Tips for choosing a shade

Light-coloured shades in silk will cast a relatively cool light as the bulb transmits the colour of the shade.

A cream-coloured silk pleated coolie-style shade is a safe option but is often a poor choice, as it doesn’t effectively shade the light source or add very much to the room as a ceiling pendant. You are better off having a coolie style as a table lamp.

For a moody, atmospheric glow, go for dark colours such as chocolate and deep purple.

  • A lined shade will mellow the light source, Unlined shades tend to allow a hot spot of light to show through. This can be distracting as the eye is always drawn to the brightest point.

  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with unexpected colour combinations. For example, a black shade with a lime-green lining can look fresh and perky, or a red lining can give a moody, low key light.

  • It’s best to have fewer lamps with larger shades, otherwise the room will look cluttered and the lighting will lose its drama. Small lamps can create a fussy rather than elegant look.

Making the most of light

Shades hide the bulb and diffuse the intensity of the light emitted. The range of materials used is vast, and the variety of styles is equally huge. But always remember to choose a shade for what it will do for the light in a room and not just for how pleasing it looks. Table and floor lamps provide essential building blocks for light in a room.

If you can light a room only by table and floor lamps, it makes the choice of shade even more important. You need to maximize the light available and ensure that you get the light where you want it. Because your eye is always drawn to the brightest point in a space, shades can be the first thing to make a visual impact in a room. You can improve the lighting and update the look and feel of any room by reviewing the shades. The shape, size, material, colour and lining are all key to a shade’s look and use. For the lighting designer, the key is to choose a shade that not only complements the décor but, more importantly, directs the light in the way you intend.

Bespoke Lampshades - CountryShades

Get to know your light bulbs

You can create dramatic improvements to the lighting in your home simply by changing bulbs. It may be that you need a bulb of higher or lower wattage or of a different shape, make or type. For example, often a large globe bulb will give a better quality of light than a standard bulb.

40- watt/230-volt-  clear standard incandescent bulb

One of the most common bulbs used in households, incandescent give a warm, atmospheric glow. They also dim easily and provide a true colour to the shade.

70- watt/230-volt-  clear energy-saving bulb (equivalent to a 100 watt incandescent standard bulb)

The energy-saving bulb is designed to reproduce similar light qualities to the standard incandescent bulb. This is a viable alternative to the traditional 100 watt bulb. This type of bulb is dimmable and provides good colour to the shades.

28- watt/230 – volt  standard incandescent candle bulb

Commonly found in chandeliers, pendants and wall lights, the candle incandescent bulb provides a warm and dimmable light. This bulb gives off noticeably less light than the 40-watt incandescent bulb.

LED Lights

LED lights have been hailed as the future of home lighting, as they use very little energy, claim to last a very long time and, unlike regular energy-saving bulbs, they are instantly bright when switched on. LEDs are the most energy-efficient bulbs, as they use 90% less energy than traditional incandescents.

Pros: LEDs are the most efficient type of bulb, have great claimed longevity, give instant light, work in low temperatures

Cons: Quality varies, colour rendering isn’t quite as good as old-fashioned bulbs, you may need to update your dimmer switches to compatible models.


The lighting in a bedroom should encourage calm and tranquillity. The lighting should be gentle and glare free, yet allow for practical activity when required.

Bedside lamps should be large, particularly if they are the only lamps in the room, not only will large lamps give you a better reading light, but, as table lamps they will add more ambient light to the space.

Dining rooms

The light over the dining room table is the most crucial element to get right, in a dining space. A strong focal point over the table inclines people to gather around it. You can either go for a large single pendant, or if you have the space and your table is long enough, you could opt for a pair or even a multi-stranded pendant to add drama. You should consider the drop of the pendant carefully, as you should still be able to see the person sitting opposite you, but the lower the light fixture, the better the atmosphere around the table will be.

Living Room

Your living room should be the relaxing heart of your home, and a place where you welcome your guests and make them feel at ease. When planning the lighting in your living room consider the furniture layout. If the main seating area is in the centre of the space, ensure you anchor each corner with a table lamp. A table behind a sofa is a useful place to locate a pair of lamps to light the seating area. This removes clutter from side tables and put the lamps in a slightly higher position, which is more useful for reading.