There’s one in the corner. There’s one on your desk. There’s one … right … behind you! Luckily, this invasion is one of lamps, and they’re here to light up your life! Choosing lamps for any room is fun, and the number of style and purposes is endless and interesting. But with great choice comes great indecision – our buying guide is designed to help you understand the important styles and figure out what your space requires. When you discover the right one for you, it’s like a light goes on in your head.
Types of Lamps
The great thing about lamps is that they can take on virtually any shape and size and work well within any space. The tough thing is choosing. When your options are nearly infinite, where to start? It’s easiest to break down lamps first by size and then by specialty.
The tallest style of lamp is also the most versatile. Sometimes a floor lamp can be the only light source in a room, and other times, it’s intended to complement overhead lighting or other lamps. Some styles you’ll see:
These graceful lamps point downward, directing light onto a seating area, table, or focal point in the room. There’s a heavy weight at the bottom that lets the arcing stem reach high and far. Modern arc floor lamps with sleek globes or multiple small lamps at the end are trending right now.
Torchiere-style lamps take their direction from the gaslights of old. At the top of the tall stem, there’s an inverted cone that diffuses light as it sends it up toward the ceiling. This design is great for providing ambient light to a large space and is found in everything from mid-century to antique styles.
Lamp on a side table? Or lamp as a side table? Space-saving lamp tables are available in traditional and modern styles and usually have a small square or round table mounted in the middle of the floor-standing stem.
From old-style cinema lights to replica explorer’s lamps, tripod floor lamps are making a huge comeback. This traditional style has plenty of creative designers lighting up our Styleboards (see Lighting Trends below) with new ideas.
Medium-sized lamps find their way onto the small tables that sit next to us every day. They provide good ambient light to fill out a room and maybe help you read a book.
Usually paired with an end table or side table, accent lamps provide light and visual interest in a space. There’s literally something for everyone, so get creative when choosing an accent lamp.
Buffet lamps are usually taller and skinnier than other table lamps. They’ll work best on a console table behind the couch or, well, on a buffet. No one says you can’t use another style on yours, but these taller lamps are sure to work.
Trendy tripod lamps are popular on the tabletop, too. Like mini versions of their architectural cousins, these unique three-legged lamps provide a dash of style and visual interest to your table space.
Function meets feng shui at the desk lamp. It’s necessary because you’ve got to see what you’re working on, but style is important because a good workflow depends on a good work environment.
Focus! Adjustable desk lamps let you point the light where you need it. Some have joints, some are bendy, some telescope … but all are designed with you in mind.
The classic banker desk lamp had a green glass shade and a pull cord. It’s a timeless style that’s not going anywhere, but there are some beautiful new variations available, too.
Fidgety desk workers might need even more flexibility than an adjustable or gooseneck lamp can offer. Clamp-on desk lamps mount on any side of your workspace, or just about anything else in the house.
Other Types of Lamps
Tiffany-style lamps are made with the look made famous by the studio of Louis Comfort Tiffany. The elegant, intricate stained glass shades offer classic style and colorful beauty to any space. There are many styles of Tiffany shade, but you might recognize these notable and desirable designs:
Outdoor lamps have come a long way in function and style. Table and floor lamps designed for your deck mean elegant, beautiful lighting through dinnertime and into the evening. Make sure that any lamp you consider is rated for the outdoors, though: the electrical circuits have to be protected from the elements.
Lighting a Room
Some people never consider the details of lighting a room – they just flip a switch and take what they’re given. But proper planning and the right lamps can transform a space. Every room and decorator is different, but there are a few key questions to ask yourself.
How much light?
Consider the windows in a room and where the sun shines at the key times of day. Natural light is beautiful, but not always bountiful. Sunlight and built-in overheads can contribute quite a bit, but lamps provide fill-in and personality.
Ambient vs. direct
Are you trying to light a space or an object? Reading corners, desks, dining room tables, etc. need light directed at them, so your lamp will need to be pointing downward. Lights that need to cover larger areas should be more diffused or pointing upward, like a torchiere.
Where’s the door?
If you’re planning to light the whole room by lamps, don’t forget that they’ll be off when you come in. If you can’t find the switch in the dark, the whole lighting plan falls apart.