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Rethink .... The Lampshade

The Surprising Value of Colored, Textured or Patterned Lampshades

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There are simple things I realize that I’ve loved without even me knowing. Things that make a room look better, more interesting but they aren’t obvious. One of these incredible, life-changing, total home revolutionizing things is…. the lampshade. When I first proposed a lampshade post to my crew they were like, ‘Wow… Really riveting stuff, Henderson‘. But I felt strongly that people need to know how simple it is to add more contrast and interest by replacing your lampshade with one that has either color, texture or very carefully selected pattern. Perhaps I should start a non-profit, something to give a voice to all the statement making shades to help all boring lighting rise to their potential!

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Black lampshades are less intimidating, but still wildly change the look of the lamp and the room. Nate Berkus knows this (he designed that space, above and below). They have been more oft-used, and I do love them a lot. They instantly modernize a lamp. Picture those rooms with white shades – less interesting, right?

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But the colored shade is less widely utilized and I’m here to say that when done right, a shade in a good color is such a good thing. Believe me when I say that photos of this done well were hard to find, but we found some. When looking at these photos, picture those shades white and then you’ll understand how much of a difference that shade can make in a room.

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For this weekend makeover, below, we actually painted that fabric shade blue.

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We used house paint, and brushed it on in an hour. We all LOVED how much it changed the lamp instantly.

As you know, I’ve had these two Schoolhouse Electric lamps forever and they look so good in every single room in which I place them. And believe me, there were a lot of rooms.

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So as you can see, while I love the simplicity of the lamp, if they had just donned white paper shades, they wouldn’t have nearly the impact in the room.

As a clear advocate of a more special shade, we rounded up where you can buy colorful, textured and patterned (gasp!) lampshades.

*Note: The prices are obviously based on size and each lamp needs a different size so be sure to order the size you think your lamp needs.

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1. Navy Drum Lamp Shade | 2. Red Lamp Shade | 3. Dark Green Lamp Shade | 4. Gold Lamp Shade | 5. Spice Drum Lamp Shade | 6. Ollsta Shade | 7. Metal Drum Shade | 8. Fuchsia Burlap Shade | 9. Apricot Empire Lamp Shade | 10. Lime Green Lamp Shade | 11. Parker Shade | 12. Light Pink Lamp Shade | 13. Bradford Jute Shade | 14. Vivian Shade | 15. Mint Green Shade | 16. Olive Green Burlap Lamp Shade | 17. Tangerine Burlap Lamp Shade | 18. Aqua Linen Shade

If you aren’t prone to bringing a color, then consider a texture. It was super hard to find good images of this but I feel confidant that a great textured shade can add so much warmth, regardless of color.

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I have a couple of these pleated shades, below as pleats are back, folks.

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1. Woven Lamp Shade | 2. Chambray Woven Lamp Shade | 3. Mini Pleat Linen Lamp Shade | 4. Ribbon Trim Lamp Shade | 5. Gray Knife Pleat Linen Shade | 6. Burlap Lamp Shade | 7. Twine Wrapped Lamp Shade | 8. Modern Linen Pleat Lamp Shade | 9. Cream with Tan Weave Shade | 10. Blue Stripe Linen Lamp Shade | 11. Gold Textured Lamp Shade  | 12. French Knot Shade

Patterned shades are typically done badly – too bold, too trendy, too ‘LOOK AT ME’. But we found some that we liked a lot (I really want that sweet pink and white victorian one for Birdie’s room).

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1. Gray Herringbone Lamp Shade | 2. Jurdan Lamp Shade | 3. Indigo Embroidered Lamp Shade | 4. Murdock Lamp Shade | 5. Feathered Chevron Lamp Shade | 6. Sketched Safari Lamp Shade | 7. Habitat Lamp Shade | 8. Pink Striped Lamp Shade | 9. Black and White Floral Lamp Shade

The last shade category that you will probably be the most into into is an upgraded neutral shade – one that is darker or more interesting than your average white, but still safe and timeless.

I have had this (below) lamp for years, with a flax/oatmeal shade and the warmth it brings, both with light and color is actually huge in a room:

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I had it through a variety of iterations in our last house:

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Lots of iterations in the old home.

And of course it was one of the few things that I wouldn’t sell to the new owner of our old house (because it is unavailable anymore).

