Matching the Right shaped End Table with a Table Lamp

Picking the right styled table lamp to go with your end table

Picking the right styled table lamp to go with your end table

This post is the second in a series of two articles which covers the pairing of an end table and a table lamp.

In the first post for this series, Looking at the Different Shapes of Lamps Bases (click here to read that post), I went over the four different styles all lamp bases fall into, no matter if they are country, traditional, transitional or contemporary styled. This post is all about looking at the end tables you will be placing lamps on, and studying visual weights.

In the world of end tables there are basically two styles, “with and without legs“. Illustration 1 shows a few examples of end tables that are in styles from traditional (antique looking) to modern that have thin or delicate legs. Notice how light and airy they all seem to be, and how you can easily see under them. The best kinds of table lamps to put on these tables also look light of weight, and could possibly be a lamp with a candlestick styled base, but most likely a lamp with a pillar or torch styled base would work best. At the end of this illustrations are examples of these lamps bases. img336 img337

Illustration 2 shows a number of chest styled end tables; which have short or no legs. Look at how solid and heavy-looking they are because you can’t see through or under them. The best types of table lamps to pair with this style of table is also visually heavy-looking. You could possibly use a lamp with a pillar styled base if it is kind of thick looking, but the torch styled, inverted torch and urn styled bases would be your best bet. Examples of these styles of lamp bases are at the end of the illustration. img338img339

Illustration 3 shows examples of end tables that are a cross between the light and airy styles shown in illustration 1, and have some of the heaviness that the chest styled end tables in illustration 2 possess. These end tables have either a lower shelf or stretchers as part of their design. The presence of the lower shelf or stretcher adds more visual weight to these tables. End tables that fall into this style category, which are somewhat visually heavy-looking, but you can still see through their lower part, would best be paired with a table lamp that has some visual weight itself. A lamp with a base that is possibly pillar styled, but a torch or inverted torch and some less heavy (not too wide) urn shaped lamp bases would work best. Examples of these styles of bases are seen at the end of illustration 2. img346

Next look at illustrations 4. img347 The first drawing 4-A shows an end table with a lamp that has a candlestick or pillar styled base on it. Notice how the lamp has a thin base silhouette and the end table also has thin legs. There is a balance of visually lightness there, as both the lamp and table are both light and airy looking. (The only part of the end table that has any visual weight is in the area of the drawer).

Illustration 4-B shows an end table with a lamp that is too visually heavy for it. In 4-B the balance is off. The lamp is a lot heavy-looking than the table, and the table does not have enough visually mass to support the lamp placed on it.

If you have a heavy lamp sitting on a delicate end table as you are reading this, don’t fret. Stick something under the end table, between its legs, as show in illustrations 4-C and 4-D to fill in the airy space, that possesses some visual weight. A stack of decorative boxes, largish Chinese vase, stone garden sculpture or large basket filled with silk greenery are some possible choices.

The flip side of having a heavy lamp on a visually light looking table is having a heavy-looking end table with a too delicate looking lamp on it. If you have a candlestick or thinnish silhouetted pillar styled lamp on a chest styled end table, to beef up its visual weight, pair the lamp with other objects that possess some visual weight. You could (1) put a largish plate on a display holder next to the thin silhouetted lamp, (2) put a small but solid-looking sculpture, or a small compact flower arrangement next to the lamp, or (3) any other kinds of objects that you can think of that will add visual weight to the composition where the delicate based lamp is the main piece in that grouping.

Different manufacturers and designers of furniture design their pieces different ways. One might style the legs and silhouette of the pieces thin, simple and delicate, while another might work boldly, thickening the legs and overall shape, plus adding carving. Illustration 5 shows two end tables that are the same kind of style, one is light and airy, while the other is heavy. They are paired with an appropriate thickness of lamp base of them.img350

Finally, after reading the two articles that cover this topic, there is one more thing that you have to thing about when pairing a table lamp with an end table, my May 19, 2011 post titled The Right Height of Table Lamp for your End Table covers that. To read that post click here.

