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Tips on custom made shades...

Mid century modern interior, rust velvet

As an alternative to 'off-the-rack' lampshades that are generally plain and choice limited, having a custom made service creates a tailored, made-to-order shade that has your individual specifications in mind. Using store bought or designer fabrics, wallcoverings or artwork, something that is unique to your home can be created.

There is a surprising value of colour, texture, pattern and shape of lampshade that you may not have thought of. Lampshades are simple items that can make a room look better, more interesting in a subtle or obvious way. It is a surprisingly quick, simple and an economical way to make a statement and update your interior decor.

Sticking to a few simple rules takes the guesswork out of the right lampshade.

The first rule of lampshades is there is no single right shade but plenty of wrong ones. Any given base can accomodate a range of shades, as long as you follow a few principles...

Retro table lampshade, Orla Kiely fabric


A shade that is approx half - 3/4's as tall as the lamp from base to socket is pleasing to most people. Likewise a shade that is 2-3 times wider than the widest part of the base will usually look balanced. But these guidelines are not absolute and rules are sometimes made to be broken !


The shade should hide the bottom of the socket when viewed from meters away and the lower edge of the shade should be approx eye level when you are seated.


Not only should a lampshade suit your interior space, you need to consider what the light source will be needed for. For reading? For working? Or for ambience only?

Hardbacked shades are brighter with angled shades letting more light out than straightsided drums. Dark shades reduce glare, metallic lined shades produce a lovely glow and pleated shades will diffuse the light more. Of course bulbs will play an important part in the brightness and tone of light too.


Colour when chosen well, and that is the key, can make a real WOW for a room. The idea is to choose a colour that ties into or compliments other attributes in the room it is in. If you choose a colour that doesn't do this it will stand out like a sore thumb and create an uncomfortable focal point.

Check out this gallery of colourful shades that really work excellently!


If you aren't brave enough for a colour pop then go for texture which can add interest and warmth. It could be the fabric itself or how a plain fabric can be gathered or pleated to create texture and movement.


For the biggest oomph a well chosen pattern that brings in accents of colours from the rest of the room can really work well especially pulling the shade out from the neutral wall or curtaining. Best not to have lots of patterns competing in the one room...less is more generally. And it is fine to have the same fabric on the shade to the curtains or footstool but only if they are far apart so as not to be too 'matchy-matchy'.

Remember the smaller the shade, the smaller the pattern may need to be.


If going for a neutral shades, then shape is an important consideration, to make it more interesting and in keeping and proportion to your base (if table or floor)

There are too many shapes to mention when including full frames with fabric stretched around (tiffany, regency etc) but in general the most popular shapes for contemporary hardlined shades are the straight sided and tapered drums (or empire), or coolies (steeper angled, like traditional chinese hat) and tall retro tapered. Ovals are popular if a table lamp is going to be situated on a mantlepiece of side table butted up against the wall.

Generally if your base has angles, square straight shapes then the shade reflects this. If the bas has tapering, slopes and rounded then again the shade shape reflects.

floral lined pendant


It's great to line a larger pendant shade that you look up into... to add interest, texture and disguise the plain styrene. This opens up all sorts of options.

Lining with fabric or wallcoverings for floor or table shades can be great too to change the 'glow' from the light.



A personal choice, trims, fringing, beading or otherwise can be added to give a little more to a plain or patterned shade. It really depends on the room the lamp is going in and the look you are after. It certainly is becoming more popular again and can be a simple way to improve on an existing lampshade that lacks something.

"Custom lampshades are to lamps what haute couture is to clothes!"

Quote from Betsy Speert

Haute couture encompasses 'high fashion', the creation of exclusive custom fitted

clothing, made by hand from high quality, expensive, often unusual fabrics and put together with attention to detail and finish...often over a deal of time.

Especially the making of traditional soft/stretched shades using traditional methods, ie handstitching fabric over a wire frame, they are expensive in comparison to the contemporary hardlined shades due to the time it takes to produce firstly the wire frame and then the sewing, the fabric stretching and then adding trims.


Whatever you decide, at Oscuro we have inherited the traditional skills of making all types of lampshades and relish the opportunity to be creative with new materials as well as revisiting retro, vintage or antique pieces and family heirlooms to give them a new lease of life!

All handmade in the small studio, crafted with great care and attention to detail.

Your statement piece is just a call or email away :)

Oscuro owner, Claire

Contact Claire to book in for a friendly free consultation appointment,

021-02497428 or

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