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Top Of The Best Decorative Bowls Reviewed In 2018

Last Updated March 1, 2019
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Adrian HoffmanHi! My name is Reginald Meyer. After putting in 50+ hours of research and testing, I made a list of the best Decorative Bowls of 2018 and explained their differences and advantages.

In this article, I will be categorizing the items according to their functions and most typical features. I hope that my Top 10 list will provide you great options in buying the right fit for you.



Feel free to explore the podium, click on the pictures to find out more.



How to save up to 86%? Here is little trick.

You must visit the page of sales. Here is the link. If you don’t care about which brand is better, then you can choose the Decorative Bowls by the price and buy from the one who will offer the greatest discount.



№1 – Vremi Fruit Basket for Kitchen – Wire Metal Fruit Bowl with Removable Banana Hanger – Round Baskets with Hanging Hook Holder in Black Decorative Modern Design – Fruits Storage for Countertop or Table

Vremi Fruit Basket for Kitchen - Wire Metal Fruit Bowl with Removable Banana Hanger - Round Baskets with Hanging Hook Holder in Black Decorative Modern Design - Fruits Storage for Countertop or Table
STURDY DECORATIVE FRUIT TREE BOWL – Stow your fruits and decorate your counter all at the same time with this heavy duty fruit basket. Ideal for storing apple, oranges, tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables with an open design to ensure even ripening. Looks stylish and modern displayed on your dining or coffee table


№2 – Square Serving Bowl Hand-Thrown Hand-Glazed Blended Native Irish Clay . Decorative Dish Measures 12 Inches Diameter

Square Serving Bowl Hand-Thrown Hand-Glazed Blended Native Irish Clay . Decorative Dish Measures 12 Inches Diameter
HAND-MADE Serving bowl is made in Ireland by hand using blended native Irish clays from 30-year-old proprietary recipes. All pieces are designed and made in Ireland with each product undergoing careful inspection to ensure quality of finish before leaving workshop


№3 – Hardwood Chef Premium Thick Acacia Wood Salad, Serving, and Mixing Bowl, 12 x 6 x 12 inch | Incredible for Fruits & Vegetables | Rustic High-End Decorative with ¾ in Slanted Lip for Juices

Hardwood Chef Premium Thick Acacia Wood Salad, Serving, and Mixing Bowl, 12 x 6 x 12 inch | Incredible for Fruits & Vegetables | Rustic High-End Decorative with ¾ in Slanted Lip for Juices
EXTRA-THICK & DURABLE: Nearly an inch thick lip to provide the ultimate in quality & durability, this bowl is heavy-duty and built to last. Will not warp or crack over time like inferior salad bowls and pre-conditioned with a food safe finish.


Mounting Choices

Self-rimming sinks (see more on page 3, “Mounting Choices”)

As for finishes, chrome remains the most popular. It’s durable, easy to clean and versatile. Lifetime finishes such as Moen’s Lifeshine and Delta’s Brilliance have also made polished-brass finishes much easier to live with. These finishes stand up to abrasive cleaners and eliminate spotting. Satin-nickel finishes are another increasingly popular option. “They’re warm and soft, and blend in with just about everything,” says Oklahoma City designer Faye Norton.

Features: Once you decide on a style and finish, look for the following: Washerless operation: This term lumps together ball, cartridge and ceramic-disk valves. Ceramic-disk valves are likely to last longest, particularly if your water is hard or has lots of sediment. But all three should be trouble-free for years and are relatively easy to repair if necessary.

Aluminum Serving Ware –

Aluminum serving ware is made of an aluminum alloy. Each manufacturer has its own recipe for aluminum that they like and that they feel gives them an edge over the competition. Some recipes for aluminum alloys these makers use contain over different metals in them, but the main metal used to make the metal ware is aluminum, regardless of the manufacturer. Why Aluminum? Well, aluminum is widely available and cheap, it is durable, it can be heated and it can be chilled; aluminum is a pretty versatile metal. Aluminum alloys can also be polished to a mirror finish, which looks great on the table–especially with contemporary designs and shapes.

Probably the most important aspect to consumers is that aluminum is essentially maintenance free. While acidic foods have the ability to dull the finish of aluminum, a quick wipe down with vegetable oil prior to placing acidic foods into the aluminum vessel will create a barrier to mitigate this. All aluminum serveware must be hand washed in a mild liquid soap and warm water and dried by hand immediately. As long as aluminum is cared for in this way it will last a lifetime. If spotting occurs with aluminum, there are various polishes and home remedies to buff out the offensive area.

Aluminum serving pieces can be pre-heated in the oven or pre-chilled in the freezer or refrigerator to keep hot foods hot or cold foods cold. Most metal serving ware today is made of aluminum, but there are alternatives like pewter and stainless steel.

Aluminum Serving ware players: Nambe, Julia Knight, Beatriz Ball, Mariposa, Arthur Court. All are lead-free.

