How to Proportion a Shade to a Lamp

Which lamp shade you choose will depend on the style of the lamp and the decor of the room.

Proportion a Shade to a Lamp
Consider the lamp's placement in a room and how much light it will give off. Will the lampshade only direct light down or will it direct light upward equally? Unless you're making a design statement, don't use a tiny shade on a huge lamp or a huge shade on a tiny lamp. However, none of these measurements are hard and fast. These are general guidelines for how to proportion a shade to a lamp. .
Lamp Harp

Measure the lamp from the base to the top of the light bulb socket or the top of the harp if your lamp has one.

Set the shade next to the lamp base. It should be the same height as the lamp base or 2 inches shorter, depending on your aesthetic.

Measure the circumference of the bottom of the lamp shade. It should be at least two times the circumference of the lamp, but not more than two and a half.

Make sure that the diameter of the shade at its widest is not larger than the height of the lamp, not including the socket or harp.

Check to see how much of the neck of the lamp beneath the socket is showing once you've place the shade on the lamp. About a 1/2 inch of neck should be visible. Include any length that's added by fringe or other decoration.

Things You Will Need

  • Tape measure


  • Make sure the shade covers the bottom of the socket. Use a plain, well proportioned shade on an ornate lamp. Showy lamp shades work well with plain lamp bases.

About the Author

Meg Jernigan has been writing for more than 30 years. She specializes in travel, cooking and interior decorating. Her offline credits include copy editing full-length books and creating marketing copy for nonprofit organizations. Jernigan attended George Washington University, majoring in speech and drama.