Portable lamps are those familiar fixtures we see in living rooms, family rooms, offices and hotel suites. When properly utilized, portable lamps can be the lighting solution for bedrooms, dining rooms, or foyers, and are ideal for use on a side table next to a sofa. A torchiere lamp is a great alternative to ceiling fixtures when you want to add more light to a room but prefer softer lighting. A well chosen table lamp will provide just the right light level while complementing your personal decorating style.
Portable lamps are available in a nearly limitless number of options, yet all too often little consideration is given to lighting design. Table lamps are probably the most overused lighting source used in residences. People expect a lamp to perform too many functions at once; decorative, accent, task and general lighting. The usual scenario is a sea of lampshades that draws the eyes attention away from everything except the lampshade.
When designing a room is the linen lamp shade really the first thing you want people to see, or do you want them to see the fantastic art, photographs, sumptuous room colors or furniture you have selected. Remember the eye is naturally drawn to light and glare.
Table and floor lamps work well when they are selected with care. A lamp with a translucent shade (linen, rice paper, silk, etc) works best as a decorative light source. Using a 25 watt incandescent ( 5 Watt CFL) they will create little islands of light that draw people to seating areas and add scale and comfort to a room.
For reading, choose a fixture with an opaque liner or perforated metal lid. The illumination is directed downward onto the table or across one’s lap.
How to Choose a Size
One of the most important things to consider when deciding on a table lamp is the height at which the shade will sit once placed on a table. The lamp’s bulb and socket should not be visible. The glare from a visible bulb will interfere detract from the beauty of your table lamp. If you are planning to use the lamp for reading, take measurements to be sure the lamp will be tall enough to cast its light over your shoulder. The bottom of the shade should be about even with your cheekbone when you are sitting.
Remember that a shade with a wider lower brim will cast more light on the surrounding area below it and better facilitate reading. A narrower brim will cast less direct light.
How Much Light?
Table lamps should satisfy lighting requirements as well as complement décor. Be sure to find out what a lamp’s maximum wattage is before you purchase. Never use a higher wattage bulb than specified on your lamp.
Be sure to consider the functional as well as decorative features of the type of shade you choose, too. A white or off-white fabric shade will be translucent allow high light output. A darker or opaque shade will limit the light output and is useful when you want to create a more subtle lighting effect. A darker, non-translucent lampshade with silver or gold lining will create a pleasant glow around the room.
If you love the freedom to easily change the light level around you, consider getting a table lamp that accommodates 3 way bulbs. For even more lighting flexibility, a lamp with a built-in dimmer switch will offer a range of lighting levels for any occasion whatever the time of day.
Energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs can be substituted for standard incandescent bulbs in most table lamps. They have a longer life, and they use considerably less energy than their incandescent counterparts. Keep in mind that only dimmable compact fluorescent bulbs should be used in lamps with incandescent dimmer switches.