How do you choose the right lamps for your space?
Step 1: Identify where you need added lighting for functional reasons. Different rooms benefit from different types of lighting. Depending on how the space is used and how much natural light there is, the room may call for overall light, task light, and ambient light. When you turn on an overhead light, the whole room typically lights up yet you may not be able to do close up tasks well such as reading. Focused lighting can come from pot lights, track lighting and lamps to illuminate specific tasks. For a space to unwind in or entertain in you may prefer background lighting such as dimmed overhead lights, sconces and lamps which avoid direct light such as uplights or soft lights off in the corner. Some lights perform more than one function, like undercounter lighting which we use for food preparation at full strength, and beautiful soft lighting in the evening when dimmed. Often your permanent light fixtures will not fill all your lighting needs. Lamps can be the perfect balance to achieve the illumination you desire which your overhead and wall fixtures do not accomplish.
Step 2: Form follows function. Once you know your lighting needs, assess where added lamps will enhance your room’s decor. Lamps are an important element of accessorizing. They contibute to varying heights in a room which are aesthetically pleasing, and bring visual balance, color and style to a room. Choose the height to create gentle step ladder variances in height. For example, on either side of a bed with headboard, a lamp which sits halfway between the height of the head board and the height of the bedside table will be visually pleasing. The effect is to frame the bed without overpowering it. Choose the material of the base as well as color and texture of the lampshade to coordinate with other elements in the room so that the lamps feel like they belong.
Is there a magic number of lamps for specific rooms? In the design world there is a rule of thumb to place three lamps in a living room, and to balance a two person bed with one on each side. More important than following these guidelines is to assess your needs and choose accordingly based on function and form. And have fun with it!