How to light a room with floor lamps

Stylish and versatile, floor lamps are a fabulous way to light a room and create an atmosphere…

From illuminating those dark corners to adding warmth and wow factor, standard lamps are the perfect way to brighten up a room, while also making a style statement.

Why are floor lamps good for lighting a room?

Floor lamps are a versatile addition to your lighting scheme. As well as providing plenty of ambient lighting, they’re also great for practical task lighting, brightening up dark or awkward areas, and creating warmth and atmosphere. What’s more, floor lamps can make a stunning style statement in their own right.

What’s the best place to put a floor lamp?

A stylish floor lamp can look fabulous in any space, but there are a few things to think about when deciding exactly where to put them, including how you plan to use the space, the size and shape of the room, and the kind of tone and mood you want to achieve, as explained below. (Obviously you’ll need to take into account where your power outlets are, nobody wants to navigate extension lead trip hazards every day.)

Mo floor lamp - styled by Susie Atkinson

Using floor lamps to layer your lighting

First, you should consider how you plan to use your space. There are three main types of lighting: ambient lighting, which refers to the general light levels in a room; task lighting, which offers targeted light for reading, cooking, etc; and accent lighting, which is used to highlight specific areas or features within a room and create atmosphere. The ideal lighting scheme will provide a mixture of all three types - known as ‘layering’ light. Floor lamps are perfect for providing both ambient and task lighting, as well as creating accents and setting the tone and mood of a space. As well as being an effective source of light in their own right, floor lamps also look great in combination with other types of lighting, such as table lamps and wall lights, and can play a key role in your overall lighting scheme. (Find out more about layering light in our guide here.) Tip: To maximise the flexibility of your lighting scheme, opt for multiple lamps with dimmable bulbs - that way you can set the perfect mood at different times of the day.

Using floor lamps to provide ambient lighting

Floor lamps can provide plenty of good quality ambient light and will brighten up any space. If you’re relying on floor lamps to supply much of the ambient light in a room, the key is to aim for an even spread of light throughout the space. (You can work out exactly how much light you need in a room with our guide.) To ensure sufficient levels of ambient light, particularly in a larger space, place several floor lamps at regular intervals - for example, in different corners of the room. Be sure to include a floor lamp in any darker areas, to help create a uniform light and bring the space together. Tip: Choose a style that directs light upwards, such as a torchiere floor lamp, which will reflect light off the ceiling and help to illuminate the wider space.

Pooky's Miami floor lamp. Image: Artists Residence

Using floor lamps for effective task lighting

When it comes to task lighting, floor lamps are an effective and attractive option. For some targeted lighting in a living room, a striking floor lamp or two will look great standing next to, or slightly behind, a sofa or a group of sofas to create a defined zone. Meanwhile, a stylish reading floor lamp can look fabulous suspended over a reading chair or desk area, and will add height and interest to the space. Choose a style of floor lamp that directs the light downwards, and make sure the bottom of the shade sits at around eye level. In the bedroom, an adjustable floor lamp can offer a nice alternative to a bedside table lamp, for some atmospheric bedtime reading.

Creating accents and atmosphere with floor lamps

As well as providing practical illumination, floor lamps can be used to create a sense of cosiness and intimacy. A stylish floor lamp in the dining room will create a lovely warm ambience for eating and socialising. A floor lamp also can be a great way of adding some character to a dark or empty space. Use a striking, standalone floor lamp to make more of an awkward corner or an unloved area. Or to create a cosy chillout space, combine a classic upright floor lamp with a favourite armchair. Matching floor lamps can create a sense of balance and cohesion - try placing a pair either side of a central feature such as a fireplace, to create an attractive focal point. Floor lamps can also be used to highlight architectural features on a wall or ceiling. Pair your chosen floor lamp with an opaque lampshade for some effective accent lighting. And in the bedroom, combining a full-length mirror with a stylish floor lamp will help to reflect the ambient light and create a relaxing vibe. Tip: A semi-translucent silk or linen lampshade will create a softer, more diffused light.

Swing articulated lamp

Choosing a floor lamp to suit your space

The right floor lamp can complement and accentuate your design scheme. Floor lamps come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, materials and colours, from wood, brass and metallic bases, to silk, parchment, cotton, jute and ikat lampshades. When choosing floor lamps for your space, you should take into account the scale and dimensions of the room, as well as your existing decor, furnishings and overall design theme. The right style of floor lamp will help to pull everything together within the space. When it comes to floor lamps, size matters. It’s important to consider the height of the room and the size of your existing furniture. For example, a tripod or oversized floor lamp can look fantastic in the right surroundings, but could make a smaller room with a low ceiling feel more enclosed. Similarly, if you’re looking to complement your existing design style, aim to match like with like. A sleek, streamlined metallic number will fit beautifully in a contemporary space, while a more traditional setting might suit a more classic frame - such as an elegant, upright pillar floor lamp in wood or brass, paired with a tapered material shade, which will look the part and spread the light nicely around the space.

Pitigliano floor lamp in antique silver
At Pooky we create beautiful decorative lighting to make your home lovelier. View our range of affordable designer floor lamps here.