Pewter Serving Ware and Dinnerware –

Pewter, in our opinion is the classiest and most beautiful metal serving ware and manufacturers of pewter tend to create serving pieces that are geared more toward the formal side of serving ware. Pewter alloys, like aluminum, involve a mixture of metals. The chief metal is tin. Pewter is not considered “pewter” unless it contains at least 92% tin in its alloy recipe. Tin is now considered a precious metal and prices for pewter are on the luxury side of the scale. Match Pewter, a company that imports handmade Italian pewter, promises no less than 95% of the highest quality tin in their pewter alloy. The rule of thumb with pewter is this: the higher amount of tin in the pewter, the higher quality the pewter. The luster and color of pewter is unmatched. Pewter plates, bowls, platters and trays are generally hand made and will be marked with pewter hallmarks, or stamps, pressed into the pewter. Another fine line of pewter for those who have a rustic affinity is Vagabond House pewter

Pewter tarnishes very slowly and, like aluminum, requires virtually no maintenance. However, if tarnishing does occur, it can be easily polished away with a pewter-safe metal polish or by using “0000” steel wool by rubbing in a small circular pattern. Pewter is not dishwasher safe. It must be washed by hand with warm water and a mild liquid dish washing soap. Dry your pewter by hand after serving food and towel dry. Pewter has a low melting point and should never be placed in the oven, exposed to flame or placed in the microwave. Acidic foods must be removed immediately after service and the pewter piece should washed and dried.


Large fire pits can hold more wood, therefore creating a bigger fire, but do you have the means to accommodate this bigger size? If you intend on moving your fire pit often, it might not be the best option. Think carefully before purchasing a fire pit over feet wide because when it comes down to it, fire pits are supposed to be enjoyable, not a hassle.


Perhaps the most important element when deciding on your perfect fire pit is the material used to construct it. The materials not only equate to durability; they also create a certain style. Depending on your needs and your style preference, the prominent component of your fire pit will have a huge impact.

Steel fire pits consist of a wide variety of models that vary in price and quality. Steel is a great material because it can be easily molded into any shape imaginable. Just be careful, unprotected steel does rust over time, so be sure to purchase one that is powder coated and be aware of the physical changes that your fire pit may endure. High-end models are usually handmade by a steel artisan and are extremely unique, while the less expensive models are very common and come in many styles and sizes. see more steel fire pits here

Tile and stone fire pits are very unique and artistic. They are made with a solid steel frame and mesh body, with tiles, rocks or bricks then applied to the mesh body using standard masonry procedures. These rock fire pits are generally very heavy so frequent movement is not recommended. see more brick fire pits here

Copper is the cream of the crop when it comes to fire pits. These will not rust – in fact, most fire pits made from copper develop a desirable patina over years of use. Copper can be molded into ultimately any shape and will last virtually forever. Copper products do tend to be on the expensive side, but the cost is worth it in the long run. see more copper patina fire pits here

Cast Iron is one of the most common materials used in construction and fire pits are no different. Cast iron is inexpensive, easy to work with and light enough to move around when needed. Cast iron is not as strong as wrought iron nor as heavy, but to some the lightweight nature of cast iron is desirable. see more cast-iron fire pits here

Stainless Steel fire pits come with all the great features of stainless steel, including a rust-free, durable material that will stay looking great for years. Many people like the industrial look of stainless steel, as well the functionality. Unfortunately, stainless steel fire pits are rare and only come in very few styles due to their expensive price. see more stainless-steel fire pits here


When choosing the perfect fire pit, you also want to consider what you want to use the fire pit for. Do you just want to enjoy an outdoor fire or do you also want to use it to cook food? Maybe you just want it to act as furniture or décor in your outdoor space? Today, there are fire pits to accommodate anything you may want.

Grilling is as American as apple pie and having a fire pit that can double as a grill is extremely efficient. Many people also think that food prepared over an open flame is more delicious as well! Many of Serenity Health’s fire pits come with a cooking grate, but you can also buy a grate to fit fire pits that don’t already come with one. see more grill grates here

Fire pit tables function in multiple ways. These multipurpose fixtures provide heat for chilly nights spent in your outdoor area and offer a great surface to place drinks when having an outdoor get together. Fire pit tables range in size from coffee table height to dining or bar table height. With beautiful designs like mosaic tile, decorative glass, wrought iron and more, you can easily incorporate this kind of table into your outdoor furniture set. see more patio table fireplaces here

Artistic fire pits are great for those who want a more unique look on their porch or pool area. All of these fire pits are handcrafted by skilled artisans to create an artistic look that’s sure to make a statement in any outdoor area. see more artistic fire pits here

A campfire ring is a great lightweight and safe option for backyard campfires. If you want to enjoy a simple campfire safely without breaking the bank or making more work for yourself, a fire ring may be the perfect option. see more decorative fire rings here

Whether you’re purchasing a toaster or a TV, brands are part of your decision process.  Although brand name fire pits are often less known than Sony or Toshiba, there are some definite differences between manufacturers that consumers should know. 

