How to Choose the Right Lamp & Shade For Your Home

How to Choose the Right
Lamp & Shade For Your Home

From the dimly lit cosiness of a bedroom to the bright task lighting of a study, lamps play an understated yet critical role in influencing our daily lives. They can transform a space from merely functional to enchanting, creating pockets of warmth, highlighting architectural features, or even standing as art pieces in their own right.

But, how do you navigate the myriad of choices? From styles, sizes, and purposes, the options can seem overwhelming. This guide aims to shine a light on the intricate world of home lamps, guiding you through the process of finding that perfect piece which not only illuminates but also elevates your space.

The Purpose of Lighting

A well-thought-out strategy involves more than placing a single light source in a room and calling it a day. Professionals often refer to the concept of "layering" lighting. This approach ensures that every room meets its functional needs while also allowing for mood adjustments and highlighting the room's best features.

Ambient Lighting

Often considered the base layer of any lighting scheme, ambient lighting provides general, overall illumination for a space. This foundational layer is often soft and even, preventing harsh shadows. Think of ambient lighting as the natural daylight of a room, usually achieved through ceiling lights, chandeliers, or recessed lights.

Task Lighting

As the name suggests, task lighting addresses specific functional needs. Whether it's for reading, cooking, or other activities, this layer offers brighter and more focused light where required. Desk lamps, under-cabinet kitchen lights, and bathroom vanity lights are classic examples.

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting serves to highlight particular features within a room. From artwork on the walls to architectural details or a bookcase, this layer adds depth and dimension to a space. Wall sconces, picture lights, and track lighting are commonly used to achieve this effect.

Decorative Lighting

While the primary purpose of decorative lighting might not always be functionality, it's indispensable in adding character and style to a room. These are the pieces that, even when turned off, can stand as a room's centrepiece or accent. Chandeliers, ornate table lamps, or unique pendant lights fall into this category.

By understanding and implementing the layering concept, you can create versatile and dynamic environments. No longer does a room stay stagnant in its lighting mood; instead, it can be adjusted and tailored to the occasion, time of day, or desired atmosphere.

Types of Lamps

The world of lamps offers a plethora of choices, each designed with specific intentions in mind. Their designs are not merely for aesthetics; they serve functional purposes that cater to various needs. Let's explore these lamps in detail.

Table Lamps

Table lamps, often the most versatile of the bunch, are typically used for both ambient and task lighting. Their portability allows them to be placed in numerous settings, from bedside tables to living room consoles.

Table Lamp Types
Best Fit

Famed for their elegance, these lamps often feature glass or crystal bases, refracting light beautifully.

Ideal for sophisticated settings or rooms needing a touch of luxury

These modern marvels activate with a mere touch, eliminating the need for traditional switches.

Perfect for bedside tables where ease of use is paramount.

Characterised by sleek designs, minimalistic features, and contemporary materials.

Urban lofts, modern living spaces, or offices seeking a touch of modernity.

Often featuring ornate designs, these lamps echo time-honoured aesthetics and materials.

Classically styled rooms, or spaces aiming for a warm, timeless feel.

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Floor Lamps

Standing tall, floor lamps are not only powerful illuminators but also influential design elements within a space. They can dramatically transform the ambiance of a room, acting as both functional light sources and decorative centrepieces.

Floor Lamp Types
Best Fit

Crafted with materials like wood or brass, these lamps are a nod to yesteryears with their ornate detailing and classic design.

Spaces like living rooms or studies with a classic or vintage decor theme.

Embodying sleek designs, clean lines, and often unconventional materials, these are the epitome of contemporary elegance.

Minimalist spaces, urban apartments, or rooms with a chic, modern touch.

A versatile design where the main uplighter illuminates the room while the adjustable smaller light caters to focused tasks.

Multifunctional living spaces or reading nooks.

Offering adjustability through their movable arms, they allow users to position the light as required, making them perfect for reading or crafting.

Beside couches or chairs, or in any space where flexible lighting is desired.

Distinguished by their three-legged design, these lamps are both stable and stylish. They often combine modern aesthetics with a touch of industrial or vintage charm.

Lofts, contemporary living rooms, or even photography-themed rooms.

Unlike traditional floor lamps that direct light downwards, uplighters cast light upwards, creating a diffused and ambient glow which can accentuate ceilings or architectural details.

Rooms with unique ceiling designs, or spaces where indirect lighting is desired to set a cosy atmosphere.

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Desk Lamps

Desk lamps are fundamental to well-lit workspaces, enabling efficiency, reducing eye strain, and enhancing focus. Their designs can range from modern minimalist to vintage classics. Let’s explore the two primary types:

Desk Lamp Types
Best Fit

The workhorse of desk lighting, these lamps come in various designs and functionalities, from adjustable arms to different light intensity levels. They are primarily designed to offer focused lighting for tasks like reading, writing, or computer work.

