Lamps do more than add light. They can change the look of a room, without the expense of painting the walls and recovering furniture. Getting it wrong, though, can extinguish any illuminating ideas you had in your decor plans.
It helps to know what you need to accomplish. Small, accent lamps can accessorize bookcases and other nooks. Large, tall lamps add a dramatic touch. Floor lamps cast light upward.
When you're trying to select the right lamp for a particular space, Marsha Yessick, a member of the Association of Interior Designers and owner of Yessick's Design Center, says there are several common mistakes people make.
1. Failure to choose the correct lamp size when placing a table lamp. Large, oversized tables require a large, chunky lamp. Thin small tables, need slender ones, with smaller shades.
2. Not recognizing that lamps can be objects of art as well as functional items. Colorful lamps with coordinating shades are delightful additions to a room.
3. Stopping short. Several lamps can be placed in an average-size room. All rooms are enhanced by adding another lamp. Commonly missed opportunities for a bit of atmosphere are bookcases, powder room vanities and dining room sideboards.
4. Forgetting that a well-selected lamp will carry out the chosen theme of the room. A nursery is the perfect example. Whatever the theme or color scheme, a distinctive lamp adds an unparalleled finishing touch.
5. Not realizing that all rooms need a spot of black. With the use of a black shade, a striking, chic mood is created.
"The right lamp instantly adds warmth to a room," Mrs. Yessick said. "In addition to adding light, lamps are functional. In fact, it's one of the main accessories a room needs -- right up there with art, if not even more so."
Lamps have changed since the days of brass bases and silk shades. Mrs. Yessick said today's lamps, many of which are made overseas, reflect the artistry of their makers.
"We have a multitude of mediums now," she said. "From hand-painted bases to bronze and other metals."
Shades are brighter and more interesting, too, appearing in different shapes, colors and fabrics. For example, rather than round shades, many are now square and rectangular. Embellishments such as beads and ruffles add style.
You can even add a more personal touch to certain fabric shades by having them monogrammed with your name, initials, slogan or logo.
"That's big," Mrs. Yessick said.
In addition, prices have come down in retail stores to reflect the same prices available through online and mail-order catalogs, Mrs. Yessick added.