How to Pick the Right Size Lamp

Choose the Perfect Size Lamp for Every Space

A lamp is a lamp, right? WRONG. Although a lamp may easily serve its main purpose of lighting up a room, choosing the wrong size can really skew your design. But how do you pick the right size lamp?

You wouldn’t think picking out a lamp would be difficult, would you? I certainly didn’t… until I tried to pick one out for my desk.

As I was perusing my options, I quickly realized I have no clue how to choose the right size lamp! Standing in Target, I found myself with lamp paralysis, second-guessing every lamp I laid eyes on. (Don’t worry, I don’t think it’s contagious.)

You see, all these years, I’ve just been winging it. Sometimes I’ve bought the right size, but other times I’ve been way off base. But since I just ran into this issue, I figured other folks have likely had this conundrum before too – and that’s okay! There’s more to it than you’d think.

That’s why in this post, we’re going to talk all about how to choose the correct size table lamp, so you can select the perfect size lamp on the first try (and not try out a bunch like I did).

I’ve been researching this topic a ton, and I’ve learned that there are two main questions to consider: “what size lampshade do you need?” and “how tall should your lamp be?”. Simply picking out a lamp that’s pretty won’t cut it.

To buy the right lamp for your space, answering these two questions can make or break your room design. And the answer to both of these questions is more mathematical than I expected.

How to Choose the Right Size Lamp

Lamp base and shade requirements can vary depending on the room and what types of tasks are performed there. Height, width, and style all play an important role in choosing the best lamp for your space. And to demonstrate how these elements come into play, I’m going to regale you all with my astonishing photo manipulation skillz once again. You’re welcome.


Height is one of the most involved factors in choosing the right lamp. Let me explain what I mean.

First of all, when considering the height of your lamp, you want to make sure that whatever surface your lamp is on, it isn’t so tall that it shines into your eyes. To prevent this, make sure the bottom of the lampshade is no higher than eye level. This should hide the glare from the light bulb and actually allow you to see. You’re trying to light the space – not blind yourself.

For example, in the image below, if you were to sit on the couch, the bottom of the lampshade should hit at or below eye level.

But you should also consider the ratio of the height of the shade to the lamp base. The shade should be approximately ⅓ the height of the entire lamp (including the bulb and/or harp). This means, if your lamp is 24 inches tall from base to bulb/harp, your shade should be around 8 inches tall.

I’m going to throw it out there up front – rarely will any base/shade combination have the perfect ratios, but as long as you’re within a couple of inches it’ll look fine. Take the below image for example. Although the shade is a little larger than 1/3 the size of the base, it’s close enough that it still looks okay.


The last element of picking the right lamp is definitely the most intuitive, least math-involved (yay!), and dare I say most important? Simply enough, you want your lamp to “go” with the style of the table it’s sitting on (say whaaat?).

For instance, if you have a big, chunky table, you can probably get away with a big, chunky lamp. But a super skinny lamp (even if it was tall) would look odd.

I would also think about the style of not only the table but the entire room. Your lamp is essentially a functional design element – have fun with it – but make sure it fits the space.

  • Summary

    I know I just threw a lot of information at you, so here are the main points:

    • The bottom of the lampshade should be no higher than eye level.

    • The lampshade should be approximately ⅓ the height of the entire lamp (including the bulb and/or harp).

    • Your lamp should be a maximum of 1.5 times the height of the table.

    • The shade should be twice as wide as the diameter of the base of the lamp.

    • The lampshade should be no wider than the table it sits on.

    • Your lamp should “go” with the style of the room.



For questions or more information, please email sales@lampsfactory or call +8613268568423


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