My criteria were reasonable, I thought: just a lampshade that not everybody else has (I’m looking at you, Ikea Sinnerlig), and doesn’t dominate a room, but has more personality than the giant paper balls that dominated the houseshares of yore and doesn’t cost more than my annual electricity bill. And yet, months after moving house, half my bulbs still hung bare. And not in a ‘pop-up kombucha bar’ way. I scrolled Made.com, Habitat, and West Elm, then eBay, Gumtree, and Facebook Marketplace. I flirted with the idea of conceptual chandeliers and trawled charity shops hoping to unearth a perfectly preserved wicker-basket shade from 1973. Eventually, eight pages deep into a Google shopping search and on the verge of giving up and buying a generic cream drum, I stumbled across this: the wire-cage hessian light shade from Wilko.
Yes, Wilko. Temple of toilet brushes; emporium of AA batteries, paint rollers, and scouring pads. I’ve felt a vague affection towards Wilko since I used to buy my pre-cinema sweets there as a kid, but I had no idea it also sold the lampshade of my dreams for £14 (now reduced to £12). I love it so much I’ve bought three. While the store has a handful of other gems — copper saucepans for a tenner, Scandi-looking dinner sets, pleasingly speckled jugs — there’s nothing else like my shade in the shop.
[Editor’s note: Since this story went live, the light shade has been discontinued in Hessian, but there’s still a grey one available.]
With its hessian-inlaid cage design, the shade sits at a pleasing intersection of industrial and retro. It’s a dead ringer for a 1960s glass-based table lamp that my friend Caroline, who is blessed in such matters, once bought in a junk shop. It works nicely above all my eBay-sourced teak, but feels cooler and more contemporary than going down a fringed velvet or extravagantly patterned route. I’m confident I won’t be bored or embarrassed by this lampshade in three years’ time, and it isn’t often I can say that about … well, anything.
Practical bonus points: It hangs on your existing pendant, rather than needing to be fitted by an electrician or plucky DIY-er — and comes complete with a reducing ring, which adapts the shade to fit different widths of light pendant. The inch-wide gap between the metal frame and hessian means it’s easy enough to dust, if a dusty shade gets you down. And best of all, you get to yell “Wilko! I KNOW!” at every guest who ever looks at the ceiling. It’s truly the little lampshade that could.
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