Table Lamps Buying Guide

As a spot-on option for both task and accent lighting, table lamps can’t be beat. But how do you choose from among all of the table lamp possibilities? This guide helps you sort through the options.

Types of Table Lamps

Types of Table Lamps

The explosion of personal-oriented home decorating as well as new crafting techniques means an even bigger selection in styles and materials for table lamps. For example, a contemporary fixture—once found mostly in metal—can now be sculpted from wood, while transitional-style table lamps are available in everything from glass to metal. Here’s a short guide on glass or Tiffany, wrought iron or metal, desk, movable, wood, or other materials for table lamps.

Glass, Crystal, or Tiffany

Typically used in traditional-style settings glass, crystal or Tiffany table lamps provide a lot of decorating diversity. Based on their glass composition, the lamps also may filter sunlight through the shade.

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Wrought Iron or Metal

Many table lamps are also made of wrought iron or metal, although neither material limits a lamp’s style. Stainless steel is a natural material choice for more modern fixtures, while classic styles incorporate wrought iron.

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Typically used for table lamp bases, wood can be crafted in a range of styles.

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Desk table lamps are generally sized in order to sit on a desk and provide adequate lighting for work-oriented tasks, such as typing or writing.

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Movable or Adjustable

Table lamps may be stationary, or they may be adjustable with a base that moves up or down or an arm that swings to different positions.

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Other Materials

Inventiveness and personality-driven decorating equals table lamps that are crafted from a range of materials—everything from seashells to framed photographs.

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Purchase Considerations

Purchase Considerations

Table lamps can range from fairly inexpensive swing-arm desk lamps to more-expensive stainless-steel inventions. But no matter the size and type you choose, you’ll need to review some of the same purchase considerations. Lampshade choice is important, as is style and light source. Upkeep should also be evaluated as should the switch that controls the table lamp. Take a look at these options to make the best buy for your needs and budget.


The shade for your table lamp is an important consideration. It should complement the design of the table lamp base. Take a look at how it is attached to the lamp; if you ever need to replace the shade, the fitting will be important to review.

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Stone County Ironworks
$172.82 $112.16

Size: 15 in.; Casts a warm yellow-brown light into the room. Highlighting the patterns in the shade. Features leather lashing arou...nd the top and bottom. Made from faux rawhide. Top Opening: 5 in.. Bottom Opening: 15 in.. Side Measurement: 10.5 in. (3... read more

Better Homes and Gardens
$14.71 $10.12

Better Homes and Gardens Scallop Wrap Lamp Shade, White:This Better Homes and Gardens lamp shade features a scallop bottom with st...ylish Chinese braid trimSoft-back shadeDimensions: 8"L x 18"W x 14"H (20.32 cm x 45.72 cm x 35.56 cm)Designed to fit onto your lamp's harp componentMade of fabric and metalModel# BH020-002-39-19 read more

Better Homes and Gardens

Better Homes and Gardens Table Lamp Shade:Textured silver fabric hard-back drum shadeUno filterDoes not need harp and finialDimens...ions: 13"L x 11"W x 9"H (33 cm x 28 cm x 23 cm) read more

Better Homes and Gardens
$14.71 $10.37

Better Homes and Gardens Scallop Lamp Shade, Off White:Off white scallop bottom with Chinese braid trimSoft-back bell shadeDimensi...ons: 7"L x 15"W x 11.5"H (17.78 cm x 38.1 cm x 29.21 cm)Harp requiredMaterial: Fabric and MetalModel# BH020-002-36-19Enhance the look of the lighting in your home with this off white lamp shade read more


Your table lamp often takes center stage on a table or desk. Consider its style, profile, shapes, and colors. Use your selection to accent a pattern or tie together complementary colors.

Light Source

Some table lamps require specialized lightbulbs, while others enable you to swap out typical incandescents for more environment-friendly fluorescents. Take a look at the bulb requirements before you make a purchase.


Table lamps have to be regularly cleaned; review care instructions to make sure of your choice.


Some table lamps have either a three-position switch or a dimmer switch, which increases their flexibility and provides adjustable lighting options based on need.

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