a guide to styles and shapes of lamp shades

Not sure how to tell a straight empire from a tall tapered? Here's an expert guide to Pooky’s lamp shade styles and shapes along with tips for selecting the right one for your space...

When it comes to choosing a style and shape for your lamp shade, several factors come into play, including the type of lamp base, your existing décor, and your overall design theme. Here's Pooky's expert guide to understanding lamp shade essentials.

What are the main styles and shapes of lamp shades?

Lamp shades come in many styles and shapes, ranging from classic empire and contemporary drum shades to striking squares, cool cones, and gathered or rolled shades. Here's a breakdown of our most popular options:

Empire lamp shade

Empire Lamp Shades - Classic and Timeless

Empire lamp shades have a classic 'frustum' shape, resembling a cone with the topmost section removed. They feature a broad opening at the base that tapers to about half the diameter at the top, allowing for a wider spread of light from the bottom. The straight empire lamp shade is a variation with a wider top and steeper sides, lending it a slightly more modern edge. Empire shades are versatile and timeless, suitable for both traditional and modern settings. They are often chosen for table lamps and reading lamps, offering soft diffused light.

Drum lamp shades

Drum Lamp Shades - Clean and Contemporary

Drum lamp shades are cylindrical with a wide rim and straight sides, offering an even spread of light from both the top and bottom. Their geometric design fits well in modern spaces, especially when paired with geometric or retro-style lamp bases. Drum shades can also update older lamp styles, making them more contemporary. Tapered drum and short drum lamp shades are variations that emphasize the distinctive drum shape.

Cone lamp shade

Cone Lamp Shades - Cool and Distinctive

Cone lamp shades have a wide, open base that sharply tapers towards the top, creating a contemporary profile reminiscent of traditional Oriental rice hats. Their conical shape casts a circular diffused light, adding warmth and atmosphere. Cone shades work best with slimmer lamp bases.

Pleated and Rolled Lamp Shades

Pleated lamp shade

Gathered or pleated lamp shades, associated with more traditional settings, now come in fun and interesting shapes and styles. For instance, gathered silk empire shades with matching tapes add texture and character with a contemporary vibe.

Rolled lamp shade

Rolled lamp shades offer a smooth, modern appearance, making them ideal for contemporary or minimalist interiors, available in various materials from silk to marbled paper.

Choosing the right style and shape of lamp shade for your space

Selecting the appropriate style and shape of lamp shade depends on the type of lamp base and its role in your overall design scheme. Here are some general guidelines to consider:

  1. Match like with like for a balanced look. For instance, square or rectangular lamp shades often complement square or rectangular lamp bases, while a curved lamp shade pairs well with a contoured base.
  2. Consider the overall setting. Classic styles like empire or oval shades are suited to traditional settings, while modern shapes like square or drum shades work in contemporary spaces. Rounded lamp shades can match sculpted furniture, while geometric shades complement minimalist, straight-lined furniture.

However, rules are meant to be broken! The choice ultimately depends on the look you’re hoping to achieve. Mixing and matching lamp shade styles and bases can create unique focal points and dramatic statements, so go wild and create your own masterpiece..

At Pooky, our extensive range of lamp shades offers limitless possibilities - explore our complete collection of lamp shades.