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5 Lamps Everyone Should Have in Their Home

By 02/09/2020May 14th, 202366 Comments

I’m a big fan of lamps and I often find that most people don’t have enough lamps. This is an easy fix and I promise, will make a big impact in any room. Here are 5 lamps everyone should have in their home. 

I know on this subject, I am like a broken record, but lately, since we’re in the middle of winter, watching the rain (in the Westcoast) day after day, even with all the lamps in my house, I still feel the darkness.

So I thought this might be a helpful post if you’re feeling the dark, dreary, winter days too!

A lot of people want paint to do the heavy lifting, but here’s the thing, if I had to choose between filling my house with lamps (NOT recessed lighting) or putting up a fresh new coat of paint, I would choose lamps EVERY TIME.

Lamps WITH a shade is key. I’m not talking about recessed lighting or torch lights, or light fixtures where you’re looking at a naked bulb. These lights do little to create atmosphere.

And lamp shopping is difficult. How I know this, is because I’ve never met anyone who didn’t need more lamps in their home (unless she/he was a designer).

5 Lamps Everyone Should Have in their Home

So here’s the first one you should own.

1. Gourd lamp x 2

Here’s the hot tip about this table lamp style. It comes in many different colours, so all you have to do is look around your living room or bedroom and choose a colour you already have in your decorating.

Remember, throwing orange cushions into your all-grey living room is not enough. An accent colour should be repeated in small, medium and large gradations for the room to look truly pulled together.

And, if you buy two of them you’ll be able to flank your sofa or bed with them, or place them on a sofa table or sideboard like I did in my dining room below:

Maria’s Dining Room

Here’s white ones but they come in many colours. Just remember to insert ‘gourd lamp’ into the search bar!


Or if you don’t want to commit to an accent colour, it could be as simple as, you have a navy sofa and you repeat the navy in lamps!

Pottery Barn

pottery barn lamp

Bennett Recycled Glass Table Lamp

Here are a few of my favorite gourd lamps. All of these come in a variety of colours and shapes – there are single gourd, double gourd and triple gourd table lamps. And remember, I think these are best as a set – so get two!

Favorite Gourd Lamps

Shop My Favourite Gourd Lamps

one | two | three | four | five | six | seven | eight | nine

2. Two Uplights (placed on the floor behind your sofa)

The next light everyone needs is some uplights behind their sofa. I only turned on one lamp, the morning that I took the photos below.

Obviously, the room would have been brighter overall, if I had more lamps on, but I just wanted to show you what this side of the room looks like with only one light on in the corner and then the room with two uplights behind the sofa:

Uplights are really inexpensive and I love the warm glow they add to the room. I think it would look even better if the sofa were up against a wall instead of the window as shown here.

This is the lovely glow you see from the street along with our mini golden doodle Lucy of course.


3. A Mini Accent Lamp

The next lamp everyone needs is a short one that you can place underneath your cabinets or upper shelving in your kitchen.

I bought this lamp in a local home decor store but Thomas O’Brien by Visual Comfort has a very similar one.

Basically you want one that is less than 18″ which is the standard height between your countertop and cabinets.

Jonathan Adler

Mini Accent Lamp Round

Terri Round Accent Lamp

Or, you can set a mini accent lamp on a stack of books in your decor. The small size of this lamp makes it easy to add more lighting to even the tiniest of places.

Mini Accent Lamp Style Idea

4. Candlestick Lamp (skinny floor lamp)

Here’s what is so great about this style of lamp. It’s simple and clean, and doesn’t have so much personality that you have to spend a lot of time wondering if it will work with your decor.

Buy two of them and trust me, you will find a dark corner to place them in!

My family room corner after I completely restyled the bookshelves this winter.

If you buy it from Restoration Hardware (like I did) order the white shade. NOTE: the sand linen colour looks pink beige to me. This white shade is also far from a stark white shade (which always looks cheap).

Here’s a much better-priced lamp that has the same look:


Here is another option for a tall, skinny floor lamp.

tall skinny floor lamp

Similar | Similar | Similar

If anyone has any sources for other floor lamps this skinny, post them in the comments below. The above two are the only ones I could find.