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If that shade were white it would not garner nearly enough subtle attention. White shades are a missed opportunity (often). At least getting  a neutral color or textured shade can really elevate any lamp and room. And don’t forget the shape of the shade (which deserves a whole other post). Rectangle, square and tapered are good options when you get bored of that same-sided drum.

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1. Textured Rounded Square Lamp Shade | 2. Linen Cotton Slope Lamp Shade | 3. Gray Herringbone Lamp Shade | 4. Linen Empire Lamp Shade | 5. Rullan Lamp Shade | 6. Black Drum Lamp Shade | 7. Oatmeal Drum Lamp Shade | 8. Square Lamp Shade | 9. Gray Linen Lamp Shade | 10. Wide Trim Textured Lamp Shade | 11. Black Drum Lamp Shade | 12. Textured Linen Shade | 13. Textured Lamp Shade | 14. Bradford Jute Lamp Shade | 15. Linen Lamp shade | 16. Black Square Lamp Shade | 17. Denim Lamp Shade | 18. Straight Sided Linen Lamp Shade

There you go. There are a million options out there. So this weekend when you are choosing which garnishes to put in your bloody mary, or whether you should or shouldn’t start The Keepers, I want you to stare at your lampshades and ask them the question that we should be asking ourselves every day – are you your best shade you can be? Could you be more interesting? What if you were a bold color?

Important questions for all lampshades and human beings living on this here earth now. If they are white paper … think about an upgrade.

Are you into this idea? Have you gone down the route of the colored shade? And if any of you have any lampshades with great patterns that we missed please put the link in profile.

*Fun fact about me, as a child I recovered MANY a thrifted victorian lampshade with floral printed fabric. Some were, as you can imagine, TERRIBLE, but I remember one (where I added fringe) that I would absolutely own now. My inner granny has been inside me for decades …

 

All other photography by Tessa Neustadt and Sara Tramp

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  1. I never thought I needed lampshades like I thought I needed lampshades right now. those anthropologie ones & that gold wayfair one… I had paused on the thought of redoing my bedroom but you’ve just put a little more spice into the project again with these.

    ks xx

    ps. just an fyi – #7 under patterned says ‘company or product name / $xxx’.

    1. Ha. just noticed. I think the very first one does, too. Whoops!

    2. And so does the #1 in colorful.

      Great post as always! Every time I come here I get so inspired, and this lampshade thing is something I have been thinking before (when seeing those gorgeous Schoolhouse Electric lamps wandering around in your house), but now I’m going to execute it and buy some paint. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. I love the simple blue one from pottery barn kids!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  3. This is a great post! I recently updated most of the lamp shades in our house, to some different textured shades. I couldn’t believe how just switching out the shades (we kept the same lamps) made our rooms look so much more updated! That’s all I changed!

    I’ve been having trouble finding the right size shade for one room in our house; thanks for sharing the links to all these great options!

  4. Ok, THANK YOU, for a very useful post with some kick-ass inspiration. I’m looking a lamp of mine right now that I’m not crazy about, but I think I’ll just paint that damn shade black and see if it improves. Thanks, Emily!

  5. Lampshades! Yes! My fave is a black one trimmed with gold. Took a chance at an antique emporium…tge shade is new..worked perfectly with victorian floor lamp. Often you need to bring the lamp with you for proportion. Many lighting stores carry limited selection. The quest for the pefpect shade is always on my mind even if I can’t carry my lamps with me!

  6. You always have the best, most informative posts ever! Thank you!!!!

  7. That baby Charlie photo bomb though… 😭

    1. He was so little!!

  8. You should DEFINITELY start The Keepers. Great post, Emily!!

  9. So good and so totally true!! This is a post I will bookmark…thanks!!

  10. Great post. I realized that one of my favorite upgrades in my living room is the textured, neutral lampshades. Everything else looks better because of them!

  11. I love your writing style! I have 3 lampshades trying to stand a little taller in hopes of joining your non-profit. 😂I never thought to ask them which shade they prefer. Having a bit of an aha moment.

  12. Great post – so informative and “aha!” worthy. Something I have never stopped to think about but I totally see it in those photos. One question: how much does the color of the lamp shade affect the light it gives off, and is that something you should consider in the overall color and lighting scheme of the room? Up here in New England, we live in darkness through many of the winter months, so I need to plan for those lights being on a lot!

