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Lamp Proportions

Overall

These are basic guidelines that apply to all lamps - but they are only guidelines, so feel to break them if you feel it suits your lamp better.

  • Total lamp height (to highest point) no more than 1.5x taller than the height of the surface it is sitting on. In my opinion, this is a very tall lamp, and most are shorter than this
  • If the lamp base height is from the table top to the bottom of the lampshade, lampshade diameter should be lamp base height ±5cm
  • Another guide for lampshade diameter is twice the maximum diameter of the lamp body
  • Lampshade height should be 65 - 90% of the lamp base height, i.e. about 1/3 of the total lamp height
  • Max diameter of lamp or lampshade less than the smaller of table width or depth, so the lamp doesn't extend past the table surface
  • Table lamps don't want to be taller than any floor lamps in the room
  • For a standard lightbulb, the bottom of the lampshade is typically 2.5cm below the top of the bulb holder
  • The larger the room, the larger the lamps need to be

Living Room

Floor Lamp

  • Typically 140 - 160cm high - some are up to 240cm tall, but these are harder to fit in many rooms. Lower ceilings require lower lamps
  • Taller lamps light a wider area
  • To avoid glare, the base of the lampshade must be at or below eye level (Standing or seated, depending on location)

Settee Side Table Lamp

Intended to give light for activities like reading

  • Typical height of top of side table 72cm
  • Guideline total lamp height 60 - 85cm
  • Bottom of the lampshade should be at about eye level when seated, to give good illumination without exposing eyes to too much glare directly from the bulb.

Bedroom

Aim is to give enough light for reading, without disturbing your partner on the other side of the bed

  • Typical bedside table top height 68cm - should be close to the height of the top of the mattress
  • Guidelines for total lamp height are table top height plus 5 - 8cm, or simply 60 - 70cm
  • Bottom of the lampshade should be about shoulder to chin height when sitting up in bed
  • Maximum diameter of the lamp/lampshade should be about 1/3 of the width of the bedside table
  • Lamp switch wants to be easily reached from the bed, e.g. on the cord close to the lamp base (if the cord is on the bed side of the table), or on the base lamp, and not too high, i.e. a maximum of 53 - 71cm above the table height

Office

Aim is to give a good light for reading, writing and computer use. Use taller lamps to illuminate a wider area, and lower lamps for more focussed lighting.

  • Typical office desk height 80cm

Lampshade Sizes

The following table is a guide to the diameter of the bottom of the lampshade for different lamp types:

Lampshade Width (cm)Lamp Type
7.5 - 15Chandeliers and very small wall sconces
15 - 20Thin, small based table lamps
20 - 25Very small bedroom lamps and small wall sconces
25 - 30Candlestick lamps and medium size wall lamps
33 - 36Small - medium floor and table lamps, and swing-arm lamps
38 - 41Most average size floor and table lamps
43 - 48Full size table and floor lamps
50 - 60Larger and wider body lamps

Sources

How to Choose the Correct Lamp Size - FurnitureRow
Lamp Shade Fitting - LampShadePro
Lighting - Designing Idea