When you have a limited number of windows and overhead lights, floor lamps can reduce eye strain and control a room’s brightness—not to mention enhance the mood. In their most basic form, floor lamps consist of a base, shaft, lamp head, and shade, but the configurations can be wildly different. From traditional club-style lamps to modern torchieres, there are a few key designs to know when choosing the best floor lamp for you.
- BEST OVERALL: Brightech Adjustable Pharmacy LED Floor Lamp
- BEST BUDGET: Syrinx 3 in 1 LED Floor Lamp
- BEST MODERN: JOOFO Floor Lamp
- BEST VINTAGE: WERFACTORY Tiffany Floor Lamp Torchiere
- BEST TRADITIONAL: Kenroy Home Spyglass Floor Lamp
- BEST INDUSTRIAL: Oneach Tolbert Industrial Floor Lamp
Popular Types of Floor Lamps
The beauty of floor lamps rests in their design and the way they effortlessly bring light to exactly the right spot in your home. You want a lamp that not only offers basic illumination but also the kind of illumination you need. These four categories cover the most popular and useful types of floor lamps on the market today.
The traditional floor lamp, also called a club lamp, is composed of a metal base, shaft, and lamp head that’s finished with an empire-style shade (narrower at the top and flared at the bottom). Club lamps can be updated to function in contemporary homes, too. Look for brushed metal finishes and sleek Art Deco styling.
- Swing-arm lamp variations offer a bit more versatility than basic club lamps. They also have a metal shaft and empire shade, but the lamp head is placed on a swiveling arm. This allows you to reach out and adjust the position of the light if you’re watching TV or reading on the couch.
- Tripod-style floor lamp models play with the traditional form of the shaft. Instead of a single shaft, tripod lamps are set on three splayed legs. You will often find tripod lamps featuring drum- or oval-shaped shades instead of empire shades. These sleek shades update the lamp’s profile, giving tripod floor lamps a modern look and vibe.
Contemporary task lights are sleek, minimalistic, and typically made of metal. They have a long, adjustable shaft and a smallish metal head that can bend directly over a table surface or desk. The light bulb, typically an LED, is extremely bright and stays focused on the spot where the head is directed. For a slightly more traditional feel, go for pharmacy-style task lights. These are made of brass or have a rubbed bronze finish. The head may be angular or rounded and is also made of metal. A pharmacy lamp can lend a historic or industrial feel to a room.
Torchieres and Beyond
Torchieres feature long, tall shafts with flared heads at the top. They direct light upward, so they are ideal for adding ambient lighting to a room as well as brightening dark corners. Beyond torchieres, there are a number of lamp styles that play with form and function, offering even greater versatility.
- A tree-style or candelabra floor lamp features a design that branches. From a single metal base, the lamp branches into three or more arms, each with a bulb at the end. The lighted arms may point down, up, or in multiple directions, depending on the type of lampshade.
- A tower lamp provides diffuse ambient lighting. It’s built on a long metal frame and almost completely covered with a translucent shade. Available in a range of styles, from Chinese-inspired lanterns to sculptural forms and textured materials, this type of lamp works well in corners as well as in contemporary settings.
- An arched lamp, named for its curved shaft, ends in a single luminous shade. The lamp head may be covered in metal or fabric, but the effect is gentle, organic, and great for shedding light over a big sofa.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Floor Lamp
The floor lamp you choose should work for your room and your lifestyle. Whether you wish to illuminate a dark corner or shed some light on a favorite reading nook, here are the most important qualities to look for before making a purchase.
There are three basic uses for floor lamps: task lighting, ambient lighting, and accent lighting.
- In technical terms, task lighting increases contrast rather than illuminance, which is the amount of light radiating per square unit. For this to happen, task lights typically have an adjustable, extendable arm that holds a bright bulb directly over your workspace. Just as you focus on the task at hand, a task lamp needs to be focused, too.
- Ambient lighting refers to the general amount of light in a room. Ambient floor lamps should provide diffuse illumination throughout the room or in a large section of the room.
- In contrast, accent lighting is intended to create visual interest, often spotlighting a certain architectural feature or aspect of the room. How your floor lamp is designed, as well as where it is positioned, determines whether it is best for ambient or accent lighting.
For a good-quality floor lamp, look for a solid metal base, typically made of nickel-plated brass. In the case of torchieres and traditional floor lamps, the long shaft that keeps the light elevated and contains electrical wires is also made of plated metal. For tripod-style floor lamps, the legs may be metal or wood. Lampshades can be made of fabric, metal, plastic, or glass.
