Table Lamps as Decorative Lighting

Example of decorative lightingWhen you’re planning a lighting scheme for your home or office, table lamps are extremely versatile, and to get the most of them, it helps if you’re aware of what role you’d like them to play. Previous articles looked at ambient and accent lighting types, and in this third installment, let’s look at a type of lighting that table lamps were made for: decorative lighting.

What is decorative lighting?

Decorative lighting is not designed primarily to provide usable lighting, but rather to serve as a design element in itself. It’s the opposite of ambient lighting: instead of providing a light that spreads throughout your room, the light it creates may not extend very far at all; and instead of the light source hiding in the background, decorative table lamps demand to be noticed!

Think of a decorative table lamp as an ornament that happens to light up, and you’re nearly there.

Types of decorative table lamps

There are many types of table lamps that can be considered decorative, and can be used as a centerpiece in any room. Here are a few sample techniques to look out for:

Stained Glass
Glass has been used in table lamps for many generations, and over time, its properties have been used creatively to great effect. Probably the best known example of this comes with Tiffany Lamps, where organic, flowing shapes are constructed out of many pieces of stained glass. Colored glass does restrict the amount of light that passes through, but it does light up beautifully, forming a focal point in your room that’s bound to impress!
Cut glass plays wonderfully with light, with many little prisms splitting light up into a spectrum of colors. It also creates a dappled effect throughout a room, and when the crystal shards sway, you get an effect reminiscent of a bright summer’s day by a stream. Crystal table lamps are almost hypnotic to watch.
Many materials are translucent, meaning that it allows light to pass through, but the light becomes diffused. In other words, you can see light coming through, but you can’t see clearly through the material. This phenomenon is widely used by table lamps, for example, with textured paper lamp shades producing a more attractive light source. Other materials include frosted glass and various fabrics, and work well because they obscure the light bulb, and almost become a more interesting light source in themselves.
Creative Bases
In some decorative table lamps, the base itself is the focal point, with the light serving only to enhance it. Some Art Deco designs, for example, are more like sculptures than lamps, and the light source exists simply to show the base at its best. There are some beautiful designs that fall into this category in a wide range of styles.
Other Table Lamps
Image of a Fiber Optic Table LampImage of Fiber Optic Table Lamp: Wikimedia Commons
Some designers have produced incredible ideas when designing decorative table lamps. Fiber optics, for example, have limited lighting value in a home, but used as a decoration, and they can really capture the attention of anybody entering a room.

If you’re trying to add some focus to your interior design, a decorative table lamp is one of the most impressive, and cost effective ways of achieving it. Whether your style is traditional or contemporary, there are many outstanding examples to choose from!

Main image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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