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).

So here’s the first one you should own.

Gourd lamp x 2

Here’s the hot tip about this style of lamp. 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

navy and white ground lamp

Alexis Table Lamp with USB Port

The next light is two uplights placed on the floor behind your sofa

I only turned on one lamp, the morning that I took these photos. 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 (below):

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.

When I drive by the house at night, a warm yellow glow emanates from the window outside!


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 Hicks 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


Candlestick 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, 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 brought to you by one of my generous readers who found it:


Wisteria has one as well, but it’s a powdery grey blue shade so it is not as versatile as this one (above).

Very skinny floor lamp (Wisteria)

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.

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).


Shades of Light

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



leave aREPLY

  1. 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!

  2. 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).


  3. 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.

  4. 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???

  5. 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 !!

  6. 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.