Picking Table Lamps | 1STOPLighting.com (2023)

Table lamps are an EASY lighting solution…
Table lamps can be very important to your overall lighting scheme. With the appropriate bulb type, shade shape and shade color, table lamps can be great for task lighting, overall lighting and can provide a beautiful ambiance setting. Here are some things to think about when selecting a table lamp as a lighting solution for your home:


  • Use a frosted or pearl bulb if you can find one. They will always provide a softer, more shadow-free light and are always the best choice when the inside of a shade is a pale color or reflective.

  • Lighting tip: a fixture above a dining room table should be no wider than the width of the table minus 12 inches (ALA). This is a general calculation for all table sizes.

  • Use the maximum wattage a shade will allow. You may be using a 40-watt bulb when a 60-watt bulb would instantly improve a bedside reading lighting.

  • Use energy-saving bulbs in your living room, kitchen and bedrooms, and save the harsh, gray-white light of fluorescent bulbs for the utility room or garage.

Shade Colors

(Video) Types of Table Lamps: How to Choose

Shade Shapes & Sizes

With all the shapes and sizes out there, it might be difficult to know what will work best in your space and what table lamp will be successful in your lighting design. Here are some things to think about when updating your old table lamps with a new shade or purchasing a new table lamp for your space.

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  • Try to stay with using fewer lamps that have larger shades. Less is more and a clutter of table lamps is not the look you want. Just be aware of your table lamp base heights and shade sizes.

  • For shade shapes that have large openings at the top and bottom of the shade; will illuminate its maximum light source upward and downward, table lamps with these types of shades are great to help with overall lighting. Shade shapes with a smaller opening at the top or no opening at all, will illuminate more downward which is great for task lighting while you read on the couch or work on the computer in your office.

  • Coolie Shade - The most common table lamp shade shape is the coolie shade. This particular shade was designed to push most of the light downward, giving the task at hand pools of light. Because of this, only the largest of these shades will produce useful amounts of light. You can always improve the levels of light in a room by changing shades of this shape, as well.

  • Drum Shade - A drum-shaped (deep or shallow) shade allows an equal amount of light to push both upward and downward. This table lamp shape will definitely add to the ambient light in your space and will give a task light below. The drum shade is also a good shape for showing off the textile from which the shade is made of.

  • Oval Shade – The deep or slim oval performs in a similar way to a drum shade, but can be a better choice if you have less space.

  • Eye Shape Shade - The contemporary “eye-shaped” shade is a sophisticated design. It allows narrow pools of light to escape both upward, which can be a great light option to have on a narrow console table or in a hallway. Just keep in mind it might not be the best lighting solution if you are trying to achieve a lot of light in a space because its more of a task light for smaller areas.

  • Cylinder Shade - This elegant shape provides a contemporary feel and projects a more narrow type of light. Because of the cylindrical shape at the top and bottom of the shade, the light will be centralized to one small area. Such a table lamp might be best used for accent lighting or in addition to your décor.


  • Conical Shade – Typically found on small candlestick like table lamps or on table lamps meant for task lighting only. This shade is suitable for narrow pockets of light and for activities that need to be done nearby. With the Conical shade most of the light is pushed downward because the top tapers inward. You can also find table lamps with conical like shades that face upward too, thus having the opposite effect of a traditional conical shade shape.

  • Square and Tapered Square Shade – A square shade instantly updates a room. It gives great light both upward and downward and is often useful in a corner. The tapered square is a sleek shape to use on a traditional swing-arm beside reading light and will give more useful light than a conical shade.

  • Rectangle and Tapering Rectangle Shade – Much like the square shape, rectangular shades provide a refreshing and modern look. Shades of this shape are often useful on a bar or side table.

The Proper Height for a Table Lamp

Picking Table Lamps | 1STOPLighting.com (1)

With table lamps made in so many sizes no wonder it can be quite confusing when selecting a table lamp. The ultimate goal is to have a table lamp that will accomplish the best use of its light and fit into your décor proportionally. With table lamps, size and quantity matter. So you never want to have more than 2-3 table lamps in one space. Table lamps are not meant to provide overall lighting; they were designed to help with overall lighting and provide task lighting. Other designer’s might use table lamps to add light to a focal point or add the illusion of more light when placed in front of a mirror, but the goal still stands even with the best tricks of the trade.

