Do End Tables Need Lamps?

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End tables are functional decorative pieces that might be a great addition to your living or family room. They also provide a great surface to decorate. But does this decoration need to include a table lamp?

End tables do not need lamps. There are countless options for decorating and using end tables that don’t require a lamp. However, you might find a table lamp to be useful. Not only do they provide light, but they also can help complete the decor scheme of the room. 

We want your living room to look as good as possible. That’s why we’ve researched this topic thoroughly and have put together this handy guide to help you figure out what works for your situation. Please continue reading for an explanation about table lamps, more ideas for decorating your end tables, and other ways to optimize your living room’s decor.

A luxurious apartment living room with natural gold stone wall tiles, a modern sofa and side table with black metal lamp, Do End Tables Need Lamps?

Purpose Of Table Lamps

Contemporary living room with sofa and ornaments in front of large window with curtains

First and foremost, table lamps give light to the room. If your living or family room feels dark, consider using table lamps. These pieces might be even more valuable if you’re short on space in the room since they sit on another piece of furniture and have a small footprint.

You can find lamps that go with any decor scheme. For instance, if you want a softer, calm light, look for a light with a warm lampshade like the ones below. 

Click here to view this lamp on Amazon.

Or, if you want maximum brightness to illuminate the room, opt for a white lampshade like this one. 

Click here to view this lamp on Amazon.

Decorative uses of table lamps

Table lamps also can be a simple way to insert color and variety into a room. They’re a non-permanent, non-overwhelming way to liven up the space. Yes, you could paint the wall a fun color or install a warm carpet, but these things are expensive and can quickly tilt the room in the wrong direction. 

Furthermore, some rooms feel incomplete without a nice table lamp. If you’re wondering how to tie in part of the decor with the rest, look no further than a lamp. For instance, this black and gold lamp ties the floor to the other colors in the room. It’s a great finishing touch on the room, helping it feel complete. 

Luxurious apartment living room with natural black stone wall tiles

Another common question about lamps is whether or not they should match each other. Check out this article for answers: Should All Lamps In A Room Match?

Where should a lamp be placed on an end table?

There are no real rules when placing a lamp on the table. Theoretically, it can go wherever you’d like. However, most of the time, a lamp will look best on the back third of the table. This keeps it from blocking the view of the other items on the table. It also leaves plenty of surface for convenience: drinks, books, and other things you want to set on the table.

You can position the lamp on either corner of the back third. It might be helpful to think about how it will be most functional. Is the lamp there primarily to provide light? Then positioning it on the table most closely to the seat might make it most effective. This would make it easy to reach and give maximum illumination. 

How tall should a lamp be on an end table?

The rule of thumb is that the bottom of the lampshade should be about eye-level with the person seated closest to it. This means that there is no hard-and-fast measurement for the lamp. It all depends on the height of the seat, the table, and the lamp. 

Ideally, the lampshade is low enough to block the harsh glare from the bulb without dimming the light too drastically. The shade should also be low enough to hide the socket for the bulb from sight, even if you’re sitting right next to the lamp. Have a lamp that you absolutely love, but the shade is too short? Think about buying a longer shade, like the one below, in the same color.

Click here to view this lampshade on Amazon.

Want more information on lamp heights throughout the home? Read this article next: How Big Should A Lampshade Be? [By Lamp Location]

Decorating end tables without lamps

As we’ve discussed, table lamps are versatile and functional, so they might be the perfect piece of furniture for your room. But if you have plenty of lighting from other sources or don’t want to take up the surface space for a lamp, there are other options to help your end table feel complete.

Right now, a trendy option is to decorate your end table with a small plant. This is a fantastic way to brighten up a room, and the different types of pots can give your room color.

Close-up of metal and wooden industrial style side table with mug and glass vase on it

If you don’t want to use plants, consider using decorative books or frames. End tables are great places to set photos of family or friends. Pottery and other decorative items can also be great additions to an end table, like in the picture below.

Metal table with vase and green accent chair

Or, simply use your end table as a convenient place to set things while you’re sitting next to it! Have some coasters handy, set a box of tissues on top, or set out some interesting magazines. Decorating is all about finding a balance between beauty and function.

Can you put candles on an end table?

Yes, you can absolutely put candles on an end table. If you want the candle to be discreet, an end table is a great spot for it. It’s out of the way, but you still get the benefits of the scent and sound. On the other hand, if you want the candle (or candles) to be more apparent, consider putting them on a coffee table or entertainment center. 

Be careful not to set candles in a dangerous spot. If you put them on the end table, make sure they’re far enough away from the arm of the seat that nobody will accidentally elbow them or burn his or her arm. If they’re on the coffee table, make sure they’re far enough away from the edge that if the table gets bumped they won’t fall off.

How can you hide electrical cords in the living room?

There are several different ways to hide electrical cords, ranging from simple to complex. While these wires are necessary and common, they are considered unattractive by many people. 

Under a rug

If you’re forced to run cords across the room — for surround sound or power purposes — lay a rug down on top of them. This will naturally protect you from tripping on the cords and will disguise them. If there’s a way to insert a rug into your design, this is a great method.

Taped to the back or underside of furniture

If the cord will stay in the same place for a long period of time, it might be worth taping it to a hidden part of the furniture. Depending on where the piece is in the room and the positioning of the cord, this might be on the back or underneath the furniture.

Curl the cord up as small as possible, then use painter’s or masking tape to attach it to the furniture. If there are multiple cords, zip tie them together to simplify the process. Be careful: leaving any type of tape on furniture for too long can ruin the finish. If you use this method, choose an unfinished part of the table or couch, or one that will never be out in the open.

Click here to view these zip ties on Amazon.

Conduit covers

The most professional-looking method is to use conduit covers. This works well if the cords have to run a long distance along baseboards or walls. Conduit covers are plastic and come in a variety of colors. They stick to a flat surface and go over the top of the cord or cords. These are a somewhat permanent option, so make sure you have the cords where you want them before installing the covers.

Click here to view these conduit covers on Amazon.

In Closing

Putting a lamp on an end table is often a great way to decorate, but it isn’t necessary and might not be right for your situation. If you don’t want an end table, use other items to give the room color and tie in the rest of the decor. Candles, plants, and pottery are all great options for this purpose.

We hope this article has inspired you to decorate your room in a way that works for you. Good luck!

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