    1. If they are paper or metal they won’t give off as much light, for sure, but fabric shades have more. But a dark shade definitely reduces the amount of light, but its good ambience!

  13. If you want some amazing patterned and coloured lampshade inspiration follow @annaspiro on Instagram. She’s an Australian designer and she knows how to shade a lamp!

    1. I’m so glad you shared Anna Spiro because her lampshades are The Best! Oh my god the best.

      A few years ago in a magazine, maybe House Beautiful?, anyway, I remember reading a source to have lampshades custom made. I have the most perfect frame and found the most perfect fabric (Penny Morrison’s Wiggle in Rose Red) but putting the fabric on this frame is too complicated for me (it would require tons of cutting, making / sewing seams, and matching the pattern). I’ve redone all the other shades in our house and love adding a gimp or scalloped edge (yes!), but this one has too many planes for even me ….

      I bet if I search online and ask our local lighting store I’ll find something. Love Anna Spiro, love her school of More is More. Yes it is, Anna.

      1. I loved this post by Emily, so, so right on the difference those colors made in the room! However, I was super psyched to be reminded of annaspiro! Going straight to Instagram to follow her, thanks for mentioning her feed!

  14. Hi Emily, Great post. I’d love to know: Do you have a trick for selecting what size lampshade you should use? I find this very tricky. Thanks!

  15. Love this inspiring post!
    The photos are always such a incredible catalyst for me to “just do it!”
    and this one is so very doable!

  16. Have always loved lampshades and lamps. One of my biggest peeves is crooked shades in photographs. My eye goes right to that and can’t understand why it isn’t noticed in all the editing especially in the digital photography age. Shows up in big magazines and simple blogs. You could start a revolution to check the lampshades (and candles) for straightness…..

    1. unlevel lampshades drive me a bit batty too. I have a pair that were always cocked at an excessive angle no matter how many times I’d straighten them. There’s now an elaborate system of rubber bands wrapped around the shade frame and lamp socket. It’s not visible unless you’re looking underneath the shade and it does keep the shade nice and plumb and level now

  17. Still missing your old house……

  18. Love this post. That lacquered-looking bright green one in one of the inspiration images is to die for. Though I love that patterned one from Anthropologie, too. Great resource, EHD!!

    1. I was also thinking how PERFECT that picture/lamp/wall color was. Love that picture.

  19. All. The. Yes.
    The perfect lampshade is that most elusive of creatures– I have so many hoarded in my basement because I can never find the RIGHT one…. Why are people so willing to settle for mediocre lampshades???? I will never understand it. Thank you for this important public service announcement.

  20. That first photo is one of the first photos I ever pinned, **awww**. We had huge burlap drum shades on our living room lamps when I was a kid (in the 70’s), so the way the light passes through burlap gives me a happy, warm, homey feeling. The lamp on my dresser in the bedroom is actually covered with a scarf–how’s that for granny style? (The scarf doesn’t touch the bulb, so it’s not a fire hazard.)
    I have a dream of having one of those HUGE 60’s-70’s lamps with a HUGE shade (so the whole thing would be 4-5 feet high), and I plan to cover the shade with funky fabric. That’s my boho dream.

  21. This post couldn’t have come at a better time as I am trying to pick out bedside lamps. I a 100% in on colored / textured shades.

    Possibly related question – is it better to keep them the same on both sides of the bed or look for two coordinating ones?

  22. For me more important is the color that the lampshade creates when the light is on. We recently switched all our bulbs to LEDs and the color isn’t quite the same as my beloved incandescents. I’m going to look for shades that are less yellow in the hopes of getting a color that is easier for my eyes. The rest of my family thinks I’m crazy and doesn’t see a difference or doesn’t care.

  23. So thankful for this post! Thanks for tackling this!

  24. I painted a boring white shade gray on the outside and green on the inside for my son’s room. It looks awesome even when on

  25. Great post, but waiting on that next one. What to do with a vintage giant pineapple based peeling avocado green lamp with no shade? I need help pairing the shade with the lamp – style, size, to taper or not to taper, etc.

  26. Hi Em! Where is the white dresser from your (guest?) bedroom? Thanks!

  27. I love love love #2 of the patterned lamp shades! It is soft and whimsical and makes me feel eclectic and special.

  28. Here’s a question – I have a lamp very similar to the first photo in the post except for it’s hammered brass with a slight patina and pattern so it’s not shiny shiny. The shade it came with was textured but also very dirty and dingy and made the lamp look terrible. It had this weird bubbly trim glued to the top and bottom with a cheap gold trim on top. All my efforts to clean up the shade were fruitless and I still haven’t found a place with a replacement in such a large size.

