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Selecting a Lamp

Updated on January 10, 2011

In the selection of a lamp or lighting fixture, there should be an understanding of what an efficient lamp should be and of how to relate the shape and size of the shade to the base, so that the lamp is neither too tall for the base nor too squat for the shade.

Base and shade are always considered as a harmonized unit, not only in color, texture, and decoration, but in proportion as well; the line of the shade must have a carefully planned relation to that of the base also.

A fine lamp is not only functional, well proportioned, and of attractive materials, but it is well mounted. Any beautiful base can be ruined with a cheap mounting. If the length of the metal shaft between the base and the shade is too great, the shade will be too high for a good effect; and if the shade comes down over the base it will seem to hide it.


The finial of the table lamp can be highly decorative in itself. In the end it will be a matter of personal judgment and good taste in selecting a lamp, and consideration of proportion and scale in relation to the table, chairs, and other items comprising the group of which the lamp is a part, as well as relation of the style and period to the other furnishings in the room.

The lamp should clearly illuminate the area and furniture grouping for which it is required, without causing dark shadows and sharp contrasting light. Glare or excessive brightness should be eliminated either by diffusion or by the use of shades. Glare can also be eliminated and the light evenly distributed by simply raising the overall wattage of the lamps. In general, the amount of light necessary for adequate seeing is in proportion to the need for seeing detail. Thus, large unimportant expanses should have low luminosity, while important decorative details and places for reading should have high illumination.

Lighting should be made adequate to the requirements of both the room and the occasion decreased for relaxation and study, increased for social activities. If the room is used for different purposes, a lighting distribution suitable to each should be planned. This may tend to complicate the arrangements of the lights, but by control of the output of the lamp and by the ability to change the color of the bulbs the desired flexibility can be provided. Tinted bulbs can be employed to give a basic color to the room at night or to augment already established decorative schemes.

Pink and yellow tones are excellent, but blue and green bulbs must be used with care, as they may tend to neutralize other hues in the room.

Lighting is an important element in any decorating scheme, because it does more than anything else to make a room charming by night.

Not only do lamps provide the light, but they also establish the mood of a room. It is better to light a small room entirely by lamps, as the low light gives a pleasanter effect than fixtures.

Because mellowness is the chief quality desired in lighting a dining room, wax candles on the table combined with shaded wall fixtures constitute the ideal illumination. The candles, with their flames always above eye level, contribute a festive glow and enhance the mood of the room.


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    • Destrier profile image

      Destrier 7 years ago from Rural Australia

      My pleasure :)

    • profile image

      Fiddleman 7 years ago

      A really great hub, thanks for sharing these helpful ideas.