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Choosing the best ceiling fan lamp shades involves determining the level of light output needed in the room in question and the stylistic implications of the fan blades. Lamp shades may dim or brighten the light provided by a ceiling fan lamp and also should reflect the intended atmosphere of the room. The fan blades already present should also coordinate with the new shades to create an overall pleasing impression.
The term ceiling fan lamp shade may be used to refer to three different styles of light covering. One style of lamp shade is made from fabric and uses a metal harp to surround the light bulb. The harp attaches to the base of the bulb, has a wide opening to fit around the bulb, and is narrow at the top where it connects with the shade via a small screw. These devices may be sold together with the shades or separately and are available in a variety of sizes to accommodate any lighting fixture. This type of shade is commonly used in antique lighting fixtures and formal settings.
The other two styles of ceiling fan lamp shades are both made from glass rather than fabric. The first is a small shade that is used to house one single light bulb. This shade traditionally attaches to a metal ring that is part of the fan assembly and hangs downward from the fan. The second type of glass shade available resembles a bowl and attaches to the fan through a long, central metal column. This column typically passes through a hole at the base of the bowl and is attached using a decorative screw. This type of shade can cover between three and four bulbs at once. You can examine the ceiling fan bulb assembly to determine which type of shade to use.
Changing ceiling fan lamp shades can drastically alter the look and function of the light fixture. Shades can, for example, change the amount and type of light that filters into the room. When choosing new shades, decide how much light the room in question will need. Dark fabric shades and opaque glass shades will mute the light output of the fan. Clear glass, lightly stained glass, and white fabric shades will allow more and brighter light into the room.
Choose shades that appropriately accent the style of the fan blade as well. Bright white blades with chrome or brushed nickel fixtures tend to create a modern look and should be paired with clear glass, lightly frosted white glass or white fabric shades. Wood paneled blades with oil-rubbed bronze or gold fixtures lend to a more traditional atmosphere and may be paired with any color fabric shade or stained glass shades. Coordinate new ceiling fan lamp shades with any existing light fixtures in the room as well, such as table and floor lamps, so that light output is similar and colors do not contrast poorly.
It also is important to check the ring size of the lighting fixtures already attached to the ceiling fan prior to purchasing any new pieces. This information can typically be found on the box in which the product was sold or in the installation instructions. When these sources of information are not available, measure the area manually. Remove any existing ceiling fan lamp shades and measure the diameter of the portion that attaches to the fixture. The fixture itself may also be measured at the point where it connects with the shade.
It all boils down to price, for me. I've had to replace ceiling fan light covers and it is a chore. For my bedroom fan, which has a single bulb fixture, I bought one of those utilitarian shades that looks like it belongs in a school cafeteria. I think I paid $10 for it, which is as much as I feel like paying for something like that. Besides -- the landlady was only going to reimburse me for so much and I wanted to keep her from yowling about the price.
Maybe if I owned my home, I'd be more apt to buy a fancy cut glass shade, but I really doubt it. I might go one step up, but I'm pragmatic and I know that no one is interested in the kind of globe I have over my ceiling fan light in my bedroom!
Assuming your ceiling fan is a standard size, most shades will fit it. Really, shade choice boils down to what you like, what won't be too heavy for the fixture and what you can afford.
I'm more apt to stick with shades that are on the simple end of the spectrum, since, if they get broken, it won't cost an arm and a leg to replace them.
It also depends on whether your ceiling fan has a single bulb or four-bulb fixture, in which case you'll need four separate shades. I tend to prefer the glass lamp shades that have a flared mouth. I also like the clear ribbed kind or the sepia toned ones. They also look very nice.
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