Choosing the suitable table lamp is essential – if you pick the wrong lamp, you could suffer glare in your eyes, or the room may not get a nice, even spread of light.
Sometimes you may not even want a table lamp – another type of lamp suits the space best. You’ll only know when you know how to measure a table lamp and the typical height you’re aiming for.
Table lamps are measured from the base to the lamp stem below the bulb. You don’t include the shade measurement. The combined height of the lamp and table should be between 58 and 64 inches to avoid glare at eye level and to provide equal light in the space.
In this guide, I’m going to explain:
- The recommended size for table lamps
- How to measure table lamps
- The ideal proportion between base and shade
- The best table lamp size for an end table
What Table Lamp Size Is Recommended?
There isn’t a single recommended size for a table lamp because it depends on where it will live. As a guideline, all lamps in your home – table lamps and floor lamps – should sit between 58″ and 64″ from the floor.
Everyone’s home is different, and you’ll have different furniture, so having a standard table lamp size wouldn’t really work.
But what does work is understanding the average eye level in a home and how a table lamp should be measured to work with that.
That’s because this is the average eye level when sitting on a sofa or at a dining room table or sitting in bed reading a book before you sleep.
You don’t want the lamp to be any higher than that because if it is, you’ll be more exposed to the direct light source under the shade, and it’ll be uncomfortable.
It also means that you might not get the right amount of light for your task, whether eating at a table or reading your book.
Nor do you want the lamp to be too low for the same reasons – you might see the bright light out the top of the shade and hurt your eyes with glare.
A lamp that’s too low will also do a poor job of illuminating the space – leaving obvious dark areas higher in the room, making it less inviting.
So always keep your table lamps within that 58″ to 64″ range. And to do that, you’ll need to measure the table on which they’ll be sitting.
Table Lamp Sizes Chart
Table lamps come in all different shapes and sizes, but as a guideline, you will typically have three main types of lamps – mini table lamps, table lamps, and buffet lamps.
Here’s a look at the average sizes and the rooms they’re best suited for:
|Lamp Style||Typical Height||Best For|
|Mini Table Lamp||15 to 24 inches||Bedroom side tables, living room shelving units|
|Table Lamp||25 to 31 inches||Living room end tables, some taller dining room side tables|
|Buffet Lamp||32 to 36 inches||Dining room side tables/buffet tables|
It’s a good idea to learn about the differences between table lamps and buffet lamps before you buy your next lamp.
Does Lamp Height Include Shade?
When discussing the height of a table lamp or buffet lamp, we do not include the height of the shade. That’s important because you could pick a too-small lamp if you measure wrong.
The height of a lamp is measured from the bottom of the base to the top of the stem, just below the bulb. Don’t include the bulb height in the measurement either because bulbs can also be different sizes.
That’s the standard accepted rule for measuring lamps, and when you buy a lamp with an advertised height, that is how it will be measured.
Base vs. Shade: Table Lamp Height Proportions
There are guidelines for how tall a lampshade should be, but they vary depending on the style of the lamp. So while you should bear this in mind when you choose your lampshade, don’t think of it as a hard and fast rule.
The style of shade matters too.
As a typical guide, when you’ve installed the shade, it should be around a third of the total height of the lamp, including the shade.
This gets confusing because shades have different styles, and some will hang lower while others may sit higher on the base. It’s not as simple as picking a shade that is half the height of the base.
Let’s use an example. Say you have a table lamp measuring 26 inches, and you choose a shade that is 13 inches.
But when you install the shade, it sits with the bulb halfway up the shade. So 6.5 inches of the shade is actually shading the lamp stem.
This means the total height of the lamp, including the shade, is only 32.5 inches, and the shade is 13 inches. The space below the shade is just 19.5 inches, so it isn’t a perfect 2-to-1 ratio of lamp base to shade.
So you need to look at the style of the shade and how much of it will overhang the base before deciding on the size.
However, this is even more important – a few inches either way will be fine. You don’t need to get a shade that is strictly a third of the height of the overall lamp.
Indeed, many mini table lamps will have a shade around the same size as the exposed lamp base once the shade is installed.
In summary – while there are guidelines that a lamp shade should ideally be around a third of the total height of the lamp plus shade, make sure it isn’t more than half the height of the lamp, and it should look fine.
What Size Table Lamp For The End Table?
The right size of a table lamp for an end table depends on the height of the table. Typically an end table is around 26 to 30 inches tall, so a good size for a table lamp would be approximately 28 to 32 inches.
Adjust this slightly if you have a low sofa. If you do, and your end table is a little shorter, then break the 58-64″ range rule, and choose one that’s lower.
But if you do that, ensure you don’t have taller floor lamps. You should have your lighting at the same level around the room.
Now you know how to measure a table lamp – it’s always from the base to the top of the stem, just below the bulb. And this will help you find the correct lamp size for your home.
And while these guidelines exist to help you get the right lamp size, if it doesn’t feel right, then change your lamp.
Please don’t feel you must stick to a lamp size that feels too tall because you’re told it’s right. These guidelines only exist to help you stay comfortable, but if the size is wrong for your home, then ignore them.
Have you ever had problems with the height of your lamps and choosing the best fit for your home?