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What Size of a Lamp is Best for a Nightstand?

A photo of a hand turning off the lamp at night.

The ideal lamp size should be around 28-30 inches tall, with a width that’s a third of the nightstand. This lamp size goes perfectly with a standard-sized nightstand with a width of about 27-30 inches. Whenever I have to replace my lamps, I usually start out by measuring the nightstand.

I have found this to be a working formula so that I can get sufficient reading light. Here’s how you can determine the right size of lamp for your own nightstand.

Consider The Height of Your Nightstands

Before you start trying to calculate the right size of the lamp, the first thing you need to consider is the nightstand. In most instances, your nightstand is going to be the same size as your mattress. It, therefore, makes sense that the lamp should have the same height as the nightstand.

Some people also recommend having a lamp that is one-two inches higher than the nightstand.

Related: What is a Nightstand Organizer?

What Size of Bed Do You Have?

Side view image of king sized bed in a bright apartment.

Another factor that you need to take into consideration is the size of the bed. If you have a king-sized bed and a thicker mattress, then you will definitely need to buy a taller lamp. This way, your lamp can match the level of the mattress or the bed.

What About the Headboard Height?

After considering the bed size and nightstand, you also need to compare the height of the lamp to the height of the headboard. It’s important to pick a lamp size that is comparable to the visual proportion of the headboard. For instance, if you have a headboard that has a height of more than 36 inches, then you need to pick a lamp that is taller than the headboard.

The Size of the Room Matters

A hotel room interior with two night stand each side.

Before you buy a lamp, you also need to consider the size of the room. If you have a large bedroom, it won’t make sense to get a small lamp. This means you first need to analyze the size of your room before you can choose the size of the lamp.

If you have a large bedroom, you should pick a bigger lamp size so that the room will look fuller. Choosing a smaller lamp will create a dwarfy look. The same goes for smaller bedrooms. You also need to go with a small lamp, otherwise, it will look out of place.

Determining Lamp Width

There are two aspects of lamp size to consider. You should choose the right height and the right width as well. This means you can get the height right but get a width that is not proportional to the width of the nightstand. In general, the width of your nightstand is determined by the width of your mattress.

If you have a wide mattress, you also need to have a wide nightstand and a wider lamp on top of it. Getting the scale right is a balancing act. Roughly, your bedside lamp’s width should be about a third of the width of the nightstand at its widest point.

What is the Perfect Height for Your Lamp?

A photo of nightstand beside the alarm clock and a teddy bear facing infront.

If you are a bedtime reader, you need to choose the right height for your lamp. You don’t want to have too much light shining over your head. On the other hand, you also don’t want to have a lot of light right in your eyes.

If you have a nightstand that is the same height as your mattress, you must get a lamp that is the same size as your nightstand’s height plus an extra 2 or 3 inches. This means if you have a nightstand with a height of 24 inches, the lamp should be around 27 inches tall for the best results.

Bedroom Lamp Placement

A white bedroom interior with big bed and a tall lampshade.

Apart from the height, you also need to carefully figure out lamp placement. You don’t want to have to leave your bed entirely so you can reach the switch on the lamp. Ideally, the height of the lamp’s switch should be around the same height as your arm.

This means it should be somewhere around 21 to 28 inches high for most people. It would be better if the bedside lamp had an on and off switch right on the cord.

Determining Lampshade Size

There has to be a balance between the size of the lamp and the size of the lampshade. Generally, your lampshade height should be about two-thirds the height of the body of the lamp. The body measurement is from the bottom of the lamp to the base of your light bulb.

On the other hand, the width of the lampshade needs to be about two times the width of the widest part of the lamp.

If you are working with an extremely thin lamp, the width of your lampshade must not exceed the height of the shade. That way, you will have the best proportion. For you to have the best bedtime reading experience, the base of your lampshade needs to be level with your eyes when you are sitting up in bed.

How Many Bedside Lamps Do You Need?

A modern style bedroom with large white bed and four different lampshades.

This might seem like a silly question, but it’s not. Not every bedroom is symmetrical in terms of the setup. For instance, a child’s room usually has a single bed, so there is no need for two nightstands and two lamps. This means lighting needs vary with the type and setup of the bedroom.

In a typical bedroom setup, where space is not a limiting factor, you can have several lamps.

You can place two lamps on the sides of the bed, another on the dressing table, and a standard reading light by a chair. Keep in mind that the lamps you place on either side of the bed need to match. This will help create a sense of symmetry. On the other hand, it enables both bedroom occupants to control the lighting.

Summing Up

There’s nothing quite like getting into bed and rounding off your day with your bedroom nicely lit by the ambient glow of a bedside lamp. To get the bed lighting and convenience in your bedroom, you must take the time to figure out the right size lamp to get. You need a lamp that is large enough to deliver good light to read by.

It should also have the right height, so it doesn’t end up throwing light directly at your face. Important things to consider if you want to have the perfect lamp size are the mattress height and width and the nightstand height and width. You also need to consider the size of the room and its symmetry.

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