A Few Rules For Bedside Lamps (and what ACTUALLY made the biggest difference in our Pantry Makeover)

January 23, 2020

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This post is sponsored by Troy Lighting. 

Last week, after 2.5 months of sleeping in our daughter’s room while our room was under construction, we moved back in! Our room still has a ways to go and (ie. our bed frame still hasn’t arrived), but the key players are here and man, it feels good to be home. 

The Troy Lighting Calabria Table lamps were  the first things we picked out for this bedroom (waaayyyyy back in this post! What?!). We wanted something significant, and I love the warm mix of browns with our black nightstands. The delivery window was long, but we knew these beauties would be worth the wait. You know how it is when you know you want something, and it’s the exact thing that fits your vision. It’s worth saving up and waiting for your dream lamp to be in stock, and even waiting long lead times on delivery. Because, sometimes, no other lamp will do, and that’s when you know you picked a good one.

When it comes to bedside lamps, you have two options imo and we’ve tried both: You can free up your nightstand completely and go with something wall-mounted (but you’ll have to hang it just so you don’t have a light bulb glaring into your eyes), or you can let your lamp be “the thing.” The furniture, the sculpture, the show-stopper. Let it take up space.

And in that case, a lamp can truly double as a piece of art. If you have a great, substantial lamp on your nightstand, you don’t need anything else. You can skip the little boxes and plants and vases and the candle the last three books that Reese Witherspoon has recommended (even though — wow, those trendy spines). You can skip all the how to style your nightstand posts with one great lamp.

Three Rules for Bedside Lamps

  1. A bedside lamp has to be shaded so that the light is nice and filtered and glowy and soft. I’m really loving Chimney or empire shades (the more cone shaped shades) right now and they are definitely making a huge comeback. It’s kind of a nod to the old. Nothing is worse than laying down with a bulb blaring in your face with no shade to filter it.
  2. I normally recommend a 3000K bulb all day long, but for accent lighting, I like to go a little warmer, especially in the bedroom. For our bedside lamps, a 2700-2800K with 200-400 lumens. It’s inviting, soft and warm…but not too warm.
  3. The scale has to be appropriate to the size of your bed. If you have king size bed, you need a larger lamp to make it feel balanced. (A pair of tiny buffet lamps just won’t do!) And, it seems like it goes without saying, but be mindful of the height so you can comfortably reach the switch when you’re lying in bed. I like the nightstand height to be within two inches (up or down) from the height of my bed. Alternatively, you can get a voice-activated light bulb and really make your bedroom feel luxe.

You may remember, the lamps in our last home’s bedroom were Troy Lighting, also!  We only got to enjoy them for a few months before we sold our house. We loved those lamps — the Artifact Graystone lamps. And the person who bought our house must have felt that way, too, because he bought them from us! We started scrolling through Troy Lighting as soon as we moved into our new house, insistent we were NOT going to wait another 5 years for the perfect bedside lamps. Troy Lighting’s selection is sophisticated and refined, with lots of heirloom-quality staying power. They have the kind of lighting that you’ll want to “borrow” for your other rooms — until the living room and the entry and the office gets their turns. (Guiltttyyyyyy)

There is one other new light we’ve had for a few months but haven’t showed you that is ALSO from Troy Lighting. When we revealed our pantry, so many of you were like, “Hold on — you changed way more than the paint color.” And it’s true. One of the biggest things we changed, besides the paint color, was the light fixture. We went from a headache-inducing florescent light that didn’t make anything look appetizing to Hudson Valley Lighting’s Conrad Flush Mount with two bulbs in our favorite 3000K color. Most people don’t realize behind those big florescent lights, there’s just one junction box — where you can install ANY light you want. We didn’t even have to move it!

(See our whole pantry post here)

It kind of feels like you’re throwing your money away on good design and beautiful organization and dreamy paint colors if you’re not lighting your spaces properly.

When choosing a flush mount for a small space, first think about how much light you need. I wouldn’t normally necessarily recommend multiple bulbs for such a small space, but we wanted to make sure the items in the pantry were well lit. And I knew I could go darker with the paint because it would be.

