Complement Your Decor
"Think of a lamp as part of the jewelry of a room," interior designer Judith Balis says. "You need to select the right piece to complement the rest of the room." When choosing lamps, consider the style you're going for in your home first. Is it traditional? Modern? Eclectic? In this bedroom, Balis adds a playful touch to a modern design with quirky, coral-base lamps.
If you're going for a modern or contemporary look, think simple and streamlined when selecting lamps. Currently in vogue, slim bases and drum-shaped shades can add height and drama to a space without overpowering its other decor. Design by Troy Beasley.
Shades with a tapered shape tend to blend well with traditional decor. Designer Katie Leavy paired an antique ceramic lamp with colorful Indian textiles and a Chinese wall hanging for a look that's both worldly and classic.
Size It Up
"Like anything else in decorating, you want to be mindful of scale," Balis says. Make sure the size of your lamp is appropriate for its location. You don't want to put a massive lamp on a very small table — not only will it look disproportionate, but it might also be bumped into or knocked over. Likewise, a very small lamp will look out of place in a large room. As for the scale of the lamp itself, the shade should be one-half to three-fourths the size of the base and should hide the internal hardware of the lamp, Balis recommends. Design by Erica Islas.
Translucent vs. Opaque
Another important factor to consider when choosing a lamp shade is how much light you need the lamp to cast. If you want the lamp to illuminate an entire room or provide light for reading, a translucent shade is the best choice. However, if the lamp is strictly an accent piece, try an opaque shade for a dramatic look. Design by Joseph Pubillones.
After selecting the right lamps, deciding where to put them is just as important. Generally, Balis likes to use floor lamps to illuminate corners and reading areas. "If you have a dark corner in a room, the simple addition of a lamp will work wonders for the way the room feels," Balis says. Table lamps are great for filling out the rest of the room, she says.
Up to the Task
In any room, make sure the lighting you choose is sufficient for the tasks and activities you want to accomplish there. Designer Shane Reilley illuminated this reading area with a geometric floor lamp — a great contrast against the wavy lines of the chaise.
Coordinate the Components
When pairing a lamp shade with a base, Balis says a good rule of thumb is to choose a shade that mimics the shape of the lamp itself. If you have a square base, try a square or rectangular shade. A round or drum-shaped shade works well with a round or bulb-shaped base, while a conical shade is a good fit for a tall, thin base. Design by Daniel Bodenmiller.
Choose Shades With Flair
"If you need to add color or texture to a room, an interesting lampshade will add just the boost you are looking for," Balis says. Look for a shade with a bold pattern, an interesting texture or decorative touches like beads or tassels. Design by Erinn Valencich.
The Importance of Lighting
Without proper lighting, even the most stylish space isn't truly complete. Every room needs a combination of general lighting, task lighting and accent lighting to set a mood and provide sufficient illumination. Table and floor lamps, which typically fall under the task lighting category, are especially important because they play both a functional and decorative role in your home. Size, shape and style all need to be taken into account when selecting lamps to suit both your lighting needs and taste in home decor. Design by Lin Lee.