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How To Choose the Right Size of Shade for Your Lighting

Switching out your light fixtures is one of the easiest and most affecting décor changes you can make in a room. Yet, when it comes to selecting new lights, the number of options can be overwhelming. One of the first choices you make is the size of your new shade. Even with plenty of customer photos to browse through in our Photo Gallery, it can be hard to judge what size of shade will fit in a space. 


Take this Sydney Pendant Light for example. This beautiful industrial ceiling pendant combines the classic look of an RLM warehouse shade with a touch of nautical style with its guard-and-glass design. If you look at the product page, you can see the first customizing option you have is shade size. Hardly a day goes by that someone doesn’t call our sales staff and ask, “What size of shade should I buy?” Here’s one way to help you decide…


Take a piece of cardboard — I grabbed an empty cereal box out of the recycle bin. Gather up some string, scissors, measuring tape, a pen, and a thumbtack. I found 43 jars of screws and nails, but no thumbtack, so I just used a small nail instead.


I wanted to measure out a 12″ shade so I first tied one end of the string to my pen. Then I measured out six inches. Trust me, this will end up being a 12″ circle. And I know this because I did it wrong the first time. My high school geometry teacher just rolled his eyes.


Place your thumbtack, or nail, in the center of your cardboard, stretch the 6″ string taut, then draw your circle.


Now cut out your cardboard circle and taa daa!


I told you it would be a 12″ circle. Mine’s a little off as you can see but we’re not striving for perfection here; just trying to get an idea.


Now take some more string, or lovely yarn which might inspire you to consider a colored cotton cord for your new light. Enlarge the hole in the center of your cardboard and poke the yarn through and tie a knot. Now you can hold up your makeshift shade and see what a 12″ light might look like over the kitchen table.


Circling back to our Sydney example, in the photo above, this fixture is an 18″ Galvanized shade with a red guard and glass. While 18″ may seem like a large shade, this looks perfect! Plus it’s good to remember that you can always install a dimmer switch on your lighting. Go with a larger shade but control the brightness depending on your mood.


And if you still have questions or concerns about what size to choose, our incredibly friendly and helpful sales staff are ready to talk you through your choices. You can reach them at 800-407-8784, via Live Chat from our website, or via email at

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