Looking for some simple ideas for decorating with lamps? This post gives you all the ideas and inspiration you need to choose the perfect lamp for your space.

decorating with lamps blue and white living room

This world is full of unanswered questions.

Is Big Foot really a thing?

Was there really a Lost City of Atlantis?

Is the world going to be inhabited by aliens in the next century?

Who built Stonehenge?

Where did the Don Draper we all know and love disappear to during the last season of Mad Men?

Will the Downton Abbey movie be as good as the series?

And how do you decorate with lamps?

I know. I get it. I understand.

It’s scintillating content like this that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

We can discuss Big Foot and the new Downton Abbey movie much more in-depth later, but for today? We’re talking decorating. And lamps. And unanswered lamp questions.

Here are my best ideas for decorating with lamps.

decorating with lamps living room with marble lamps

white lampshade on marble lamp decorating with lamps

Q: How tall should my table lamps be?

When decorating with lamps, start by determining the height of the lamp that you need for the space you are planning on putting a table lamp. For example, in my living room, I was looking for a lamp for the bookcase. Most table lamps for side tables and small bookcases like the one in my front room should be between 24″-32″. This lamp works perfectly in the space and it’s 26″ tall.

You don’t want to overwhelm your table.

Notice the scale of the table lamp to the bookcase. It compliments it. It doesn’t make it feel small.

A taller table lamp on this bookcase would look as out of place as a can of Aqua Net in 2019.

decorating with lamps and marble lamp base and white shade

Q: How tall should my lamp shades be?

There are two important things to consider when choosing a lampshade. The width and height.

The height of the lampshade should be about a third of the height of the lamp.

The width of the lampshade should be about twice the size of the base of the lamp. Please don’t make the mistake of the awkward skinny lampshade. You know. The ones that look like they need a steak dinner.

Go big and bold with your lampshades.

decorating with lamps wood dresser and lamp

Q: What shape of lamp shades are trending right now?

I’m not really one to follow trends.

They make me spend too much money and talk me into buying things at 2:00 in the morning.

I tend to stay traditional with my lampshades. I like a basic round drum shade for most of my table lamps. Occasionally I’ll go all fancy and choose one with a slight angle.

I currently do NOT like lampshades with panels. Instead, I’m drawing to simple shades with one seam in the back.

Which may or may not be a trend. In which case please completely ignore the first part of this statement.

Q: What are the best colors to choose for lampshades?

The answer to this question is super simple. When decorating with lamps ask yourself how much light you want to let into a space. The more light you are looking for, the lighter the lampshade should be. If I am going for a dark and moody come hither look in a room, a dark shade works perfectly. If I am going for light and bright, I choose a white or khaki linen shade.

Here are a couple of my best lampshade tips:

  1. If you go with a dark shade, sometimes choosing a metallic on the inside helps reflect light and make the room feel warmer.
  2. Woven, tweed shades like this are perfect in a study or office or other spaces where you want to warm up your light.
  3. I try to stay away from gauzy, translucent shades. I LOVE the look when they are turned off, but when I turn them on, all I see is light bulb.
  4. I do have one lamp with an outer translucent shade and a solid parchment inner shade. This combination works well if you have your heart set on the look of a translucent shade.

Q: What are some classic lamp bases I can choose for a timeless look?

Lately, I’m all about white.

I’ve painted my rooms white. I’m about to paint a floor white. I’m choosing white throws and white pillows.

And I put these white lamps in so many different rooms.

Maybe my house is trying to tell me to calm down.

I love the look of this timeless gourd base. I also like the farmhouse look of the wood lamp pictured on this post. If you don’t want to change out your lamps every couple of years, I’d stick to a neutral color palette and clean lines.

And then?

Add in one amazing brass pineapple lamp just for fun.

Q: How many lamps do you need in a room?

I like three.

Or any odd number combination.

Although 17 may be too many.

You want to try to create a triangle of light (not including the overhead light) with three lamps placed around the room to illuminate corners.

Q: Where can you decorate with lamps?

I like to place a lamp on the side of a hutch (like the one in my kitchen).

I like lamps on top of bookcases and side tables.

A little lamp on a bathroom counter or in the mudroom by the back door works well, too.

When it’s dark, I go outside, to see what the lamps look like when you walk by the house. Lamps near windows are one of my favorite things.

Q: Do all your lamps in your room need to match?



I love the look of different lamps giving different corners of the room different personalities.

I give you permission to place un-matching lamps in a room with one exception.

If you are putting two lamps on a side table or buffet or mantel? They need to be twins.

Q: What about ceiling fans?


But I like to stir up a little lamp controversy.

Are you on team ceiling fan? Or not?

I am a proud member of the ceiling fan club. I can’t help it. I live in Texas. I don’t care what any decorating show says. We HAVE TO HAVE AIR PEOPLE.

