How to Choose Lamps: 5 Tips For Lamp Decor & Design

Lamp decor may not be the first thing on your mind when you want to design a space. But let me assure you that interior lamp design is one of the key elements you want to consider when decorating your home. To help you on your way, I am sharing five tips on how to choose lamps that are a great fit for any room.

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Tall lamps

1. Size and placement

First, let’s talk about the size and placement of your lamps. Typically when I'm designing a dining space, I like to use buffet lamps on sideboards. They're going to be taller and sometimes slimmer than other options.

If it's a really big sideboard, you can get away with a bigger base buffet lamp. But since this is a smaller sideboard, the lamps I chose on here have a smaller base on them.

Small lamp on a console table

Another point about tip number one and your size and placement of decorative lamps is that sometimes people choose lamps that are too small or too big for where they put them. In this case, although the lamp is pretty and cute, it's a little too small for this area, so let me replace it with one I think works a little bit better.

Placing a larger lamp

It is much better now. It's a bigger lamp and this is a narrow console, so the lamp the base is also narrow. It kind of mimics the size of the console. Typically when you have a small piece that you're going to put up against the wall, you can't do a round shape because it's going to push the lamp away from the wall.

Large lamp on a console table

Now, I get a lot of questions about whether a lamp is too big and we have artwork on the wall, a mirror, or a clock, is that a no-no to have it sitting in front of that? Absolutely not!

2. Style

Tip number two is all about style. This is probably my favorite tip because I love lamps. After all, they can be their own artwork.

Cast iron lamp

Let me show you a few things here. This lamp is made of cast iron, and I can't pick it up with one hand, which I love. But let me show you something beautiful. Black cast iron sitting on top of this distressed wood table creates a gorgeous contrast.

Lamp made from an old fire extinguisher

Another lamp I picked up that I like because I think it's its own artwork is an old fire extinguisher that a gentleman made a lamp out of. It is its own character. Its own personality, if you will. I love it.

Symmetrical lamps in the bedroom

Now, I'm not usually picky about lamps being symmetrical, except in the bedroom. You'll notice on each side of this bed we have the same lamps. That's where I have to keep my lamps the same. I don't know why that kind of drives me a little crazy.

How to pick a lampshade

3. Lampshades

Tip number three is all about lampshades. There are a lot of lampshades in linen and beige, but some are coming out now with a little bit of color.

Blue-green lampshade with a mercury glass lamp base

I want to show you this lamp over here. I would call it a blue-green. Look how beautiful it looks with a mercury glass base. Again, we have a beautiful contrast of the lamp sitting on a white table.

Mesh wire lampshade

This is a mesh wire shade. It's so unique. The distressed metal and everything else about it is beautiful. It's its own statement piece.

Edison light bulbs

4. Light bulbs

Tip number four is all about light bulbs. I love to have ambient lighting in every room. In the dining room, you typically only have the chandelier, so I'm going to put buffet lamps in there now with 40-watt bulbs because 60 and 100 are going to be too bright and too glaring.

How to choose light bulbs

Now if you need a lamp in a living room or a bedroom for reading, you're going to need 60 watts or higher, but if it's for ambiance go with 40 watts.

Edison light bulbs

Also, Edison light bulbs are very popular now. You can even find them in home improvement stores. This lamp wouldn't be half as cool if it wasn't for these tall Edison lamp bulbs inside it.

Lamp makeover

5. Lamp makeover

Tip number five is about completing a lamp makeover. If you've already got a lamp that's kind of cool, you like the base of it, and you like the style, simply give it a lamp makeover.

Old lamp

This is one of the very first nice lamps I ever bought a few years after I was married. Fast forward about 10 or 15 years and it was a little dated. While it was pretty at the time I bought it, the dark bronze and the dark shade became dated over time, so I decided I was going to buy a new lamp. But the more I think about it, I realize it is a great lamp so I'm going to give it a makeover and save some money instead.

Lampbase painted with chalk paint

I replaced the shade with this lighter linen shade and then I painted the base of this lamp. Now, I painted it with chalk paint, and did you know chalk paint comes in a spray can? It made this job so much easier. You want to make sure to use painter's tape and wrap up the socket well.

Lamp with distressed edges

After it dried, I realized there was a beautiful bronze color under it, so I sanded the edges and all around the lamp to give it a distressed look. Then, I sprayed on a coat of clear matte acrylic.

There was another lamp that I did and it was brass. I know brass is kind of coming back in style, but this one was a loud brass, and I used Rust-Oleum oil-rubbed bronze to spray paint the base and then I replaced that lamp shade as well.

Lamp design & decor

Lamp decor should always be a part of your overall interior design plan. What have you learned about choosing the right decorative lamps today? Share your new knowledge down below.

Join the conversation
  • Linda Shepard Linda Shepard on Jan 05, 2024
    I have this same exact lamp and have been considering a lamp makeover for it for awhile. What was the color of the spray chalk paint you used for your makeover?
    • Susan Susan on Jan 19, 2024
      Go back to the narrative. Click on the underlined words chalk paint and it will take you to the answer.