Finding the right shade for a floor lamp

You’ve got a lovely floor lamp – but how do you find the shade of the perfect size, shape and design to go with it and make your living room sing? Here’s our guide…

Pairing lamps with lampshades is part art, part science. In fact, you read the comprehensive guide to choosing a lampshade for any kind of lamp here. But here are the specific things to think about for standing lamps…

Getting the shade size right

The general rule of thumb is that a shade for a floor lamp should be 45cm (18 inches) or larger at the diameter of its base. That will give it a sensible proportion relative to the lamp base. However, when picking a shade you also need to think about where it's going to go: a very large shade won’t work in a small room with a bit of clutter, whereas in a large empty space it may be a case of the bigger the better.

Getting the shade shape right

Of course all sorts of weird and wonderful shapes are available – but in general square shades and so on are best left for table lamps. For floor lamps you’re generally looking at one of these three shapes.

Left to right: Empire, Straight Empire and Drum shapes Empire – the traditional shape, great for fabric shades, vintage looks and so on. Straight Empire – like the Empire, a ‘frustrum’ shape (i.e. a cone cut across the top) but with a steeper slope. The Straight Empire is very versalite and works in all kinds of styles and materials Drum – a sleeker, more modern shape, really good for contemporary coloured silks.

Choosing a lampshade material

Cottons

With a pleated ‘gathered’ cotton shade you get that lovely, cosy vintage look. On the other hand, a rolled cotton shade, block-printed in a contemporary pattern, can look very smart.

Pink block-printed gathered cotton shade; and 'Persian fishscales' rolled cotton shade.

Linens

Linens can vary from very shabby chic – like this oatmeal dropdown style shade – to a warm and comforting chambray

Oatmeal dropdown linen shade; and a chambray linen shade in apple green And some of our most popular shades for floor lamps have been the striking Ikat patterns printed onto linen.

45cm Straight Empire shade printed linen Ikat shade in black zig-zag

Silks

For a luxurious, lustrous sheen, you can’t beat dupion silk.

45cm drum shade in "peacock" dupion silk

Parchments

Parchment shades can be really special, creating a lovely soft glow. We’ve found that handmade banana fibre parchments, colour dyed and sealed with wax, are particularly gorgeous.

45cm straight empire shade in Sunshine handmade parchment

Finding the lampshade style for your room

Changing the shade for your floor lamp from time to time is a great, inexpensive way to freshen up your room’s look and feel. So do you go for a striking Ikat pattern on a large shade for a statement floor lamp, or a more subtle ivory printed silk to sit elegantly and unobtrusively in the corner? Well that depends on your taste and your room. But here’s some inspiration…

Woody! Eclipse floor lamp in silvery black with a Grey Ferns cotton shade - shop here

Trafalgar brass 2

Moody blues - Trafalgar floor lamp in antique brass with drum shade in petrol blue dupion silk - shop here

Black and white zig zag ikat in some cosy neutrals by top style instagrammer Banke. Image

Orange ikat shades on coronet floor lamps in a showroom styled by Emily Murray of The Pink House.

 

Mix and match

Our website’s rather fun mix-and-match feature allows you to browse combinations of floor lamps and shades until you find your perfect pairing...

...Or if you just want to pimp up an existing standing lamp with a new shade, you can browse our full range of floor lamp shades here.