Stylish lightbulbs for designer lamps – a buyer’s guide

If you’ve bought a stylish designer lamp there’s no point in spoiling the effect with a less-than-stylish lightbulb. Here’s a Pooky buyer’s guide to getting the perfect designer light bulb for both looks and light…

Most of the time, choosing the right light bulb is about getting the right amount and quality of light for your room – achieving that lovely, buttery, warm, cosy light in a living room or bedside; or decent task lighting in a kitchen. But if you’ve invested in a designer lamp or pendant which has an exposed bulb design, how the lightbulb itself looks is equally important. There are all sorts of options out there, and the great thing is that LED technology is now so good that you can get all the benefits of energy-efficient lighting while also enjoying the stylishness and warm light of old-school bulbs. bulbs

Modern lightbulbs – a quick techie guide

Bulb types:

Since traditional incandescent bulbs were removed from the market, the three main types of regular lightbulb are CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps), halogens and LEDs. LEDs are definitely the way to go: they’re the most energy-efficient (using almost 90% less energy than a traditional incandescent) and should last for up to 25 years. And these days, with filament designs readily available, they’re lovely-looking objects too.


Back in the old days when we all used incandescent bulbs, we measured brightness in watts. But watts are actually a measure of power, and modern bulbs use less power to produce more light. So now we measure brightness in lumens. Roughly speaking, an old 40W bulb is about 400 lumens and a 60W is 700 lumens. So for a bedside lamp and night-time reading around 400 lumens would be fine, while in a sitting room you probably want all your lamps to add up to between about 1,500 and 3,000 lumens in total. (Read our guide to layering light in a room here.)


The ‘colour’ of light is measured on the Kelvin scale, but most people tend to think in terms of ‘warmth’. So in your home you want to avoid that pale, cold light you get in hospitals and enjoy the soft warm golden glow we used to get from 40W incandescent bulbs. To give you an idea of the scale: 1,600k is a candle and 5,500k is midday sunlight. Sunset is around 2,500k, so for cosy home bulbs you want something in that area. We offer bulbs in the sweet spot called ‘warm white’: from 2,200k to 2,700k.

Exposed bulb lamps

If your table lamp or floor lamp has a shade that conceals the bulb, the most important thing is obviously the quality, warmth and brightness of the light. So go for the LED bulb that matches the mood you want, and pick a filament bulb if you want it to be dimmable.
Dimmable large 5 watt LED filament bulb

However, if you’ve got a lamp with an exposed bulb design – most likely a pendant or wall light (but not always) – then how the bulb looks can make all the difference. At Pooky we’ve carefully selected styles for our range of five bulb shapes: standard, large, long, candle and golf ball (all pretty self-explanatory names). Here are some examples of how you might pair different lights and bulb shapes…

Long bulb for a lantern pendant light

The Luxor is a perfect example of a pendant light that demands a stylish bulb. It’s an incredibly simple lantern design in brass and glass and we think is a real wow with a long 6W LED filament bulb:

Standard pearl bulbs for a glass pendant

On the other hand, some glass pendants actually work really well with a traditional-looking, standard-shaped pearl bulb. The Connie, for instance, has enough going on with its intricate brass pattern, so that more glass and metal in a filament bulb would probably be overkill:


Golf ball bulb in a shallow pendant

Other pendants are crying out for a little round ‘golf ball’ shaped bulb – indeed, any other kind might stick out and look a bit odd. Take the super-Dahlia, for example:


Midcentury ‘spotlight’ designer lamps

Finally, a different kind of lamp that requires some careful bulb-buying is the 1950s ‘spotlight’ style light, which also exposes the bulb. Examples are our Humph wall light and the Astaire floor lamp. A large or golf ball LED filament bulb will usually do the trick, depending on the size.

So have a browse and check out all of our stylish LED light bulbs here. And on the subject of stylish lighting accessories, read about designer flex – the genius solution to untidy power cables – here.