5. Swing Arm Lamp

Interior Design Jeffrey Bilhuber | Photography by Aaron Leitz

I don’t have these lights installed in my house (both my sofas are positioned in front of windows). These lamps are perfect for behind sectionals sitting up against a wall, because then you end up with a dark corner making it hard to install a standing lamp.

Also, if you have small children and worry they might knock your lamps over, this is a great way to manage that.

Well you have to visualize what I’m talking about with the above photo, most of us don’t live in houses with this many beautiful windows, and two sitting behind a sectional.  However, note where the lamps are positioned. Same principles apply in your room without the windows.

Basically if you have a lamp positioned every 4 feet around the room, that’s when you know you have enough (not kidding).


They are also fabulous on either side of headboards in bedrooms! And you can hardwire them but also buy plug-ins with a cord cover like this one (above).



Swing Arm Wall Sconce with Shade

Chunky Swing Arm Wall Sconce

Swing Arm Lamp

Swing Arm Lamp

Hope this gives you some inspiration! Since I wrote those two posts (here and here) this past summer from Finland about lamps, I have heard from many of you who reported that you went out and bought some more lamps and it made such a difference! Hooray!

If you’d like help with your living room, check out my Get me Started Package here.

Check out my brand new landing page for my Specify Colour with Confidence workshop. ALL NEW The White Workshop on Day 2, AND on Day 3 you’ll receive your own eDesign template after the training you can immediately start using with your clients.  Register here.

Related posts:

How to Get Light to Play in a Room

A Townhouse in Finland Makes Tuscan Look Fresh; Before & After

Happiness is. . .  Light

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  • Kathy says:

    I am so missing my Christmas lights here in the dreary PNW. I like the tip about uplighting, new to me. Another was the corner light in your nephew’s dining room makeover. Thanks!

  • Linda says:

    Ahhhh but what about rooms that you must float your furniture? That’s a real challenge when you have no walls .

  • Lisa says:

    What about a great room where all the furniture floats, windows, french doors and walk ways surround all the furniture. There is no electricity in the floor, which is what the builder should have done. I am at a loss!

  • Susanne says:

    I like your suggestions however, the lamp style looks very traditional to me. Do you have any examples on how to make this all work in a more contemporary setting? I would love to see examples of each light for a more modern home. These shaded fixtures would not look right in those homes.
    Thank you!

  • Nancy says:

    Love that skinny floor lamp .
    My issue is my furniture floats in the room
    I hate CORDS
    How do you hide the cords ?
    I would set in the dark before I could look at cords 😂
    Plus another issue I have found is
    I am contemporary in design .
    The side tables are so small a large lamp would over take them …
    But I would do floor lamps if i
    could figure out the cords …
    I did find cordless lamps they cost more .
    But haven’t found cordless floor lamps …
    Thanks enjoy your blogs

  • Allison Rapp says:

    Maria, The uplights behind the sofa make an amazing difference! My sofa is not against a wall, however… would you still suggest uplights used in some way, or something different?

  • Adriana says:

    Thanks for this timely post, Maria! I love the idea of putting some uplights behind a sofa. Is there a general rule on how many to put behind there? Also, the picture you posted shows the light washing the window but I have a feeling that if I were to put the uplights behind my sofa there it would look like seperate spotlights on the wall with distinct dark areas and lit areas like spotlights. How can we avoid this look?

    Thanks again! Love your blog!
    Signed light challenged but working on it 🙂

  • Karen says:

    check out your local hardware store for floor cord protectors or covers. They come in various neutral colors and sizes. We have a similar situation for our double swing arm lamp and this makes it possible to hide the cord from our rambunctious cats!

  • Michael says:

    I agree with lamps. Layer your lighting, which you’ve done with the floor spots. The worst is only using recessed cans to create general overhead lighting.

    Lighting is important but professional interior photos are usually taken in natural daylight with the lights off.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Yes, all professional photography should be done with lights off, I am only showing a few lights on for the point of this post! Thanks for bringing that up! Maria

  • celestial says:

    Lamp question here: If one has a couch sitting in front of large windows with open drapes, with table lamps on either side of the sofa, would the behind-the-sofa lights still be necessary? (It is a very small living room with very little room behind the couch.)

