How to choose a lampshade - the complete guide

Worried about clashes, mismatched styles or picking the wrong size? We’ve made it easy for you to choose the right designer lampshade with this complete guide.

Choosing a lampshade sounds simple enough, but the challenge is that you'll want to match it with two different things: the décor of the room and the base of the lamp itself. Add to that the abundance of lampshade shapes, sizes and materials available, and it becomes even more important to find the perfect pick.

So, with that in mind, we've provided our top tips to help you learn more about the many different types of lampshades on offer.

How do I choose the right lampshade size?

When it comes to choosing the right lampshade, sizing should be at the top of the list.

The way we see it, sizing a lampshade is similar to finding the right hat: if it's too large or too small, it might look a little bit out of place. Similarly, you'll need to approach lampshade sizing around the base of your lamp.

However, once you get the proportions right, the effect is harmonious and curiously satisfying. We've explained a little bit more about choosing the right size lampshade below.

What size lampshade is best for a table lamp?

For smaller lamps like table lamps, we suggest that:

      • The height of the shade should be about three-quarters the height of the base - For example the wonderful Aladdin is 30cm (12 inches) high, So the shade you choose should be 22.5cm (9 inches).
      • The width of the shade base should be roughly equal to the height of the lamp, from base to fitting
      • The shade should ideally be at least one centimetre (half an inch) wider than the base on both sides to keep the whole lamp looking balanced

If you’re debating between two lampshade sizes, it’s usually better to go for the larger one. However, if you've chosen a taller, thinner lamp, it might be better suited to a small lampshade.

Meanwhile, floor lamps will generally take a shade with a base diameter of 45cm (18 inches) or larger. Knowing how to measure a lampshade will be invaluable in the process of finding the best one for your interior.

Matching the shade size with the room

You’ll also need to think carefully about the space in which your lampshade will be placed.

For example, a large, mostly empty room could support a much larger floor lamp shade than a smaller space. A little lampshade might look isolated in a large room, especially if it's the only one in there – and a larger shade should illuminate the room more effectively too. 

If it’s a table lamp you're shopping for, you’ll need to consider the size of the table and the furnishings you'd like to place around your lamp. Our different types of lampshade fittings suit a wide range of environments, but we'll be happy to help if you're unsure.

How do I choose the best lampshade shape?

Choosing the right lampshade shape will help you define your interior design.

Most importantly, you'll need to consider the lamp base, the room, and the position of the lamp. For a cohesive look, match the shape of your base and shade – square with square, for example.

Rounded lampshades are more popular among our customers, but one neat advantage of square shades is that you can place them right up against a wall. This can be useful if you have limited space – for example, on a mantelpiece or a narrow side table in a hallway.

We've outlined our bestselling lampshade shapes below – along with a few hints on how to find one that complements your unique style.

Empire lampshades

Empire and straight empire lampshades are among the most classic styles in our collection.

Their classic round ‘frustum’ shapes (that’s a cone with the top chopped off) appear in almost every type of interior, so whether you love contemporary, industrial, or traditional design, it's easy to work with an empire lampshade.

Tall tapered lampshades

As their name implies, the tall tapered lampshade style is sleek, elegant and on the longer side. They work well with smaller, narrow spaces like console tables in hallways and slim, delicate bedside tables.

Drum lampshades

Perfect for contemporary interiors, drum lampshades are clean and cylindrical in shape. They typically have a wide rim and straight sides, and their symmetrical design allows light to be spread evenly from the top and the bottom.

If you'd like to illuminate the whole room, drum shades make a fantastic choice. They are also incredibly versatile, available in a variety of other styles including tapered drum and short drum lampshades. With their neat, geometric design, drum shades fit seamlessly in any contemporary space.

Unusual lampshade styles and shapes

If you've worked hard to create a bespoke home interior, you might be looking for a characterful lamp as a finishing touch. We love unusual lampshade styles at Pooky, and a few of our favourites include:

Cone shades

Cone shades are perfect for a trendy, distinctive look. Thanks to their wide, conical shape, they cast an inviting circle of softly diffused light, adding natural warmth and atmosphere.

Wizard hat shades

For a striking, contemporary aura, adding a wizard hat lampshade could be the right choice.


Every wall light deserves a lampshade, especially if it's nestled within a vintage interior. Our silk half-shades look lovely and cast a soft, gentle glow.

Scalloped empire shades

With their beautiful, curved edges, our scalloped empire shades create interesting, authentic spaces.

Square lampshades

Square lampshades are similar to empire lampshades, just with a square-shaped or rectangular bottom. With their neat and tidy flat sides and corners, they're not only great for making a bold statement, but they're also compact enough to sit comfortably where space might be limited.

How do I choose the lampshade material?

Lampshades come in a beautiful array of different materials.

At Pooky, we've got a few favourites when it comes to lampshade materials – including a few rather unconventional choices. Once you've made your selection, it's important to pair it with a lightbulb that keeps it working safely and effectively too.

However, there are a few key materials worth knowing more about if you take your lampshades seriously. We've listed our favourites below.