The Sunnydaze Decor brand is one of the newest outdoor living companies out there, but they are quickly making a splash. Sunnydaze Decor is constantly developing new and interesting designs while keeping the prices lower than much of the competition. This brand also offers a great 1-year warranty on all of their products. They also have great customer service in case you ever have a problem with your fire pit once you use it. check out the Sunnydaze fire pits here

Uniflame has been in the fire pit business for a long time and they are a subdivision of the Blue Rhino Company, a company most well-known for its nationwide propane tank exchange system. Due to Blue Rhino’s history with natural gas and propane, many of their fire pits can be converted to work with either propane or natural gas. They have a plethora of unique products, ranging from wood burning steel fireplaces to gas fueled granite fire tables. check out the Uniflame brand here

Landmann is one of the oldest names in the fireplace equipment industry and grills are their specialty. Their fire pits range in styles and offer a nice variety of copper, steel and cast iron models. Landmann Fire Pits are sturdy in construction and always get high reviews from consumers.

Jug scales

Jug scales can be used for weighing both solids and liquids. Most feature an ‘add and weigh’ function which lets you measure solid and liquid ingredients in the same jug, reducing the number of tools needed in the kitchen. The ingredients can then be easily poured from the jug into another bowl. Jug scales have a digital LCD display screen and therefore require batteries.

Measuring jugs

Available in both plastic and glass, some measuring jugs have an angled rim inside the jug that lets you read the measurements from above as well as from the side. They can be used directly on scales which have the ‘add and weigh’ function to measure liquids.


Meat thermometers are used to tell when a joint of meat is fully cooked. Simply insert the point into the thickest part of the joint away from bones, leave a few seconds, and check the readout. They should be quick to respond and easy to read.

Many meat thermometers will show the optimum temperature of each type of meat but if your thermometer doesn’t, follow the recommended temperatures below.

Make it easier to find the lampshade you want

You don’t have to just trawl through hundreds of lampshades trying to find the exact right size or shade to fit your lamp. If you’re armed with certain pieces of information, you can shortcut your search to find the perfect lampshade.

If you have the dimensions of your old lampshade

Usually you measure a lampshade across the top to get a “top width”, across the bottom to get a “bottom width”, and along the “diagonal slant” (or vertical height for drum shades) of the side of the shade, to get a “slant height”. Consult our section below about how to measure a lamp shade if you need help. But once you know the measurements, why not jump straight to the exact right size lampshades and skip the ones that won’t look right?

If all you have is a lamp base without a shade

Fear not, because you can actually figure out the exact right size of lamp shade you need based on the size and shape/style of your lamp base. Consult the section of this guide regarding how to measure a lamp shade for tips on what size shade you’ll need depending on your lamp base size.

Generally you’ll want to get an idea of the right “size” of lampshade you need first before you consider the shape or color, otherwise it won’t have appropriate proportions and will look too big or small.

Once you have an idea of the size you may need, consider the shape of the lamp base to help you decide what kind of lamp shade to look for. See our section on How to match the shade shape to the lamp base for simple tips about matching the lamp shade shape to the style of the base. While it may be easy to just throw a typical empire shade onto your lamp, it will look better when the shape of the lampshade complements or balances or brings out the shape of the base.

Popular Lampshade Colors

Lampshades feature a wide spectrum of colors to suit almost any lamp base and environment. You will likely want to complement the base of the lamp by choosing a lamp shade color that is either understated (as to let the lamp base be featured), or to make the shade a focal point (e.g. with a more understated base). It’s also possible to strike a balance between the two components, for example picking up colors in the base to bring out with the shade – similar to how you bring out the color of your eyes.

Black Lamp Shades

A black lamp shade can allow a lamp to be understated but also gives your lamp and air of sophistication, and can also be quite a modern look. Sleek black shades might match your black furniture or act as a balance against white or brightly colored elements in the room. Explore some examples of black lamp shades.

White Lamp Shades

A white lamp shade similarly can give your lamp a look of elegance and sophistication especially allowing the lamp base to be featured if it is colorful or interesting. White shades are clean and purifying, and may reflect upon white elements in the room or act as a canvas for other colors you wish to feature. Explore some examples of white lamp shades.

Red Lamp Shades

Believe it or not, red lamp shades are one of the most searched-for colors on the internet. A red shade would likely highlight warmer tones in a lamp base or be a striking statement against an understated lamp base. Red shades might just highlight your favorite color ro pick up red or warm accents in the room. Explore some examples of red lamp shades.

Orange Lamp Shades & Yellow Lamp Shades

Orange or yellow lamp shades are not typically as popular as a color choice, since yellow tends to be quite a bright color which will stand out in a room.  You’d probably pick an orange lamp shade or yellow lamp shade if it particularly matched the lamp in some way or is part of your room’s color scheme. Explore some examples of orange and yellow lamp shades.

Green Lamp Shades

Green lamp shades also are one of the less popular colors for a lamp, mainly because green is quite a distinct color and tends not to be featured in lamp bases. Green shades may however complement a green or earth-toned or natural theme in your room and could complement a natural-toned lamp base well. Explore some examples of green lamp shades.

