Table lamps come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and while there is no ‘wrong’ size of a table lamp, there are certain guidelines you can follow to make sure your lamps look well-proportioned with the rest of the furniture in a room, and that they function in the most useful way.
Here we explore the typical size of lamps, how to correctly choose a table lamp size, and how to select the right size shade for a table lamp base.
Standard Table Lamp Size
While there is no standard size of a table lamp, most lamps fall between 28 and 36 inches in height. This measurement is taken from the bottom of the lamp base to the top of the lamp shade. This size of the lamp is well suited for use on an end table by the side of a sofa because it means the light that the lamp emits will be at roughly eye level.
When choosing a lamp for a side table, your aim should be to ensure that the light is roughly at head height when you’re sitting on the sofa.
This means not just taking into account the size of the lamp but also the height of your side table and the height of the sofa. If you have a low-side table, you may need a taller lamp to balance out the proportions.
Table Lamp Size Vs. Table Size
A table lamp needs to work with the table it is positioned on. This means choosing a table lamp that has appropriate proportions for the size of the table. Designers recommend that the table lamp should have a maximum height of 1.5 times the height of the table.
For example, if your table height is 2 feet, then the maximum lamp height should be 3 feet. If the table height is 3 feet, the maximum lamp height should be 4.5 feet. The width of the lamp is also important. The lamp width should not exceed the table’s width at any point.
This means that it is not just the base that needs to fit comfortably on the table, but the lampshade diameter should not overhang the table surface at any point.
Following these guidelines will help to ensure that a table lamp does not make a table look too top-heavy and result in an overall more balanced feel in your room. These guidelines work well for choosing the side table and bedside table or nightstand sizes.
Table Lamps on Taller Surfaces
If you’re positioning a table lamp on a buffet or console table, then the height of the lamp should be between 4 and 5 feet. This means if your console table is 3.5 feet, then the maximum height of the lamp should be 1.5 feet.
This will ensure that the light from the lamp doesn’t compete with wall lights or ceiling lights when it is switched on, and it will sit roughly level with any standing lamps in the room.
Table Lamp Shade Size
Table lamp bases and shades can be purchased separately so you can mix and match and create a more custom style in your home. This also enables you to switch out lampshades when you change your color scheme without having to buy new lamp bases.
There is no definitive rule which says what size lampshade should be paired with a specific size of lamp base. However, there are guidelines you can follow to ensure the lamp doesn’t look unbalanced.
Measuring a Lamp Shade
Lamp shades are measured by their diameter. This measurement is taken by creating a line from one side of the lampshade to the other, crossing through the center of the lampshade. If a lampshade’s diameter is 12 inches, this will be sold as a ‘12 inch shade’.
The width, or diameter of a lamp shade, should be roughly equal to the height of the lamp base. This is a quick and easy way to ensure you are choosing a lampshade that is going to be appropriate for your base.
Simply measure the height of your lamp base, and choose a corresponding shade in the same measurement. For example, if the height of your lamp base is 18 inches, then you should choose a lampshade that has a diameter of 18 inches.
This does not need to be exact, and as long as they have a similar measurement, then the overall result will be in proportion. For an 18-inch tall lamp base, you could use a lampshade anywhere between 16 inches and 20 inches wide.
The width of the lampshade also needs to be well suited to the width measurement of the base. The shade should always be wider than the widest part of the base. Otherwise, it will look out of proportion.
The widest part of a lamp base is usually the very bottom of it, though in some cases, lamp bases will have a decorative shape that swells out in the middle or has features that stick out. The diameter measurement of the lampshade should be bigger than the widest part of the lamp base at any point.
The height of the lampshade should be taken into account when choosing a shade for a lamp base to achieve a well-balanced look. The height of the lampshade should represent around one-third of the overall height of the lamp, including the base.
You can work out the rough height that your lampshade needs to be by measuring the height of the lamp base and dividing it by two. For a lamp base that is 18 inches tall, the shade should have a height of around 9 inches.
This means that the lampshade will represent one-third of the height of the total lamp, and the base will represent two-thirds of the height of the total lamp. This measurement does not need to be exact to achieve a well-proportioned look, so you can go up to 2 inches in either direction for a good fit.