Also, If it’s the ONLY light in the space, you may as well make a small statement. Ask yourself, How can I really elevate my pantry? You basically get once piece of decor–that’s your light. And isn’t this one so pretty?!

You know (and I know) I could talk about lighting all day long, so sound off with any of your lighting questions in the comments!

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What do you think?

  1. The good news is that they work very well. Looking forward to the next helpful posts. I was searching for the same information from last few days. Keep posting and keep sharing.. Thank you!

  2. Rebecca Deneke says:

    I’ve been listening to the Alice Lane podcast and Jessica says to never buy a lamp under 30 inches for your bedside table. Is that your rule too?

  3. Barb says:

    Hi Julia!

    Any guidelines on choosing a height for a nightstand lamp in proportion with a headboard? For example, should one choose taller lamps if they have a tall headboard or does that not matter? Thanks!

    • Chris Loves Julia says:

      Proportion definitely matters! Try to scale your nightstand, headboard, and lamp to the size of your room. Larger spaces can handle larger lamps. I like to choose a lamp with a hefty shade so that there’s no glaring bulb in my eye when reading (or scrolling through IG) in bed.

  4. Sue says:

    What are the paint colors?

    • Chris Loves Julia says:

      The bedroom walls are Sherwin Williams Alabaster with a trim that is Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige. The pantry is Sherwin Williams Van Dyke Brown.

  5. The pantry lights are absolutely stunning! Love it! Thank you for sharing!

  6. Hen says:

    A beautiful space. I’ve been admiring your floors and it got me wondering about the choice to go with wood. The porcelain faux wood house had inspired me for “someday” thanks to durability. What led you away from doing it again?

  7. Victoria C says:

    I love that duvet cover, it’s the perfect blue/grey. I’ve been looking for something similar for a while. Is it Fieldcrest’s linen duvet?

  8. Lydia B says:

    I love the way it is coming together! Your whole take on modern cottage feel is ???????????????? I am always excited for a new blog update to see where things are going. I’m not sure if you’ve answered this but what color white and color trim is this? Love the combo :)

  9. Monica says:

    I use a color changing led bulb with a remote in my nightstand light. Then I can turn it off without having to reach for the lamp switch.

  10. Angela says:

    Your space is beautiful! Thanks for taking us on the ride :) I’m curious if you have plans to add window coverings to the doors?

  11. Jeanna says:

    These bedside table lamps are truly pretty, and I’m in love with the new pantry light! Just my jam :) I wanted to thank you too for the information you’ve shared about lighting…..lumens and kelvins and so on…….who knew?!

  12. Lauren Branson says:

    I was reading with a lot of distractions, so I hope I didn’t miss you mentioning this.. BUT.. do you have a favorite light bulb?? I know it’s silly, but lightbulbs stress me out! we currently have 3 different kinds in our living room because I can’t find that perfect, warm & cozy glow; everything we try is too dull/dark or bright white and harsh.

  13. Jana says:

    lmao you guys. I think most normal people read actual books in bed, and that’s why they have books on their nightstands. Y’all have been hanging out with home bloggers too long – those are the people who buy “the last three books that Reese Witherspoon has recommended (even though — wow, those trendy spines)” for staging and then don’t read them lol. That’s a lot of shade you’re putting out there from people who don’t read! :P

  14. Sarah says:

    Looove those lamps. I’m getting ready to finally add some lighting to my small-ish kitchen (not just can lights anymore!!) and I’m totally stuck in analysis paralysis. I’d love some lighting over my island, but it’s only 3 ft by 4ft. One medium sized pendant/chandelier? Two very small pendants? Will that look so cluttered? Gah! All of your lighting posts have been so inspirational but I’m just stuck. Please help me, CLJ readers!

  15. Ellen says:

    Tips for sconces next to a bed? Our new house has sconces already wired next to the bed but they’re way too high for our bed and the bulbs are staring right at my face when we lie down. Since they’re already wired (and we don’t have much room for substantial side tables) I wanted to just replace them with difference sconces but I don’t know where to start! How high? How much light is too much? Tips for finding lights that are hard wired but still need switches? Help!

  16. Megan says:

    Hi! Great post. Will you share a link for the bedside tables? I went to shop our house and the nightstands in the master are different from these. Thank you!

