How to Upgrade Your Lamps & Light Fixtures

How to Upgrade Your Lamps & Light
via ben pentreath

Good day, design friends! I know I’m not alone in my enthusiasm for all things lighting. (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C) So, I’m here to proclaim without trepidation that I’m excited to discuss lampshades! I know the standard (perfectly lovely) off-white linen lampshade doesn’t generally spark conversation, and that’s exactly my point. Why miss an opportunity for injecting another layer of personality into your decor? Think new colors, shapes and textures. To get your wheels turning, I have identified some key reasons to make a switch, collected beautiful inspirational images and compiled scads of resources. Click through and take a gander if you might be ready for a change.

How to Upgrade Your Lamps & Light Fixtures - roomfortuesday.comTo be clear, I’m not suggesting that you replace every lampshade in your house, but sometimes opportunities present themselves. What if you inherit a lamp with sentimental value that doesn’t jive with your aesthetic? Or you have a long-cherished piece that could use some freshening? A new shade can work wonders! Imagine grandma’s gilded floral porcelain base with a contemporary gold drum shade or a monochromatic velvet! Update your classic chinoiserie ginger jar with a colorful pleated silk! New lampshades rejuvenate a look and allow your heirlooms to shine.

How to Upgrade Your Lamps & Light
via domino

How to Upgrade Your Lamps & Light Fixtures - roomfortuesday.comOne basic detail to consider is shape; don’t be nervous about trying a new silhouette. This graphic provides a key to some of the most common styles. Almost any lamp looks great with an empire or drum shade, but maybe consider one with exaggerated proportions for fun. These inspiration images prove the tapered empire trend continues! Why not experiment with a boxy or angular form? Just changing the contour of a shade could provide a subtle but pleasing difference.

How to Upgrade Your Lamps & Light
via heidi caillier design

You might be wondering about the logistics of changing a lampshade, particularly when it comes to dimensions. This handy guide about scale is a good place to start. Remember to trust your design eye, too. While researching this topic, I found most purveyors offered detailed information on their websites to assist with lampshade sizing. Accurate measurements are key whether you’re replacing an existing shade or starting with just a lamp base. In addition to size, you’ll need to pay attention to how your shade is affixed (harp, UNO, clip-on). Harps can be swapped or adapters added to ensure that your new shade sits perfectly.

How to Upgrade Your Lamps & Light Fixtures -

How to Upgrade Your Lamps & Light Fixtures -

01: blue pleated silk // 02: classic rattan // 03: scalloped white linen // 04: beige English pleat // 05: knife pleated linen // 06: wicker empire // 07: indigo pleated // 08: faux burl drum // 09: conical rattan // 10: pheasant feather // 11: blue and khaki ticking hex // 12: rattan mushroom // 13: metallic drum // 14: black gingham pleated // 15: scalloped raffia with trim // 16: beige gingham pleated // 17: black pleated empire // 18: walnut veneer // 19: rattan drum //

Friends, would you look at all of these gorgeous lampshades? I curated these beautiful examples for a cohesive roundup, but the options are endless! Part of my goal was to find as many different sources as possible, so this selection represents a dozen distinct retailers- from familiar big box stores to independent Etsy sellers. Several shops offer custom and COM options. From this embarrassment of riches, I’m especially drawn to the wicker examples. They add such unexpected texture, and I’m mad for the conical and mushroom shapes! My love for color makes the patterned pleated shades a no-brainer, and I long for a pair of sconces or a chandelier because those little shades are so stinking cute. Ha, I sort of want them all. Do any catch your eye?

How to Upgrade Your Lamps & Light
via hendricks churchill

My orphan lamp collection prompted this lampshade journey. Like many of you, I thrift for homegoods. Unique lamps of all kinds call to me…brass, pottery, marble. I can’t resist. Often, the shade is damaged or missing, but that doesn’t deter me. In fact, I prefer the chance to create an imaginative lamp/shade pairing. I even have fair luck scoring lampshades separately. A high-quality lampshade can cost hundreds of dollars, but lovely examples at my local haunts sell for under ten. For that price, I might start changing my lampshades seasonally! From now on, consider a damaged or missing shade your invitation to customize. 

How to Upgrade Your Lamps & Light
via house and garden uk

My favorite reason for upgrading a lampshade is the chance to flex my diy muscles. Think about it. The project boasts a phenomenal risk:reward ratio, and the scope brings a choose-your-own-adventure flavor. For a quick transformation, jazz up an existing shade with contrasting trim. Or, dive right in and create a bespoke pleated shade if you’ve got a fabric remnant and a zest for glue gun burns. Seriously though, with a simple template, a piece of pretty paper and some adhesive, you can produce a one-of-a-kind shade in no time. Take advantage of bargain lampshades from the thrift store to experiment. I’m dreaming of marbled paper for a pair of library sconces. I also am anxious to try a hand-painted pattern like the example in the Domino image. I bet you could even recreate #10 and #19 with a little bit of patience, don’t you?

How to Upgrade Your Lamps & Light
via anne wagoner interiors

Well, that’s my contribution for the day! Have I succeeded in spreading my lampshade fervor? Are you a fan of unconventional shades? If you consider shape, texture and color, I think unique options exist for every aesthetic. Do you agree? Are you inspired to revamp a lamp? Will you tackle an artsy diy? I’m anxious to hear your thoughts and opinions. Have the loveliest of autumn Tuesdays! Until next time, friends.

