Illumé, a bespoke lampshade store, opened it’s doors in NYC’s design district this past February.  We finally had the opportunity to visit their design studio to create a selection of custom lampshades for an upcoming installation.  The store carries a wonderful selection of lamp, chandelier, and sconce shades in materials such as silk, linen, parchment, and grass cloth.

 Illume Store Front 2

Illume Store Front 2

Whether you’re looking to design your own custom shades or buy ready-made shades, we thought we’d share some tips of the trade that help us determine the right shade for the fixture.  Design is in the details!

Steps to Choosing a Lamp Shade

 1. Choose the Shape

The shape of the shade should complement the base of the lamp.  For example, if your lamp has a round base, consider a round shade.  If your lamp has a square base, consider a shade that is more angular such as a square or hexagon.

 Lamp Shade Styles

Lamp Shade Styles

2. Choose the Bottom Measurement:

  • Table lampshades typically have a bottom diameter of 16” or less
  • Floor lampshades typically have bottom diameter of 16” or larger
  • For more detailed measurements, the lampshade should have a bottom diameter that is plus or minus 2” of the height of your lamp.  How to measure your lamp height:
 Measure Diameter

Measure Diameter

3. Choose the Height:

  • The height is measured on the slant
  • The height of the lampshade should not exceed the height of the harp plus ½” and should not be smaller than the height of the harp minus ½”.  Meaning, if your harp is 7” tall, your shade should have a height between  6 ½” and 7 ½”.  How to measure your harp:
 Measuring Height

Measuring Height

4. Choose the Fitting:

You’ll want to know whether you need a fitting that is a spider, uno, or clip-on before you buy something, get it home, and realize it doesn’t fit!

 Lampshade Fittings

Lampshade Fittings

5. Choose Color, Material, and Details:

The shade color and material should compliment the room, but it also allows you to control light filtering.  Things to consider:

  • Do you want the shade to be an accent piece?  Do you want the shade to blend in with the background?
  • Does the color compliment the lamp as well as the room?
  • A lighter shade will appear brighter, while a darker shade will let less light through and be more moody
  • Materials like linen and silk will give off an ambient glow while materials like paper and metal will not let any light through.
  • Keep in mind how you want to clean the shade as some materials are more dust prone than others
  • Do you prefer stretched or pleats?

Happy lamping.


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