Suitable for a wide range of workspaces, from home offices to students' desks.

Often characterised by their iconic green shades, bankers desk lamps are emblematic of vintage charm. However, it's worth noting that while the green shade is traditional, these lamps are available in a variety of colours, allowing for flexibility in matching different decor styles.

Ideal for traditional office spaces, studies, or anywhere a touch of vintage elegance is desired.

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Lampshades contribute significantly to the overall appeal and functionality of a lamp. Beyond aesthetics, they help diffuse, direct, and soften the light, affecting how it illuminates a space. Selecting the right shade can transform the ambiance of a room.


Lampshades come in a variety of materials, each impacting the quality and warmth of the light. Common materials include:

Shade Material
Effect on Light


From cotton and linen to silk and velvet, fabric is commonly used for its versatility and ability to introduce patterns and colors into room decor.

Offers a soft, diffused light that casts a warm glow in a room. Good for ambient lighting.


Common in pendant lighting and some table lamps, adding a touch of elegance.

Depending on the opacity, it can offer a soft glow or a more direct illumination. Stained glass, for instance, can cast colourful patterns around a room.


Offers a more industrial or contemporary look.

Reflects light rather than diffusing it, creating a focused and direct beam. Often used in task lighting or to create dramatic effects.


From drum to empire, bell to rectangular, the shape of a lampshade can make a statement. The shape can influence how light is cast – upwards, downwards, or more diffusely.

Lampshade Shape
Effect on Light


Cylindrical, with the top and bottom diameters being almost the same.

Dispenses light evenly upwards and downwards, offering a balanced, ambient light.


A cone shape, wider at the bottom.

Directs more light downwards, making it suitable for tasks like reading.


Curves out from the top and then back in towards the base, resembling a bell.

Provides a broad, ambient light, but with a slight focus downwards.


Features a wide base with a narrower top, resembling a Chinese coolie hat.

Maximises downward light dispersion, making it ideal for task-oriented spaces.

Square & Rectangle

These geometric shapes can give a modern look.

Distributes light in a more angular way, creating defined areas of illumination.


Consideration of the lampshade's size is vital for both aesthetics and function. It should be in harmony with the lamp base and the surrounding environment. The width of the lampshade should generally be roughly equal to the height of the lamp base.

A larger shade may diffuse light over a broader area but might reduce the intensity of the light. Conversely, a smaller shade can provide more focused illumination.

Colour & Pattern

Lampshades are more than just decorative elements; their design intricacies can influence the ambiance and feel of a room. Here's how various patterns and colours impact light and mood:

Geometric Patterns
With their repetitive shapes, from squares to circles and triangles, geometric patterns cast dynamic shadows, introducing a sense of structure and order. Perfect for contemporary or minimalist settings, these designs often infuse a modern and edgy vibe to a space.

Contrasting Colours
Shades that showcase stark colour differences, such as black and white or navy and gold, draw immediate attention. By breaking the monotony, they act as statement pieces, often becoming focal points. A black and white striped shade, for instance, can impart drama, creating a bold ambiance.

Floral Patterns
Evoking nature's beauty, floral designs can vary from delicate blossoms to bold botanical motifs. They influence the room by adding a touch of calm, romance, or vintage allure. Delicate rose patterns might soften light, giving off a romantic glow, while larger, tropical prints can scatter light in fascinating ways, adding vibrancy to a room.

Plain & Neutral
Colours like beige, cream, or soft pastels diffuse light gently, creating an uncluttered and serene atmosphere. These shades blend seamlessly with almost any decor, enhancing the ambiance without drawing undue attention. A soft taupe shade, for instance, bathes a room in a relaxing, cozy light, ideal for intimate or restful spaces.

Bold & Vibrant
Bright colours, from ruby reds to deep blues, alter light in captivating ways. A bold-coloured lampshade not only influences the hue of the light but also adds energy to a room. A sunny yellow, for instance, might cast a cheerful glow, turning an ordinary space into a lively nook.

Browse Our Table & Floor Lamps at Lights4Living

Choosing the right lamp for your home is about more than just illumination; it's a reflection of your personal style, setting the right ambiance, and complementing your cherished decor. Whether you seek a functional piece or a statement-maker, it's crucial to consider its type, size, shade, and the kind of ambiance you want to create. 

With over 35 years in the lighting business, we are proud to say that we've built a legacy based on offering branded home lighting products that don't break the bank. Our journey has always been about more than just selling lights. We prioritise our customers, delivering impeccable service that we believe sets us apart in this modern shopping era. Our enduring relationships with suppliers mean you get fantastic value for your money, alongside a personal touch that's becoming increasingly rare.

So, as you mull over the best lighting decisions for your space, explore our high quality interior lamps at

4 months ago
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