Bulb Type and Brightness
Traditionally, floor lamps used incandescent (tungsten filament) bulbs. These bulbs, however, are very inefficient, and while initially cheap, they burn out much more quickly than alternatives like energy-efficient CFLs (compact fluorescent lamp bulbs) and LEDs (light-emitting diodes). The best floor lamp is one that accommodates these varieties, allowing you the opportunity to choose and invest in energy-efficient bulbs upfront.
Lamp brightness is measured in lumens, or the total quantity of visible light emitted by a source per unit of time. These vary based on the specific bulb, but each type has an average:
- Incandescent bulbs typically produce around 14 lumens per watt.
- CFL bulbs typically produce around 63 lumens per watt.
- LEDs typically produce around 74 lumens per watt.
CFLs and LEDs can function effectively as task lights, since they can be ultra-bright without getting too hot. Thanks to new designs and softer, warmer bulb colors, these energy-efficient lights can also provide dimmer ambient and accent lighting, too.
Style and Mood
The best floor lamps combine function with form. By complementing your furnishings and decor, floor lamps create a sense of balance and cohesion in a room. They can also add an element of surprise or a contrasting note; for example, counterbalancing soft furnishings with a harder, industrial vibe. Be intentional with your lamps, whether they match or contrast with your furnishings and style.
Dimmable floor lamps can alter the mood and ambient light in a room on a whim. Look for lamps that offer at least three brightness levels (100 percent, 50 percent, and 25 percent, for example). Beyond a dimming switch or dial, some lamps come with a remote control to adjust brightness from a distance. To control your lamp settings via a smart device, consider plugging the floor lamp of your choice into a smart plug.
Size and Adjustability
In general, floor lamps should be 5 feet tall or more. On traditional lamps, shades should rest near eye level. Torchieres are often taller, since they are designed to also illuminate the ceiling space. For reading and task lamps, look for adjustable shafts as well as extendable arms and flexible lamp heads that can be pointed in various directions.
Most floor lamps can be relocated as long as they are within easy distance of an electrical outlet. To avoid tripping hazards, make sure cords are tucked behind furniture and not stretched across a highly trafficked area.
Our Top Picks
This selection includes some of the best floor lamp options—sleek, functional, and versatile—for a range of households and lifestyles. All models are also LED-integrated or LED-compatible, extending the lifetime and energy efficiency of your lamp.
A reading lamp should save your eyes from strain, but it needn’t be utilitarian; the striking shape and antique brass finish on Brightech’s floor lamp are proof. A modern update on a vintage pharmacy lamp, Brightech’s floor lamp uses its angular shade to focus 1150 lumens (or the equivalent of 90 watts) of light onto your workspace.
Its thin shaft and heavy base will easily fit into a corner, and the pivoting head and swing arm allow you to adjust the angle of light as you need. The touch switch also contains a dimmer, offering 100 percent, 50 percent, and 25 percent brightness. The integrated LED bulb is designed to last up to 20 years without replacement.
- Modern version of vintage reading lamp
- Focuses 1,150 lumens (90 watts) onto reading or work space
- Pivoting head and swing arm to direct light
- Dimming capability
- Not as stable as some floor lamps, with tall height and small base
Save your eyes and some money with the Syrinx 3-in-1 LED Floor Lamp. It is designed to easily and fluidly transform from a 53.25-inch standing pole lamp to a 23.5-inch desk- or clamp-on lamp. High-tech and easy to use, it comes with both touch controls and remote controls, including a timer.
The LED bulbs (included) are ultra-bright but adjust if and when you prefer warmer, gentler light. You have a choice of five dimmable brightness levels and five color temperature settings. This white task light won’t take up much space, and it’s unobtrusive enough to blend into a living room or bedroom as well as an office or work nook.
- Affordable task-lighting solution
- Transforms from floor lamp to desk or clamp-on lamp
- Includes adjustable LED brightness levels and color temperature settings
- Comes with remote control to manage lighting
- Simple white task light design, not decorative
Atop the ultra-slim profile of this 68.9-inch JOOFO torchiere, a flat, round head tilts upward, bouncing light off the ceiling and surrounding walls to increase ambient light, even in large spaces. It also rotates 350 degrees, so you can get exactly the right angle.
