Choosing The Right Lamp Shade Pendant

I kinda want to jump on The Voice bandwagon. Not in the sense that I want my shot at getting Adam Levine to turn his chair for me – at which point I would look him dead in the eye and say “keep your hands off my woman, Levine!” (it never hurts to lay clear boundaries with a guy like him). I want to jump on the bandwagon in the sense that The Choice (spinny chairs meets dating), The Taste (cooking) and The Face (modeling) have.

Only my spin-off would be called The Shade and it would be a competition to find “the next great light for Clara’s big girl room.” And no one would watch it.

We knew we wanted to swap out the wood-tastic ceiling fan for something more Clara-friendly (we’ve used a table fan in her room for nearly three years and have never needed an overhead fan). We came to the idea of doing a shade pendant after realizing that it would give us lots of options (texture, color, etc) while not hanging too low (a chandelier would probably get in the way) but still illuminating the room nicely.

First we debated choosing one of ours, but since most of those are pretty patterned (and we already have lots of pattern going on in Clara’s room) we decided to check out a few other favorite sources, like craigslist and a local shop where we’ve found a bunch of other lights we love on a budget (aka The Decorating Outlet here in Richmond). Craigslist had nada, but our local Decorating Outlet had a lot. Not only did we find one shade that we liked there, we found four options – all within the $35-40 range.

Here was the line up of what we found:

  1. Team Navy: A solid deep blue (to tie in with her curtains) with no pattern at all
  2. Team Purple Damask: A very subtle pattern in a purple tone that works nicely between the blues and reds in the room
  3. Team Neutral: A natural burlap-ish shade that could bring a nice organic texture into the space
  4. Team Chevron: Think of him as the contestant who’s not afraid to take risks – this one has a trendy, bold pattern in a navy and white color scheme

The Decorating Outlet gives you one business day to make returns, so we rushed home for the audition portion of our show. This meant I just held up each shade over the existing fan light (which isn’t as bright as a hanging pendant would be, but helps us imagine how each one would look). Let’s check them out in reverse order…

Team Chevron was pretty cool on its own, but our fears that bringing one more bold pattern into the room were confirmed. It probably could’ve worked, but it made us fearful of other patterns and prints that we might have to nix down the line (remember we still have big plans for the blank span of wall between those two windows, and we don’t want the shade to compete). So then it was on to Team Neutral…

This one probably could have worked too, but in person it felt too, well, neutral. So without much hesitation, we invited Team Purple to the stage.

This picture isn’t the best representation of it because it actually looked quite nice with the lights off. But when the light came on, the purple tone and damask pattern got kind of lost and it actually looked a lot like Team Neutral. Too bad. I really wanted to like it.

And then there was one remaining contestant…

Even though Team Navy felt like the “safest” of the picks, it was our instinct all along. And although it looks a little dark, remember that our light kit will put off a lot more wattage than the old fan light does in this picture. Knowing our future plans for adding in other art and accents to the wall between the windows, we just felt that a shade without pattern was the right way to go. And even though it doesn’t looks especially exciting in the picture above, in person it was a pretty obvious winner. So we were both convinced within a matter of minutes that it was the choice – er, the voice – er, the shade.

With the auditions over, we moved on to the battle round (i.e. where I wrestle with the heavy fan to remove it from the ceiling). Luckily I emerged victorious.

The added bonus to picking the navy shade is that it was also the cheapest of the bunch – just $34. And to further save on the cost of this project, The Decorating Outlet sells their “damaged” pendant hardware (for hanging the shade) at half price. The only “damage” to the one we bought is that the light kit had already been cut (so it wouldn’t work in a room with a high ceiling) but since it was still longer than we’d need for Clara’s room (we actually snipped it a bit shorter) we were more than happy to snatch it up for $25.

And since The Voice always loses me during the live rounds anyways, let’s skip our show ahead to the finale. Now’s where you picture The Voice theme song: “This is The Shade!”

For a total of $60 (the light kit came with the canopy too) we’re really happy with our two-light pendant. I personally love that the dark navy color helps balance out all the pink in the room so it feels calming and not too Crazy-Pink-Palace. Plus, it subtly complements the other blue items in the room nicely without demanding too much attention. In other words, it’s more like Adam or Blake in jeans and a t-shirt (Cee-Lo it most definitely is not).

Of course all that really matters is that Clara likes it, so let’s get to her reaction to our winner, which was: “Is that mine? Can I touch it? Is that mine for my big girl room? I think it’s shiny and pretty like a pebble.”

