Lamp Shade Buying Guide

Published By: Shades Of Light

Date Published:

Last Updated: July 20, 2022

Belgian Linen Replacement Table Lamp Shade

How To Choose a Replacement Lamp Shade

There are many reasons you might find yourself on the hunt for a replacement lamp shade. Perhaps you’ve just purchased a beautiful floor lamp to accent your living room furniture, but you wish the shade complemented your couch color a little more closely. You’re thinking of redecorating a room, but you want to start with a few small, budget-friendly changes before committing to a major upgrade. The original shade that came with your beloved bedside lamp is starting to show signs of age. Or, after some shrewd antique shopping or acquiring a family heirloom, you’ve become the owner of a stunning vintage lamp.

No matter where your search for a unique lamp shade begins, Shades of Light is here to help you distinguish your style. We’ve gathered tips and tricks to help you narrow down your search. Here you’ll find answers to the most frequently asked questions we receive from our customers about lamp shades and advice on how to choose the best replacement shade for your lamp the first time around.


When replacing a lamp shade, the first thing to know is that all types of fitters (the part that connects the shade to the lamp base) are not universal or interchangeable. You will need to examine the lamp base that you currently have—including the existing socket design and lamp parts such as metal harps—to determine how to attach the shade to the lamp. Once you know which fitter your lamp requires, you will know if a particular replacement shade will be a good choice for your lamp.

Types of Lamp Shade Fitters

Threaded UNO Fitter: This shade fitter looks like a ring with three spokes; the ring of the lamp shade threads directly onto the lamp’s socket. Many arc or bridge arm floor lamps with downward-pointing bulbs are UNO fitter compatible, but UNO fitter shades can work with lamps with sockets that point up or down.

Slip (Nardi) UNO Fitter: This shade fitter is similar to the threaded UNO fitter, except an additional inner ring “slips” onto the socket to hold the bulb and lamp shade in place.

Tip: If your lamp base does not come with an UNO socket, but you’ve fallen in love with an UNO fitter lamp shade, you may be able to use an UNO adapter which allows the shade to be used with a standard harp and finial arrangement.

UNO Adapter

Euro Fitter: At first glance, many customers might mistake a Euro fitter for an UNO fitter because it also features a ring and spoke design and sits directly on the socket. The main difference between UNO and Euro fitters is the size of the inner ring, which is usually larger on a Euro fitter.

Spider Fitter: This shade fitter is designed to sit atop a lamp harp, a metal loop that attaches to the lamp base and helps support the shade’s weight. The spider fitter typically includes a washer that allows a finial to be attached to the top of the lamp for extra style and shade stability.

Tip: Many antique and traditional table lamps include a harp and finial design, so a spider fitter is likely a great choice for replacing the shade of an antique or heirloom lamp.

Bulb Clip Fitter: This style of shade clips directly onto the lamp’s light bulb. While these lamp shades are simple to install, they must be sized correctly to fit the lamp’s bulb.

Tip: For even more versatility, consider purchasing a clip-on bulb adapter that fits your light bulb size. With this adapter, any lamp shade with a spider fitter can be converted to a clip-on style for easy shade installation that will fit your lamp base every time.

Standard Clip-On Bulb Adapter Candle Clip-On Bulb Adapter

We also cover questions related to lamp shade fitters in our How to Measure a Lamp Shade guide! If you still find yourself stumped by lamp shade fitter questions, Shades of Light Customer Service is happy to guide you in your search.


Once you understand the fitter requirements of your lamp base, you can move on to less technical style considerations such as shapes, materials, and design aesthetics.

What are the different shapes of lamp shades?

Drum Shades: This silhouette features a circular top and bottom, which, combined with its short height, resembles the appearance of a drum. For shades with a circular top and bottom that are taller than drum shades, shop the term “cylinder shades.”
16” Modern Drum Paper Shade with Foil Lining

Empire Shades: Beloved as an elegant style that fits with many different aesthetics, the empire shade is distinguished by a gentle tapered shape. The top diameter is usually about one-half the bottom diameter’s measurement.

16” Belgian Linen Empire Lamp Shade

Square & Rectangular Shades: While you can probably imagine how the shapes of these shades will interact with your lamp base, interesting details such as rounded corners may bring unexpected panache to your replacement shade.
16” White with Colored Trim Square Lamp Shade

Tip: Square, rectangular, and drum shades are often great choices for a modern design scheme, as they can echo other geometric motifs in lighting or decor elements.

Pleated Shades: This style refers not to the shape of the shade itself but rather the way the material covering the shade’s frame is folded into a beautiful, delicate series of pleats.

5” Mushroom Pleated Chandelier Shade

Tip: You will often find the phrase “softback shades” associated with pleated designs because the fabric covering the shade’s frame (usually made of wire) is stitched directly onto the metal frame. In contrast, “hardback shades” are produced when the fabric is laminated onto a hard synthetic inner layer to give the shade structure.

Bell Shades: A simple way to describe this shape is an empire shade with a little more flare—literally! A bell shade also has a top diameter that is about one-half the diameter of the bottom measurement, but the lines slope down and flare out to a multi-sided bottom with (usually around six to eight) corners.

5” Dupioni Silk Bell Chandelier Shade

Tip: If you are having trouble getting a flared shade to fit the harp on your lamp, you may need to update the harp to a smaller size that can accommodate the bell’s curves.

What are the different styles of lamp shades?

When you have the proper fitter and your ideal shade shape in mind, you can start to consider the shade’s materials and how they will fit into your design aesthetic. Here are a few of our favorite products, organized by design style and material, to help you get inspired!

Traditional & Transitional: If your lamp base looks elegant, but your lamp shade is starting to show age, replacing it with a traditional shade, such as a bell-shaped silk shade, is a quick and easy way to give the fixture a facelift.
16” Silk Rectangle Cut Corner Table Lamp Shade

Vintage-Bohemian Inspired: Channel the charm and classic elegance of bygone eras with intricate designs like metal filigree. Antique-inspired lamp shades often blend well with boho and eclectic designs, as they are visually stunning up close but have a cohesive appearance with other decor pieces when viewed as a part of a whole room design.
18” Filigree Lotus Euro Fitter Metal Shade

Colorful & Patterned: Add an extra touch of fun to your room design with colorful and printed shades. You can choose colors that coordinate directly with other pieces—such as a sofa in a living room or a comforter in a bedroom—or switch things up with an unexpected accent color!
16” Vintage Linen Drum Shade

12” Marbled Paper Cone Shade

Rustic & Farmhouse: If your room decor leans toward cozy country or cottagecore, rustic and farmhouse shades will match the natural aesthetic you are looking for.
16” Burlap Drum Shade

16” Muted Mum Empire Lampshade

Nautical & Coastal: If you’re designing a room in a beach house or even just creating an oasis at home that mimics a waterside escape, consider coastal replacement lamp shades in natural materials like grasscloth and cotton. For beach motif lovers, we also have printed shades featuring shells, starfish, anchors, and more.
16” Grasscloth Drum Shade

16” Starfish Drum Shade

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