That’s not where the customization ends: Adjust settings via touch or remote control, including the brightness level (from 100 percent to 5 percent) as well as color temperature (cold white, natural white, and warm white). Thanks to high brightness, low heat LED advanced technology, and a bulb lifetime of up to 100,000 hours, it can save money, energy, and replacement woes in the long run.
- Modern look with flat, round head
- Torchiere type that directs light upward, not in the eyes
- Adjustable settings via touch or remote control
- Rotates 360 degrees
- Better for ambient light than for task lighting
Tiffany stained glass achieved name recognition during the Art Nouveau movement of the late 19th century. Inspired by Tiffany design, lamps like this one enable you to own your own piece of history and heritage. Atop a 66-inch bronze-finished lamp shaft rests an elegant stained glass shade featuring an aquamarine dragonfly design.
Easy to assemble and beautiful to behold, this lamp adds a little jeweled light and vintage charm to the space without giving up the modern convenience of choosing LED bulb upgrades (not included).
- Attractive vintage floor lamp that is decorative and functional
- Reaches 66 inches high
- Torchiere style for ambient, not overly bright, light
- Easy to assemble
- Design comes at a price
- Better for ambient lighting in room than for task lighting
Traditional does not necessarily mean boring or old school. Case in point: Kenroy Home’s classic floor lamp. Inspired by Art Deco designs and tempered with a modern sensibility, this floor lamp features a brushed steel finish and linen lampshade. Towering at 5 feet tall, this lamp can serve as a statement piece in your living room, office, or bedroom.
The dual bulbs can be turned on and off simultaneously or independently for dimmer or brighter light, and the brightness level can be adjusted via dual pull chains. Each socket supports a 100-watt incandescent bulb or the LED equivalent.
- Traditional style and function with modern touch
- Stands 5 feet tall
- Includes dual bulbs with separate pulls
- Can take incandescent or LED bulbs
- Basic design and function
The black painted metal lamp shaft on Oneach’s tree-style Tolbert torchiere practically blends into the background, putting the spotlight on its open cage shades and bare light bulbs within. The three flexible lamp heads rotate 270 degrees, allowing you to shine light in almost any direction to achieve a more focused or more diffused glow.
The best part? The lamp comes with three LED Edison-style bulbs, which can help you save up to 85 percent on your lighting expense while you use this lamp to achieve mood and task lighting.
- Industrial look in a tree-style lamp
- Includes three flexible head lamps that rotate for adjusting lighting
- Includes LED Edison-style bulbs
- Black metal stand reaches 65 inches high
- Lower bulbs might shine too brightly in eyes
- Industrial look doesn’t suit all decors
For all-around task or mood lighting, it is tough to beat the Brightech Adjustable Pharmacy LED Floor Lamp, which has an adjustable arm, lamp head, and dimmer. For less expensive task lighting but plenty of options for location and brightness, the Syrinx 3 in 1 LED Floor Lamp can meet most task-lighting needs—and budgets.
How We Chose the Best Floor Lamps
We began by looking at the type of floor lam and whether it best serves traditional accent, task-lighting, or ambient-lighting uses. A solid base is an important consideration in a floor lamp, and so are size and adjustability when placing and using the lamp.
We also considered style and mood of design and lighting, as well as bulb type and brightness. LED lamps burn with less heat and save energy; many also can adjust the warmth, coolness, and brightness of their lights, much like the Syrinx 3 in 1 LED Floor Lamp.
FAQs About Floor Lamps
If you choose well, floor lamps can last decades and withstand a lifetime of use. The right size and positioning are key; otherwise your lamp may simply take up space. Here are some simple guidelines to follow.
Q. How tall should a floor lamp be?
Look for a traditional shaded lamp between 58 and 64 inches tall—around eye level for the average adult. Torchieres may be taller.
Q. How do you light a room with floor lamps?
To increase ambient light, corners are an ideal place for floor lamps. For reading, knitting, and evening activities, position lamps near armchairs and sofas.
Why Trust Bob Vila
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Andréana Lefton is a writer and educator, focusing on human rights and creating spaces of refuge—in our homes and communities. As a documentary researcher, she has freelanced with The Guardian as well as NPR- and BBC-affiliates. She’s written for On Being, the United Nations, and many non-profit clients in the US, UK, Europe, and Middle East. All that she knows of garden care and interior design she learned from her artistic mother, Jacqueline. She now applies these skills to her life in Chattanooga, TN, where home is an urban art studio with books piled everywhere.