Lamp Light 101

As designers sometimes we forget that what comes second nature to us isn’t known by all.  For example, lighting a room with lamps where proportion and height does matter.  Yes, recessed lights come in handy and there exists some very stylish ones, but in my opinion are overused because they’re easy, lamp light requires planning and foresight as to where floor plugs and wall plugs may be needed as well as switches controlling those plugs.  

Nothing exceeds the warmth and beauty of lamp light.  There is no cozier welcome home than walking through the door to a small lamp lit on a hall table.  I keep mine on timers.

I am not an exceptional drawer, so be kind!  Here are a few sketches to help illustrate the best placement for lamp light:

Living Rooms:

When seated in a chair or sofa the bottom of the lamp shade should be 40” – 42” from the floor.  Likewise is true for floor lamps 42” above the floor.  If the lamp shade is higher you’ll suffer from the glare of the bulb.  If it’s too low, it’s not beneficial for reading.  Here’s an adjustment that you make if the lamp shade is higher than 42” above the floor, move it about 10” behind your shoulder near the rear corner of the chair.

Lamp Picture sitting in Chair

Lamp Picture Floor Lamp 



If you like to read in bed, the bottom of the lampshade on the bedside table should be about 20” from the top of your mattress or at  shoulder height.  

Lamp Picture Sitting in Bed


When you’re sitting at your desk, the bottom of the lamp shade should be…guess!!!  At eye level.  A typical desk height is 30” so the bottom of the lamp shade would be 14” – 20” above the table top depending on the person’s torso height. 

Lamp Picture Desk

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  1. An enlightening lesson. Thanks for sharing.
    Warm regards and a happy new year.

  2. Thanks for this very good info! Love your blog :)



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