Back in February I bought two brass lamps with empire (triangle shaped) shades from an antique mall. The lamps were completely different from each other and from different vendors. The total cost of both was $80.
Weirdly, one lamp cost $75, the other cost $5. The brass lamp above was the $75 lamp including the shade.
I took a risk, brought them both home and then waited a few months until my sofa came and I was able to start putting our family room together. Turns out the shorter lamp was my new favorite lamp base and the shade shape felt new and updated.
The tall lamp was great too, but I didn’t have a surface low enough to make it work. So, I removed the shade, shopped my house and barn, and found an old silver lamp base that I had tried to sell at The Nest Fest for the past two years. It had a weird grey/purpley shade that probably threw everyone off, including me. Now look at it with the new, second-hand $5 shade:
I love the empire shades that came with both lamps.
They update the room in a traditional way and I was surprised at how new shades could make an old lamp feel fresh again.
Which brings me to our bedroom.
I bought this pair of lamps ten years ago from HomeGoods.
They were $80 each at the time, one had a cracked base (still does) and I got a discount.
Over the past few years the shades have puckered on the outside, the inside has started to crack, and there are even some stains on the shades. I figured the lamps as a whole had served us well ($8 per year if you divide all that time up) so I decided to be on the lookout for lamps this summer.
Well, once I saw the update the empire shades made to the living room, I tried the same shades on the bedroom lamps and loved the look.
I found a few shades online that I considered, but then I happened to find the exact size I needed at a local antique mall (The Sleepy Poet Charlotte) that had a booth full of lamp shades and lamp harps.
The shades are a little more white than the bases, but I’m a fan of mixing whites.
Of course, when this mouse gets a cookie, the lamp shade changing out doesn’t stop there. So that means, in our bedroom, I finally changed out the overhead light (I’ll share that soon).
I found this pair of glass lamps nine years ago for $8 each at a thrift store. I had them outside on a covered porch for the past few years and over time, the drum shades have gotten dirty.
So they got the same updated empire shades too.
I did order one shade online, it was more expensive than I’ve ever spent for a shade (it was on sale for $75) but I had a lot more confidence to invest one I saw the change the new shades made to my other lamps. I found this big black lamp for $20 at a thrift store three or four years ago, and with a new shade, I think it will serve me well for the foreseeable future. Here’s the shade I bought for this lamp.
If you aren’t in a hurry, one way to find a great shade is to look for one on a beautiful or horrendous lamp when you’ re at an antique mall, thrifting, facebook marketplace or at yard sales. The key is to know what size you are looking for (the top opening, bottom opening, slat and total height) and carry those measurements with you along with a measuring tape. But you can get really lucky and get a shade for almost nothing if the lamp is ugly enough. Most people will price a lamp based on the style of the base, not the shade.
I also bought one shade from Target for a small lamp, keep in mind it’s a much smaller scale shade for a smaller lamp. My lamp bases are all pretty substantial, so they need a larger shade.
Examples of Empire shades around the ‘net
I love having a new thing to keep my eyes open for at second hand stores and empire shades it is for me right now.