Floor lamps are tall fixtures with a weighted base that are designed to sit on the floor and provide light higher within a room. A staple of interior home decor, the floor lamp offers a functional way to light your space without the need for overhead lighting. Also called standing lamps, these home lighting options can impact the ambiance and mood of a room through the type of lamp selected, its materials, positioning, and even the light bulbs used.
You've likely come across many different types of floor lamps in various homes, however, each lamp has a specific name and its own unique purpose. Some floor lamps are designed to light a small area, while others can light a room from different angles and even include storage options. Within each category, there are a variety of styles that can suit different designs.
Below, we'll break down the basic construction of 11 different types of floor lamps to help you determine which lighting type is best for your space.
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- Best for: Upward lighting
A torchiere is one of the most popular and recognizable floor lamps, identifiable by its upright, torch-like shape with the lighting fixture pointing upward at the end of a column. The name is derived from the French word for "torch."
Torchieres do not require a lot of floor space, and the unobtrusive shape is versatile and popular. The other advantage of torchieres is their ability to provide general light. The shape directs light at the ceiling, where it diffuses into a pleasing general light that covers the room.
A lamp featuring a dimmer switch and equipped with dimmer bulbs add to the torchiere's versatility, letting you soften or turn up the light as needed. Since these lamps come in many different styles (ranging from traditional to modern), you can find one that fits into any design and budget.
Before buying a torchiere, make sure it's stable and can't tip over easily. A durable, weighted base is best, or make sure to position the lamp so it doesn't topple.
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- Best for: Area lighting
A club lamp, another ubiquitous type, is a stick lamp designed for area lighting. These lamps usually have a three-way socket or a twin socket operated by a pull chain.
As with a torchiere, you can buy a club lamp in any style. The components are a base, a stick or pole, and a lampshade that softens light radiating light out of the sides. Club lamps tend to have similar prices as torch lamps, which can suit any budget from affordable to high-end. Some lamps of this style have large bases that help them stand straight, while others have less durable bases that require leveling.
Shown here is a Tristan Club Lamp from Kichler, which has a base of polished nickel and polished nickel spheres. The shade is a crisp white. It has a three-way switch and socket for more lighting control, with a maximum lamp size of 150 watts. The lamp stands 60.5 inches tall. Its shade is 16 inches across the top, 17 inches across the bottom, and 11.5 inches tall.
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- Best for: Lighting and storage combinations
The tray lamp is essentially a club floor lamp with a tray inserted at table height. Many tray lamps feature multiple legs that help them stay level without adjustment. The trays of various lamps may be made of glass or other materials like wood, marble, metal, plexiglass, and more to suit various design styles.
This type of floor lamp is used for area lighting, and it can come in handy in small spaces to serve as an end table. The tray and the base take up less visual space than an end table with a table lamp. Tray lamps tend to cost more than basic floor lamps, but many affordable options exist.
Shown here is the Robert Abbey Collin Saki Shade Tray Floor Lamp, offering a retro look. The lamp, which is 59 inches tall, has a bronze finish over aluminum along with dark antique nickel finish accents. Its fabric shade is 15 inches across the top, 21 inches across the bottom, and 13 inches tall. The glass tray is 18 inches in diameter, while the tripod base is 14.5 inches. This lamp accepts a three-way bulb with a maximum incandescent wattage of 150 watts.
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Adjustable Club Floor Lamp
- Best for: Adjustable area lighting
The adjustable club floor lamp is a variation of the standard club lamp, but its height can be changed to suit a variety of needs. This style is mostly used for area lighting, and some bases of these lamps are more durable than others. Adjustable lamps can have slightly higher prices than basic versions of the same style. Many club lamps also come with decorative shades and unique designs.
Shown here is the Port O'Call Floor Lamp from Crate and Barrel, which is available in pure cast brass or an antique bronze finish. The shade is in translucent white parchment, which gives off diffused light. The lamp has a three-way switch and takes either a compact fluorescent light bulb or a 150-watt incandescent bulb. Its height can be extended from 49 inches to 58 inches.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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Adjustable Swing Arm Lamp
- Best for: Changing light sources
Like adjustable club lamps, an adjustable swing arm lamp can offer different types of light—but instead of changing the lamp's height, its arm can be moved in various directions.
Adjustable swing arm lamps are often a bit pricier than the standard club or torchiere lamps. However, they can be found within any budget depending on their materials. High-end metals are used for the best quality, and a large lamp base is also helpful to help it stand straight.
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Six-Way Floor Lamp
- Best for: Lighting large rooms
The six-way floor lamp (sometimes called a mogul lamp) can provide a tremendous amount of light, as it uses a center three-way bulb surrounded by up to three additional bulbs, which can all be used simultaneously or separately as needed. These lamps are great for lighting up large rooms, and they can typically be found at very affordable prices. Because this style uses multiple bulbs, more will need to be replaced when the bulbs go out over time.