There are a lot of recommendations out there and we decided to narrow it down to a few tips that might help you in choosing the right size table lamp for your space.

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Table Lamps for the Living Room

  • Height - Most living room sizes can have table lamps that are 26 to 34 inches tall. When sitting, to get the best use of your table lamp and its light source; the bottom of the shade should be right at eye level as well.

  • Placement – Placement of a table lamp. can be very important so that it functions at its best. Proper placement of a table lamp will ensure that the pool of light will illuminate your area where you sit best, while providing ambient lighting to the rest of the space.

Table Lamps for the Bedroom

  • Height - A good rule of thumb “table lamps should look proportional to the height of the ceiling and headboard or treatment on wall.” So taller headboards should have a relative size table lamp which means the table lamp bases should be taller and vise verse if the headboards are short and squat. Don’t want to use the head boards as a guide? Than try taking a look at your night stands. Tall night stands that are 24 to 30 inches tall should have table lamps that are at least 27 to 32 inches tall. Shorter night stands that are 18 to 20 inches off the floor, will call for a taller lamp to equal the visual proportion of the headboard so that your table lamp will sit higher than 36 inches above the nightstand top.

  • Shade Size – If you are purchasing a table lamp for a night stand, you want to ensure that the shade does not cover more than a third of the nightstand. If you choose a table lamp that has a really large shade, you could end up hitting the shade every time you reach for something on the nightstand so it might not be in your best interest to have overly large shades near the bedsides.

  • Placement – It might be a good idea to first ask yourself, if the night stand’s surface would be used for more than just having a table lamp on it. If so, it’s best to place your table lamp closer to you or at the back of the table near the wall, but not out of reach. This will help give you enough space for other objects and so that the light will still illuminate your task. When laying down the bottom of the table lamp shade should be at least 20 inches high from the surface to get the best use out of your light while reading in bed. Remember the goal is to have the light fall on your reading material not in your partners eyes or yours for that matter!

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How do I choose the right table lamp? ›

How to Select the Perfect Table Lamp
  1. Determine the Shade Height. First determine the perfect height range for your lamp; sit in the space next to where you are going to place the lamp. ...
  2. Decide on a Size. To determine the estimated height, add 18″ to the shade measurement. ...
  3. Select a Shade Style. ...
  4. Purchase the Right Bulb.

Should lamps on either side of sofa match? ›

More precisely, you don't have to have identical lamps. However, if you want a cohesive design, make sure they relate to one another in some way, either through shade color and shape, materials, or similar color schemes.

How do I choose a table lamp size? ›

A good rule of thumb is that your table lamp should be at about eye-level when you're seated near it, or at about 58” to 64” inches from the floor. Table lamps should not be more than 1.5 times taller than the surface they're sitting on and the diameter of the lamp shade should be smaller than the width of the surface.

How tall should a lamp be next to a sofa? ›

A good rule of thumb for a living room setting is that you will want your lamp shade to sit within eye level, or about 24 - 34 inches tall. That way you'll be able to read your favorite book or work with ease under enough light when seated.

Can a lamp be too big for a table? ›

General Scale of Lamps

Overall lamp and table measurements: The lamp should not be more than 1.5 times taller than the surface it is sitting on, and the lamp shade's diameter should be smaller than the width of the sofa side table. You don't want the table lamp's shade to be sticking out beyond the table's edge.

Do table lamps in the living room have to match? ›

However, no matter if you are choosing lighting for a large space or a smaller one, the lamps' styles don't have to match, but they do have to complement each other and the overall design. The overall design of the room should have a theme to give it a consistent feel that flows.

How many lamps should you have in a living room? ›

There is usually some form of overhead lighting so try keeping it as a decorative accent and use a dimmer switch so you can change the mood of the room. If all of this seems complicated, a good rule of thumb is to have 4 lighting sources in a room to produce adequate lighting.

How do you mix and match lamps in a living room? ›

Mixing and Matching Lighting Fixture Do's:
  1. Tip 1: Layer Your Types of Light. ...
  2. 2: Create a Focal Point, then Don't Distract from It. ...
  3. 3: Coordinate Across Rooms in an Open Floor Plan. ...
  4. 4: Mix Finishes, Tastefully. ...
  5. 1: Don't Try to Do Too Many Things in One Room. ...
  6. 2: Don't Be Afraid to Try Something New… ...
  7. 3: …

How many floor lamps should you have in a living room? ›

When layered with other types of lighting, generally, one or two floor lamps should suffice in a living room. Floor lamps can be both functional and design elements in a living room, meeting a specific lighting need or serving as a focal point.