Companion Posts ..The answer to..”Can you put a Floor Lamp nest to a Soft?” 10-4-2012, Interior decorating with Accent Lamps 12-5-2012, Interior Decorating with Table Lamps 12-12-2012, Interior Decorating with Buffet Lamps 12-19-2012


About fredgonsowskigardenhome

Your eyes deserve to view beauty. I hope Fred Gonsowski Garden Home helps to turn your vision, into a reality.
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9 Responses to Matching the Right shaped End Table with a Table Lamp

  1. teresa says:

    You always seem to read my mind concerning my current decorating dilemmas! I only just figured out why something was off in my BF’s LR… the side table was too delicate and leggy for all the other furniture. Sometimes one has to be ruthless even with a piece of furniture one loves. Fortunately, I just had to switch it out with one in the MB. Had I known, you could have saved me the trouble!
    Maybe the next installment of this series could be on what lampshade style for which lamp base.. I didn’t find that topic in your archives. Thanks for another great post.

  2. Shondra says:

    Hi Fred,
    Do any of these rules change or should there be other considerations if using a glass topped table?

    • Hi there Shondra, when I write about a topic, I try to set some rules so a person has something to think about and follow. As with everything, the rules are just starting points, the final choices are yours. I do see, even in fancy decorating magazines, many of the principals that I try to stress here, not followed, but if they like how something turns out that’s up to them. The premise of matching the right shape end table with a table lamp is all about equal balance. If the lamp is too heavy for a delicate looking table the piece becomes top heavy, and if you have a really heavy looking table with a thin lamp on it, the combination is now bottom heavy. I think the torch or inverted torch styled lamp base is probably the most neutral visual weight wise, and that style would most likely work with most kinds of end tables.

      The color of the lamp can also suggest visual weight. If the lamp is clear glass or crystal, the piece will look a lot lighter than a lamp that is made of ceramic or metal with a black or dark toned base. I thing an urn styled lamp done in crystal toned might look lighter that something that is dark colored and is thinner based. Also, a person kind of has to think about the look of the table and the look of the lamp. A fancy table would probably not be the best match with a lamp that is really rustic looking, just as a grand looking lamp might not look too good on a rustic county styled end table.

      When I try to explain things to people in true life, I put descriptive adjectives with things. I might say that lamp has a beach look, or I can see that end table in someone’s grandmother’s house. By giving the items kind of titles to description them, it kind of help so see things for what they are. The number one thing is, if every time you look at the table and lamp combination (or really anything else in your house) and something bothers you, than that piece is in the wrong place, or arranged with the wrong stuff, or is the wrong visual weight, or just not right in any way for that room or even your house.

      Have you ever read my post titled Interior decorating is All about Visual Weights if not take a look at it. My post The Right height of Table Lamp for your End Table is also a must reed if you haven’t looked at it yet.

      As with everything here, I can only help soo much, as I am not seeing your room or any of the furniture or accessories that you are choosing to put into it.
      Good Luck with your project.

      • Shondra says:

        Thanks so much Fred. Your kindness, your wonderful knowledge and your willingness to share keeps me coming back.

  3. Kathy says:

    Fred, you write and illustrate the most illuminating posts I’ve ever read on decorating. You explain things so clearly, I always think “of course, why didn’t I realize that!” I really have enjoyed reading your tutorials. This series of posts is just what I needed since I am looking for side tables and table lamps. Thank you for doing such a great job on your blog.

    • Hi there Kathy, first of all, your comment is much appreciated, as 99 and 9/10% of the people who read my articles, don’t make comments. I’ve had over three million five hundred thousand articles read by over two million people, and have had less than two thousand comments made by readers, since starting this website years ago; those are the statistics provided by WordPress, which is the digital platform for my site. Did you look at the companion posts that follow that article? If not read The Right Height of Table Lamp for your End Table. Best of luck with your project, and again thanks for your comment. Happy 2020 to you!!!!!!!

  4. Katherine says:

    This article written in 2014 is still current almost 7 years later! This was the ONLY article I found that took this topic into detail. Prior to this, I had been looking through pinterest and instagram but it was only through your article that I finally found some clarity. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge! I truly wish I had found your website earlier.

    • Hi there Katherine. look at the right side of my site under Categories. look for the work lighting, and click on it, there you will see every post I’ve written on that topic. By clicking on the different titles, you can read them. Also, at the end of each post I’ve written, I’ve included companion posts, and by clicking on those titles you can read those articles.

  5. Melissa Sprayberry says:

    I see these comments are a few years old but I’m hoping you still monitor this . I have researched my question for so long that I’m just over it . I have round marble topped end tables that are 20” wide and 22” tall. The base is also round gold and is open see through . What kind of lamps look good on these kinds of tables ? I have no idea if the style ,color, gold , wood , etc …. I have gone so long without lamps because I don’t know what to get . I can send a picture of my table if I need too. They are called Milan gold marble round tables from World Market .. Thank you and I hope you can help me .

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