    I finally ripped off the trim and painted over that sucker white which made a huge improvement but when the lights on or you really look at it you can see all the large strip of glue that held on the trim pieces and a few weird (scary) stains that have come thru the paint from the original shade. I’d love to just replace it with something wonderful but can’t seem to find a shade this large… It’s height is 19.25″ and the diameter is 18″ with straight sides… anyone have any ideas?

  29. Post request: how to match a lamp and shade. I have trouble with getting the proportions right, especially funky large lamp bottoms.

    1. YES I second this! I’m always wanting to hunt for vintage lamps and shades, but I have a really hard time figuring out the right size shade for lamp, and vice-versa. Any tips are much appreciated!

    2. I also second this idea. I also have trouble matching lamps to the right size lampshade (even at Target!)

    3. Just asked about this (and lamps in general) in yesterday’s post…would love to hear more on lamps and shades!

  30. I’ll have to pick up one for my old desk lamp. I’m in the process of changing up my Desk area. I’m an artist so I took a plain old piece of pine board from Home Depot and created a resin art top. The colors in the piece blues, teals and white (ocean colors) can’t wait to match it up with one of these fabric lamp shades! Thanks for the inspiration!

  31. I always wondered if it was safe to paint a lamp shade, like if the paint was flammable or something or the heat would make the paint melt. Good to know!! Also, where is that rug from in the second to last room photo (fan shapes in cream)???
    Thanks!!!!

  32. Love this post!

    No idea why but recently when I try to pin images from these EHD posts, it says “no images found.” The Pinterest button at the top works, but then I get stuck with the defacto first photo (usually a room), not the roundup image with all of the products that I covet.

    1. Forgot to mention – I am on an iPhone using Safari.

  33. I buy white opaque paper lampshades at a shade store, sample paint pots at Farrow and Ball, and mini roller kits at the hardware store. Easy to change up the color whenever I want a different look. Loving Lulworth Blue at the moment! Inchyra is also awesome. Shades need to be the opaque ones though so no light shows through, and can be repainted many times.

  34. I buy white opaque paper lampshades at a shade store, sample paint pots at Farrow and Ball, and mini roller kits at the hardware store. Easy to change up the color whenever I want a different look. Loving Lulworth Blue at the moment! Inchyra is also awesome. Shades need to be the opaque ones though so no light shows through, and can be repainted many times.

  35. These are all so pretty! I have one of those vintage brass floor lamps with the glass table on it that I love so much. I have no idea what type of shade would make it worthy of bringing up from the basement and actually using it in my mostly MCM living room. If anybody has a suggestion I welcome it! My living room is painted grey and I have a tan leather sofa and two velvet navy chairs.

    1. Target has nice white drum shades. Go to a fabric store and find a trim, maybe a tailored looking cotton tape. Trim around the top and the bottom.

  36. Check out FRANK ROOP. He is the MASTER of colorful lampshades.

  37. Emily you nailed it again!!! Great resource for us Lighting junkies : ) I own a Lighting company (Cordless Lamps to be exact) and I would LOVE to share this blog post with our customers! Do you mind?You can only offer so many styles…. and Designers love making them ther own and this would be great to share with them.

    Keep up the great work….
    Carrie

  38. This may be a silly question, but do you have to stick with a finial compatible shade or will the Target & World Market ones that fit below the bulb fit any lamp? I’ve always been hesitant to buy those!

    And I would also love a post on matching size to lamps! I have a handful of vintage lamps not in use because they need shades!

  39. For those looking for fabric/print shades, I recommend searching in etsy by a fabric maker you love + lampshade (e.g. liberty lampshade, marimekko lampshade, william morris lampshade). Lots of good finds there, professionally done. I diyed a block print on one of my shades inspired by a Jenny Komeda block print curtain and while I am definitely not a diyer, it was a fun change-up from the white. I am into this look big time (and that Commune photo from top is one of my ongoing design aspi/inspirations too)!