  • Diana says:

    Just a little designer credit typo: The “Thomas Hicks by Visual Comfort”lamp that you refer to, is designed by Thomas O’Brien for Visual comfort. The lamp is Known as Tiny Terri.

  • Kelly Clark says:

    Love that floor lamp—I’ll be adding that to my Mydoma Studio catalog! It will be a great go-to to have!
    I love wall-mounted swing arm lamps for the reasons you mentioned. I’m installing some this week and I know the client will love them.
    Great suggestions here, Maria! Thank you!

  • Glenda says:

    Love love lamps. Question about the kitchen counter lamp….still needed if you have under cabinet lighting?

    • Maria Killam says:

      A lot of under cabinet lighting seems unnecessary to have on all night, but a little light underneath your cabinets just adds atmosphere when you walk in and out. But obviously it’s up to you! Maria

  • Lisa says:

    I thought I’d offer a different viewpoint on lamps and see if anyone else has recommendations or opinions on this subject. First, I love lamps. I always have lamps or sconces saved on my wish list. I suffer from severe, chronic migraines and sever light sensitivity is one of the side effects. I like my house dark. I do have beautiful light fixtures and lamps, but keep them off or dim. Even when I don’t have a migraine or a headache I like a moodier atmosphere. I added dimmers to almost the entire house. This is not to say I don’t like light – I have beautiful, large windows and large glass patio doors, but light is not my friend. I do enjoy reading though and it’s a challenge to find the right lamp with the right bulb as bare bulbs are a no for me.

  • Julia says:

    I would also like more information on the placement of the uplights. It sounds like a great idea! My sofa almost touches the wall behind it. How far would I have to bring the sofa away from the wall? Another article on just uplights would be great!

  • A. Wolf says:

    My sectional backs up to walls. Are you recommending pulling the couch out from the wall to place the uplights behind the couch? I’m concerned that gap between couch and wall will look odd.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Well for that price it doesn’t hurt to try it and you can always return them if it doesn’t work. Maria

    • Maria Killam says:

      So no one should EVER have sofas that touches the walls. The first thing I do in anyones house if I see that, is pull the furniture away from the walls. It will not look weird, I promise! Hope that helps, Maria

  • V. Zimmer says:

    I’m wondering about the uplights behind the sofa. These type of fixtures are sometimes known to get hot…wondering about safety issues…

    • Maria Killam says:

      Mine don’t touch anything, and since everything is LED lighting now, they don’t get hot. Maria

  • Cheryl says:

    I was looking for a skinny floor lamp and found 5 thin floor lamps at restoration hardware. The floor lamps come in 3 or 4 finishes with a linen shade, but you can also get a black shade or sand shade as you mentioned. also come with a metal shade.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Yes that’s where mine is from, I’m amazed that Restoration seems to be the only company to sell them as no one else has posted a source! Maria

      • Ryan says:

        English Elm carries the Asher lamp by safavieh. I’m not sure it’s quite as small as RH, but it’s on the little side. Good price too!

  • Jen says:

    Similar concept to uplighting/backlighting behind the sofa, I’ve put 2700K (ultra-warm) LED lighting strips on the tops of my tall bookcases and china hutch. This really helps to add another, very cheery layer of lighting during the dark Seattle winter.

    I found them on amazon, and they are the kind that can be mounted under a cabinet as well. They have cords and plugs–not hard-wired–and I even found some with a dimmer. I just lay them on top of the pieces towards the back, and run the cord down one side, tucked behind just a little bit, so I can reach the in-line switch but it doesn’t show.

    They are just the cheeriest light sources and have quite a similar effect to your behind-the-sofa lighting. Also very affordable.

  • Brigette Leroy says:

    More great advice, thanks!!
    I bought one last week and my husband rolled his eyes, until we set it up and turned it on! We all love the warm glow. So I’m over the moon 🙂 How can we get so excited about lights 😂

  • Jen Dulac says:

    Hi Maria, Another great source to add for your readers is Modern Lantern. ( They make beautiful rechargeable battery-operated lamps and now wall sconces (which are fantastic if you can’t hardwire or if you’re renting!). Their task lamps are perfect for desks–when you have a desk or home office and you want the desk to face outward into the room but don’t want the added cords. They also have a selection of vintage lamps that they’ve retrofitted with their rechargeable battery packs. the battery area is discreetly hidden in the backplate of the sconces or the base of the lamps. It’s really amazing and we’ve used their products in several projects already!

