Lighting | Lamps & Lamp Shades

6 Things to Keep In Mind When Choosing a Stiffel Lamp

Do you think that a Stiffel lamp could brighten up your interiors? You're absolutely right!

With a wide selection of vintage pieces and more modern elements, Stiffel lamps can work in lots of settings.

We know: it's tempting to just pick the first one that steals your heart. However, because they're both decorative and functional pieces, we recommend taking some time to figure out exactly what you need.

Be bright! Start here.

Are you going to opt for a Stiffel or Stiffel-inspired lamp?

Let's clear up the most common misconception around this name: Stiffel isn't a style of lamps nor a trend. It's the name of the company that produces them, as well as that of its founder!

Created in Chicago in 1932, the Stiffel company became famous for adding a decorative spin to lamps that, at the time, were mostly seen as merely functional items.

  • If you want the real thing and are excited to make a strong decorative statement, then you should definitely look for an original Stiffel lamp;
  • However, if you just like their style or have a more limited budget, you can always opt for a Stiffel-inspired design.
Metallic Buffet Lamp
Gray Table Lamp
Cast Metal Floor Lamp
Empire Table Lamp
Brown Table Lamp
Gun Metal Floor Lamp

Learn how to recognize an original Stiffel lamp

Have you decided that you want the real thing and the real thing only? Then don't let anyone scam you!

Stiffel lamps are currently sold through third-party retailers but you should check that their online description actually mentions the name of the original company.

How can you be extra sure? As soon as you receive it, follow these steps:

  • Check the shade: original Stiffel lamps usually feature a tiny foil decal with their company name on its inside;
  • Can't find it there? It might be on the light socket, instead;
  • Examine its base, too: you should find another decal on its bottom or, if yours features a felt cover, its inside, which can be checked by unscrewing it from the light fixture;
  • Look at the light switch. Some more contemporary designs have dropped it but, originally, most Stiffel lamps relied on a particular mechanism that, at the time, was actually patented. Instead of pressing a button, you just pull down the top part of the stem to turn it on and off;
  • The base must be made of metal (not plasticky alternatives!) and, if it's Stiffel, the chances are that it'll be fairly heavy.

Decide where you're going to place it and how you'll use it

One of the most common mistakes made when buying a Stiffel lamp (or any type of table lamp, to be honest)? Picking one just because we like the look of it but without having the slightest clue as to where we're going to place it and what we need it for:

  • Have a wander around your house and see if there's a specific table or corner that lacks something or looks a bit dark;
  • Is your Stiffel lamp going to be a mainly decorative piece to create a dim atmosphere with pools of light or will you need its brightness to perform a specific task?
  • If you're thinking of creating a work area or a reading nook, then prioritize white and ivory shades that allow its light to filter through. If, on the contrary, you prefer a dimmer result, stick to black or more opaque shades.
Distressed White Table Lamp

Measure the right size

Now that you know exactly where you're going to place your new Stiffel lamp, measure that space (its height too!) to know how much room you've got to play with:

  • For a balanced result, we recommend opting for a shade whose diameter isn't any wider than 2 inches less than the length of the base;
  • If you're going to place it on a table next to a chair or a couch, sit down and measure the distance from your eye level to its surface. Then look for a Stiffel lamp whose height doesn't exceed it (measuring it from the bottom of the base to that of its shade).

Consider your room's palette

To make sure that your new Stiffel lamp doesn't look out of place, you might want to have a look at your room and determine its three main colors as well as the most common fixtures and accent materials:

  • Can your lamp shade match one of them? Stiffel lamps usually feature neutral colors like white, cream, ivory and pale yellow, which work in most rooms. However, you can sometimes find some versatile black designs or even other hues;
  • Stiffel lamps are famous for their metal bases. You can usually find them in bronze, iron, brass, nickel, brass and copper. Have you already got some fixtures in one of these materials?
Floor Lamp
Green Table Lamp
Silver Leaf Table Lamp

Pick a model that's consistent with your décor style

Now that you know which size, color and finish you should look for, the cherry on top for the perfect interiors is a consistent décor:

  • If you have modern or retro-inspired interiors, it'll be easy peasy to find the right Stiffel lamp: its most traditional models from the 30s or following decades will fit harmoniously;

However, you can find the right Stiffel lamp for your interiors even if you've opted for a different or more contemporary approach:

  • Choose a streamlined drum-shaped design for a contemporary room;
  • Darker, rectangular or drum shades with a copper, bronze or iron base for industrial styles;
  • Sleek lines and bare designs for a minimalist or - with a focus on natural colors like white, cream or yellow - Scandinavian settings. Why not scout for one of those rare wooden models, too?
  • Ornate white lamps with the most decorative bases for Shabby chic and French country interiors;
  • The quirkiest designs with an exotic or peculiar twist for a bohemian feel.

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