My apartment is not very well lit. And even though my living quarters are small, I need adequate lighting for reading, dining, paying bills, and more. That’s why I rely on lamps for nighttime illumination. Lamps provide portable, much-needed light—and look good doing it.
Because lamps come in an abundance of shapes, sizes, and materials, lamp shopping can be a challenge. How do you know you’re getting one that suits your needs and makes a decorative statement?
First, ask yourself what the lamp will be used for. Reading? Highlighting a specific object in your living room? Once you narrow down a purpose, pick a lamp that fits the scale of the space you’re working with. For example, if you opt for a table lamp, you don’t want to overwhelm the tabletop, yet you don’t want a lamp that looks incredibly small either. (Also consider how hefty your lamp is—if you have small children, heavier lamps are best because they’re more resistant to tipping.)
Remember: The edges of the shade shouldn’t extend past the edges of the table. And just as a shade shouldn’t take over a table, it shouldn’t take over the lamp either.
You’ll also want to pick a lamp that complements, rather than competes with, your décor. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun—look for playful shapes, colorful shades, and more. For example, if you want your lamp to make an architectural statement, check out this Teal Drum Lamp from Pier 1 Imports. The organic shape of the cast-iron base functions as a work of art—and I love the way the teal silk shade contrasts against it. This Quad Floor Lamp from Bed Bath & Beyond puts a unique twist on standard floor lamps. Or if you want a burst of color and a simple profile (and are feeling crafty), you can even transform colorful glass bottles into lamps too—Hallmark magazine shows you how.
If you’re short on space, look for a lamp that multitasks as a shelf, such as this Etagère Wood Lamp from Bed Bath & Beyond. Another way to save space is to hang lights from the ceiling. Try these cool pendant lamps from Target (I’m particularly fond of their funky striped shades). And slender floor lamps also brighten a room without sacrificing much space.
For custom flair, why not embellish a plain lampshade? Whether you choose to paint it, wrap it in decorative paper or fabric, or jazz it up with beads, buttons, or ribbon, the options are endless. I especially like this stripe-y shade courtesy of Martha Stewart Living because its bright colors remind me of summertime. Or you can decorate several mini shades to dress up a ho-hum chandelier. This Better Homes and Gardens project will get you started. And blogger Dean Novosat explains the nitty gritty of lamp-shade decorating, such as making sure you select heat-resistant decorating materials.
The Home Know-It-All