Table Lamps Buying Guide

Table lamps are an essential part of any living space, and are ideal for lighting and decorating your home in a warm, inviting way.

Table Lamps Buying Guide

But picking out the suitable lamp can prove challenging, as you need to factor in the style elements of other items in your room. The following guide helps you solve your purchase dilemma while providing valuable insights as you select your table lamps.

Things to Consider When Buying Table Lamps

Weight of Your Lamp

The weight of your lamp will be the first thing to consider during your purchase. For this, consider factors such as movement, specifically for areas with a lot of activity. Heavy traffic areas will do better with heavy and shorter lamps, with stable base designs also suited to such areas. If you do not expect much movement, taller and lighter lamps will be the best options as these are generally not at risk of being tampered with.

Lamp Size

Lamp size is another essential factor to keep in mind during your purchase. Generally, table lamps should not be more than 1 1/2 times the height of your table or the furnishing it is placed on. Additionally, the shade should not overlap the edge of your tabletop.

To ensure your table lamp is the perfect fit, consider measuring out the circumference of your table as well as its height. Make it a point to consider the size of your table and your lamps. If your table lamps sit atop large tables, pick out mid-sized to large lamps for visual symmetry. Sideboards and consoles work better with smaller table lamps which are often used in pairs during dinner setups.


Since table lamps are often used when seated, their line of sight or the height level is another thing to consider. Ensure that the bottom of your lampshade falls roughly at your eye level. This height will allow you to prevent any exposed glares when seated on your bed or sofa, helping you read and interact with others without too much eye strain. Keeping your shades at eye level will also allow you to have direct light when using your table lamps for reading, helping you get enough illumination for reading.

The Functionality of Your Lamp

Next, identify the purpose for which your lamp will be used. Take into account factors such as:

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting refers to lighting used to draw attention to specific objects in your space. This could be beautiful artwork you would like to highlight or particular room features that you would like to celebrate, allowing you to shift your focus to the given item. In addition to this, they can also help set the mood in your room, an option that allows you to pick your table lamps for purposes such as cool themes or warm colors.

Ambient Lighting

This type of lighting comes in handy for general lighting and provides great illumination in any living space. Generally, table lamps used for ambient lighting will rely on a flip-on switch, acting as the primary light source when you enter a room.

Decorative Lighting

This type of lighting focuses on the aesthetics of your room, with table lamps in this category often acting as ornaments and created in styles that help catch your viewer's eyes. Unlike other table lamps, decorative lamps generally do not emit much light, making them a poor illumination source.

Task Lighting

As the name suggests, task lighting comes in handy when you need illumination for performing a specific activity. This could be reading in your bedroom or doing work in your home office.

Types of Table Lamps

After deciding on the functionality of your lamp, you can now move on to various types of table lamps available. Some examples of these include:

Reading Lamps

Reading lamps are designed to provide focused light to allow you to read without any eye strain. Based on your reading habits, these table lamps can adapt to changing conditions, with some designed to act as dimmers during the day while also serving your reading needs during the night. In addition, lamps created for bedside reading also help you direct light toward your book without any adjustments needed, helping you get the best out of it.

Buffet Table Lamps

Buffet table lamps are a great light addition if you regularly entertain family and friends. Their tall and thin structures help you elevate the elegance in your room, acting as decorative pieces. Their design also makes them valuable for illuminating items on the table, with their primary use coming in handy during meal times.

These are often placed in pairs on serving tables, sideboards, and consoles, allowing you to view various food items on the table easily. Their soft light provides a welcoming mood, providing a relaxed feeling throughout the space.

Desk Lamps

Desk lamps are another addition in the table lamps category that provide task lighting. These are often used in home offices, providing reading lights to help you type away on your computer with ease or illuminate paperwork. Desk lamps usually come with adjustable arms and necks, allowing you to extend them to multiple surfaces across your office desk or to help you accommodate other tabletop items. Their tilting shades also come in handy for redirecting light towards or away from your paperwork or monitor.

Accent Lamps

Accent lamps come in handy for multiple purposes, providing ambient lighting for your room while also enhancing the interior design theme in your space. In addition to this, they can also be used to add a decorative touch, helping you inject some texture into your room.

