How to Choose a Clip On Sconce or Chandelier Shade

Today, I wanted to dive in with a design topic that has been on my mind lately… clip on sconce, lamp, and chandelier shades. As I’ve been transitioning our home from holiday to winter, I’ve been making cozy adjustments here and there. One thing that came to mind was adding shades to my office chandelier. Click through for some tips for choosing the best shade option for your fixture and to see some different shades on a few of mine! I’ve got lots of cozy lighting ideas for winter packed into this one…

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My beloved Choros chandelier in my home office really started a chain reaction of clip on shade purchases. While that fixture is on a dimmer, I thought shades would make my workspace feel warm and inviting. The Visual Comfort chandelier wasn’t intended to have shades, but anything with a candelabra bulb is fair game, in my book. Lighting is so impactful- especially this time of year, and clip on shades are one of the easiest, most affordable, and versatile ways to seasonally update your fixtures and aesthetic. Check out the before & after below… both are beautiful! One feels lighter, one feels warmer. Which do you prefer?

How Do Clip On Shades Work?

What is a clip on shade? They’re shades that have a built-in wire insert that slides over the bulb and snaps into place… meaning they attach directly to the bulb (no harp needed). They’re secure, they’re easy to install (it takes about 5 seconds), and they’re surprisingly affordable- making them ideal for versatility, seasonal swaps, and upgrading fixtures. Here’s how to find the best fit…

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Determine Your Bulb & Shade Size

First, take a peek at your bulb size and shape. Clip on shades are designed specifically for candelabra bulbs in a couple different sizes. To ensure a snug fit, know your bulb size and type before you purchase a shade! You’ll also want to choose the right size shade so it’s visually in proportion to the fixture. There is a designer formula, but I usually just eyeball it and trust my design instincts. Here are some helpful shade selection “rules”… you decide if it’s best to follow them or break them (in the name of design):

  • Know your bulb type and size
  • Round bases pair well with round shades
  • Square bases pair well with angular shades (think tapered square, cut corner, square bell, etc)
  • The shade should be around 30-40% of the lamp base height
  • Choose a shade that is twice the width of the base for a balanced look
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Clip On Shade Styles

Like regular lamp shades, there are many styles. Clip ons usually fit smaller fixtures though: sconces, table lamps, accent lamps, chandeliers, night lights, etc… anything with a candelabra bulb. I prefer my shade to match the base style (example: tapered empire shade with a round base), or I’ll pull something out of left field for high contrast (candelabra sconce with a rectangular cut corner shade). It’s fun to play since they’re easy to “try on”…

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Consider Your Aesthetic

You know your aesthetic best! Find options that complement your home, the vignette you’re styling, and consider the fixture you’re working with. Clip ons are also a great shade to experiment with, since they are budget friendly. Don’t be afraid of color, texture, pattern, pleating, piping, scalloped edges, or trim details!

You should also consider functionality… shades come in both paper and fabric choices. Some allow filtered light, some are more opaque, and others are sheer. Depending on how much light you need the fixture to emit or diffuse, choose the material accordingly.

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Scroll through to see some shades I tried on my favorite living room sconces! This classic fixture truly looks good with any style… which is your favorite?

My Favorites

Click directly on each shade below to be redirected.

I compiled a handful of shades from a variety of retailers (of varying budgets) to get your wheels turning. There are so many options! Which ones are you gravitating toward from the collage?

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What are some good ideas for styling clip on shades? I want some!

Table lamps, sconces, chandeliers, night lights (they make half clip on shades that are perfect for those!), vintage fixtures, and lights that need a quick upgrade or makeover. They’re the easiest to style. I actually keep a handful in a cabinet that I’m constantly rotating.

Why not buy an entirely new light fixture?

Lots of reasons… budget, electrical wiring, time, wanting a non permanent / non committal solution, etc. Just like swapping our your pillows & throws a couple times a year, it’s an easy way to drastically change the look of a vignette without spending too much time, effort, or money.

What are your favorite sources for clip on shades?

Lamps Plus, Etsy, Amazon, Wayfair, Walmart, etc. You can get them pretty much anywhere. I created an Amazon board with my favorites for you! These are also easy shades to modify. If you’d like to add trim, check out my double sconce easy shade upgrade. I did just that for the fixture above my burl bathroom vanity table in the guest bathroom!

