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Our Buying Guides
We don’t need to explain to you what table lamps are - the clue, of course, is in the title.

But things can get tricky when it comes to deciding where to place them around your house, what styles and materials suit what sort of interior, and how many you need.

We’ll answer all those questions and more in this guide, and give you plenty more illuminating tips along the way.

Find your perfect table lamp

From functional desk lamps to lamps that are like works of modern art, there’s never been a better time to hunt out the perfect table lamp. Our visual guide below gives a quick idea of the different types:



Covering the basics +

There are so many amazing table lamps out there and it can be tempting to just pick a table lamp based on the design, then try and work it into your home afterwards.

A better way is to think about what you need it for. Firstly, what room it’s going in will determine the style (though, as we’ll find out a bit later, it’s not as rigid as you’d think. Is the room industrial, elegant, modern or for kids?

After that, think about what part of your room do you need to light up. Table lamps work better as ambient light, rather than a room’s primary light source - you’ll want them to complement your existing overhead or floor lights. Do you want something subdued? Choose a table lamp with a covered or glass shade (coloured glass table lamps can add a moody touch).

Need something brighter for a reading corner or workspace? Pick one with an exposed bulb. If you want to light your shelves or just a small, dark corner, opt for a smaller table lamp. You might want a strong light to shine on a particular part of a room like a painting or sculpture.

Once you’ve worked these things out, it’s time to think about the style.

A feel for fabrics +

  • Metal

    Metal is one of the most hardwearing materials for table lamps, and can give any lamp a bit of an industrial feel. Unlike wood, it can be made into more complicated shapes, so look out for stylish geometric lamps or angled desk lamps that you can move around as you work.

  • Wood

    You might think wooden lamps look old-fashioned, but they’re actually super-modern in feel, taking inspiration from mid-century styles. Look out for wooden and metal lamps, which can create a pleasing contrast.

  • Plastic

    Lots of more modern table lamps feature plastic elements, harnessing the strength, durability, shapes and bright colours that come from plastic. It’s mostly used in combination with wood or metal.

Buying your bulbs +

The type of bulb you choose can make all the difference to whether your lamp looks good or not.

If you’ve bought a table lamp with an exposed bulb feature or one in glass, it’s important to choose a bulb without too much glare.

Here’s where Edison bulbs come in - they’re the vintage-style light bulbs with the visible filaments, and they come in range of decorative shapes and sizes that’ll enhance even the simplest table lamp base.

SHOP EDISON BULBS >

Which table lamp for which room? +

The type of bulb you choose can make all the difference to whether your lamp looks good or not.

If you’ve bought a table lamp with an exposed bulb feature or one in glass, it’s important to choose a bulb without too much glare.

Here’s where Edison bulbs come in - they’re the vintage-style light bulbs with the visible filaments, and they come in range of decorative shapes and sizes that’ll enhance even the simplest table lamp base.

In workspaces

Adjustable desk lamps are ideal for workspaces, as they provide directional, ‘task’ lighting, being able to be moved around and angled to give you the best light for the job.

Though if your work’s less technical - or you just want a simple glow in the background - any sort of table lamp can work in an office. Sometimes, a desk can look much homelier with a simple table lamp rather than a large desk lamp.

SHOP WIRE DESK LAMP >

In the living room

Table lamps are a natural partner for side tables, giving a touch of light at the sides of your room and creating a focal point.

Smaller table lamps can also slide onto shelves or a bookcase, putting the attention on your displays and giving a similar feel to overhead lighting, but less fiddly and easier to change if you need to.

SHOP CULT LIVING HEX TABLE LAMP >

In bedrooms

Table lamps work perfectly as bedside lighting - even better if you buy two and match them.

Almost any type of table lamp can work as a bedside lamp - think outside the bulb and try angled desk lamps or our Vegas letter lights. Like many aspects of interiors, replacing the obvious choice for a less-obvious one can look much better.

SHOP VEGAS LETTER LIGHTS >

In kitchens

Smaller table lamps can work well on kitchen countertops if you don’t have over-the-counter lighting. They’ll also work exactly the same on a shelf as they would in your living room.

Another cool idea we’ve seen on Pinterest and across the web is using adjustable desk lamps as overhead lighting.

SHOP ROCCO DESK LAMP >

...and the finishing touches +

It pays to think of table lamps not as just an accessory you can add to lighten up a space, but as a focal point in their own right.

We love the idea of creating a reading nook out a disused corner by adding a table lamp, small side table and a comfy armchair - the idea could work anywhere from a living room to a hallway.

Table lamps look good mismatched, and can work in a cluster, provided the designs are fairly clean and simple and you’re using a variety of different heights, with one central element such as a shape or colour to pull the ensemble together.

And sculptural or statement table lamps can be a wonderful main focus or side piece when you’re creating a vignette. A vignette is a small arrangements of well-chosen items, usually either atop a console table, cabinet side table - accent the lamp with vases, trinkets, photo frames or books.