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Lamp shades = More expensive than gold.

I’m going to be a billionaire someday.  

Not from my TV career. Not from my design work. But from selling good, ready made lamp shades.  You know what i’m talking about. They are incredibly hard to find for under $50 that are interesting or in a good color.  I’m constantly buying awesome vintage lamps at the flea market for $10 an then spending $35-$50 on the shade.  Blasphemy.  Sagrelige.  Tragedy.

Honestly you know those commercials about selling your gold for cash? Well, hold on to your perfectly good shades people – these things are worth some money.

Anyway, until then…..we had sconce shade problems, people.

The sconces themselves weren’t the biggest problem, it was the shades. The sconces are antique and painted gold and fit the house.  YES, i would like to switch them all out, but i need 5 matching sconces (because they are all in the same room) so that is going to be very expensive, especially considering its a rental house.  Its not where i want to spend my money right now. (plus coordinating and paying an electrician….not up for it right now).

Also, yes, we have a lot of texture on the walls.  But check this out:  i’m kinda starting to like it.  You heard me.  Deal with it.


So i thought about doing this:

Getting some larger square or rectangular shades to make them feel more modern and to take up  more space because they looked kinda dinky.  But as i started pricing them out, they quickly became $60 each a total pain in my sconce.  I could buy awesome sconces with shades for $120, so paying $60 each seemed insane. 

I mean, that looks out of a decorators horror movie.  Between the color of that shade, the shape of it with the sconce, and the fact that there were three green, and 2 white in the same room? Oh the horror.

Here’s a a very NON-secret:  Good lamp shades are super expensive.  I don’t understand.  When i lived in New York i would buy them at Surprise, Surprise for like $15.  But here in Los Angeles, nothing.  Online? barely.  I can’t find a shade for under $30 – and that is a boring-ass shade.  I found this place online called Replacement Shades and i’ve been ordering from them.  You can get any size, shape or finish and they come within 10 days.  So far this place has been good, but i’ve only ordered white linen. I ordered two pretty large square ones recently and they were $60 each, which is a lot, but the same quote from Fantasy Lighting on Melrose was $120 and 3 week lead time.  I mean, how rich do they think we are?

Anyway, i didn’t want to put $400 into sconce shades in my house, besides i couldn’t find any that would work (from replacement shades) for above the mantel with the double sconces (the width between the bulbs was weird so there weren’t any options for it). 

So instead of ording, i went to my favorite place in the valley for shades (and some vintage lighting) that i had kinda forgotten about, called ‘Practical Props‘ (make sure to go to the one on Magnolia which is retail, the other is rentals for film/tv, and ask for Ian, the owner – he’s super helpful).  Lamps Plus has shades, but not a huge variety of modern ones  -just a million bell shapes and some drums, but no squares, so i rarely come away feeling satisfied.  But this place has loads and loads of shades – not a ton of different colors, but different fabrics, papers, sizes, and interesting shapes.  You’ll still spend money, don’t get me wrong they are not giving them away, but at least you will get a great shade that will ‘make the lamp’ and not just a shade that ‘fits it’.  Ooh, also check out their finial collection. They have one that is a big brass mermaid that i’m dying to put on a lamp.  Don’t get me started on finials – they are like decorator porn.  Oh the detail!  

Anyway, i picked up these sconce shades from there:

Look at these adorable little mini square shades.  They be reeeeaallll cute.  I did want them like an inch or two bigger, but they went from being $19 (i got a discount down to $15 each) to $30 and i just didn’t want to swing it.  I just wanted to be done with it without breaking the bank.  Besides they were the perfect size for the mantel sconces, just small for the TV wall…..

See? cute. And any bigger than that and they would have collided in the middle. 


But see?  Definitely a little dinky on that huge wall, seriously dwarfed by that massive tv.  But thats nothing that some art can’t fix:

See? Problem solved.  A. The tv has less importance, and B. you don’t even notice how small the sconces are now, they just mix in with everything and they look perfectly proportioned. They look WAYYYYYY more modern and simple.  It wasn’t the cheapest update, but it was any easy one that made me  really happy.

Brian, on the other hand literally doesn’t notice when i change rugs in the living room.  I will take out our rug and try a huge hot pink and orange turkish kilem (kilim, kilm, kelim?) and he will NOT EVEN NOTICE.  It’s intensely baffling.  So, no, these kinds of details will get lost on others, but they were driving me crazy.  

AHHHH.   So much better.  

So here are some general sconce guidelines:  

1. square is always more expensive, but yes, more modern and fresh – especially on an old timey sconce like this.

2. Hand rolled is always more expensive than machine rolled ones – which means that at the top you see no trim or anything that covers the seam – if its hand rolled it is literally hand rolled into the frame of the top and bottom of the sconces and its seamless. Its much prettier, but also wayyy more expensive. These square shades were handrolled which is why they were $19 each.  They didn’t have any other options for square sconce shades and i ran out of patience and time.  

3.  If you find an old crazy awesome victorian shade and you want to cover it, don’t, unless you do it yourself.   The new repro’s are cheaper than having a professional cover an old one.  Practical Props has a ton of different victorian shapes (you know i love that) and yes, they are expensive but they told me they are cheaper to buy a repro then to have a vintage shade frame covered. 

4. Half shades are awesome for sconces – and it was ideally what i wanted, but i could’t make it work with the double sconces about the mantel (or maybe i didn’t try hard enough, but i wanted the project over). They look like these:

At replacement you pick all the dimensions  but, be careful, some dimensions will only add a dollar or two, but some add like $12 – its seemingly arbitrary but i think they have a ton of standard sizes that they work off of and so if you vary every dimensions you might spend a lot of money.  And yes, you pick whether you want a standard fitting like the one above or a clip fitting like on a candle bulb.   

I could actually go on and on about shades.

MY promise to you: when i have my shade empire i promise that i will sell saturated colored linen shades – i mean hot pinks, kelly greens, navy blues with gold lining options, leather trim options, and yes lots of fringe options….ball fringe, tassle fringe, long ass victorian fringe.  I’m giving away retail gold here, people.  I don’t actually want to be in the shade business so if you one of you wants to take this idea over, feel free….i just want free shades for the rest of my life.  

Other places i buy shades:

Shades of Light

Lamps USA


And again Replacement Shades

OR, Hey, IKEA, here’s an idea!!!! Why don’t you make normal shades that fit normal lamps???? I mean, they would literally be able to actually take over the world.  

So am i alone in this? And where do you guys buy shades? Am i missing some secret spot where amazing shades are galloping freely for like $12 each?


So where do you guys buy shades?


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