Neutral lamp shades - and how to use them in your interior design

If you think neutral equals boring, think again! Find out how you can use neutral lamp shades to add calm, depth and interest to your space, with our expert tips…

What is a neutral colour scheme?

When we think of neutral colours, it’s all too easy to conjure up an image of the dull beiges that were all the rage in the 90s – but there’s so much more to a neutral colour scheme than beige or magnolia! Neutrals encompass a whole range of different tones, from lighter neutrals such as whites, ivories and creams through to darker hues such as taupe, greige and soft browns, and each of these has its own set of undertones. Never mind 50 shades of grey: white paint alone is available in hundreds of different hues!  

When using neutral colours, the trick is to introduce different textures, shapes and tonal layers to add depth and interest. Lamp shades can play an important role in a neutral design scheme, and by using a range of different styles, tones and fabrics, you can help to create the perfect multi-dimensional space. 

Bedroom by Lucy Barlow featuring Pooky's archive Wexford table lamp with neutral linen shadeImage: Barlow & Barlow 

How can using neutral colours enhance your interior design?

The beauty of neutrals is they’re actually incredibly versatile. Not only are they great for creating a sense of calm and space, they’re brilliant as a backdrop for a bold colour statement, or for creating contrast and drama. A neutral colour scheme can also be a beautiful feature in its own right.

The other great thing about neutrals is they work with all manner of design themes, from modern and minimalist interiors, to classic and more traditional spaces. 

Creating calm and space with neutral lamp shades

Neutral colours are perfect for creating a calm, relaxing haven that’s easy on the senses, and they’re also ideal for making a room feel airy and more spacious. 

Neutrals come in a surprisingly wide range of warm and cool undertones. As a general rule of thumb you should aim to work with either warm or cool neutral tones, rather than mixing the two.

If you want to open up your space and make it feel fresh and bright, try opting for a set of neutral lamp shades with cooler undertones from the lighter end of the scale, such as the straight empire lamp shade in white silk. Meanwhile, If you’re looking to create a cosy vibe, choose a lamp shade with warm, rich undertones, such as our taupe empire lamp shade

A blissfully calming bedroom by designer Alexandra Langdon (image credit) Photo: WHAT Associates.

Using neutral lamp shades to highlight texture 

Introducing different textures will add depth and visual interest to a neutral design scheme, and lamp shades are an effective, flexible (and affordable) way of doing this. At Pooky, our neutral lamp shades come in a range of different fabrics, from handmade parchment and natural linen to smooth silk, luxurious velvet and rustic jute. Each type of fabric has its own unique characteristics which affect its aesthetic and how the light diffuses.

Parchment lamp shades offer a cool, clean look and texture. Our neutral parchment shades are created in Jaipur from handmade parchment paper and lined with soft cotton for a beautiful, magical glow. Meanwhile, natural linen is a simple and versatile material, which casts a lovely ambient light. For some added texture, try a pleated neutral linen shade.

With their beautiful lustre, a set of neutral silk lamp shades will bring a note of elegance to a room, and they create a lovely sheen when lit. Our Dupion silk features small natural imperfections known as ‘slubs’, which add to the texture and character of the lamp shades and give them a slightly more rustic feel.   

Or if you’re looking for some real opulence, velvet is a wonderfully rich, tactile material and is perfect for making lamp shades which exude a sense of luxuriousness (even when they’re not switched on!) Being opaque, velvet lampshades tend to cast the light up and down, and our velvet lamp shade in not quite white creates a lovely atmospheric pool of light. 

natural jute lampshadeThe warm tones of a natural jute lampshade with pink inner lining (detail)

Finally, our natural jute lamp shades are great for adding texture and atmosphere. Dubbed the ‘golden fibre’, jute is known for its lovely warm tone as well as its beautiful sheen. 

Creating contrast and drama using neutral lamp shades

Neutral colours can provide you with a blank canvas, which allows you to highlight certain architectural features and to introduce some bolder accents by means of artwork, furniture and accessories. 

A neutral lamp shade, or pair of lamp shades, set against a colourful feature wall will add depth and contrast to your space. For some added drama, team a neutral shade with a colourful statement lamp base.

waldo table lampPooky's Waldo table lamp with vermillion stripes, paired with a drum shade in natural linen

Alternatively, try featuring a large neutral lamp shade in a striking shape: our rectangular half lamp shade in ivory makes a strong style statement and also creates a beautiful glow, courtesy of its gold inner liner. (Find out more about different styles and shapes of lamp shade here.)

Making a feature of a neutral colour scheme

Of course, neutral doesn’t always have to be a backdrop: it can be a beautiful and sophisticated design feature in its own right. An all-neutral theme creates a sense of balance and harmony. When using neutrals, the key is to use two or three similar tonal colours to create different layers and add visual interest. 

lucy barlow strandStunning neutral design by Lucy Barlow for a Grade II listed apartment building in the Strand Image: Barlow & Barlow 

You can create extra depth in a neutral room by adding in some subtle patterns and features based around your neutral theme. A hand painted lamp shade adds a lovely extra dimension to a neutral colour scheme. Our unique neutral lamp shades in hand painted card carry a subtle, organic pattern in a range of soothing muted tones, such as our beautifully simple ocean stitches design. Meanwhile, our neutral lamp shades in block printed cotton are printed by hand in a workshop near Jaipur and their gentle, unobtrusive patterns will lend an extra elegance to your neutral colour palette.

Pooky's Moonshine floor lamp with straight empire shade in Verdant Arrows hand painted card

Browse Pooky's full range of neutral lamp shades here. 


See also:

A guide to lamp shade fabrics and How to choose a lamp shade - the complete guide.