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The Space-changing Power of a Good Lamp

How the Versatile Stand-by May Save the Day

April 03, 2020

The Space-changing Power of a Good Lamp

How the Versatile Stand-by May Save the Day

April 03, 2020

While lighting is often thought of in permanent terms (the very word "fixture" implies something, well, fixed), one lighting object may transform a space like any other but without the sense of commitment: the humble lamp.

The beauty of a portable light fixture is exactly that—it's portable! It may be unplugged and plugged in somewhere else as needed, adapting to you and your spaces’ needs, and helping you adapt with it. While lamps often get placed on a side table, desk, or credenza, and left there until the remodeling bug strikes and an entire space gets a refresh, they needn't be. If you find yourself in a situation where you're trying to create a fruitful work environment out of a space that wasn’t made for productivity, a versatile lamp can make all the difference.

Bowery L3724-AOB | Design: Hendley & Co. | Photo: Rikki Snyder | Kingston Design Connection Showhouse 2019

A single plug into the wall. A pull of the chain. A thumbed click of the dial. That's all it takes, and you have instant aura. A vast room becomes a cozy nook, a dark corner becomes an inviting place to work. The next thing you know, you've got a cozy vibe you'll want to hang out in while you finish up those emails.

A floor lamp in the corner by a standing desk pulls double duty. In off-hours, it's an accent light that adds to the relaxed, elegant vibe of the space. It makes the room feel more expansive by banishing the gloom of a dark corner. When it's time to work, on the other hand, it puts out enough light for tasks at the desk and exudes an encouraging warmth.

Design: Kresswell Interiors | Lamp: Zena by Mitzi

Designer: Sam Cram Design | Lamp: Zen by Troy
These two work-from-home spaces, one a full-on office and one an inviting desk in a bay, give some indication of the diversity that exists. They both have the effect of grounding a space.

When it comes to table lamps, the vibe you want will dictate the fixture you choose. Traditional table lamps often have a sculptural elegance about them, with shape, material, and color adding to the room's decorative conversation. Meanwhile, fabric shades, such as those of Belgian linen, diffuse and soften the light, keeping glare out of your eyes. If this is the feel you're going for, an incandescent or throwback LED bulb with a 2700K temp works best.

If you want to create an atmosphere of alertness, a cooler light temp of 3000K might serve better. Whatever you choose, keep in mind the importance of dimmability, so you can tailor light output and mood to the needs of your situation.

Curves No. 1 by Mark D. Sikes for Hudson Valley Lighting  | Rattan adds a relaxing vibe as well as makes the lamp that much more grippable as you move it into new spaces.
Swivels and knobs add to its adaptability, allowing you to raise and lower the height as needed and position the shade depending on the situation. | Design: Clary Bosbyshell 

But, of course, lamps have many more uses than working at home. At some point, it's time to step away from the desk and head to the easy chair, sofa, or bed. 

The bedside lamp is a classic for a reason. A dimmable lamp with the ease of turning on and off within arm's reach never gets old.

Shape, size, color, material, shade: the bedside lamp expresses personality and is a key part of the bedroom's design.

Whether retreating into a bedtime ritual to recharge for the next day or working from your bed (and hey, Edith Wharton wrote all her novels in bed and Truman Capote wrote Breakfast at Tiffany's lying down, so there's no shame in it), a table lamp nearby is sure to help set the mood conducive to your activity. 

Just be sure to keep the shade within your sight line, so that the bulb's glare is not in your eyes.


Homeowner: Angela Rose | Zen by Troy

Design: David Luong of Dabito | Ashland lamp by Hudson Valley Lighting