Lamp Buying Guide

How do you pick the right lamp?

Decorating your house or apartment is exciting, but it can be a challenge too. There are so many decisions to make: design style, color and price point for everything from furniture, rugs and accents to lighting. Choosing a lamp is an important step in creating a beautiful and livable home. But, which lamps should you buy? There are so many options. This guide was created to help you navigate some of the lamp choices and give insight into things important factors to think about.

Considering the form and function of your lamp

One way to streamline the number of choices is to determine the function and form of your lamp. What kind of lighting do you need? Will it sit on the floor or a table, or will it be mounted on the wall? Do you intend to use it only inside or will you need to consider weather-resistant outdoor lamps as well. Once you have answers to these questions, picking the correct lamp will be easier.

Five basic types of lighting

  1. Natural lighting – This is the light that occurs naturally in a space during daylight hours. It can have a positive mental and emotional effect by improving attitude and reducing stress. It also reveals the truest colors.
  2. Ambient lighting – This form of lighting is often referred to as “general lighting” and is intended to provide uniform overall illumination in a room. Typically, it’s what we think of when we flip on a light switch as we enter a space. Ambient lights are often ceiling fixtures or sconces, but they can be portable lamps or wall lamps as well.
  3. Task lighting – This kind of lighting can be thought of as illumination specific to performing a particular activity. For example, reading in a living room, doing paperwork in a home office or preparing food over a kitchen counter are all activities that benefit from additional brightness via task lighting.
  4. Accent lighting (a.k.a. focal lighting) – This sort of light creates an atmosphere or is used to draw your attention to a particular object or aspect of your home’s architecture or landscape. Maybe you have a particular piece of sculpture or artwork that you want to highlight. Perhaps it’s an antique china cabinet or Zen garden bonsai tree. Some accent lighting precisely focuses the light on whatever you want to visually celebrate indoors or outdoors. Other accents lights set the mood and tone with warm or cool colors, depending on the ambiance you want to create.
  5. Decorative lighting – This lighting is for purely aesthetic purposes. Think of it as jewelry for the architecture – ornamental lighting to catch the eye and reflect personal style or affluence. These lights typically do not emit light well, but simply add to the overall illumination in a minor way.


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