Is there another name for these type of shades?

They’re also referred to as “candle clip” shades.

Related Lighting Posts

Looking for more lighting posts? I’ve shared so many over the years, you may be interested in reading or looking back on…

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I hope you enjoyed this one! Let me know if you have any lighting or shade questions in the comment section below. I hope everyone is having a good week. We’re in the middle of a big winter storm here, so I’ve been nestling in, restyling with cozy comforts in mind, and have slowly been packing away our holiday decor. Until next year, I suppose!

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  1. Good morning! Lamp shades must be in the air. I was recently watching an IGer thrifting in Paris (poor thing), and she found a glorious set of chandelier shades. Off my brain went to all the pretty possibilities! My lamp shade fervor encompasses all shapes and sizes, but I can’t deny a special attraction to the itty bitty clip-on examples. I adored your switch to black on the living room sconces, and what a cozy difference the shades make on your office fixture! You really have got my wheels turning this morning. While I don’t have a chandelier nor a single sconce in my house (sad face), I do have a pair of buffet lamps whose shades I recover from time to time. Perhaps a change is in order… Also, I love that little brass candle lamp with the black shade! I have seen similar ones thrifting, but passed because I assumed it was intended for use without a shade. I must have left my imagination home that day!🙄 Thanks for today’s food for thought. I hope your power is restored and you’re keeping warm. We are getting the “lite” version of your storms here. Just enough to be pretty and slippery…then slushy. Ha. Winter. What are ya gonna do? Cheers to a blustery Wednesday, Sarah! 💜
    BTW, how’s the entry paint selection coming?

    1. Sarah Gibson says:

      Hi Peggi! You know how much we love lamps, ha! Thrifting in Paris sounds like an absolute dream. I snagged two of those tiny candle lamps from the last estate sale I visited… $5 each! The shades were stained and terrible, but it made it a fun excuse to play with other options. Classic black won for that fixture (for now). Our power was out for a full day, but luckily- it’s back. These winter storms are no joke- it has been snowing for 5 consecutive days. Are you still getting the slippery slush? I bet the dogs would appreciate some fluffier snow! Entryway paint is still not finished- I’m being indecisive over here. Hope you’re having a good week! xo

  2. Good morning! What a fun way to mix things up in the cooler months! I like this idea and may try it on the chandelier in Jeff’s office space. It is dimmable, but he frequently uses it on the brightest setting and most days it’s too bright for me. I also have my sweet crystal pineapple mini lamp (it lives on the kitchen counter), that’s begging for some personality. I’m loving the woven shade, and the scalloped shade with contrast trim for my mini. I’m drawn to the simple linen scalloped edge shade, the black and gold lined, and the lighter woven shades for the chandelier. My wheels are turning over how fun, simple and cozy such a small change can be. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Sarah Gibson says:

      Hi Lauren! It’s definitely a fun way to drastically change the look of a light (both with lights on and off). Love the sound of your kitchen counter lamp! The scalloped contrast trim shade was a new find for this post- and also my favorite. SO cute! Hope you’re having a good week!

  3. Thanks for this informative post!

    1. Sarah Gibson says:

      So glad you liked it, Arli!

  4. Christy Johnson says:

    This is really helpful, Sarah. I want to reuse a Pottery Barn chandelier we’ve had for years (used in our previous home but currently sitting in the attic) and I think new clip-on shades are the way to freshen it up. Your post is giving me the confidence to move ahead!

    1. Sarah Gibson says:

      I’m so glad to hear that, Christy! I think it’s the perfect way to update old fixtures. Hopefully you’ll fall in love with your PB fixture again, with the addition of updated shades! Have a great weekend.

  5. Ruthie Michelson says:

    Thank you so much for this post!

    I recently re-did the kitchen, including all lighting. The new chandelier that hangs over the eat-in table did not come with shades so I bought some that I liked. And they look great! Until I turn the lights on.

    I’m not a fan of the way the clips that keep the shades attached to the bulbs create a shadow on the inside shades that’s visible from the outside. Is that just the normal aesthetic with lighter-colored shades? I don’t see that effect in any of the shades I see online.

    1. Sarah Gibson says:

      Hi Ruthie! I think it just depends on the shade and bulb combo… probably the color, material, shade thickness, bulb brightness, etc. I haven’t noticed that with any of mine.