Table Lamps…I’ve seen it all - good, bad, and the just plain weird! Table lamps come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, so how do you know what to choose? A recent foray into HomeGoods is what inspired this post, as the lamp department there always contains some entertainment in the “WHAT were they thinking??” category!
Lamp? Feather Duster? Cat Toy? Bathing Cap? You decide!!
The purpose of a lamp is to provide light where you need it, but the goal of a great lamp is to also look good doing it and enhance the design of the room! Lamps can be used on end tables, nightstands, desks, sideboards, console tables, tucked into bookcases, or even on kitchen counters and dining tables!
Here are a few tips for choosing the right lamp for the space.
Pay attention to height
You need light, not glare from a light bulb so be sure your chairside or bedside lamp is not so tall that the lower edge of the lampshade is above eye level. For sideboards or console tables, sometimes a pair of tall, skinny (sometimes referred to as “buffet”) lamps is the right solution. This can add symmetry and ground a tablescape.
Pay attention to scale
Your lamp should be in proportion to the piece of furniture it is on or next to. A large chunky lamp on an itty bitty side table is a little bit like a clown car…you know, the tiny car that dozens of clowns pile out of?! If you have a little drink table that serves a chair, maybe a floor lamp would be a better solution. Pro tip: swing arm wall sconces, or pendants can be an ideal solution for bedside lamps if table space is tight.
Pay attention to the lampshade
The lampshade should be well matched in scale and shape to the lamp base. Discount stores are notoriously bad at this, and even some better lamps are on the lampshade struggle bus IMO! THIS post gives some excellent guidelines on choosing lampshades.
We are NOT advocating this “Elvis called and he wants his lampshade back” number…
Pay attention to function
If your lamp is for ambient mood lighting, you don’t need a hundred watt bulb! Most ambient lamps should have no more than 60 watt or 40 watt bulbs. If, however, you are using your lamps for reading light or to perform a task or hobby, you will need more light. If you need your lamp to be all things to all people, a 3 way switch that dims the bulb may be your best option. – and PLEASE use the right bulbs – THIS post has a helpful and humorous guide so you can avoid bulbs that create the ambience of an operating room. Speaking of function, some lamps now come with USB and outlet ports in the base – these are ideal for desks, bedside, or anywhere that electronic devices might need to be recharged – no more crawling around behind the furniture to find an outlet, or stray extension cords cluttering up the place!
Pay attention to style
Lamps, in addition to providing the necessary function of lighting a space, are also another accessory in your room and an integral part of the design. The style might be classic, chic, or playful, – they are an opportunity to add something unexpected that gives life to the room, or to inject a jolt of color or texture…like the ibis statement lamp from THIS post!
When using lamps on end tables flanking a sofa, or nightstands on either side of a bed, they should either be a matching pair, or if not matching, be the same height and scale. For a pair of matching lamps that sit on night tables of different heights, use books or a box to raise the lower lamp so they are the same height.
Here is a curated sampling of table lamps we like (click on image for details):
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