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Choosing a Living Room Table Lamp

Tips for selecting task lighting that works for you

A living room table lamp serves double duty—it’s a great way to add a decorative element to your space, while also providing task lighting. But just like other furniture, one size doesn’t fit all. 

Next time you shop for a new table lamp (or two), keep the following points in mind, so you’ll end up with a table lamp that not only looks good, but that also boosts the lighting in your room. 

  • Consider your table’s style. The style and size of your table lamp should be dependent on the style and size of the side table that’s going to be its home. For example, if your table is big and heavy, you should opt for a lamp with a similar look and feel. If you have a thinner, more lightweight table, look for a lamp that complements that aesthetic.

  • Make sure you measure. In general, a table lamp should be no more than 1½ times the height of your table. (Of course, a taller table calls for a taller lamp, so that the lamp doesn’t look disproportionate.) When sitting next to the lamp, the bottom of the shade should be at eye level so that the light doesn’t shine directly in your eyes.

  • Take shade size into account. These days, you can find lots of interesting lampshades in a variety of shapes. The trick is selecting the right size, so you don’t end up with a shade that’s too small or too large for the base. When looking over your options, choose a shade that’s twice as wide as the lamp base, and one-third the total height (including the bulb and harp) of the lamp.

  • Be thoughtful about shade color. When choosing a color for your shade, make sure to consider the functionality you want from the lamp in addition to the look you want for your room. A shade that’s lighter in color will provide better lighting for reading and other close-up tasks than a shade that’s darker in color. On the other hand, a darker colored shade will help minimize glare better than a lighter colored one.

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