  17. Jennifer says:

    Love this and also love 3000 kelvin bulbs!! Such a game changer!!! What’s your go to brand?

  18. Leigh says:

    WOAH you’re telling me I can switch out my long ole fluorescent lights for anything!? MIND BLOWN AND SO PUMPED

  19. Gillian says:

    Hello, your lamps are beaut! Would you recommend the same light bulb K/Lumens for outdoor lighting? Or do you have other thoughts on outdoor lighting? Thanks!

  20. Mary P. says:

    Let’s talk light. I’m wondering why you’ve never taken your love for lighting outdoors to landscape lighting? We should talk.

  21. Laura says:

    This is going to be perfection! The lamps are so beautiful. What’s your take on living room lighting? Right now our only source of lighting is two lamps and the fan light (which I highly despise and we don’t use except for the fan!). We get a lot of natural light during the day, but I’m struggling with how to make it more cozy at night. I think my first issue is the lamp bulbs are too bright, so I’ll try your bulb recommendation (thank you!!) … Would you go for recessed lightening on a dimmer or should I get wall sconces? So torn!

  22. Kayla says:

    Looks amazing!! I’m struggling with lamps on either side of the bed right now because our big windows are right behind our nightstands. I’ve considered sconces, but not 100% sure yet…might need to give it a go in photoshop. Do you think substantial lamps are still okay if they block windows?

  23. Carina says:

    I am obsessed with finding the perfect lighting for every room. I am just having such a hard time finding several lights for our semi open living/dining room that look good together. I don’t want the same style lamps, I want different styles that complement each other. I have one floor lamp that I found on McGhee and Co, the curved lamp she frequently uses. But what table lamp can I add? I need two. And a chandelier type situation for the dining room. Ugh….decisions decisions

  24. Jamie says:

    Suggestions for dining room lights? We are always bumping our head on our chandelier because it’s as wide as our table.

  25. Julee says:

    We are building a house and lights are quickly becoming my nemesis. How do you pick kitchen pendants and a dining room chandelier that go together, but don’t match. My OCD is killing me here.

  26. Stacy says:

    Found the rug on your previous post! Sorry!

  27. stacy says:

    The rug – LOVE! Did I miss the source? Can you share?

  28. Sienna Boyd says:

    I love this! Your bedroom is looking so great already! Do you have a link for your rug? Sorry if you linked it and I just cant find it lol.

  29. Tiffany says:

    Gorgeous lamps. I put them on my wish list. I love the color and texture. Congratulations on getting back into your room. You’re nearing the finish line.

  30. Giordi Y. says:

    What are those things over your doors? Lights? Vents?

  31. Karyn says:

    Can you link your nightstands?

  32. JL says:

    Julia, what an amazing bedroom transformation. I still can’t get over those baseboards. I’m getting “sanctuary” vibes and your new bed hasn’t even arrived yet!

  33. Sarah says:

    I love how you just drop knowledge that encourages me to take action! We’ve had a florescent light in our pantry with a missing cover for over 5 years, so ugly. And now you tell me I could just replace it like any other light fixture, and I wonder why I have never even considered replacing it. Thank you as always!

  34. Natasha says:

    Would love to know where that cute little black vase is from, on your beside table. The room is really shaping up! Can’t wait to see more! xx

  35. Lucy says:

    Love how this room is shaping up! you plan to add coverings to the doors to block the light? We have patio doors in a bedroom and don’t know what to do to make the room dark enough for sleeping. Thanks!

  36. Kim says:

    Love the lamps! Really fabulous! I was so looking forward to this post cause I wanted to see your bedding! Can you share duvet cover source and color?

  37. Pascale says:

    Wow! Soooooo good so far. I can’t wait to see how your bedroom progresses. I especially love the earthy warm colors of the rug and all the black accents in the bedside tables, lamps and doors. I like my bedroom to feel calm and I think your bedroom gives off that feel. Love it!

  38. Jen says:

    Nice lamps! What’s your plan for the fireplace?

