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Lampshade Pairing

The Martha Stewart Show, December 2009

A lampshade can be the perfect finishing touch to a well-decorated room -- or it can detract and distract from the beauty of its surroundings.

To help you pick the perfect shade for your lamp base and decor, here are some tricks of the trade from Mark Candido, co-owner of The Accessory Store in Stamford, Connecticut.

Begin with the Room in Mind
The lamp's surroundings not only influence your choice of shade color, but also the formality of the shade. In general, front rooms and dining rooms call for more proper designs and materials, such as pleated silk. In bedrooms and more private spaces, a casual shade will do.

Complement the Base
If your base is plain, try adding pizzazz with an unusual or eye-grabbing shade. Contrast can work very well, within reason. If you'd rather highlight an interesting base, a simpler shade might be a better complement.

How Much Light?
The openings and angles of your shade determine how and where light is emitted. A wider top will flood more light into the room, and a wider bottom is ideal for reading lamps.

Bring Lamp to the Store
The best way to match a lamp base with a new shade is to bring it in to the store for comparison. Otherwise, you can't be sure that you'll like how they look together.

Shades are Like Shoes
Shoe prices vary wildly, but you often get what you pay for. Same with shades -- you can get a generic, mass-produced piece in limited colors and sizes, or you can go for a hand-sewn silk shade in a fabulous color. Another option is to bring in your own great fabric and end up with one-of-a-kind shade that will make the room. A custom-made shade will cost hundreds of dollars, but it could be worth the investment.