How to choose the right lamp shade size

Written by j. johnson
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How to choose the right lamp shade size
Choosing the right size of lamp shade takes a little measuring. (night lamp / bed lamp image by Sid Viswakumar from

Many elements go into completing your home's decor. Even the smallest of details should not be ignored. One piece that doesn't adequately match a room or that looks awkward or misplaced can effectively ruin the flow and uniformity of that particular room. For example, if you have a table lamp base that doesn't have a shade, you need to be very careful about the colour, style and shape you choose. More importantly, you need to make sure the shade is the right size.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Measuring tape

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  1. 1

    Measure your existing lamp shade if you want to replace it with a shade of the exact size. The three measurements you'll need are the width of the top of the shade, the width of the bottom of the shade, and the length of the slant of the shade from top to bottom. However, you don't need to replace a lamp shade with one that is exactly the same size, and may not even be able to if you are moving your lamp to a more confined space.

  2. 2

    Ensure that there is enough space from the lamp's bulb to the inside surface of the shade. Any less space can be a fire hazard, particularly for higher-wattage bulbs. For compact fluorescent bulbs and 40- or 60-watt incandescent bulbs, ensure there is a space of 2.5 to 5 cm (1 or 2 inches). However, 75- and 100-watt incandescent bulbs need 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3 inches) of space, while 150-watt incandescent bulbs need 7.5 to 10 cm (3 to 4 inches) of space.

  3. 3

    Measure the circumference of the widest part of the lamp's base. Look for a shade with a bottom that's wider than this measurement.

  4. 4

    Measure the length from the bottom of the base of the lamp to the lamp's socket. The shade you choose should be about as wide as this measurement. It does not have to be exact, but the two measurements should be no more than a few centimetres different.

  5. 5

    Measure the height of the lamp's base. The slant height of the lamp shade you choose should be approximately 3/4 the size of this measurement. To measure the shade's slant height, place your tape measure at the base of the shade and measure to the top in a straight line, hovering over any curve and only touching the top and bottom with your tape measure.

  6. 6

    Measure the height of the lamp's harp, which is the metal coil that goes around the bulb. The height of the lamp shade should ideally be within 1.2 cm (1/2 inch), either way, of the height of the harp.

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