Lighting | Floor Lamps

How to Choose a Floor Lamp

Floor lamps offer an amazing variety of styles, and they are versatile. In addition to providing light, they can add to the interior design of a home or add interest to an empty corner. Even better, they can be moved from room to room whenever needed.

Floor lamps provide three general layers of light: ambient, task and accent.

  • Ambient lighting provides overall illumination, commonly reflected or diffused, to a room. The general characteristic of this type of lighting is that it tends to project light sideways and upwards.
  • Task lighting is a focused “hot spot” of light that provides you with light to help with a particular task. It enables you enables you to read, do crafts, and the like, so it projects lighting downwards.
  • Accent lighting draws attention to a part of the room or a specific object.

What Do I Need to Know Before Shopping?

Know how tall a lamp you want.

An average floor lamp will be around 5 to 6 feet tall (1.5 to 1.8 meters). There are lamps 7 to 8 feet high (2 to 2.4 meters), but they are more difficult to find and should only be used with large rooms and high ceilings. Take the following into consideration:

  • Use the eye-level rule. The bottom of the floor lamp shade should be roughly at or slightly below the eye level of a sitting person to avoid the glare.
  • If you intend to place the lamp further away from the seating area, use a taller lamp.
  • The taller the floor lamp, the larger the area lit.
  • If you have a low ceiling, a very tall lamp will look like a misfit. If you have a high ceiling, a short lamp will look lost.
  • If you have low furniture, a very tall lamp will look terribly out of place. Likewise, oversize furniture overpowers a small or spindly floor lamp.
  • There are lamps with adjustable heights, which can solve the height problem and ensure that you can use the lamp in various locations.

Know how much space you have for the lamp.

  • Traditional and torchiere lamps easily fit into a minimum amount of space.
  • Arc lamps take up more space due to the horizontal extension.
  • A tripod lamp takes up more space. It should never look like it was wedged in, and it should never be in the way.

What Are the Different Styles of Floor Lamps?

  • Traditional Lamp

Also called a console floor lamp, the traditional lamp has a base, a pole, and a shade. It can be as basic as that, or it can be as elaborate as you want with the many variations of each element. Shades will vary to suit any décor, but most suitable are the cone-shaped empire shades that slope from the top to the bottom and cast light downward. The traditional lamp works with most decors, except modern or any minimalist styles. Provides ambient lighting.

Metal Brushed Nickel Empire Traditional Floor Lamp
  • Shelf Lamp

The shelf floor lamp is a traditional lamp with a shelf around the mid-section of the pole. When placed next to a chair, the shelf lamp will stand in for an end table that keeps your books, magazines, eyeglasses, or keys handy. Some shelves are outfitted with USB connectors so that you have a charging station for your electronics. Provides ambient lighting.

Nickel Finish Metal Floor Lamp With Usb & Wireless Charger
  • Arc Lamp

The arc floor lamp is quite trendy with its sweeping curved design. The pole of the arc rises up, arches, and bends back down. It works best in a contemporary setting but is provides a touch of glamour to any décor. Adjust the arc for task lighting as needed. Or spread it out for ambient lighting in a space with conversational seating or over a dining table.

Black With Burlap Shade Metal Stainless Steel Arched Floor Lamp
  • Reading Lamp

A reading floor lamp has a shade that tilts and a flexible arm so that, for example, the light is shining down over your shoulder. Some lamps adjust for height; some allow you to adjust the brightness setting. The light will be focused right where you want it for reading, writing, or needlework or illuminating a game table. Provides task lighting.

Zadar Brass Metal Steel Reading Floor Lamp
  • Pharmacy Lamp

A pharmacy floor lamp is a shorter version of a reading lamp. The pole is about four-to-five feet high, then becomes an arm or two that will pivot and swing out, depending on where you want the light directed, then fold out of the way when not in use. Pharmacy lamps are not seen as often as they were at one time, but it makes a whimsical and retro touch next to a chair or desk. Provides task lighting.

Metal Iron Black Task Floor Lamp
  • Tripod Lamp

The tripod floor lamp adds both style and function to a mid-century décor. The three legs rise independently and intersect at, or slightly before, the lamp head, which looks best with a drum lampshade. Some lamps have legs that adjust for height; some have a lamp head that turns in the direction you want. Provides ambient lighting.

Matte Black Light Brown Wood Metal Stainless Steel Tripod Floor Lamp
  • Torchiere Lamp

The torchiere floor lamp resembles a torch in that the light is directed upward toward the ceiling. Typically, a bowl-shaped shade is part of the lamp. When the light reflects off the ceiling, particularly when placed in a corner of the room, ambient light softly illuminates the whole area. A torchiere lamp can be used as accent lighting when directed at one element, such as a fireplace, or an object of interest, such as a painting or sculpture.

Antique Brass Metal Glass Torchiere Floor Lamp
  • Chandelier Lamp

A chandelier floor lamp is very unusual and highly decorative. It has a base like a traditional lamp, but the pole ends with a chandelier: several arms reaching out, lights on the ends of them and any number of decorations, such as crystals or pearls, dangling from the arms. Provides ambient lighting.

Metal Crystal Glass Chandelier Floor Lamp
  • Octopus Lamp

The octopus floor lamp (aka spider lamp, multi-arm lamp) is fun and decorative. It has three or five arms which can be turned in any direction and used to create lovely effects with light and shadow. Each arm usually has a small, colorful shade covering a single low-wattage light bulb. Provides ambient lighting.

Brushed Steel Metal Octopus Floor Lamp
  • Tree Lamp

The tree floor lamp has three or more arms (or branches) and sockets (leaves) at different heights and positioned in different directions. Each socket operates independently so that you can light one, two or all of the bulbs. Provides ambient lighting, but only in its general location.

Antique Bronze Metal Stainless Steel Tree Floor Lamp

What Kind of Light Bulbs Do I Need For a Floor Lamp?

  • Incandescent

These are the bulbs that we have used forever. Inside the bulb is a wire filament that gets hot and glows. They come in a wide range of sizes and voltage ratings and are less expensive than other bulbs. But they are also less efficient and last only about 1,000 hours. They are being phased out to conserve energy.

  • Compact Florescent Bulbs (CFLs)

CFLs use a quarter of the energy that incandescent bulbs do, and they last 10 times longer. They can be used anywhere you would use an incandescent bulb. CFLs contain trace amounts of mercury and require careful handling. Recycle when they burn out.

  • LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes)

LEDs now look like incandescent bulbs, but they do not get too hot to touch. They are as efficient as CFLs, but last up to three times as long. They are more expensive but some areas offer utility rebates.

  • Halogen

Halogen bulbs provide a light most like natural daylight. Colors appear sharper, making them the best choice for task lighting. They use 10-20 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb and are more expensive. The main concern is to never touch the bulb with your bare hands. The least amount of oil from the hand can result in the bulb exploding when turned on.

Quick tips

Choosing a floor lamp sounds like a daunting task, doesn’t it? It does not have to be. Somewhere in there, you will find a lamp that suits your wallet as well as your visions.

  • Plan ahead with the size you want or the size your room can accommodate and what the primary purpose of the lamp is.
  • You should be able to eliminate quite a few types of lamps before you even leave the house by what you have seen on the Internet.
  • You might take some snapshots of the room—it may help you visualize how the lamp will look.
  • Have a price range that you will stick to. Floor lamps range from $20 to $1,000 or more.

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