Silk lampshades

If you're after a minimalist, modern addition to your décor, choosing a designer silk lampshade in a neutral tone could work well. Silk lampshades add a natural, warm glow and ambience.

Silk lampshades can be either rolled or ‘gathered’ with a textured, pleated effect. This provides a more traditional feel and calls to be paired with a classic base, placed naturally in rooms with a vintage feel.

However, it's worth bearing in mind that silk attracts dust a little bit more easily than other materials, so you'll need to be prepared to give your new lampshade some regular care to keep it looking pristine.

Cotton lampshades

Cotton makes a fantastic choice for lampshades. It's durable, easy to clean, and also extremely versatile. Depending on the shape and colour of the cotton lampshade you choose, you'll be able to create the ambience you'd like.

At Pooky, we love our designer block-printed cotton lampshades. They look wonderful in pairs or placed in contrast with your colour scheme at home.

If you love the fibrous touch of textile lampshades, we also have a beautiful range of natural jute shades. Jute makes a great choice for those seeking a more sustainable aesthetic. Delicate, beige tones should also complement any neutral interior, adding a rustic touch.

Linen lampshades

Meanwhile, natural linen lampshades can look smart in plain colours or be eye-catching in ikat prints. It's a similar material to cotton, so you'll also find gathered linen shades in our online selection. 

Linen is more lightweight than fabrics such as velvet and with a slightly coarser texture it gives a more laid-back, natural feel to your interior. For some added character, a stonewashed linen shade could be a great choice.

Paper and parchment lampshades

Parchment lampshades are rolled and give a clean, contemporary look, perfect for any modernist or minimalist – especially if they're printed in block colour. Our parchment paper is hand-pressed, colour dyed, and then sealed with wax before the inside of the shade is lined with soft cotton.

Paper lampshades can be marbled, a traditional process for patterning with paints and oils. We travelled to Jaipur to learn how to marble paper lampshades in the most professional, authentic way possible – and we think the results are dazzling.

Velvet lampshades

Our velvet lampshades come in an array of bold and beautiful colours – from sensual pink to deep, forest green and mustard yellow. These shades are tactile and decadent and will easily add a luxurious touch to your interior.

Velvet tends to be an opaque material, so one of these shades might not spread as much light around the room as other materials. 

Instead, they diffuse light above and below, creating an atmospheric – and sometimes dramatic – effect. Like silk, velvet will need to be looked after carefully to make sure it stays free of dust.

How do I choose the right lampshade design and colour?

This is the fun bit: from traditional Indian-inspired ikat patterns to simple block colours, you can always find the right shade to complement and enhance the décor of your room.

A few of our favourite lampshade designs and patterns include:

Refreshing and replacing your lampshades is a quick and remarkably effective way to transform a room – and a lot cheaper than redecorating! And with our clip-on lampshades, you could swap and change as you please.

How do I enhance my interior with lightshade design?

If you've put a lot of time and effort into your home interior, you'll want your new lampshade to be the perfect finishing touch – not the elephant in the room.

Luckily, we've made it easy to filter your search by lampshade style. So, whether you love all things contemporary or you're more of a traditionalist, you can narrow your options down accordingly.

We'd recommend testing the shade with the light on. Pooky’s interactive “lights on” function allows you to click the switch at the top of the page – et voila! You can see what the fabric looks like when the bulb is lit. 

How can I create the right light with a lampshade?

How much light do you need? It's important to remember that lampshades vary in their ability to spread and diffuse light – also known as their luminance – depending on the translucency of their materials.

Translucent lampshades

Translucent shades, like light paper and silk shades, allow light through with a gentle diffusion. For a brighter lamp, you should also buy a lampshade with a white or off-white inner surface. If you only need soft, ambient light in the room or if you'll be using the lamp for reading, go for a translucent shade.

If you’ve got a snug corner of a room, perhaps inspired by what the Danish would call hygge, then a translucent shade in ivory will be just the ticket to provide a soothing pool of light.

Opaque lampshades

You'll also be able to find both opaque and semi-opaque lampshades online. These lampshades only cast light above and below the shade itself – not through the sides. Fabric lampshades in dark colours are usually opaque, with most of the lumens from the bulb being absorbed by the fabric. 

If you're using your new lamp just for decorative accent lighting, an opaque shade in a dark colour will be just right. As a rule of thumb, the darker the lampshade you choose, the opaquer you should expect it to be.

Do lampshades have to match a colour scheme?

Lampshades are a great way of introducing a dash of bright colour into an otherwise understated room. A flamboyant lampshade, particularly on a floor lamp, can make a dramatic design statement without breaking the bank.

When it comes to lampshades, you don't need to be preoccupied with matching existing colours and materials in the same way that you might with curtains and carpets, so don’t be afraid to experiment!

Find new lampshades and bases with Pooky today

Of course, the best way to find the perfect lampshade is to try lots of different ones with your base until you find one that feels just right.

If you’re shopping for lamps and lampshades online, you can use our clever mix-and-match feature to browse dozens of different shades and bases. Don't forget to filter your search by the size, material and your favourite designs too.

If you still have any questions about choosing the right lampshade from our wonderful collection, please don't hesitate to get in touch.