Blue Lamp Shades

Add a blue lamp shade to your table lamp or floor lamp and you’re instantly into making a cool statement. Blue is actually one of the most searched-for- colors of lampshades online, perhaps due to the relative rarity of blue coloring in nature in general. A blue shade will likely look quite contemporary and give your lamp a deliberate, designer look. Pair it with a lamp with blue in the base or perhaps white or black. Explore some examples of blue lamp shades.

Purple Lamp Shades and Pink Lamp Shades

Yes, pink is in. And purple too. Pink lamp shade are quite sought after and perhaps this is due to the fact that many people replacing lampshades are women. It may be a stereotype, but yes, women do seem to like to buy pink shades. And some men too, of course. A pink shade would look great on a white or gray or perhaps red or pink lamp base. Perhaps a pink or purple lamp shade would look great in a girls’ bedroom. Explore some examples of pink lamp shades and purple lamp shades.

Cream Lamp Shades

Cream lamp shades are a classic. Not so pure as to be white, but somewhat softened and warming. A cream lamp shade will match well to many lamp base designs and colors especially more classically or traditionally styled lamps. Sometimes cream includes off-white or egg-shell which are more neutral or reddish tones. Explore some examples of cream lamp shades.

Beige Lamp Shades

Beige is all the rage. A beige lamp shade suits many modern homes where beige and browns provide a soft, comforting and nurturing environment. Beige shades can complement well with brown furniture or perhaps a beige couch. Often a beige lamp shade will complement a fancy decorated lamp base well. Explore some examples of beige lamp shades.

Brown Lamp Shades

Brown lamp shades add a darker, comforting warmth to a room. A brown shade can complement a more decorative lamp base of many colors or a more plain design. With a brown shade, you can pick up on the browns in your furniture or textiles in the room. Explore some examples of brown lamp shades.

The Practical Uses of Different Lamp Shades

Different types of lamp shades serve a different purpose. Besides shielding your eyes from the glare of a light bulb, their shape is not purely for decorative reasons. The correct shade greatly affects the kind of light the lamp gives off, as well as where that light is directed. Different types of lamp shades correlate to different functions for practical purposes, be it sitting nearby, at a distance, or as an ambient light source. If you are not as concerned about how the lamp assists you in your daily activities, you may prefer to make a choice purely for decorative reasons.

Empire lamp shades for table lamp provide a spread of light for a bedside desk as well as for reading in bed.

A bell shade atop a floor lamp provides a maximum area of illumination for sitting beneath to read.

A drum lamp shade on this pendant light, radiating strong and focussed light downward over a dining table as well as illuminating the room with ambient light via the ceiling.

Bell lamp shades for table lamps provide a local spread of light for nearby seating.

A pair of floor lamps with flat drum lamp shades prove strong ambient and local light for a softer mood.

The opaque drum lamp shade on this lamp provides a decorative, less functional ambient light over a narrow side-table.

How Home Lamp Shades Affect the Light

Light emits from different shaped shades in different ways, which affects how far the light is useful and for what purposes. Light emitting from the top of the shade produces a reflected ambient light bouncing off the ceiling, while light emitting below produces a more focused light surrounding furniture. Additional light shines through the sides of the shade itself, whereby a white or light-colored shade allows the most light to pass through. Darker-colored shades and hardback shades tend to block more of the light.

Drum lamp shades provide an medium spread of light from both ends

An empire shade provides most light from the bottom, the least from the top

A bell shade provides a balance between light from the top and a wide spread of light from the bottom

Light from Bell Lamp Shades

TIP: Also consider also what other sources of light are in the room – if you have bright light from a main light fixture, your lamps may provide accent lighting, or mood lighting when used alone. If you need them to be a primary light source for sitting and reading, opt for a more flared shape of shade such as empire/coolie, provided it complements the style of the base. Also consider a hard-backed shade for increasing the light output from below the shade.

Hard-Back Lamp Shades

Lampshades hold their shape either due to a hard lining or with the use of a metal framework. A `hard-backed` shade is typically lined with plastic or or other materials designed to prevent light from passing through the sides of the shade. The hard lining allows the shape of the shade to be quite firm and less likely to change over time. The firm backing is glued into place behind a more attractive outer material.

Soft-Back Lamp Shades

A soft-back shade does not have a firm lining, although it may still potentially be lined. The lining, however, would be flexible, such as a linen or paper, and so does not provide support for maintaining the shape of the lampshade. As a result, soft-back or `un-backed` shades require additional vertical supports between the bottom and top of the shade to maintain shape.

This soft-backed drum lamp shade emits light through the shade itself, for a softer light, and reveals a textured pattern in the shade material.

Cylinder Lamp Shades

Cylinder-shaped lamp shades are taller than they are wide, with vertical straight sides. These tall shades are best for unusually tall lamp bases, or floor lamps. They funnel equal amounts of light out of the top and bottom without spreading the light outwards, producing a large amount of ambient reflected light.

Because they are so much taller than wide, their proportions look good on narrow lamp bases. Their very open-ended nature maximizes the amount of light output.

