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Where the Light Goes: A Guide to Lamps

by Magnolia
Published on May 9, 2024

Where the Light Goes: A Guide to Lamps

A soft glow next to your favorite reading chair. A warm ambiance when you enter the kitchen. A gentle sparkle in the corner. Lighting is the magic in a room. It beckons you inward, illuminating other details and evoking a feeling of home.

From placement to purpose (plus a brief intro to bulbs), this guide is all about lamps—also known as task lighting. These pieces practically create small pools of light for a specific area, while offering a bit of beauty too. Easy to update, lamps are a great way to refresh the mood of a space. If you’re looking for ideas on how to style them at home, keep reading to get inspired for everywhere the light can go.

To note: Other lighting categories include accent and ambient. Generally, accent lighting is a decorative element, like a chandelier or sconce, that can play a bigger role in the room’s design. Whereas, ambient lighting comes from natural sources, like sunlight through a window, as well as recessed or flush-mounted fixtures. You’ll want to keep these elements in mind when layering in additional pieces.

Where to Place Lamps

Whether the focal point in a room or a subtle, supporting detail, lighting enhances the way you experience moments at home. Here are a few tips on lamp placement to help spark your own ideas. Our best advice? Trust your instincts and rest assured, your space will look lovely in the light.

In the Entryway

In the Entryway

Leave a light on, and come home to an inviting space. There’s something comforting about the glow of a lamp in an entryway when arriving somewhere familiar or new.

Beyond mood and practicality, a lamp can look lovely styled on a table or shelf alongside other accents and on-the-go essentials. Try using mid-size lamps for height and dimension—stacked atop books or in front of a mirror. In larger entryways, a floor lamp helps to fill the room without feeling cluttered. Here, a little light goes a long way, so you’ll likely only need one source to illuminate the scene.

In the Living Room

In the Living Room

Huddled on the sofa for movie night. Cozied up in the corner with a good book. The living room is where life happens. For that reason, it’s key to light it intentionally…thinking through how everyone uses the space, both individually and together. Don’t be afraid to play around with interesting shapes, silhouettes, and hues—letting a sense of personality shine.

Side tables and credenzas are ideal for smaller task lamps with a subtle glow, so you won’t create unnecessary screen glares. You could also cheer up darker corners of a living room by adding a floor lamp. (Even better, if it’s beside your favorite lounge chair.) Just remember to pay attention to plugs, so cords can be kept discrete and out of the way in what is often a high-traffic room.

In the Kitchen

In the Kitchen

Perhaps surprising, but the kitchen might just be one of your new favorite places to add a lamp or two. While brewing morning coffee or poring through cookbooks at dusk—a soft, gentle light can harmonize daily routines. Not to mention, it can be a guiding light, literally, for someone looking for an evening snack.

In classic, collected kitchens, vintage-inspired lamps help highlight that design style. Through nostalgic patterns or glazed finishes, discover details that can complement other pieces left out on the counter—for a charming display.

In the Bedroom

In the Bedroom

Lighting is a staple of any bedroom, but it can also have a calming effect when placed purposefully—for early wake-up calls and late-night conversations alike. From nightstands to dressers, take inventory of which larger furniture pieces could welcome a new lamp, so you can skip turning on the overhead light at certain times of day.

Continuing into the guest room—a small light by the bed can be one of many thoughtful details that create a feeling of home away from home. Similarly, in the nursery, a glowing lamp can help you (and little ones) feel at ease during a midday nap or midnight change. In these rooms, it’s best to use a warm, subtle light to encourage rest (psst, learn more about bulbs below!).

Additional Accents

Additional Accents

Consider what other unique lamp placements have potential to become a bright spot in your day. Whether on top of a piano, a bathroom counter, a hallway table... There are no limits to where you can find the light—and liven up even the most unlikely spaces.

Speaking of getting creative… Discover a fun addition to our shop this season: customizable table lamps! Start with the base you like best, then pick a shade to dress it up. Switch it up, and shop the assortment here.

Customized Lighting, Only at Magnolia

Light Bulb 101

After selecting lighting for your home, it’s time to choose the right bulb for each lamp. Since most bulbs offer a more energy-efficient option nowadays, you’ll mainly look at lumens and kelvins (rather than wattage). Here’s a quick language breakdown…

Watts: A measure of the amount of energy used to light products.

Lumens: A measure of the amount of light a bulb gives off. (More lumens means more light!)

  • 200-300 LM: very dim, ideal for exposed bulbs
  • 400-600 LM: dim to medium brightness, great option for multi-bulb fixtures
  • 800-1000 LM: bright to very bright, good for recessed lighting or in a lamp
  • 1000 LM+: super bright, would work for a single light bulb room

Kelvins: A measure of a temperature, resulting in different “colors”

  • 2000K: very warm, reminiscent of candlelight
  • 2700K: warm white, cozy and intimate
  • 3000K: soft white, refreshing and inviting
  • 4000K: cool white, clean and efficient
  • 5000K: blue/soft daylight, bright and alert

Once you find a bulb, we suggest sticking to the same one throughout your space, especially in similar fixtures. However, you could incorporate a more intense bulb for overhead lighting in the kitchen or bathroom—while keeping lamps and pendants a bit warmer. A good rule of thumb: If you keep two different light sources on at the same time, use the same bulb for those spots.

Ready to brighten things up? Shop the lamps styled above and more favorites in the collection…

Enzo Turned Wood Floor Lamp
Lulu Enamel Petal Lamp
Valencia Table Lamp