  • Elizabeth says:

    thanks for this!

  • hayley says:

    Hi Maria,

    I have a (UK) source for skinny floor lamps

    Great post!

  • mrsben says:

    Excellent advice Maria. IMHO as Jen pointed out, cabinet lighting can create a ‘warm glow’ as so can artwork lighting, both of which I use. Also re small floor lamps; agree with you they are difficult to find as just recently had to use a pharma lamp that I had in storage for one of my Spare Bedrooms, however Serena & Lily (Soho) and Williams Sonoma Home (Clemente) are two sources that your readers may be interested in. -Brenda-

  • mrsben says:

    @Nancy: Re cordless floor lamps. If you wish one for the purpose of ambience (not so much task) you can convert just about any type of shaded lamp yourself. Web search: View Along The Way (blog) / Lamp Hack: How To Make A Shaded Lamp Cordless. (I tried it on a table lamp and it did work and would imagine the same method/supplies can be applied to a floor lamp.)

    @Maria: In many provinces (and perhaps States); electrical floor outlets in a residential environment is against the building code so it might be best to check first if planning to have them installed. Also shall mention; running a cord underneath carpeting or an area rug is against most household insurance regulations. In other words, if having an inspection best put the lamp in another location …. ☺. -Brenda-

  • Ruthie says:

    Maria, you always are so on target with what to do to help a house semi more like a comfy home!! !Another wonderful floor lamp that I adore (and first saw in Jeffrey Bilhuber’s “Design Basics” book is by Holtkoetter. Called the “aging eye metal shade floor lamp”, it also comes in a glass shade model. Darling, it is also dimmable. I love it. Just another one to consider, similar to the RH one, but I do like the small metal disc on the stem, seems to anchor it, so it is not just a lamp floating on a stick. But what do I know? Lol.

  • Cynthia says:

    A girl after my own heart!
    Must confess, I have a lamp fetish. No overheads here.
    And, yes, like others, live in PNW. In addition to table lamps, fresh flowers & votive candle help make it through dark, early morning.
    So enjoyed reading.

  • Norma Fournier says:

    Great post Maria! Such great information and links! Thank you!

  • Joanna says:

    A note on small children- heavy duty Velcro or even hot glue on lamp bases, and tape the cords down the back of furniture. I have twins and hate overhead lighting, it’s how we got through the toddler years. Love the uplighting tip.

  • Barb says:

    No one seems to be selling replacement lampshades anymore. Do you have any suggestions as to where they can be found?

    • Maria Killam says:

      Look for a store that just sells lampshades! They can make one custom for you if they don’t have the right size. It’s completely random and will be very hard to find a shade in a big box store as you have discovered! Maria

  • Norma Fournier says:

    Question Maria Killam! You mention NOT torch. Do you mean torchiere? If so, are they bad if you also include the floor lamps with shades? Thanks!

  • Paige says:

    LOVE LAMPS! For those of us who have floating furniture and don’t have the funds to have floor receptacles added (Lesson Learned for me when I remodeled and didn’t have any put in), here’s a website on how to convert an electrical lamp to battery operated (no cords!) using a 6-volt rechargeable lantern battery. Keep in mind, this will work better for larger bases but if you are a pretty handy girl or guy, you could build a base then paint, stencil, or embellish to house the unit for a smaller lamp then attach the base and/or just the stem and up. Command strips work well with attaching the unit to the inside or base of the lamp so it doesn’t move around. You could also convert and use a battery pack (see the sidebar on the same website for instructions).

  • Candace says:

    Thank you, Maria! I feel vindicated… my daughters (grown) are always telling me that I have too many lamps. I live in Southern California, so I don’t experience the dark, dreary winters, but I do enjoy a beautifully lit room.

  • Stephanie says:

    Thank you Maria! Your posts tend to confirm a lot of the decorating themes i have in my home. I love lamps, especially vintage ones that are an art form all their own. If I have a beautiful one in the right spot, i like to highlight the lamp as well as the lovely light it provides by placing a mirror behind it.

