In the world of surface placed lamps (end table, chest, dresser, etc) there are three categories; they are Accent, Table and Buffet. This is the first post in a series of three articles covering the different kinds of lamps.
Accent Lamps are the smallest of the three different kinds of lamps, they can be 24 inches high, but are often 22 inches high or less. The measurement for the height of an accent lamp is taken from the bottom of its base to the top of its shade or finial if the lamp has one.
Accent lamps usually have one socket that takes a 60-watt bulb or lower. Being low-wattage, accent lamps are used to produce more romantic / ambiance light, versus being major light sources in a room.
Some manufacturers of small sized accent lamps have beefed up their light emitting ability by putting twin pull sockets, under the shade, that hold two 60-watt light bulbs. By designing them that way, they have given the accent lamp the ability to be romantic and ambiance producing with one light lit, or with two lights lit, it can produce the same amount of light as a table lamp.
Accent lamps usually have a small shade with dimensions anywhere from about 6 to 14 inches wide, and shade heights from about 5 to 11 inches tall. Accent lamps that have shades wider that 14 inches and taller than 11 inches start to cross over into the world of the table lamp.
Accent lamps with 60-watts of illumination or less can be placed on tall chests, buffets, pianos, sideboards, dressers, night stands, fireplace mantles, hall tables, counters, or any dark place where a little extra illumination is needed. If an accent lamp has beefed up light emitting ability (two 60-watt bulbs under its shade) it can easily be used as a source of room illumination along with table and floor lamps.
On occasion you will see a table lamp with a dark toned shade in a color like black, burgundy, navy blue, or dark green. With shades like that, those taller light fixtures only send light up toward the ceiling, or down toward the floor, but not directly through the shade itself. Because of the minimal to no light emitting out through the shade to illuminate the room, consider those taller light fixtures accent lamps.
Illustrations 2A-F show different surfaces where you can possibly place an accent lamp. Notice how in all / most of the illustrations the tops of the different lamp shades all line up with each other as you look across the illustrations.
Illustrations 2G-I show that no matter how high an end table, sofa table, chest, etc is, that you place a table lamp or accent lamp on, their combined height should always (to the best of your ability) match the height of the floor lamp, which is 58 to 64 inches tall. The reasoning for that is, you want the eye to move from the top of one lamp shade to another, in one continuous horizontal movement. You don’t want the eye to go up and down, as it travels across the room from one light source to another.
In my post titled The Right height of a Table Lamp for your End Table, I write about how different end table and lamp combinations have been fashionable over the years, and how they all relate to the height of the floor lamp. (Click here to read that post). That post goes further into explaining decorating with lamps.
Companion Post .. Interior Decorating with Table Lamps 12-12-2012, The answer to..Can you put a Floor Lamp next to a Sofa”? 10-4-2012