  40. Funny how the three “You May Also Like” images show TWO with white shades!

  41. I have a large wood tri-pod floor lamp that I love but it came with the most uninspired white shade imaginable. I would love to paint it. Question: did the house paint completely destroy the shade your team painted in the long run or did/does it work? Did it shrink or bend as it dried?

    1. I’ve painted many a plain shade with regular house paint. It holds up perfectly and doesn’t bend or warp the shade. Can’t even see brush marks

      Do it! Besides if you hate it a new plain white shade is only $15 or so

  42. Timely post…..thank you. For the past week or so I have been thinking of changing the shades in our family room. Currently, blah beige. I would like a saturated color. I have black shades in our living room and I love them so much.
    Lampshade shapes will be a great post!

    1. I’m with Lynn – I would a post on lampshade shapes! Especially which shapes work well with which types of lamp bases.

  43. Oh my, I love those Schoolhouse Electric lamps! And, you’re right, they do look good in every room you put them in. Thanks for the lampshade roundup Emily!

  44. Fabulous and inspiring as always- no stripes mentioned though? Beautiful soft French bright colours ( I know sounds a contradiction). See http://www.madderandrouge.co.nz custom made light shades – just stunning

  45. I’m a huge believer in the black lamp shade. I’ve completely changed a lamp just by switching out the shade. And every room needs a touch of black anyway. Lampshades are great ways to sneak it in.

  46. This is great! I’ve been thinking about lamps lately and was hoping you would post something inspirational about them (redecorating my master bedroom!)Do you have any ideas/rules for what size the actual lamp and shade should be for certain size tables? This has always been a question I’ve had. Sometimes you see a super lg lamp on a night stand and other times just a normal one. Love some insight!

  47. I’m addicted to tall, vintage, cream drum shades currently. It’s a difficult habit to break. They make every room feel taller and every lamp cooler.

  48. Love!! This post!! It has everything. Inspiration? Check. Design guidance? Check. Shopping? Check.

    I want a couple new lampshades now to spice things up and accentuate the verticality lamps bring my rooms!

  49. I once wrote an email to a client about lampshades and started the email “Dear Lampshade,” Whoops!

  50. Nice job on that painted blue shade! Love it. I rotate shades in and out — my favorite right now is paisley in reds, golds and caramel that I picked up years ago at Pottery Barn.

  51. Black lampshades are my favorites if you have the right decor! The textured ones look great too.

  52. My only thought is that white ones do let more light in, as in actually light from the lightbulbs. And so, if your house is naturally super light, it’s not that big of a deal, but if you’re in a darker house, I think the lighter ones work better.

  53. Such a clever and interesting post! Thanks for opening my eyes to the possibilities!!

  54. Yes!! Thank you!
    Recently moved and need more/different lighting. I’ve been lamp hunting and not gotten several because of the boring brings it down white shade. I know colored ones are out there but honestly searching has not been a top priority. So many thanks!!

  55. For more inspiration look at British firm pooky.com. Lots of lovely colour and texture inspiration, as well as using Farrow and Ball colours.

    1. And the U.K. firm OKA has advice about shade sizes for lamps

  56. This post is just so good. Lamp shades are not something I would normally think much about, but you are right, they can make such a huge impact. That first photo with the poppy red shade took my breath away! Definitely think I need to rethink my position on neutral shades after seeing that photo.

  57. Interested in the rug in the first image – where can I find one? – do love the lampshades too! Thanks!

  58. Ok, THANK YOU, for a very useful post with some kick-ass inspiration. I’m looking a lamp of mine right now that I’m not crazy about, but I think I’ll just paint that damn shade black and see if it improves. Thanks, Emily!

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  61. Love this post! I have already referenced it several times since I am currently lamp shopping. I’d love to see a post about SCALE (in general and with lamps in particular.) I feel like I keep getting lamps that are the wrong size.

  62. Black lampshades are less intimidating, but still wildly change the look of the lamp and the room. Nate Berkus knows this (he designed that space, above and below). They have been more oft-used, and I do love them a lot. They instantly modernize a lamp. Picture those rooms with white shades – less interesting, right

  63. Emily, I just discovered you and loved your price on the lampshades. I am a lampshade maker, one of a few left in the U.S. —- it’s a dying craft. You can see LOTS of examples of colorful lampshades in my gallery at BelleLumiereCustom.com. Many thanks for your enthusiasm and expertise !

    1. Just posted a comment and meant to say , loved your PEICE, not price.