Decorate House & Home Tips & Tricks

8 Rules For Decorating With Floor and Table Lamps

Image via Lamps Plus

1. Complement Your Decor

“Think of a lamp as part of the jewelry of a room,” interior designer Judith Balis says. “You need to select the right piece to complement the rest of the room.”

Tip: If you love a lamp and it is too tall, put it on a smaller table. If the lamp is too short, add a few books under the lamp.

 Image via Lamps Plus

2. Choose The Right Shade Shape

Shannon Petrie of HGTV says, “If you're going for a modern or contemporary look, think simple and streamlined when selecting lamps. Slim bases and drum-shaped shades can add height and drama to a space without overpowering its other decor.” If you’re going for a more classic aesthetic, “Shades with a tapered shape tend to blend well with traditional decor.” says Petrie.

Tip: HGTV Star judge Vern Yip says, “Different lamp bases in the same room can look great. To unify them, top them all with shades that have the same shape.”

 Image via Lamps Plus

3. Consider Texture and Colour

Lampshades should not be overlooked when it comes to elevating the style of your interiors. Balis says, “If you need to add color or texture to a room, an interesting lampshade will add just the boost you are looking for.” “Look for a shade with a bold pattern, an interesting texture or decorative touches like beads or tassels.” says Petrie.

Tip: Don’t forget contrast! Los Angeles-based designer Liz Foster says,“When designing a room, I’m constantly reminding myself of what materials are being used where to ensure there’s enough contrast. I’m making sure I’m not pulling a brass lamp to go on a brass side table or an oak mirror to go over an oak console.”


Image via Lamps Plus

4. Pair The Right lamp Shade With The Right base

When pairing a lamp shade with a base, Balis says a good rule of thumb is to choose a shade that mimics the shape of the lamp itself. Some tips from Petrie: “If you have a square base, try a square or rectangular shade. A round or drum-shaped shade works well with a round or bulb-shaped base, while a conical shade is a good fit for a tall, thin base.”

Tip: According to The Kellogg Collection blog, “The width of the shade should be at least as wide as the widest part of the lamp and can be up to 2x the width. The shade should be 40% to 60% of the height of your lamp. For example a 30” lamp might have a 13” shade.”

Image via Lamps Plus

Image via Lamps Plus

5. Mind The Scale

“Like anything else in decorating, you want to be mindful of scale,” Balis says. “Make sure the size of your lamp is appropriate for its location. You don’t want to put a massive lamp on a very small table—not only will it look disproportionate, but it might also be bumped into or knocked over. Likewise, a very small lamp will look out of place in a large room. As for the scale of the lamp itself, the shade should be one-half to three-fourths the size of the base and should hide the internal hardware of the lamp,” Balis recommends.

Tip: Try to keep all lamps in the same room about the same height.

6. Proper Placement Is Key

After selecting the right lamps, deciding where to put them is just as important. According to HGTV, Balis likes to use floor lamps to illuminate corners and reading areas. “If you have a dark corner in a room, the simple addition of a lamp will work wonders for the way the room feels,” Balis says. Table lamps are great for filling out the rest of the room, she adds.

Tip: You don’t have to match lamps on either side of a sofa, just make sure they are similar in height.

Image via Lamps Plus

Image via Lamps Plus

7. Make Sure The Lighting Is Sufficient (For Tasks)

To state the obvious, Petrie stresses “In any room, make sure the lighting you choose is sufficient for the tasks and activities you want to accomplish there.”

When choosing a lamp shade it is important to consider how much light you need the lamp to cast. Petrie says, “If you want the lamp to illuminate an entire room or provide light for reading, a translucent shade is the best choice. However, if the lamp is strictly an accent piece, try an opaque shade for a dramatic look.”

Tip: The lampshade should be at eye level when you are seated.

Image via Lamps Plus

Image via Lamps Plus

8. Don’t forget to Look at the hardware

Yip says,“Shades attach to bases in different ways. Some require a harp (a spider fitting), some sit on the hardware attached to the bulb’s base (an uno fitting), others clip right on the the bulb (a clip-on fitting). If you buy a base and a shade separately, make sure they both have the same fitting.”

Tip: “There are so many lampshade shapes and sizes out there that if you need to replace an old shade or find one for a new lamp be sure to bring your lamp with you on the search.” recommends The Kellogg Collection.

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