Shown here is the traditional style Bronze View Six-Way Floor Lamp from Robert Abbey, which has a bronze finish over cast metal and steel. The shade is in parchment Saki fabric. The lamp has six different levels of light output and a six-way switch. It takes three 60-watt bulbs and one 100-watt bulb. The base is 10 inches in diameter, and the shade is 14 inches across the top, 18 inches across the bottom, and 9.5 inches high. The entire lamp is 56 inches high.
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Tower Floor Lamp
- Best for: Ambient lighting
Tower floor lamps provide ambient light with the added advantage of looking like sculptures or furniture during the day. These lamps can be made from many different materials, though soft materials that allow light to pass through are most common.
There is tremendous variety in the category of tower lamps, from Asian-style lanterns to modern, sculptural forms. These lamps can even serve as design focal points in many rooms or provide storage when part of an upright shelving unit. Most are designed to produce warm light. Tower lamps can cost significantly more than other common lamps, and they sometimes use specialty bulbs that require a trip to the hardware store for replacements.
Shown here is the Lumalight 3 Light Ambient Floor Lamp from Roland Simmons, with a notable modern contemporary style. It uses three light bulbs of 40 watts each. The lamp is available in different colors, and it stands 76 inches high with a diameter of 14 inches.
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Down Bridge Floor Lamp
- Best for: Downward lighting
Down bridge floor lamps have the light directed downwards, and they make great reading or task lamps. This style is excellent for directing a pool of light onto your project or page, perfect for positioning next to an armchair. The socket and shade are directed at an angle, and often, the shade is threaded around the bulb socket.
Modern down bridge floor lamps can cost a bit more than traditional styles, but in general, this type of floor lamp is very affordable. The bulbs can typically be easily replaced, as most of these lamps use common light bulbs that can be found at most stores.
Shown here is the Frederick Cooper Toyon Brass Bronze Floor Lamp. It is suitable for traditional, rustic, and eclectic styles with an embossed faux-leather shade for added texture and interest. The column has complementary fabric and metal with a brass bronze finish. Since it takes a 150-watts three-way bulb, you can control the amount of light you need. The total height is 58 inches, and the shade is 13 inches wide at the bottom.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Pharmacy Floor Lamp
- Best for: Directed lighting
Pharmacy lamps provide very specific directed light, including adjustable height with a head that can be swung in different directions as needed. This type of lamp has a very small profile and is used more for its function than as a design statement. However, many attractive pharmacy floor lamps are available to suit a variety of styles.
When choosing a pharmacy floor lamp, opt for a style that features easily replaceable bulbs, as some can be difficult to change. These lamps often have higher prices than simple styles like club lamps (but there are plenty of budget options).
This example is the Coach Adjustable Floor Lamp from the House of Troy. It has an oil-rubbed bronze finish and uses 60-watt Type A bulbs. You can adjust the height from 35.5 inches to 52.5 inches depending on your needs. The shade measures 7 inches long, 4 inches tall, and 3.25 inches wide.
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- Best for: Multiple sources of light
Tree lamps are similar to club lamps, but they include several individual lights that are attached to the main lamp's base. These lights can usually be moved independently to add light to various areas of the room. Their shades are typically small and closely encase the light bulb for specifically directed light.
This type of lamp typically features a metal base with any variety of materials on the lamp shades. Like others, they may be more or less durable depending on their material. Most metal bases offer a sturdy construction. Some high-quality options may be on the pricier end, but overall, tree lamps are priced within an affordable range.
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- Best for: Downward lighting over furniture
An arched lamp features a curved rod that angles up and over from the base, typically in a circular shape, with the light fixture on the end. Arched lamps are great for providing downward light that can be styled over furniture.
Most arched lamps are made with metal rods and bases, though wood options can also be found. This style of lamp can be considerably more expensive than other standard options, though budget versions are available. High-end materials like hardwood or a sturdy metal in the lamp's construction can make it even more durable.
Choosing a Floor Lamp
There are plenty of different floor lamps in each category that can suit any design style, so the best way to choose a floor lamp is to determine how much light your room needs. Some lamps may look attractive in your space but fail to provide enough light, while others can even appear too bright. Tower lamps can create a soft glow, but they don't offer as much functional light as other basic types.
In rooms that need a considerable amount of light, it's helpful to choose a torchiere, club lamp, six-way lamp, or adjustable options. If you need to light a specific area, down bridge lamps and pharmacy lamps offer targeted bulbs that don't brighten the entire room.