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  1. Top of the mornin’ to you Peggi! You are just as timely as Sarah-I scored two sets of lamps last week, and I’m not in love with the shades on either of them. They’ll do for now, but they’ll need an upgrade sooner than later. Thank you for providing the detailed graphics! That is going to be extremely helpful, as this will be the first time I’ve shopped lampshades. I can’t actually even believe that, but here we are.
    The beauty and elegance of the shades you selected for the roundup is blowing my mind and exciting my senses. I’m on board with your love of the rattan mushroom shade; who am I kidding, any shape of rattan is delightful. Something about the uniqueness of the mushroom shape though- very modern form with traditional material. That one is my favorite. #4-I can’t go full knife pleat as it’s just a bit too jarring for my eyes, but this simple English pleat would suit the bill just perfectly. And even as I say that I’m digging the drama #5 is serving up. Up next for me would be #14, 15, and 17. All for the same reasons. They are all gorgeous examples of a simple timeless shade, and would pair perfectly with my entry table lamps. I’m loving the black gingham on #14; its a very unexpected color way. The black raffia trim on #15 makes me just swoon, and the all black shade speaks to me as a more modern version of its classic white or beige counterparts. That’s not to say that I don’t love #1 and #7. I’ll forever be hoping a pair of sconces land in my home that will suit shades such as these, because they are just to die for. Rocky Mountain Lighting is my go-to for this type, and the iterations you’ve provided here are stupendous. #1 might just make its way into the kids’ bathroom via a vanity lamp in lieu of a “night-light”. It’s that good! You have the wheels turning Peggi, and I’m all about it this fine fall morning! I hope you have a lovely day friend. Awesome post! Xo

    1. Good morning, Lauren! Thank you for the kind words. Two sets of lamps in one week? That’s some shopping luck. Please share them! I’m glad this post was timely and helpful! I’m totally with you on the rattan shades; I love how fresh such a timeless material can feel. I also dig the drama of #5. I scored an enormous vintage knife pleat ages ago (still covered in plastic!) for $2! It’s just waiting for the perfect lamp. I’d be hard-pressed to choose between 14, 15, and 17…although I’m leaning toward 15 because the scallops are killing me rn. I wasn’t half kidding when I mentioned changing my lampshades seasonally. I definitely vote yes to a vanity lamp with that pretty shade; such a sweet alternative to a night light. Here’s to turning wheels and falling leaves, friend! Have a super day!💜

  2. Yep, I’ve got the fervor too! This is such a fabulous roundup and I love the idea of DIYing too. I actually also recently pulled together a blog post on unique shades and loved the Etsy Shop ZZCustomDesign, too. Here’s the link if you’d like to see: Thank you for another lovely post! (Also, I keep referencing your candle manifesto from last week–so amazing.)

    1. Hello, Liz! Happy to know that there’s another lampshade fan out there, and how funny that we seem to have been scouring the internet at the same time. I love all the examples you selected! So many amazing options. I definitely spent time browsing ZZ Custom Design. Thank you for the kind words. The amazing candle manifesto is Sarah’s handiwork, btw. She’s the creator and designer of Room for Tuesday; I’m just a lucky visitor. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Have a super week!

      1. Aw, thanks, Peggi! Loving everything both of you are sharing! <3

        1. Thank you so much, Liz! :)

  3. This is my favorite post you’ve shared, Peggi!! Loved reading this one so much :) We kindred spirits when it comes to lamps, light fixtures, and shades. I’m ready to go thrifting now.

    1. Awww, thanks Sarah! That means a lot. I had a ridiculous amount of fun researching this topic! I’m now kind of obsessed haunting FBMP for lamps I don’t need. Haha.

  4. Is there a proper height for a buffet lamp?! I scored matching brass buffet lamps for $15 and I’m debating whether they are too tall for my piece of furniture and my 8 foot ceilings. I’ve been searching for new shades for them but don’t want to choose until I’ve decided where to put them! Would love any guidance!

    1. Awesome question, Jaylyn! There really isn’t a set rule on height- it’s more about how it pairs with your furniture or the buffet beneath it. You want to make sure they complement each other and feel cohesive in terms of scale. Your buffet lamps sound beautiful! Are they flirting with the ceiling? I can’t imagine they’re THAT tall, but it depends on what they’re sitting upon. Happy to help if you share more info! xo

  5. Thanks Sarah! I love them so I am hoping they work somewhere! Currently they are sitting on a buffet/dresser (not sure its proper name) that is 30 inches tall x 39 inches wide. Its a black base with a marble top. The lamps are 35 inches tall from base to top of the shade. There is a remaining 31 inches from the top of the shade to the ceilings. So…give or take a few inches its kind of divided in thirds between the heights of the furniture (30) lamps (35) and remaining wall space (31)….they are positioned on narrow wall between two windows thats only slightly wider than the dresser so it’s a small area flwhere I’m trying to create a little vignette between my open concept kitchen and living area…thanks!!

    1. That actually sounds perfect, Jaylyn! That’s pretty close to what the dimensions of my buffet and buffet lamps in my office will be :) I bet it looks lovely, and awesome idea to create a vignette between your kitchen and living space- excellent use of space and division. Well done!