Choosing the Right Table Lamp for Every Room
Designers and lighting experts offer enlightenment, from the practical to the aesthetic.
The Living Room
Think of living-room lamps as one part light and one part sculpture. They should be lovely to look at whether on or off. Just
make sure they don't block the view or get in the way of conversation.
Height: Most living rooms can handle a lamp that's 26 to 34 inches tall. "But you don't want to be looking up into the hardware," says Jamie Young, a Los Angeles lighting designer. To see if your lamp is right for a given table, sit on the sofa or the chair next to it, she says. "The bottom of the shade shouldn't fall higher than eye level."
Base: Even a skinny, candlestick-style base should be substantially weighted so those who talk with their hands don't rock the lamp if they bump it accidentally.
Positioning: Rooms should have a light source every 10 feet or so. If a lamp is on a table between a sofa and a chair, "consider a thin or transparent base," says Steven Sclaroff, an interior designer in New York, "so sight lines―and conversation―flow freely."
Shade: A fabric or semiopaque paper shade gives a warm, flattering glow. Near a TV, an opaque shade of any material can minimize glare. In general, drum shades look more modern; conical ones, more traditional. A shade should never extend past a table's perimeter.
Bulb: If you intend to use your lamp for reading, make sure the bulb is at least 60 watts; a three-way bulb or a dimmer will modulate the brightness.
Style: A living room is a great place for a lamp made from a favorite object, such as a vase. Most lighting-repair stores can help with the wiring.
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