Drum Lamp Shades

Drum-shaped shades are similar to cylinder shades except they are flatter, typically wider than they are tall, similar to a musical drum. Drum shades look good on a variety of table lamps and floor lamps, but also can be suited to pendant light fixtures. With vertical sides, maximum light emits through the top and bottom of the drum shade producing ambient reflected light in the room.

When used in an overhead pendant it provides ample light output for visual clarity. On a table lamp the drum shade gives a contemporary, modern look. A drum shade is well suited to a lamp base with wide proportions. Being open-ended allows a maximum amount of  light to be released through both ends of the shade. 

Floor Lamp Shades

Floor lamps typically require a slightly larger shade than table lamps. Also due to the height of the lamp, they tend to look better with a drum or floor-style shade. A floor shade is almost a drum shade, except the sides are slightly slanted. This shape complements the proportions of the floor lamp.

A floor shade distributes light out through the bottom with a slight spread, illuminating a larger area around the lamp base. Similarly, the top of the floor shade is less open, slightly restricting the amount of ambient reflected light shining out through the top. Often a floor lamp is located near to a seating area and thus provides a cone of light which can extend at least partly across the furniture. Floor lamps, in general, provide a large amount of light close to functional spaces.

Empire Lamp Shades

Empire-shaped lampshades strike a balance between slanted sides and visually-appealing proportions. These straight-sided shades are found commonly on many table lamps and some floor lamps. The narrower opening at the top is still large enough to vent heat from the light bulb, yet allows the bottom of the shade to flare more in order to spread light outwards.

This wider cone of light illuminates a wider area beneath and to the sides of the lamp, providing a hotspot of local light ideal for reading and other activities. Since most of the light is cast downwards, there is less ambient light reflected off the ceiling and more light spread outward near to seating areas or top of furniture. Empire shades are popular lamp shades for table lamps.

Coolie Lamp Shades

A coolie lamp shade features a very wide spread of light, since the top of the shade is very narrow and the bottom very open. The sides of the coolie shade are heavily slanted. Coolie shades tend to be flatter (less height) due to the proportions of the shape.

The coolie shade restricts ambient light emitting from the top of the shade, while maximizing the amount of light spreading out from the bottom. The shape of the shade also directs the light to spread as widely as possible to the sides of the shade for maximum coverage. This can be useful when your lamp is serving to illuminate tasks or projects or for reading.

Bell Lamp Shades

The bell shade is very popular and provides an elegant, relaxed shape. The sides of the shade curve inwards producing a shape that resembles a `bell`. The flare at the bottom helps to distribute light outwards for maximum coverage, while the top of the shade remains quite wide to help facilitate the escape of heat and ambient light.

The bell shade is well suited to table lamps with a more curved base shape. Empire lampshades are popular lamp shade for table lamps to use.

Oval Lamp Shades

With an oval-shaped shade, looking down on the shade from above reveals an oval shape rather than a perfect circle. The shade wider than it is deep, front-to-back. An oval or flatter style of lamp base goes well with it. It can help to situate a lamp on a narrower piece of furniture closer to a wall without extruding into the room, helping to ensure the lamp will not be knocked over by passers by.

Oval shades are less common but look good when their shape complements the shape of the base. An oval shade may have an oval profile from the top, while having any of the other shapes when viewed from the side, such as an oval bell, an oval empire, an oval drum etc.

Square and Rectangular Lamp Shades

Square and rectangle-shaped shades complement a lamp base which is very rectangular in appearance. Suited mainly to contemporary modern lamps, they work well with floor lamps and table lamps. The rectangular shade has flat edges rather than circular edges, and thus produces corners. Some varieties of square shade also feature a ‘cut corner’ as a decorative modification to its shape.

Square or rectangular shades are most obvious when viewed from above or at an angle, but from the side may feature a bell shape (pagoda), drum shape, or empire shape. Rectangular or square shades with a very narrow or no opening in the top may be thought of as a pyramid shade.

Art-Glass Lamp Shades

Art-glass is a special kind of toughened glass designed to be lighter and less fragile than real or tiffany glass. Lamps with an art-glass shade make a bold statement. Commonly a single piece of art glass is used in a very unique hand-crafted shape. Since art-glass can be molded into endless shapes, it can be manipulated to resemble flowers, animals or even traditional shade shapes with unusual edge designs.

In addition to the shape, art-glass shades feature extraordinary patterns of vibrant color, with swirls of multiple hues mixed in. While art-glass lamps are readily available, finding replacement glass shades is less simple – usually through contacting the manufacturer of the original lamp, since each piece is so uniquely specific to the lamp itself.

How to Match Lamp Shade Shape to the Lamp Base

A base featuring a curved profile is complemented by a curved bell shade. You can see here the pattern of a curve ending in a platform is repeated from the base to the shade, albeit inverted. Bell shades match well to a curved base profile.

A barrel, drum lamp shade or cone-style lamp base is reflected well by a rounded drum/cylinder shade. Rounded/cylindrical bases tend to work better with rounded shades than square shades.