What is a good size for a lamp? ›

Lamp Height - A good rule of thumb is to find a table lamp that is approximately 30" tall from the bottom of the base to the top of the shade/finial. Without getting too mathematical, the top of the lamp should be between 58" and 64" from the ground.

Are lamps still in style? ›

Staying on trend. “Bold, large boho chic fixtures will be dominating the market in the year ahead,” Colon says. “This relaxed style is defined by the eclectic use of natural materials and a natural color palette. Modern table lamps using black and matte gold finishes will also be seen more than before.”

What is the right size lamp for a bedside table? ›

Assuming that your nightstand is the same height as your mattress (or within a couple of inches), look for a lamp the same height as your nightstand plus an extra 2 or 3 inches. So if your nightstand is 24 inches high, a lamp that is around 27 inches tall will look best.

Do you have to put lamps on end tables? ›

End tables do not need lamps. There are countless options for decorating and using end tables that don't require a lamp. However, you might find a table lamp to be useful. Not only do they provide light, but they also can help complete the decor scheme of the room.

Where should a lamp go in a living room? ›

Living room placement ideas for a floor lamp
  • Behind the couch. A popular choice for floor lamp placement is behind the couch. ...
  • In a corner. ...
  • Next to a desk. ...
  • Behind or beside your TV. ...
  • In the middle of the room.

Should lamp be as tall as headboard? ›

The bedside lamp should be 28″-30″ tall.

Your lamps should look large enough to handle the bed and nightstands. It should be substantial. If you have a tall headboard, aim for the top of the lamp to cascade down slightly from the headboard.

How do you know if a lamp is too big? ›

  1. The bottom of the lampshade should be no higher than eye level.
  2. The lampshade should be approximately ⅓ the height of the entire lamp (including the bulb and/or harp).
  3. Your lamp should be a maximum of 1.5 times the height of the table.
  4. The shade should be twice as wide as the diameter of the base of the lamp.
24 Aug 2020

How high should a lamp be above a dining table? ›

When you hang a chandelier above the dining room table, the lowest part of the light fixture should be 30-36 inches above the table's surface. This is based on the assumption that your ceiling is 8 feet high. If your ceiling is higher, hang the chandelier three inches higher for every additional foot of height.

Why do they not put lights in living rooms? ›

The National Electrical Code (NEC), also known as NFPA 70, does not require permanent ceiling light fixtures in residential living rooms or dining rooms. So, now it is just a matter of design preference. Rooms that typically always have permanent ceiling lights are: Bathrooms.

Can there be too many lamps in living room? ›

But according to Jessica Shaw, interior designer director at Turett Collaborative, too much light can make your home feel scattered. “When color temperatures begin conflicting, that is a sign you have layered too much,” she says. “You want your lighting choices and placement to punctuate ascertain areas of your space.”

Can lamps be left 24 7? ›

To put it simply, well-manufactured LED lights are extremely long-lasting and can be left on 24 hours, 7 days a week. This is because, unlike conventional types of light, LEDs produce minimal amounts of heat, which means they are unlikely to overheat or set on fire.

Should all the light fixtures match? ›

Instead of strictly matching, light fixtures should coordinate throughout a home. That is to say; all light fixtures should not look exactly alike, rather share common features. It is possible to match the shape, color, materials, styles, and/or other details to achieve this end.

Should lamp shade colors match? ›

Matching and color play a central role in choosing the right lampshade. One way to achieve a cohesive look is to consider matching the prominent colors in your room.

Do lampshades need to match in same room? ›

Mixing and matching the lighting in your space is a great way to spice up your interior design. Although your lamps don't need to match, one of the best ways to ensure you maintain a cohesive look is to choose lamps—whether table lamps, floor lamps, or bedside lamps—that adhere to the style of the room.

Can you put a floor lamp next to a table? ›

You can put a floor lamp beside an entry cabinet, side table, end tables, buffet or bookshelf.

