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A Case For Mixing and Matching Lamp Shades (Plus The Rules You Should Know)

You’re online shopping. You come across the perfect lamp base. You can’t imagine life without it so you add to cart and immediately impulse buy. It was a good decision –– one you don’t regret, but soon after that confirmation email comes through you realize something, something big…it comes without a shade. There’s terror in your eyes and a pit in your stomach. What kind of shade do you even put on a lamp??? What are the types of shades –– WHAT ARE THE RULES?

Don’t cry, this post is here to help you out. And it’s not just for those of you who are in this very specific picture I painted above (you should know by now I like to be dramatic), it’s for those of you sitting at home right now (*cough*everyone*cough*), looking around at your house wondering how to add a lil more spunk and personality. I have an idea: let’s start with that “less exciting” eggshell-colored lamp shade in the corner.

The sky is the limit when it comes to lamp bases and their shades. They can add so much to a room when done right (as demonstrated 1 million times by the pleated lampshades that have been flooding your Instagram feeds for the last year, and yes, pleated shades will be involved in this post). We love a lamp, and we love it even more when it has a cool shade, so let’s chat about what you need to know:


So I poked around the internet to do a bit of research on what size your lamp shade should ACTUALLY be, and here’s the general consensus:

Your lamp shade should be about double the base of the lamp and around one third the total height of the lamp. Need a visual? Me too.

A Case For Mixing and Matching Lamp Shades (Plus The Rules You Should Know)

Hopefully that makes some sense to ya…now that we’ve grasped the rule, let’s talk about how to break it. Cause rules are meant to be broken, after all:


A Case For Mixing and Matching Lamp Shades (Plus The Rules You Should Know)
design by athena calderone | photo by nicole franzen | via architectural digest

Who doesn’t love Athena Calderone aka EyeSwoon??? In my eyes, she can do zero wrong, so if she’s using an oversized lamp shade (woah) and putting it in her KITCHEN (double woah and one of our 2020 kitchen trend predictions) then you probably should too.

This example of an oversized lamp shade is so good that I think I should just stop here while we’re on top…so let’s just move into the next section and I’d bet you’d never guess where we’re goin next:


Now THIS is a tricky one to pull off, but it can be done and it can be done well. Let’s start with this example:

A Case For Mixing and Matching Lamp Shades (Plus The Rules You Should Know)
design by amy shirlaw interiors | photo by alix mcintosh

Chunky base, tiny lil lampshade. It’s cool, it’s vibey and honestly, it’s all-around perfect. Emily’s also been pulling off the too-small lamp shade thing and I have to say, I think I really really like it:

Speaking of Emily’s latest living room reveal (photo above on the left), please note there is not ONE lamp with a white lamp shade (and no I’m not including sconces because that’s a whole different post) Basically the woman loves a colorful shade:


So the point I’m trying to make is: vary your lamp shade color and size, you won’t regret it. HECK why not even throw a pattern for a real pop??

Now we encourage you to play around and break your own rules, but if you need a starting place we (of course) have 36 of our favorite lamp and shade pairs that will hopefully make your heart happy…

A Case For Mixing and Matching Lamp Shades (Plus The Rules You Should Know)

1. Moroccan Cross Lamp Shade & Tripod Floor Lamp | 2. Black and White Stripe Lamp Shade & Tray Table Floor Lamp | 3. Burnt Orange Zig Lampshade & Window Pane Floor Lamp | 4. Cream Linen Knife Pleated Lampshade & Arched Floor Lamp Set | 5. Modern Half-Dome Metal Lamp Shade & Mix and Match White Floor Lamp Base | 6. Butter Creme Hardback Empire Lamp Shade & Minimalist Tripod Floor Lamp | 7. Linen Navy Blue Lampshade & Faux Wood Floor Lamp | 8. Mustard Linen Lamp Shade & Isobel Floor Lamp | 9. Cream Linen Knife Pleated Lampshade & Pamela Floor Lamp | 10. Red Dome Fabric Lampshade & Madrot Glass Globe Floor Lamp | 11. Textured Gallery Straight Sided Shade & Stand Floor Lamp | 12. Maratodd Fabric Drum & Rustic Black Metal Manvi Floor Lamp

A Case For Mixing and Matching Lamp Shades (Plus The Rules You Should Know)

1. Black Linen Drum Table Lamp Shade & Stacked Marble Table Lamp | 2. Navy Velvet Drum Lampshade & Mini Stick Table Lamp | 3. Anais Pleated Lamp Shade & Gesso Ring Table Lamp | 4. Black White Kente Lampshade & Kendall Matte Gray Ceramic Table Lamp | 5. Tufted Bungalow Lamp Shade & Angelo Rattan Table Lamp | 6. Dusky Pink Ivory Stripe Lampshade & Natural Wood Sierra Table Lamp Base | 7. Black and White Stripe Lamp Shade & Small Lamp Base | 8. Gallery Straight-Sided Linen Drum Lamp Shade & Teal Table Lamp | 9. Linen Trim Drum Chandelier Shade & Delavan Tripod Table Lamp | 10. Metallic Lamp Shade & Capone Lamp | 11. Rust Velvet Drum Lampshade & Terra Table Lamp | 12. Riverbed Drum Lamp Shade & Large Ribbed Glass LED Table Lamp

A Case For Mixing and Matching Lamp Shades (Plus The Rules You Should Know)

1. Nordic Grey linen Knife Pleated Lampshade & Electa Table Lamp | 2. Butter Creme Hardback Empire Lamp Shade & Rattan Table Lamp | 3. Navy Blue Mushroom Pleat Lamp Shade & Small Lamp Base | 4. Black Chimney Empire Lamp Shade & Bennett Table Lamp | 5. Modern Half-Dome Metal Lamp Shade & Ingrid Table Lamp | 6. Cream Linen Knife Pleated Lampshade & Capone Lamp | 7. Gingham Buffalo Check Lamp Shade & Louis Ceramic Globe Mini Table Lamp | 8. Raffia Scalloped Lamp Shade & Glisan Table Lamp | 9. Linen Empire Lamp Shade & Asymmetry Mini Table Lamp | 10. Matilda Goad Signature Scallop Lampshade & Natural Acacia Wood Table Lamp Base | 11. Pink Knife Pleat Lamp Shade & Pink Terrazzo Table Lamp | 12. Dark Blue Cone Shade & Margie Table Lamp

So did I make my case? What do you think about the mixing and the matchings? Would you try this at home?? Comment your thoughts and I’ll meet ya down there ?

Opening Image Credit: “How To Design A Pass Through Room” | Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

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