Picking the Right Lamp Shade

After figuring out what functions your table lamps will serve and their various types, next comes your lampshade. Each shade serves a different purpose, with some accentuating the character and design in your room, while others help create a cohesive overall look. Below are some characteristics to keep in mind when choosing your lampshade:


Just like your table lamp sizes, lampshades also exist in various shapes, with the most common being the following:

Empire Shape

Empire shapes are a classic form of table lamp shades, with their diameter tops designed to be slightly smaller than the base. This design helps it distribute more light downward, making it ideal for providing light on table surfaces. Their classical theme allows them to be used on traditionally styled lamps.

Geometric Shape

Geometric shapes come with different designs, offering customizable shapes such as hexagons, squares, octagons, and rectangles. These shades have vertical sides and may sometimes be tapered. Geometric shades are often utilized with modern lamp designs, providing an up-to-date interior theme.

Coolie Shape

The coolie shape resembles an extreme cone shape, with this lampshade having a larger bottom diameter. This shape allows table lamps to emit a soft light at the top while emitting brighter light below. The coolie shade is often seen on contemporary table lamps.

Oval Shape

Oval-shaped sizes provide elliptical shades, with their designs often resembling elongated versions of the commonly used drum shades. Unlike geometric shades, oval shades are designed with rounded ends, giving off a softer feel.

Drum Shape

Drum shapes come in cylinder shades, with round openings and vertical sides. Their vertical sides allow them to disperse light up and down, helping maintain a uniform ambiance. They often go well with contemporary-style lamps, along with transitional table lamps.

Bell Shape

Bell-shaped shades have a concave side, their designs often suited to table lamps with traditional vintage looks.

The Material of Your Shade

The material also matters when choosing the shade on your table lamps, with the primary determinant being the function that your lamp will serve. With this in mind, consider materials such as:


Cotton materials are good at absorbing bold colors, allowing you to customize your lamps with sleek styles that enhance the look of your space. They can also be gathered in pleated designs or created with smoothed finishes, giving you the option of various textured looks.


Silk highlights elegance, with its smooth fiber fabric helping it scatter light with a distinct luster. It also filters light effectively, allowing you to reduce any glares when close to lampshades utilizing this material.


Glass materials often provide opaque white glass finishes, with their use coming in handy in rooms that need bright light. These can be areas such as kitchens, providing vintage themes for your space.


Linen provides a beautiful natural color, with laid-back and subtle textures that often go well in providing aesthetic finishes on your table lamp.


Metal is one of the heavier materials employed in lampshades, helping you create an urban or industrial look. They also help with creating directional light, making them suitable for task lighting.

Choosing Light Bulbs for Your Table Lamps

No matter your selection of lamp designs or shade varieties, your table lamp will still need the correct type of light bulb. Just like lamps and shades, these also come in numerous types. Here are some basics to keep in mind when choosing light bulbs:


If you are looking for bulbs that consume less electric energy, you will be better suited to bulbs with a lower amount of wattage. Bulbs with higher wattage need more energy to generate light, a factor likely to increase your utility bills.


Lumens refer to brightness, with a high number of lumens coming in handy for lamps used for lighting rooms or in areas in need of ambient light. With a lower number of lumens, you get a dimmer bulb, with this option often utilized for decorative table lamps.

Rated Life

Rated life indicates how long your bulbs will last, with LEDs often proving a longer life expectancy than other types of bulbs.


Kelvins refer to the color temperature, with bulbs offering a higher number of Kelvins providing lighter and cooler temperatures. The blue light will, for instance, be a better alternative to use for task lighting compared to bulbs with a lower Kelvin rating which often produce warmer light.

Color Rendering Index

The color rendering index encompasses the color accuracy that bulbs provide. If your bulbs come with a greater index, your lamps are likely to reveal the true color of surrounding objects. LEDs are some excellent examples that provide a broader spectrum of color and a high coloring index, helping you get the true nature of illuminated objects, unlike fluorescent bulbs with a lower index.

Final Thoughts

While choosing table lamps may seem straightforward, there are so many options available. Some lamps help you accentuate areas of your room that need an uplift, while others allow you to get the most out of your daily tasks. With this in mind, consider the functionality of your table lamps, the accessory features you need and everything else we covered here; then pick the very best lamp for your room.