At William Miller Design, we are frequently asked:
“What is the proper height for table lamps ?”
The deciding factor in determining the height for your table lamps is really the surrounding architecture,ceiling height and the height of the headboard. A taller headboard will warrant taller lamps so that the scale of the entire arrangement will be pleasing and correct.
Lamps on bedside tables for example can have a scale and size that is proportionate to the height of the ceiling and the headboard or treatment on the bed wall.
If your nightstand is 24” to 30” tall, Lamps should be at least 27” – 32” tall.
Shorter nightstands, such as a low profile modern style that is only 18” TO 20” off the floor, call for a taller lamp to equal the visual proportion if the headboard is higher than 36” above the nightstand top. Ultimately, this will depend on the height of the headboard, and or architecture of the bed wall itself.
Another deciding factor is the particular aesthetic one is trying to achieve. For a retro modern look; lamps are often very over scaled in comparison to the height of the table or surface they are placed on. For a more traditional refined setting, the look of a much smaller lamp in comparison to a larger table, may work best.
A general proportion of 1/3 to 2/3 is the most pleasing and balanced look to the human eye. Studies have shown that this proportion is recognized as interesting, balanced and appealing. In keeping with this “rule” of proportion, many design schools teach the principle of the golden section or the “golden ratio.”
At least since the Renaissance, many artists and architects have proportioned their works to approximate the golden ratio—especially in the form of the golden rectangle, in which the ratio of the longer side to the shorter is the golden ratio—believing this proportion to be aesthetically pleasing. Mathematicians have studied the golden ratio because of its unique and interesting properties.
Applying this practice even in simple accessorizing, selecting accessories and lamps or picture hanging, this “golden ratio” is a formula that will never fail to please the eye.
So when asking questions about proportion, scale and composition, remember, There are certain mathematical formulas that can be followed and applied, but truly the beauty is in the eye of the beholder.