Monday, October 1, 2012
How to Choose the Correct Table Lamp Size
First of all, technically speaking, the lamp is the bulb itself. The base and socket thing is called a fixture, upon which rests a shade.
Sit on a chair beside the table and measure the distance from the table surface to your eye level. Purchase a fixture whose measurement from the table surface to the bottom of the shade does not exceed the table to eye measurement. If the fixture is for a bedside table, the length should still be to sitting eye level from the bedside table surface.
The shade length should not exceed 65 to 80 percent of the base length. For example, if the base length is 16 inches, the shade should measure 10 to 14 inches long. This will result in a fixture about 24 inches tall. Another way to calculate this is that the shade is about 1/3 of the total length or height of the total fixture.
The shade diameter should not be be 2 inches or more less than the base length. For example, on the fixture with a 16 inch base, the diameter (or width) of the shade should not be more than 14 inches. Shades are listed as length, from top to bottom and width, as the diameter or widest part of the shade.
The shade material determines the amount of wattage for the fixture. If you need a 100 watt bulb you must buy a shade that will accommodate that or risk fires or damage to the shade.
If you have a tiny table and you need reading light for that table, these guidelines still apply but you will have a more difficult time finding a small-scale fixture that is tall enough with a shade large enough to accommodate a bulb ( lamp??) large enough for reading. A floor fixture may be more appropriate.
The shape of the shade should be in the same general shape as the base. This is a guideline, not a rule. You can put any shade you want on you fixture, but please make it long enough to cover the bulb and socket.
Tip: Place your elbow on the table, extend your forearm and fingers perpendicular to the table surface. Measure from the table surface to the tip of your longest finger and use this measurement as a guide to eye level when impromptu shopping.
There you go. If in doubt; go to a professional lighting store and ask questions. They want you to be happy and are generally willing to share a bit of knowledge.
And, here's to 4 years of Design Dilemmas. 105 of them. Thank you to all of you for your continued support and comments. You make my day when you tell me you have read the column and share what you think about it.