    What i don’t have is such a beautiful, stylish and comfortable-looking chair as you have in your family room~
    Will you please provide information on that one???

  • Marina says:

    Hi Maria,

    The lighting has a special place in my designer heart .. 💓 I like all types of lamps, even lanterns, especially when arranged in a cast iron cage .. they look very antique and homey.. Yes, they may be blinding and not so comfortable to look at, but they are perfect for castle or chateau-like houses ..
    The fabric shades on your post of course fit the iterior, but I would place one with intricate design to cheer up .. For example, crystal or glass details in the lamp play under the light and create very festive mood .. 💎💎💎 And they would look great on your “Veranda” room with flowery colours .. 🌷💧☘
    Me too, Maria, absolutely fond of slick invisible flying in the air floor lamps .. They are very easily manipulated and can be afforded even by Parisians .. 😅
    Well, we have yet much to learn about lamps out there .. 📙 Thank you, Maria, for another exciting topic !!

  • Norma Fournier says:

    Here’s a link to a custom lamp shade site. I’ve ordered here many times. They’re really good with customer service too. I got one shade (out of many) that wasn’t sewn right in one spot. They sent a replacement right away. Hope this helps those who asked about replacement shades.

  • Joyce Love says:

    I’ve been obsessed with those candlestick lamps ever since reading this! I found this one on Amazon, not quite as elegant as the RH one but quite a bit easier on the budget:

  • Aprale m Gonsalves says:

    Thanks for the advice! I just ordered a few lamps.

  • April says:

    Hi Maria! This post is so timely as we are updating a couple bedrooms and have purchased gourd style bedside table lamps per your suggestion in the blog. But that got us wondering. What do you recommend as a timeless and classic way to update the ceiling fixtures in bedrooms? Our bedrooms have the typical builder “boob” flush mount fixture. There’s got to be something out there that is much more attractive and classic! Thanks in advance

  • Kristin says:

    I just purchased a candlestick floor lamp from Frontgate.

    GREAT article!!!

  • Cindi says:

    I agree with Susanne. “I would love to see examples of each light for a more modern home.”

  • Betty Scheiner says:

    Love your ideas and want to get updated.

  • Kelsey says:

    Not sure if this counts as a skinny floor lamp hack, but IKEA sells floor lamp bases with bulb only (sans shade) for ~$35 and then you can buy a small shade (they sell a 7” for $7) to get a similar look for $42!

  • Carolynne says:

    Hi, Maria
    I wondered if you could discuss lampshades sometime. I know you recommend white because we can all use more of it, but how about the shape? I noticed you seem to use empire style shades most of the time. I really like the contemporary look of drum shaped shades (resurrected from midcentury) but wonder if it is just a fad. Is the shape just a matter of personal preference? Thank you!

  • CP says:

    Check out Holtkoetter (a German company) for high quality floor and table candle stick lighting.
    They also have swing arm for floor and walls (pin up kits or directly wired).
    The #6505 is absolutely my favorite. The on/off and dimmer for this lamp is ingenious – the entire stem rotates, so easy to access from a chair. This height is perfect and does not glare in eyes although it is available in a taller size. The shade is small and un-intrusive, comes in a variety of finishes – also glass shades available too.

  • Linda says:

    I always clap clap clap with agreement when I read your lamp articles! Yes up lighting I thought was some permanent built in fixture!! Very eye-opening. Thanks for the ideas!

  • Ruth says:

    I liked your suggestion about up lighting behind a sofa and want to try that. I also love the tan leather chair & ottoman set in the photo of the corner of your family room. Can you provide details as to the manufacturer of the chair & ottoman and where I might be able to buy a set?

  • Margaret in North Texas says:

    Maria, so right about lots of lamps in a room!! I have mostly vintage table lamps (all different heights) in my home and I love them.

  • Amy says:

    Hi Maria,
    I love these timeless, mini gold stick lamps from Threshold at Target ($12). I have a total of nine in various rooms, including four beneath my kitchen cabinets.

  • Carol says:

    Congratulations on 15 years
    After following you I now have more lamps in my living room
    Understand a bit more about undertones
    I get and endorse timeless vs trend

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