My best ceiling fan advice? Make it match the ceiling—then no one really ever notices it.

And you stay cool.

Emphasis on the word stay. You didn’t really need to become cool.

You already are. 🙂

PS One of my sponsors, Lamps Plus is having an AMAZING Fourth of July Sale!  You can check out all the details here.

20 Minute Decorating series logo

And now here are some other simple decorating ideas from some of my favorite bloggers.

Click on the links for more design ideas and inspiration.

StoneGable | How to Style a Functional and Fabulous Nightstand

SoneGable 20 Minute Decorating

Designthusiasm | 6 Simple Steps to a Lovely Summer Table

linen napkins in a summer tablescape

French Country Cottage | 20 Minute Decorating Ideas for 4th of July

FCC 20 Min Dec

On Sutton Place | Simple Round Coffee Table Styling Ideas

Round Coffee Table Styling Ideas from On Sutton Place

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Michelle Michelle

    Sooooo glad you spoke up in defense of ceiling fans. I live in Alabama and , like yours in Texas, our summers are miserably hot and humid. Ceiling fans are not a decorative choice, they are a necessity.

    1. Image for Veni Hardy Veni Hardy

      We live in Houston and have a fan in almost every room...then an oscillating fan in our bedroom with a remote along with a ceiling fan..crazy, I know.. it is life or death!!!

  2. Image for Deb Deb

    Part of summer as a child was the drone of a fan. I love my ceiling fan. While it is annoying to my husband, it is white noise to me and has me dreaming of the fan in my childhood bedroom window and the crickets and the murmur of folks talking outside in the cool dark night and Mrs. Prim singing softly to herself next door and zzzzzzz.

  3. Image for Carol Carol

    Team fan! from the furnace that is Louisiana. I too can't live without the white noise of my ceiling fan or the way it helps my air conditioner keep that cool air circulating. Thank you for the entertaining and informative lamp posts. I am in need of a few lamps...your timing is great!

  4. Image for Eileen Eileen

    We have seventeen fans in our home and yes, I live in southern Virginia. Fans just evoke the south and lazy days and sweet breezes. I am a fan!!! Of fans!!!

  5. Image for Regina Wilson Regina Wilson

    Please unsubcribe me from your blog. I have asked several times for assistance. I cannot find anything at the end of posts saying unsubscribe. I cannot understand why you will not help me. I am not trying to be harrassing, but my request for assistance does not get any response. As I have explained the reason behind my request has to do with computer problems .

    1. Image for Cindy Cindy

      Regina, you can unsubscribe from the email you receive. The link is at the bottom. No one can unsubscribe for you.

  6. Image for Terri Herman Terri Herman

    So glad you are #teamceilingfan ! We live in the humid east coast of N.C. & we. Would. Die! Actually we rode out Hurricane Florence & used my hubs camping ceiling fan, battery operated. Life-saver when the power was out. ****love the lamp tips too! ****

  7. Image for Alice Genzlinger Alice Genzlinger

    One of my biggest beefs are ugly lamps. All lamps are not pretty and I have spent time looking for just the right lamp to find that the right shade wasn’t to be found. Presently I’m looking for pleated dark geen shades in the correct size but they also are hard to find. I’m sure they are out there somewhere . Your post therefore is very timely.

  8. Image for JudyCinNC JudyCinNC

    Thank heavens I never fell into the trap where someone else's opinion was more important than my own. Ceiling fans have a purpose beyond trends. Two little houses in last picture - from your awesome talented family or a purchase from where? Thanks KariAnne for your wonderful and useful lamp tips. JudyCinNC

  9. Image for David David

    I knew I liked you! I am totally team ceiling fan! I never understood why all those shows tear them out immediately. I mean, sure, some are ugly and need to be replaced but having that air move around is so wonderful (I'm in Southern California). I'm off to count my lamps. I fear I have even numbers of them in many rooms......

  10. Image for Denise Denise

    I am so happy to hear your support of ceiling fans. I love my ceiling fans and the southern summer style of ceiling fan!! Love your home and your blog!

  11. Image for Darlene Darlene

    Use my ceiling fans everyday and I live in Ontario, Canada. Yes we all need air movement. Love your decor, I am a blue decorating girl.

  12. Image for Laurin Laurin

    The first thing most designers do during a remodel is to immediately rip out all of the ceiling fans. Well all I can say is they have not lived in the south in the dead of summer, or they would understand how vital a ceiling fan is to life!!! PRO CEILING FAN

  13. Image for Claire Claire

    Living in Arkansas ceiling fans are seldom turned off! But now that my husband is cold natured and I'm very hot natured, we've had to change to oscillating floor fans, that blow mostly on me. But will always be a ceiling fan "fan."

