In the past we’ve written about the value a simple hardware update can add to a kitchen, office, or bedroom. If you’re interested in this type of low cost, high impact design upgrade, you might want to take stock of your light fixture shades to see what they are contributing to the room. Why? Because upgrading your lamp shades can make a serious visual impact, is a breeze to accomplish, and is affordable on almost any budget. Choosing the perfect light fixture shade for the room—as opposed to taking whatever shade comes with the fixture at a local big box store—is one of the best ways to show you have designed your home with intention, care, and personality.
A light shade can make a big impact on a space because it will contribute an evolving look and feel to a space throughout the day. When not in use, the material selection and silhouette of the shade are at the forefront of its appeal. When it’s dark, it’s easier to distinguish the hand-painted lines of a Metal Bell Shade, or the striking sculptural presence of an Opal Belt Shade. When illuminated, however, a shade can almost single-handedly determine the mood of the space by determining where, what color, and how much light is distributed. In large part, it’s the light shade that determines what areas or items are highlighted in the room, what kind of activities can happen in the space, and even how the paint color is viewed.
Updating your shades is also quite affordable when you consider the comparative price of changing the entire fixture, or consider how well lamp shades retain their value. For those in the midst of a full home renovation, changing out full light fixtures is a relatively easy upgrade because you are likely to have the tools—or the professionals with the tools—around to tackle the project. But as much as we encourage people to change their entire fixture, we also recognize that hiring professionals or purchasing tools can be an expense that weighs into the decision.
On the other hand, almost anyone can change out a lamp shade without even needing to purchase special tools or hiring professionals. For most people, the process of changing a lamp shade is simple: just measure the fitter size, order a corresponding shade, unscrew the thumb screws holding the original shade in place, switch out the shades, then replace the thumb screws. That’s it! (For a complete breakdown of what a fitter is and why it’s important in ordering new light shades, check out our blog post on light fixture parts and terminology.)
Since changing a lamp shade is also fully reversible in a matter of minutes, it’s an improvement that’s accessible to renters who might not have the option of changing their light fixtures. When it’s time to move on to your next living situation, you won’t lose money on a security deposit, which can be affected if your landlord feels you made dramatic changes to the space.
Lamp shades can also be a long-term investment that gains character and value with time. While it’s not as common as having a collection of linens or fine china, building a collection of lamp shades can be fun and rewarding. Having numerous shade options will allow you to update your room as your tastes change and evolve while maintaining a sense of authenticity and quality through each iteration. If you put thought into this collection, perhaps your kids and grandkids will want to hold onto the shades for themselves.
Either way, if you’re going to invest in heirloom quality lamp shades, why not hold onto them long enough for them to become actual heirlooms?
Changing a lamp shade is one of the easiest ways to add value and visual interest to a space. The next time you want to make a high impact design decision on a budget, maybe try hitting the light switch to see what ideas show up.