from a skilled stager, and one I incorporate in my own home, is utilizing the triangle of light. That's right, in any given room you want to have three sources of light that are placed in a quasi triangle.
In this photo there should be a light source to the left of the photo frame -
this will create a pleasing, properly lit room. 

I also learned that lighting the corners of a room will make the room feel bigger. 

After determining where you need lighting, the next step is to demystify the various lamp shade options so you create the right decorated look for your interiors. 


the BELL
The bell shape is the most classic look and offers a graceful sensibility. It lends itself well in traditional spaces. It works well on all shapes of lamp bases, but is the ideal shape for the ginger jar.

Empire shades are narrow at the top and wider at the bottom. Different than a bell shape in that it does not curve on its way down.

Pleated shades, with their dressmaker details make a space feel decorated and bring an air of femininity to a room. These lamp shades work best on more traditional lamps.

the OVAL
The oval shape works well in cozy rooms and should be used with lamp bases that are more one dimensional, something with a distinct front and back.


If you're looking for more of a modern vibe then look to a square or rectangular lamp shade shape. These make a strong statement and are best used on a square or rectangular base. The square shade looks great on sconces.

the DRUM

The drum shape works well in both traditional and modern interiors and on almost all lamp bases. It's clean lines can help make a dated lamp seem current. 

The tapered drum is the perfect shape for contemporary and classic interiors. They look best with taller, chunkier lamps, or round bases.

Now that you have determined the shape of your lamp shade, it's time to figure out the best size for your base. Understanding the ratio of base to lamp shade is key!

The shade-to-lamp formula is pretty simple - the shade should be roughly two-fifths of the total height of the full lamp, including the shade.

Lamp shades can be made out of any material. Each material casts a certain feeling, and glow.


Paper shades create a casual, relaxed mood and are great for adding texture and dimension. Because they are so lightweight, they are ideal as a hanging fixture.

The imagination is your limit with fabric. You can use any color or pattern on almost any lamp. Linen is casual and laid back while silk is formal and luxurious!
Metal lamp shades are wonderful for directional lighting, and it casts a sharp beam which makes for an ideal task lamp.

A glass lampshade offers a vintage look and can be perfect for bathrooms and kitchens. Clear glass adds a nice sparkle and opaque casts a softer glow.

Next week I will be creating a DIY lamp from an old wicker covered demi John I found in Snohomish. I will be including all the tools you will need, including where to buy - it should be enlightening!

Wicker covered demi Johns

Until next time,

la chasse au bonheur

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