Choose The Right Lampshade

By: Craig Chambers

The right looking rawhide lamp shade can make your favorite lamp look perfect. But the wrong size shade can make a beautiful lamp look out of balance. And ordering the wrong size lampshade is inconvenient and expensive. Make the right choice the first time.

Our specialty is rustic lighting and southwestern rawhide lamp shades but the technique we use will work with any lamp shade, rawhide or otherwise. Give it a try to help choose the right shade for your lamp even before you order. Follow this simple procedure to help make the right choice the first time.

First, we need to understand how lampshades are measured. You will need three measurements, bottom diameter, top diameter and height. The height of a shade should be measured straight up and down vertically...not along the slant.

Measuring Tip #1: The reason we measure height up and down, "vertically" is that the height measurement of you lamp from bulb socket base to top of harp is probably the minimum vertical height you will want to cover with your shade.

Measuring Tip #2: The height of your lamp can be adjusted with a shorter or taller harp to be able to use a standard shade rather than ordering a custom lampshade in many cases.

Now, here is the trick to ordering the right shade. You probably have an idea of the approximate size, so simply consult a list of rawhide lamp shades and select the one you are considering. Each shade's measurements should be listed as described above.

Next, make a simple two-dimensional "flat" pattern the size of the shade out of paper or cardboard. For example, use the lower edge of the cardboard for the base line. Measure up the height of the shade and draw a horizontal line parallel to the base line which will represent the top edge of the shade. Now draw a vertical line straight up and down from base line or to the top edge line. If you imagine the base line, vertical line and top edge line as the capital letter "I" you are on the right track.

The next step is to mark the top and bottom dimensions of the shade on your pattern so that you get the correct slant for the edge of the shade. From the center line measure and mark the top diameter of the shade.

If the top diameter is 5" then measure to the left and right of the center line along the top edge line 2.5" on both sides and make a mark. Those points are the top corners of your pattern. Repeat along the baseline using the shade's bottom diameter. If it seems confusing, it's really not, but very simple and quick. See our full color shade measuring graphic for a visual aid.

Then to finish up, cut out the pattern and have someone hold it in place over the lamp, while you step back and look. Even though it is flat, you will be able to get a feel for how the shade will look on your lamp and order with confidence.

It's not full proof but it is a quick and easy way to make sure that you are on the right track in your shade size selection. This simple idea has helped our clients save a lot of aggravation and money over the years and we trust it will benefit you too.

Home Lighting
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