We ended up putting two 75-watt CFL bulbs in there, which also means that (despite the dark shade) the room is still plenty bright. So Clara will have no problem hosting late night tea parties or stuffed animal sleepovers. Whew. So whaddya think? Does my concept for The Shade have legs? No? Didn’t think so. I guess it and The Choice (which I think already got cancelled) will just be forgotten together…

Psst- Sherry’s having some fun with East Coast Creative by volunteering as one of their bloggy helpers (that’s a technical term by the way). So if you’re a blogger and would like to get paired up with $herdog for their little Creating With The Stars competition, you can enter your best project here for a chance to be one of their 12 final contestants.


  1. Melanie says

    The phrase “nearly three years” when John referenced Clara’s small table top fan makes me all awwwwww! I can’t believe she’s going to be three this year! Time flies. :)

  2. Jeanette Peters says

    This looks fantastic! Funny how much one small detail like a light fixture can really work to pull a room together. Clara must be getting so excited :-)

  3. Elise says

    I love it! So glad you went with the navy. The room is really coming together in an awesome.

    Also: “Is that mine? Can I touch it? Is that mine for my big girl room? I think it’s shiny and pretty like a pebble.”

    Seriously? She is just the sweetest little thing!

  4. Tina C says

    I love this look & want to do this but I don’t want to see the bulb’s and I’ve looked all over for a diffuser shade (also for my regular table lamps) and I can not find one. I was wondering if you or one of your friends :) knew where I could find one online for a reasonable price.

    The ones on Amazon are apparently cardboard… I still want the light to come through – I just want it to be diffused. I also looked on Ikea’s site and couldn’t find anything. So any help would be great! tia!

  5. says

    one of the best things i learnt at my design internship was that not everything in a room can be the star! & this shade is the perfect example… i always used to make the mistake of choosing pieces that stand-out on their own… but too many in one room means nothing stands out… this was the perfect choice and i love that your little girl compared it to a shiny pebble… clara rocks (pun intended) :)

  6. Jeremy says

    Not related to this post at all, but my wife got her parenting magazine last night and was reading it on the couch. She interrupts my watching of the State of the Union Address (yes I am that big of a geek) to tell me, “Hey, is this the same person you had sign your book?” Yup, sure enough, there was Sherry giving away all her tips as usual. The real question becomes can I now convince my wife to embrace some of the suggestions and let me spend some of our DIY money and improve the house. That’s right; Sherry being in the parenting magazine has now given her street cred in our house!

  7. Megan C. says

    I love the way this room is turning out. Great shade choice! The only aspect I’m not in love with are the curtains. I think they read sort of bland and old lady-ish. Maybe a solid color would work best? Or something with a bolder brighter pattern?

    • says

      We love the curtains! Like lots! So they’re definitely staying. Maybe when the room comes together more they’ll make more sense to you? It’s still only around 50% done. Or maybe you’ll never like them, haha! That’s definitely a possibility since a lot of home decor is personal preference, but that’s all part of the fun! We love that everyone would decorate their kids room differently :)


  8. says

    Can I just say how happy I am that you didn’t unwrap each shade when you tried them? Having worked in customer service and returns for three years, it is my number one pet peeve when people buy five or six things to try in their home and open all five or six things (this most commonly happens with curtains). We aren’t allowed to put anything that has been opened back on the shelf, so they always end up in the garbage. Not recycling, not donating, the GARBAGE. It hurts my heart every time I have to put perfectly good merchandise in the trash because of an irresponsible customer.

    • says

      It’s not that we can’t wrap them back up or tape the open packaging, it’s that textiles (curtains, lamp shades, bedding) can’t be put back on the shelf after it’s been opened because we don’t know what kind of environment it is returning from. There are liabilities with bed bugs, bacteria, etc. We can’t guarantee it’s returning to us clean, so in the trash it goes. And after talking to many of my friends who work the same kind of jobs at different stores (Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Menards, Lowe’s, etc.) it’s a pretty universal policy.

  9. says

    Definitely a good choice, as I was scrolling down that’s the one I picked in my head too haha! I’m having so much fun watching her bedroom evolve, I’m getting ready to redo my almost 2 year old twins rooms. Right now it’s just twin mattresses on the floor because they climb everything. It’s so embarrasing, I can’t wait to get some actual furniture into their room once they calm down!

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