Sometimes shapes are directly repeated in the base as in the shade. Here, trapezium shapes occur multiple times and the shade is an extension of the base’s design theme. Since the base’s view from above/below is a square, the square shade works well.

Bases with a square or rectangular profile do well complemented with a rectangular shade. Since these angular shapes tend to be more modern, a square/rectangular shade is a good match.

Sometimes the shape of the shade may reflect the shape of only a portion of the base. Here, trapezium/pyramid shapes are repeated in the shade and the foot of the base, as well as in the patterning of the shade itself.

Proportions of shade and base should be reasonably similar. Here an unusually tall/thin lamp base is well complemented by an unusually flat/thin drum lamp shade, continuing the theme of elegance. Also very narrow lamp bases look good with a drum or rectangle shade.

While both lamp base and shade here are circular, since the base features a bold shape, the shade chosen is also a boldly contrasting shape. Use a partly contradictory or balancing shape of shade for added drama. Notice the shade is still round and the base is still round when viewed from above or below.

While this lamp base bends outward, the shade bends inward. Both elements thus feature a curved surface, but they work together to form a balance. This also produces a flowing visual line from the bottom of the lamp to the top. Notice also the need for a square-style shade due to the base’s square sides.

Matching with your furniture

As an extension of your lamp, consider the furniture it sits on or is near to. What shapes do you see there? What are the proportions like, as a whole and for individual parts?

Rectangular furniture: is likely to be best complemented by a more angular or rectangular shade

Sculptured rounded furniture: is likely to match best with a more rounded shade especially if the furniture has rounded corners

Proportions: Is the furniture wide and flat or tall and narrow? Consider how your lamp may complement or balance the shape

Decor: Consider the rest of your room’s theme. Think about the textures and colors and shapes that your lamp could tie into. Is there a strong color that you’d like to match or contrast with?

Lampshade Sizing Rules

Shade height should be about 3/the height of the base. The bottom of the shade should be wider than the widest part of the base. Shade width should approximately equal the height from the bottom of base to socket.

Reading lamps need a wider shade to provide plenty of light. 

Consider the Bulb

Be sure you have 2-inch separation from bulb to shade, especially for higher wattage bulbs. Be sure the top opening is wide enough to vent the heat. Compact Fluorescent bulbs are great for most lamps because they burn cooler, but you may need larger harp since CFL’s are taller than standard light bulbs.

How to measure a lamp shade

Find the right size shade for your lamp. Follow these tips for correct measuring.

Shade Dimensions are typically given Top x Bottom x Height on the SLANT. Be sure to measure the slant height and not the vertical height.

The taller the lamp, the larger the shade. Most table lamps take a shade with a bottom diameter (B) of 16″ or less. Floor lamps take a shade with a bottom diameter (B) of 16″ or 18″ or larger.

Measure the lamp’s height from the bottom of the base to just below the socket(s). The basic rule of thumb is that the shade you choose should have a bottom diameter (B) that’s approximately equal to this measurement.

Choosing the Right Fitter 

A “fitter” is simply the way the shade connects to your lamp. Most lamps have “spider” fitters. Other common fitters include UNO or clip-on fitters. Check your existing lamp against the diagram and descriptions below to determine what type of fitter you need:

Choosing the Right Drop

Shades with a spider-type or UNO-type fitter usually have some distance between the top edge of the shade down to the center of the fitter. This makes the fitting less visible when viewing the lamp from the side but does raise the position of the shade by the drop distance.

Shades with spider-type fitters typically feature a 1/to 1-inch drop.

Shades with a Slip-UNO fitter have several inches of the drop which varies per-shade since the fitter has to drop down to below the bulb.

Threaded-UNO fitter shades typically feature a drop of to inches so as to conceal electrical attachments above the shade.

Coolie Shade

Simple designed straight-sided shades that usually feature a bottom width 3-times larger than the top, resulting in a shade that emits most of the light from the bottom.

Distance from the top of the shade to the center of the fitter.


The metal structure that attaches the shade to the lamp base. The most common type is the Spider Fitter which resembles a spoked wheel and connects to a harp with a finial. A Clip-On Fitter features metal loops allowing the shade to attach on top of the bulb. Larger clip-on shades are designed to attach directly to a standard Edison bulb, while smaller chandelier shades have smaller loops to fit a candelabra bulb. An Uno Fitter is designed with a larger center opening which fits snugly into the socket. Slip Uno Fitters feature a large drop and rest on the socket of a table lamp. Threaded Uno Fitters actually screw on to the socket so it can hang downward, typically on down-bridge floor lamps.


A stiff backing applied to the inner surface of a lamp shade to keep its shape over time. During the creation of a hardback lampshade, the fabric is laminated over a stiff but bendable backing material, typically a plastic such as a styrene. The hard backing helps the shade to keep its form, prevents drooping or warping, and extends the life of the shade. With a hardback shade it often becomes unnecessary to use extra metal framework running between the top and bottom of the shade, since the backing maintains the shape. This removes the shadows or blocks to light caused by the presence of vertical framework showing through the shade.


