Table Lamp Buyers Guide

Table lamps are the perfect home accessory: practical yet elegant, utilitarian yet cosy. Every room benefits from the light and the warmth that a table lamp provides. They are versatile and can be integrated into a variety of different room contexts. This guide will help you find the perfect table lamp for your room!

Different Types of Table Lamps

Bedside Lamps

Bedside lamps, which often come in pairs, offer a warm, but not overpowering light that is perfect for reading. When choosing an appropriate bedside lamp, keep the parameters of your bed in mind. If it is too small and the light beams up from above the shade, it can create an unpleasant glare from below and if it is too high, the light will be overpowering.


While novelty lamps are certainly practical and can be used in place of more conventional methods of lighting, they can also be used purely for a whimsical, decorative touch. These lamps can be sourced at antique fairs, second-hand stores and flea markets.

Desk Lamps

These lamps are defined by their utility in brightening up a workspace. They are conventionally quite sleek in their design, in shades of black, grey and silver. Desk lamps have a hooded portion that directs the light downwards to best illuminate the work area.

Banker’s Lamps

Banker’s lamps are a good asset to a home office or on a desk designed for homework or writing detailed notes. Banker’s lamps funnel the light downward, providing a rich source of light for focused activities.

Lava Lamp

Lava lamps can add a playfulness to a bedroom or children’s room. They can be energy-intensive and don’t provide much usable light, but they create a warm atmospheric glow that can contribute to the cosy mood of a room.

Salt Lamps

Salt lamps are a rarer, but delicately elegant, form of light. They provide a beautiful, accented glow and add a calming presence to a room.


A torchiere is a dramatic light reminiscent of the lighting in old mansions and castles. They direct light upwards and are generally vase-shaped. They are appropriate for dining rooms and add a hint of elegance and atmosphere to an otherwise plain table setup.

Buffet Lamps

Buffet lamps have long, sleek necks and add a natural light to corridors, bedrooms and home entrances. They frame mirrors, pieces of artwork and sculptures in a clean, minimalist way. The most quintessential buffet style is a marriage of a broad white shade with a silver neck.


Cottage Style Lamps

These are clean and simple, with white and cream-coloured shades and a timeless aesthetic. The benefit of this style of lamp is that it can be incorporated into a variety of settings like a corridor, bedroom or foyer; they add a degree of quiet sophistication to any room.

Tiffany Lamps

Tiffany lamps are statement pieces, consisting of a stained-glass shade and an antique look. They are best suited to rooms with a robust art collection and a variety of different textures and colours.

Mid-century Modern

These lamps are reminiscent of 1950’s and 1960’s art-deco décor and come in different forms, like wood-based, ceramic or the acclaimed bubble-style lamp. They are modern without being too minimalist or futuristic, making them adaptable to a variety of interiors.


Contemporary lamps are colourful, bold and unconventional. This style is marked by dramatic curves, unique shapes and a rainbow of colours. Contemporary lamps are statement pieces and can be the standalone focus of a room design scheme.

Craftsman/Mission Style

Craftsman lamps are typically pyramid-shaped and have a decorative column base. These are generally kitschy in design and come in a variety of textures and shades.


Industrial lamps use stark materials like stainless-steel and exposed bolts to create a hyper-futuristic and modern look. These kinds of lamps are well-suited for loft apartments and minimalist design schemes.


Opaque or Translucent?

Lamp shades can be as versatile as table lamps themselves. They can be opaque or see-through, for instance. Opaque shades create a richer and warmer light, while a translucent lampshade, or one made from a thinner material, can cast a glow with a larger scope. The use of the table lamp should absolutely be taken into consideration when choosing a shade.


Keep in mind that the shades of a lamp must be proportional to the size of the base and the size of the table or section of the room they are being placed in. An effective lamp shade funnels the light in the desired direction while not taking up an unreasonable amount of space.  

Base Materials


Wood can be rugged and rustic and can add an earthy, natural contour to home decor and create an inviting spatial aura.  


Metal can be functional when it is used for desk lamps and office lamps, or trendy when incorporated into industrial-style designs. Bronze bases can have a more antique aesthetic, while stainless steel is more associated with modern designs.


Ceramic lamp bases are more traditional and are perfectly matched to bedside lamps and cottage-style lamps.


Resin, while less prolific, is a good option for a shiny, glass-based appearance without the risk of it breaking.


Glass lamps are fragile and that should certainly determine where you place them within your room. Glass can be moulded into interesting shapes or can simply be used as a beautiful way of reflecting natural light.


Crystal can be a unique way of incorporating some dazzle into your room design. Crystal lights are perfect for a formal foyer entrance, or for an elegantly appropriated room.


Plastic can be a tongue-in-cheek, utilitarian way to add some colour and shape into your table lamp design. Plastic is flexible because it can be bent into a variety of unusual shapes; it is sturdy and it can be produced in rich colours.


Marble lamps often have natural deviations in shade and offers a subtle way of introducing unique, natural texture to a room.  

Factors to Consider


Besides style and personal preference, there are other factors to consider when it comes to selecting the best lamp for yourself. Do you read frequently, or do you need it to illuminate an entire room?


Size is a vital consideration - do you need an imposing lamp to stand alone in the corner of a room, or do you need a petite bedside lamp for a small bedside table? A small lamp needs to fit into the context of the room because if the room is too big, it will look redundant, but a larger one may look strange and unbalanced in a small room.

The lamp shade should be near eye level if you are using it for more practical tasks like office work or reading. It should be an appropriate size when factoring in the height or width of the base. If the base is thick or elongated, the lampshade should be a corresponding size. A smaller or stubbier lamp should have a thinner shade or one with a smaller circumference.

Lamp Shade Shape

Choosing a shape comes back down to your aesthetic preference and what the practical uses of your lamp will be. Keep in mind how much light you need from your lamp and whether you are looking for a more traditional or modernistic style.   

Light Bulbs

LED and compact fluorescent lamps use less energy and are considered to be more environmentally sound options. Incandescent light bulbs are the more conventional choice and while they are cheaper, they are not as energy-efficient and can burn out quicker than their LED counterparts. Dimmable light bulbs are another popular option for more versatility and flexibility in lighting styles.

Bulb Shape

The bulb shape of your lamp is another consideration. Many of the new LED bulbs come in the spiral design, so it comes down to whether you want a more energy-efficient bulb or not. Candelabra-style bulbs are also an option for smaller, typically more novelty-based lamps, to add a faint glow.

The base of a light bulb should also be an area of focus if you are a new lamp buyer. Screw-in ‘Edison’ bases have numbers on them that point to their size - this is important to know for replacement purposes. The most prevalent sizes are E26, E17 and E12.

Care and Cleaning

Managing Dust

Table lamps should be dusted frequently as they can accumulate dust along the base. Cotton or synthetic lamp shades can be cleaned with a feather duster and a gentle vacuum attachment can be used on sturdier fabric shades.

Use a Damp Cloth

A damp cloth can be used to clean the base and shade of your lamp. Also, you must take care to wait until your lamp has cooled back before patting it with a wet cloth.

Wash Basin

For shades that are on the dirtier side, take the shade off the base and put it in a basin or bathtub with warm water and gentle soap.

Clean Frequently

Cotton or fabric lamp shades should be dusted and lightly patted down weekly. Dishwashing liquid can be used on more durable materials such as plastic.


Create a checklist of the functionalities your lamp must have and what aesthetic qualities it needs to suit your home decor. Treat the purchase of a table lamp as you would approach purchasing a painting, coffee table, or other statement pieces. A well-placed and well-designed lamp can make or break a room.