An illustrated diagram of a figure on an armchair next to a lamp with the perfect amount of light

Practical Advice: Choosing Lamps

Choosing a lamp can be just as much fun as choosing a chair…until you get the chair home and realize it doesn’t fit/doesn’t coordinate with the room/or isn’t comfortable after an hour of reading.   Guess what?  A lamp can also be uncomfortable or not fit with the room and leave you wanting more.

As a designer, I think about the style and aesthetics of a lamp last.  First, I want to know what kind of light I need out of the lamp.  Do I want lamp that helps me read a book?  Or see the faces of friends and family?  Or light up a dark space?  Answering those questions will help me narrow down my choices.

Then- and only then- should I worry about the aesthetic style of a lamp.  And yes, I sometimes choose something simply because it looks beautiful and regret it later, but at least I try to put aesthetics second.

An illustrated diagram of a figure sitting on a chair with five different lamps beside them showing the different varieties of light lamps can provide.

In my own personal ideal world, all lamps would be adjustable in height, in brightness, and in distribution (or spread of light).  That way I could get perfect light every time.  But until that day, I use the ideas in the sketch above to help guide my choices.  I look for lamps that emit soft, slightly “warm” colored light out of large shades, and that direct more light down into the “light for doing” zone than anywhere else.  When the height of a lamp isn’t quite right, I’ll put books under it to lift it up and spread out the light to my book.   If it’s too tall…well, I don’t have a solution for that one that does not involve power tools.

A good lamp (or several) can deliver on all five promises of light.  And I can take them with me when I move!

Light Can Help You