Decorative covering, usually fabric, used to diffuse and direct the light from the bulb. A properly chosen shade will enhance the base and bring out its best features without competing with it for attention. (The life of the party can also use it as a hat late on a wild evening.)

An additional surface applied to the inside of a lamp shade, used to filter or reflect light. A reflective lining such as gold or silver helps to reflect light away from the shade surface and focuses it out of the top and bottom. This keeps the outer appearance of the shade the same color and tone as when the light is off. This is useful for dark or black shades that you want to stay dark-looking even when the lamp is on. It also prevents the shade from absorbing some of the light, increasing overall light output. A reflective lining also hides the appearance of a bright-spot from the light bulb, as seen through the shade. Other types of lining include plastic, linen and other fabrics, each with its own degree of diffusing and reflecting light. Some linings allow some light through while also increasing the output through the top and bottom of the shade.

Slant Height

The measurement from the outermost tip of the top edge of a lamp shade, to the outermost tip of the bottom edge, on a diagonal and in a straight line. We use the slant height to describe the `height` (length of the side) of the shade. The slant height is easily measured outside the shade, even when the shade is installed, and should be measured in a straight line regardless of any curvature in the shape of the shade. Bell shades are just as easily measured, measuring in a straight line from top to bottom, ignoring the curved surface. (Since most shades do not have vertical sides, it is difficult to get an accurate vertical measurement, usually requires the shade to be removed from the lamp. It is easier and more intuitive to measure the outside of the shade on the slant from top to bottom.)

Metal receptacle at the top of the lamp base that holds the bulb and usually contains the switch. A slip-UNO fitter or a harp generally sits beneath the socket.

Gas Fire Pits

A modern take on the classic fire pit, gas fire pits offer more convenience and more safety in a controlled fire to provide warmth and ambiance. Gas fire pits feature a gas burner to provide the flames and can be used with different fire medias like lava rock, fire glass, or ceramic log sets.

Fire Urns

More of a decorative patio enhancement, fire urns provide a one of a kind statement to enhance any patio atmosphere. These gas powered units feature a high quality burner to provide bright and beautiful flames contrasted by the traditional decorative urn.


Originally, shutters were used to protect homes from the weather and intruders. Today, function is no longer a necessity thanks to glass window panes. But if you want that added protection, functional exterior shutters are a perfect way to add curb appeal and old-world functionality.

The Mandolin—A Brief History

Descendants of the lute family, today’s various mandolin types are mostly outgrowths of the Neapolitan mandolin, developed in Naples during the 18th century. Today’s bowl-back mandolins most closely resemble those early Italian instruments, and are popular with folk and classical musicians. In the mid 19th century, the mandolin fell out of favor, and its considerable repertoire of music was largely forgotten.

A resurgence of the mandolin’s popularity in the early 20th century led to the development of the various modern mandolin shapes and designs we know today. Much of this development happened in the U.S., when American luthiers began making flat-back and arched-top mandolins. Two pivotal figures were responsible for creating the modern mandolins we associate with bluegrass, country, blues, and jug-band music: Orville Gibson, and his acoustic engineer, Lloyd Loar. It was this pair who were responsible for the Florentine or F-style, and pear-shaped A-style mandolins that we know today. Most current acoustic mandolin models have a lineage that traces directly back to these instruments built by Gibson.

Later, musicians would continue to expand the mandolin’s reach into other music forms. Notably, country performer Jethro Burns demonstrated the mandolin’s versatility, tackling jazz and Western swing tunes. Today, players like Chris Thile, David Grisman, Marty Stuart, Vince Gill, Sam Bush, and U. Srinivas continue to push the boundaries with their excursions into pop, rock, and even Indian Carnatic music.

Mandolin Construction Methods and Woods

Far and away, spruce is the wood of choice in constructing mandolin tops, also called soundboards. Its dense grain provides the same bright and articulate response in mandolins that it produces in other stringed instruments such as guitars and violins. Spruce is unsurpassed in transmitting every nuance of the musician’s technique on the strings. Due to the scarcity and cost of high-quality spruce, some makers instead use cedar or mahogany that produce a somewhat deeper tone.

The best quality mandolins have soundboards hand-carved from solid pieces of spruce. Though many have arched tops, there are models with flat tops that are preferred by some players. Both types may have beautifully figured wood that adds to the instrument’s aesthetics—and cost. Book-matched tops are made from two pieces of wood whose grain lines are positioned so as to form an open book-like appearance where the two glued-together pieces meet.

Lower-cost mandolins often have laminate tops—several layers of wood pressed together. Laminates may have a thin veneer of attractively grained wood on top. Laminate tops are pressed into shape rather than being carved—a much less costly method that helps keep the mandolin’s price down. While solid spruce-topped mandolins are preferred by professional mandolinists, laminate-top mandolins are capable of producing very acceptable sound, and can be a good choice for the new player whose budget is tight.

Moderately priced mandolins may have a solid spruce top and a body made of laminated wood—a construction compromise that results in good tone while keeping the price tag down.