  14. Image for Marlene Stephenson Marlene Stephenson

    Thanks for standing up for ceiling fans they are needed and for all the information of lamps will truly help cause i need to up date some of mine and this is so helpful.

  15. Image for Kris Kris

    Thank you for defending ceiling fans! I'm in Michigan--not a southern state--but I still love mine! When I was doing my kitchen reno, my designer was appalled that I wanted to keep my white kitchen fan (against a white ceiling and I was installing white cabinetry .... ). I actually USE my kitchen and yes, we have central AC, but it still gets stuffy without a fan!


    You are so right about ceiling fans-can't think of a place that doesn't need them. It gets hot and steamy everywhere it seems!!!! Of course, not quite as bad as the south but close!!!! Just in Massachusetts and it felt just like being in New Orleans in mid-summer...HOT and STICKY!!!! Thanks for all the advise on lamps. I struggle with getting enough light in Massachusetts home- therefore it needs lots of lamps. You are the best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Image for Kathleen Kathleen

    We live in Texas, too. There’s no discussion ~ ceiling fans in every room possible! (Though I’m still trying to decide where they could go in both the kitchen & “breakfast room.”) Last areas without! Do like the idea of color matching with ceiling ... most of ours are the same, but only because of happy accidents!

  18. Image for Sharon Sharon

    Thank you for not dumping on ceiling fans. They can be such a necessity when it is hot and when they match the ceiling, it is even better. You just keep rocking it!

  19. Image for Julie Briones Julie Briones

    Okay, yes... 17 is way too many lamps. Don't be silly. Eleven is much more do-able. What??? Just try it! (I totally giggled at 17.) And, yes, I'm part of the 'fanteam'! No air conditioning ("they" keep telling us we don't need it in Huntington Beach) and living in a wee loft apartment... you better believe ceiling fans are an integral part of this 50-something-woman's summer/fall life! Looking forward to seeing in soon!

  20. Image for Ann C Ann C

    I was surprised when I noticed you don’t have lamps on your end tables. I realize you have a large ceiling light but I’d be lost without my table lamps. I like to read. And I find table lamps to be Much cozier. Plus with 8’ ceilings my ceiling fan doesn’t allow for a light fixture from it! No can lights in this old house so table and floor lamps do the job. I love all the possibilities! I have an empty glass lamp I fill with seasonal items with a shade made from a sheet of cork. My favorite!

  21. Image for Loryl Loryl

    I’m with you girlfriend ceiling fans ROCK! I’ve had them in my last 2 houses and will put them in whatever house we have because as you say ”THEY MOVE AIR!” I couldn’t sleep at night without it. And I 💕💕 your lamp selections.

  22. Image for Regina Merrick Regina Merrick

    The ceiling fan in my bedroom has been on for at least 15 of the last 17 years that we've lived in our house. ;) #teamceilingfan all the way!!! I've often wondered why hotels don't have ceiling fans in their rooms - I know I would sleep better! Pretty, pretty lamps! I'm a sucker for a great lamp, too, and I don't have two that match except on either side of my bed!

  23. Image for Jean McGee Jean McGee

    Ceiling fans Y E SSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!! I have had my own personal summers for over 30 years...............When we moved 15 years ago a ceiling fan went into every single room. Before our move I had to carry my hand-held battery operated fan every where... YUK!!!!! And YUK to personal summers...

  24. Image for Kristi T Essman Kristi T Essman

    I think because Chandeliers and unique ceiling lighting is such a big deal in decor right now the poor ceiling fan has gotten a bad rap, but living in the arid high desert climate of Idaho, I wouldn't be w/o my ceiling fans in EVERY room either! There are some great looking ceiling fans out there so why not?! Anyway, that's where the great table or floor lamp can come into play. Even with ceiling lighting you don't always want that much light in your room. All of my rooms have ceiling lighting and I rarely turn them on. Lamps are so much more cozy and cast such a comfortable feeling to a room. Your house is so beautiful KariAnne, I just love checking in to see what you are doing and hearing all about your adventures. You always spread such joy and light even across the pages! Have a great Holiday weekend y'all!

  25. Image for Cindy Cindy

    Good ideas and decorating information. However, as pretty and neat as your house is,it's a little too white and blue for my taste. Very sterile looking.

  26. Image for Mary Mary

    Yes to ceiling fans in high=humidity of Iowa! I love the old dresser in your post, I have just like it in my entrance with an old mirror over it, and love it!

  27. Image for Jo Jo

    I am a lamp person...probably because I love to be able to control the ambiance along with the ability to read anywhere there is a comfortable spot. You nailed the advice!! Living in the Atlanta area I also see the advantage of ceiling fans, but have used them sparingly, as not to "conflict" with my decor, however not passing out during the heat waves is essential! As always, I love your blog.

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