Find the right size lamp for your bedside table


There’s nothing better than switching off the main lights and getting comfortable in bed next to the warm glow of a bedside lamp. Having a light next to your bed is a wonderful way to help you to wind down at night, as well as providing a gradual change from darkness to daylight in the morning. For this reason, the correct lighting is so important: it needs to be dim enough to make the room look inviting, but bright enough to wake you up efficiently.

Selecting the right size lamp is key, you need a table lamp that’s a good fit for your space, which will complement your bedroom decor and provide enough light. We answer some key questions and consult with lighting specialist, Sally Storey, Creative Director at John Cullen, to help you find the perfect size bedside lamp for your scheme.

What size should a bedside lamp be?

To make your lamp the focus of your bedside table, opt for one with a large base that takes up most of the table top.

“The size of the lamp really depends on the size of the room. The larger the room, the larger the lamp you can select.” – Sally Storey

Generally, your bedside table should be one-third of the width of your mattress and your lamp should be one-third of the width of your bedside table.

What height should a bedside lamp be?

Choosing the right bedside lamp height is especially important if you read in bed, as you don’t want the light to shine directly in your eyes. If your bedside table is the same height as the top of your mattress, then the ideal bedside lamp height is 60-69 cm (24-27″).

“The key is the level of the shade. This needs to sit at shoulder height when you are in bed so that the light spills out at eye-level when reading.” – Sally Storey

How many bedside lamps do you need?

“One either side of the bed, one on a dressing table and maybe a standard reading light by a chair. This would depend on the size of the bedroom.” – Sally Storey

If space permits, buying lamps in pairs is optimal as it brings a sense of symmetry to a room, even when they aren’t opposite each other. Two lamps create a feeling of luxury and opulence. For smaller bedrooms, with only one bedside table, a single lamp can still bring a stylish edge, especially if you choose one with an exciting design. The design could be an interesting pattern, an unusual shape or even built with unique materials. For a more in-depth look at choosing a shade, take a look at our dos and don’ts for lampshades.

“Make sure you can control your lights by both your bedside and the door. You don’t want to have to get out of bed to switch your lights off.” – Sally Storey

What are the best styles of bedside lamps?

“I would always choose a lamp with a soft shade of silk or cotton as this creates a softer more ambient light and feel in the room.” – Sally Storey

Bronze lamps will contrast beautifully against a black wooden table, and a narrow metal table lamp will never overwhelm a glass side table. Play around with different pairings of lamps and side tables until you find the perfect combination. Choosing a multi-coloured table lamp with an unusual design will be sure to draw the eye, just make sure it’s for the right reasons.

Don’t forget to mirror the shape of the lamp with the lampshade. Bottle and urn-shaped lamps tend to work well with tapered shades, whereas square lamps look better with straight-sided shades. Column lamps go well with both. For tips on how to measure your lampside, have a look at this handy guide.

“Depending on the interior, I tend to choose more classic lamps in the country but in London, I feel you can be a bit trendier in your choice.” – Sally Storey


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