As with their cousin, the violin, better-quality mandolin bodies—composed of the sides (sometimes called the rims) and back—are usually made of solid maple. Koa, mahogany and other hardwoods are also sometimes used.

The fretboards of mandolins are usually made with rosewood or ebony—both very hard woods with a smooth surface that enables fast-fingered fretting. Necks are usually made with maple or mahogany for maximum rigidity. The neck is often made of two or more pieces of wood that are glued together. (Unlike tops, laminated necks are considered a plus.) Grain lines in the wood are often opposed to prevent warping or twisting. Most mandolin necks contain an embedded metal truss rod that allows neck adjustments to improve the instrument’s intonation and playability.

Unlike the bridge on many guitars, the mandolin bridge is not fastened to the top, instead being held in place by the strings. It is often made of either ebony or rosewood. As we’ll see below, electric mandolins may have a bridge that contains an electronic pickup that allows amplification of the mandolin.

The finishes used to protect the mandolin’s wood can subtly affect the sound of the instrument while also enhancing its look. Many F-style mandolins have finishes that resemble those used on violins. Thin nitrocellulose lacquer finishes are considered by many mandolin aficionados to offer the most transparent sound. That said, there are many other finishes used on mandolins including varnishes, stains, and polishes that aim to bring out the beauty of the woods without affecting the tonal quality or volume of the mandolin.

Electric Mandolins

Starting in the late 1920s, electric mandolins began making an appearance in the U.S. With their ability to be heard alongside much louder instruments in band settings, and the mobility they afforded onstage performers, their popularity has continued to grow. Gibson and Vega both introduced electric mandolin models in the 1930s. Later developments included 4- and 5-string models.

Though electric mandolins are usually played and tuned like their standard acoustic brethren, their body types can vary considerably. How they’re electrified also varies, some being equipped with pickups similar to those used on electric guitars, while others are essentially acoustic instruments with a pickup that transmits the mandolin’s output to an amplifier or sound system. We’ll look at the most common types here.

Semi-hollow electric mandolins: Like their semi-hollow guitar counterparts, they have a wood center block running through the body interior that helps tame the tendency to produce feedback that can be an issue with fully hollow electrified mandolins

The budget-friendly Dean Tennessee Acoustic-Electric Mandolin makes it easy to plug in and play.

Acoustic-electric mandolins: These models typically resemble traditional acoustic mandolins, but incorporate a bridge-mounted piezo-electric pickup that converts the vibrations of the strings to electrical impulses. These electrical signals are routed through a preamplifier usually mounted on the top rim of the mandolin. The preamp increases the signal strength and sends it via a cable to an external amplifier or sound system. The preamp usually includes volume and tone controls, and may also include a built-in electronic tuner. Many performers prefer acoustic-electrics as an alternative to using a microphone in performance, since using a mic can cause feedback and keeps the player planted in one spot onstage.

Electrifying a Standard Acoustic Mandolin

There are a range of aftermarket pickups that can be used to electrify a standard acoustic mandolin. Most use a piezo-electric pickup element that is embedded in a bridge designed to replace the acoustic mandolin’s original bridge. Some designs require the use of a preamp. There are also magnetic pickups available that are designed to be used with small stringed instruments such as violins and mandolins. Installing any of these electronic options is likely to require the services of a professional.

Mandolin Tuning

Standard 8-string mandolins have four courses, each with adjacent strings that are usually tuned in unison. This gives the mandolin its distinctive chiming sound. By far the most common tuning is the same scheme used on violins: G-D-A-E. There are other tunings occasionally used in which string pairs are tuned to different pitches to create “cross-tuning.” It’s also possible to tune a mandolin to match some of the intervals found on a guitar, offering a more familiar feel for guitarists.

Mandolin capos

This device clamps on the fretboard allowing you to raise the overall pitch of the mandolin so you can play songs in keys that are higher than those they were written in. This can be especially useful for singers whose vocal range is higher than the song’s usual key. Capos are available to fit the mandolins neck.


Sooner or later you’ll need to change your mandolin’s strings. A fresh set can revive the tone of a mandolin that seems to have lost its luster. Strings are made using various materials, each with their own tonal characteristics. Experimenting with several types can help you find a tone that’s more pleasing and brings out the innate beauty of your mandolin’s sound.

A good-quality tuner will make the process of tuning up your mandolin much easier. Some models have a specific mode for tuning mandolins that makes the process even simpler.

Summing Up

You should now have some good basic information about the kinds of mandolins out there as well as the things to look for in shopping for a mandolin. There is no simple formula in arriving at the best instrument for your needs and budget. Your fingers and ears should be the ultimate judge.

One basic suggestion is to shop for the best instrument that falls within your budget. A poorly made mandolin that’s hard to play and tune is likely to discourage even the most determined student.

Reading professional and online reviews of various mandolin models can be helpful in pinpointing the right instrument. You’ll also find hundreds of user reviews from fellow musicians and mandolin students alike as you peruse our vast collection of mandolins.





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Final Word

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