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Conical vs drum lampshade – Some guidelines to guide your purchasing decsion

Choosing the right kind of shade for your table lamp or floor lamp can always be a challenge. Particularly if you do not have the shades physically available for trials before you can choose. The wrong shade dimension can make the entire lamp look odd or not so pleasing to the eyes which makes it important for you to take a calculated decision. In this post, we try to simplify the pointers that you can use to decide the right shape and dimension of the lampshade for your lamps. In this post we look at the two most popular shades – The drum lampshade and the conical lampshade.

Note : This post focusses on cirular shades specifically for circular bases. May not work well for square or rectangular bases.

When to choose drum lampshade

Have a tall lamp ? A tripod Lamp ? A sleek and slender floor standing lamp ?
Go for the drum lampshade. Drum shades of a particular diameter look much much bigger than a conical lampshade of the same base dimension and hence create the perception of bigger size which is essential when trying to complement a tall lamp. Floor lamps also need to make their presence felt from one corner of the room for which drum lampshades work the best. While choosing drum, it is also important to choose the correct dimension so that it does not look out of place with your lamp.

Here’s a guideline that you can follow to choose your drum lampshade for your floor lamps :

  • Height of the lamp should be approximately 3 to 3.5 times the diameter of the lampshade.
  • So if your lamp is 48 inches tall, you can go for a 14 inches dia lampshade
  • If your lamp is 36 inches tall, you can go for a 12 inches dia lampshade
  • 16 inches and 18 inches work well with lamps that are more than 4 feet tall.

Some exceptions though :
If you have a lamp with just a slender single stem rising from a wooden or metal base, conical shades would work well.

When to choose conical lampshade

We almost always recommend conical lampshades for the following lamp bases :

  • Small table lamp bases, wooden or metal
  • Bottle lamps
  • Vases used as lamps

The conical shades also help with wider diffusion of light enabling you to read books by the bed side. This is most cases, is what our users want their table lamps to do – make bed side reading easy.

Again the dimension also depends on the height and base diameter of the table lamp. The above lampshade bottom dia is 12 inches while the bottom dia of the blue shade below is 8 inches. The diamension was decided by the height of the lampbase.

Some pointers here :

  • Always make sure the bottom diameter of your lampshade is always wider than the diameter of the table lamp. Typically 1.5 times more than the base dia.
  • General thumb rule : Height of the lamp should be more than the base diameter of the lampshade
  • For regular bottles, go for conical shades that are about 10 inches wide in the bottom
  • Smaller bottles, 8 inches or 6 inches depending on the height of the bottle
  • Idea is to make sure the shade is proportional to the lamp base

Some exceptions though :
Drum lampshades work well with table lamps particularly when their base is wider. For example : A small and wide flower vase.

Personal choice and instincts always rule

While we have jotted down these points based on our own experience in making shades and also based on some of our customer feedback. These are only general guidelines when you do not have samples to test with your base before buying – Particularly when you buy online. 

As shades are driven by personal taste, it is quite possible that you may want to deviate from these pointers to suit your specific needs. Eventually, it would work with your base and it should go with your decor sensibilities where, more than any guideline, your judgement and your personal choices would dictate what type of lampshade you should be buying. Lampshades add a lot of charm to your space and it is only right that you base the purchasing decision on some of these these guildelines and your own instincts. Trust us : Given that it is your space, your instincts in most times will always come in handy. Have fun planning the lampshade for your space. 

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