Does lamp shade size matter? ›

The shade should be twice as wide as the lamp base, and one third of the total height of the lamp. So for a 6-inch lamp base, the shade should be at least 12 inches wide. And if the total height of the lamp (including the bulb and harp) is 24 inches, the shade should be 8 inches tall.

Does a bigger lamp shade mean more light? ›

The more light you need, the more transparent the material and larger the shade. The higher the wattage, the larger the shade.

How many watts is a good lamp? ›

The Right Wattage for a Lamp

As a general rule, most lamps have a maximum limit of 60 watts. The good news is that Domestic LED bulbs are normally much lower than 60 watts, as they produce the same or greater lumens for less wattage than alternatives.

What is the lighting trend for 2022? ›

The new lighting trend toward the use of sustainable and natural materials continues into 2022 and lighting is no exception. Natural materials such as wood, glass, bamboo, fabric, seagrass, leather, and even paper have been seen previously. In 2022, we'll see even more use of twine, rope, burlap, and wood beads.

What lamps are on trend? ›

Well, by looking at the up-and-coming 2023 lighting trends, of course.
  • Mirrored brass. ...
  • Matching Pendant and Wall Colors. ...
  • Burnt steel. ...
  • Organic Silhouettes. ...
  • Lights as Art. ...
  • Dark Smoked Glass. ...
  • Recessed LED Lighting. ...
  • Bespoke Extension Leads.
19 Oct 2022

What are old fashioned lamps called? ›

Oil lamps are a form of lighting, and were used as an alternative to candles before the use of electric lights. Starting in 1780, the Argand lamp quickly replaced other oil lamps still in their basic ancient form. These in turn were replaced by the kerosene lamp in about 1850.

Should bedside lamps be tall or short? ›

If your bedside table is the same height as the top of your mattress, ideally your bedside lamp will be the same height again (for a standard bed height, that's around 18–36 inches). “The key is the level of the shade,” Storey tells us.

What kind of lamp goes on a nightstand? ›

A lamp with a height between 24 and 27 inches is a safe bet and maintains a balanced look. Lamps over 36 inches clash with a headboard, bed, and the bulb will show when reclining. Tall nightstands between 25 and 30 inches should pair with a lamp around 30-inches in height.

Should lamp be centered on nightstand? ›

Center the mirror over the nightstand approximately 3 to 4 inches above the top surface. A bedside lamp can either be centered in front of the mirror or pushed to the outer side of the nightstand away from the bed.

What wattage should a table lamp be? ›

This can range between 40-watts to 120-watts. Expert's Advice: Never exceed the maximum wattage recommended for your lamp. For example, when using our electrical lamp wiring kits it is not recommended to use a light bulb with a wattage over 60 watts.

Which light is best for table lamp? ›

Bright lamp bulbs, with a cool white light to natural daylight, are easy on the eyes and best suited for reading and studying. A lamp with a long neck will disperse light across a bigger area while a spotlight bulb is better when you need focused light in one specific area.

What happens if you put too many watts in a lamp? ›

Using a light bulb with too high of wattage can lead to overheating of the light bulb. This heat can melt the light socket as well as the insulation of the wires. Once that happens, you put yourself at risk of arc faults, and this is something that could even lead to property fires.

Is 100 watts too much for a lamp? ›

Putting a 100-watt bulb in a 60-watt fixture could cause intense heat, melting the light socket and the insulation on the fixture's wires. Any time you have that kind of damage on wires, you're at a big risk for arc faults, where an electrical current falls off its intended path— a leading cause of home fires.

How many watts is a good LED lamp? ›

Equivalent Wattages and Light Output of Incandescent, CFL, and LED Bulbs
Light OutputLEDsIncandescents
2 more rows

Should bedside lamps be taller than headboard? ›

The bedside lamp should be 28″-30″ tall.

Your lamps should look large enough to handle the bed and nightstands. It should be substantial. If you have a tall headboard, aim for the top of the lamp to cascade down slightly from the headboard.

What type of lamp gives the most light? ›

When it comes down to which type of lamp gives off the most light, we would say a tripod or curved style lamp is the best. You want to have a lamp that shines a light into your space from multiple directions, not just one.

Is cool white or warm white better for eyes? ›

Warm light is best for the eyes. This includes filtered natural light and light produced by incandescent and LED light bulbs. Spread out lighting in your home and workspace to ensure sufficient lighting.


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