  39. Mel says:

    We moved into a new (bigger/grander more grown up) house a few months ago and decided to finally start buying ‘investment’ pieces as we think this will be, if not our forever home, our for a very very long time home. We bought a huge bedframe from West Elm, it’s dark wood with a linen headrest and suddenly it made our small (cheap) target bed side lamps look ridiculous. I terribly want some good ceramic lamps and have been hunting the thrift stores for them (in hopes of offsetting some of our new purchases with used (for the sake of our wallet and the planet)) but no look. I finally pulled the trigger on a set that I think *could* be the ones and they arrive today. I love the shape of the ones you have, so beautiful. I love seeing how this room comes together. Your style is so classic so ‘Architectural Digest’ I’m loving it. Can’t wait to see what you choose to put on the wall above the bed. (#toosoon?)

    • Julia says:

      Oh my gosh, you’re too nice! And I’m totally with you. When we moved to this house with virtually no furniture or decor at all, we had to make a decision whether we wanted to run to Ikea and Target to buy a few quick things, but we just decided to wait and wait and wait and wait until we found what we really wanted and it’s so rewarding.

  40. I love the gold detail over the pantry light. And your lamps go so well with your fireplace. Gorrrgeous!

  41. Patricia says:

    The pantry light would also make a stunning hallway light … imagine a series of those down a long hall!

    I tried the wall hung sconce; really wanted the bedside table clear. Didn’t work for me so my husband and I have mismatched lamps. Mine, I made out of an old seltzer bottle (had it drilled and I wired it with a lamp kit). My husband’s light is an old British brass fire extinguisher I found in an antiques store already made into a lamp. Both are topped with black chimney shades. I like unique lamps. I’ve made them out of Chinese ginger jars, Japanese soy sauce cans (restaurant size) and Chinese wedding baskets. Most of these I sold when we downsized.

  42. Stephanie says:

    Wonderful advice!!! I have some large lamps in our bedroom that are not the current style I am after but they are so well made and substantial they still look great in the room. I plan to wait to buy new ones until I can afford something just as awesome.

    I’d love to know if you’ve given a source for your bedside tables before? Love your blog!

    • Julia says:

      I bought them for One Kings Lane but I can’t find them ANYWHERE now.

    • Connie says:

      Love the comment about using the pantry light in the hall! 5 years ago we did just that with these lights (with the old bronze cage) and are still loving them! Our house is old (165 yrs.) with low ceilings and they look great and add some style without distracting from the history/age of the house.

  43. Kim says:

    Love the lamps! Can u share the source and color of the duvet?

  44. Catherine Sibiski says:

    Love the bedroom already! Can’t wait to see your bed frame! Where did you purchase your duvet? Looks like a chambray blue?

  45. Kim says:

    Wow, the lamps are fabulous! So I couldn’t wait for this post to see what your bedding was gonna be because I’m right in the throws of picking a new duvet cover for my bed. Please, what is it? Color, brand.. can u share? Also, do u plan on some colored throw pillows or are you gonna keep it simple?

  46. Andrea says:

    Where are your nightstands from? I’m in search for black nightstands. Can you do a post on nighstands? :)

    • Julia says:

      I’ll do a round up on similar ones. These are from One Kings Lane but can’t find them anywhere now.

      • JK says:

        Your nightstands are by Stanley furniture from their ineptly named “Vintage” line and are still sold in stores. Seriously, companies please don’t use a super common word for a name like “vintage” that will bring up literally thousands of pieces of furniture when used to search. Stanley is almost 100 years old. Uh, do you want to sell stuff or not, LOL? People can’t buy it if they can’t find it.

      • Chris Loves Julia says:

        Really? I just tracked them down: We bought them on One Kings Lane — the Galax Black.

      • Andrea says:

        I searched and searched, and it’s the ‘Galax’ nightstand from Stanley Furniture. Alas, they don’t have a black version anymore! :(

      • Lauren says:

        I would love a nightstand round up!

      • Cristina says:

        Hello Julia, if you have time would you mind doing a roundup for similar lamps? I love this one so much that you have from SM but looking for something more budget friendly. Thank you!

      • Chris Loves Julia says:

        I’m on it, Cristina!

      • Jennifer Macdonald says:

        Was there a budget-friendly list of lamps similar to yours made yet? I love them so much but beyond my price range unfortunately.????

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