Plus, how to pick the correct one for your room—and how to pair them with the proper stand.

By Lauren Wellbank
October 23, 2020
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There are a myriad of lampshade styles on the market today, from empire and bell to drum and square. Each of these options can be beautiful in their own right, but they all have different design impacts. Depending on the look you choose, you can update existing lighting with a quick swap, says Kelly Wilkniss, the host of My Soulful Home. "Lampshades are a detail that can really freshen up your décor," she says, adding that switching to drums is best for those looking for a modern update.

Proper sizing, however, is more important than styling (since you ultimately can't go wrong with a lampshade so long as it speaks to your personal style). Whatever shade you choose will need to cover the "throat" of your lamp. "A shade should completely cover the inner workings of the lamp," Wilkniss adds. "In general, the width of the shade should be two times the base of the lamp and the height should be a third of the overall height of the lamp, including the harp and bulb." For example, a lamp that has an eight-inch base and is 30 inches tall should have a shade that is 16 inches wide and 10 inches tall. Now, back to style—figuring out which popular option to choose just got a little easier with our experts' tips.

empire lampshade
Credit: Courtesy of Wayfair

Empire

Empire, like the dress. This classic, elegant shade is slimmer style up top and flares towards the base and looks best in Victorian- or Federal-style homes—especially pleated varieties, notes Sabine Schoenberg, the host of Ideas For Your Home on Smart Healthy Green Living. "Without the pleats, they also fit into transitional homes," she adds.

Shop Now: Winston Porter Linen Empire Lamp Shade in Pleated Navy Blue, $54.99, wayfair.com.

bell lampshade
Credit: Courtesy of Shades of Light

Bell

Named for the instrument, bell-shaped lampshades are more curved than empires, which stick to straight lines. Complete with romantic curved sides, these iterations are often covered with fabric and are slightly opaque. If your home has Victorian, colonial, or traditional touches, this is the lampshade for you, Schoenberg explains.

Shop Now: Shades of Light Dupioni Silk Chandelier Shade, $39, shadesoflight.com.

drum lampshade
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Drum

A drum lampshade is equal in circumference all the way down (they can, however, vary in length; some are skinnier than others). They go great with Art-Deco décor and often feel more modern than their traditional counterparts. "A drum shade works well with any style and will certainly freshen up traditional décor," notes Wilkniss, who suggests selecting the shade's fabric based on your existing decorations. Burlap or linen creates a more casual look, she says, while silk is best for more formal interiors.

Shop Now: Alucset Handmade Paper Drum Lamp Shades, $36.99 for set of two, amazon.com.

rectangle lampshade
Credit: Courtesy of Anthropologie

Rectangle and Square

These shades are either rectangle or square in nature and come in any and every size—so long as they have four 90-degree angles, that is. They can be used as statement pieces in your living room, and according to Schoenberg, are an excellent fit for modern and contemporary homes.

Shop Now: Anthropologie "Josie" Rectangle Lamp Shade, $58, anthropologie.com.

bowl lampshade
Credit: Courtesy of Creative Cables

Bowl

You'll instantly recognize this lampshade—they're aptly named (they look like upside-down bowls that have been placed over a light bulb). Because of the wide opening at the bottom, this style is great for reading lamps; they let a wide, diffused circle of light come through at the base.

Shop Now: Creative Cables Dome Fabric Lampshade, $41, creative-cables.us.

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