If you walk through your house, you’ll probably find lamps in most of the rooms. Older builds may have entire rooms that are completely reliant on lamps. On the other hand, you’ll rarely find lamps in utilitarian rooms like kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.

Consider this: all of the spaces in your house where you want to have the brightest light primarily rely on overhead lighting. Floor and table lamps can be beautiful decorative pieces and can provide cozy, ambient light, but they aren’t the best option for brightening a room.

Lamps certainly have their place in a home, and we’re not suggesting that you throw all of yours out. However, if you want to have great lighting, it’s helpful to think of your lamps primarily as decorative rather than functional.

If you feel like the lighting in one of your rooms is insufficient, think about installing permanent lighting instead of adding another lamp.

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Good, Better, Best

Using lamps is better than having no light at all, but that doesn’t mean that they’re the best solution for brightening a room.

Task Lighting

When you curl up in your favorite chair to read a book, you probably turn on a table lamp. Do you ever notice yourself angling your book toward the lamp to light both pages? If you have a floor lamp beside you, it’ll probably give off better light than a table lamp, but it still won’t illuminate both pages equally.

Instead of twisting around or straining your eyes to see your book, install overhead recessed lighting. When the light comes from above, it illuminates more evenly. You’ll be more comfortable, and your eyes won’t have to work as hard.


Many lamps are compatible with three-way light bulbs to give you a measure of control over the brightness. However, you only have those three settings. If you put your overhead lighting on a dimmer switch or use smart light bulbs, you can set the brightness to the exact level you need for any task.


Lamps are appealing because they can be beautiful and unique. Homeowners who enjoy playing with the style of their rooms may choose lamps because they can easily change the feel of a space by swapping out the shades for something new.

The tradeoff you make when using lamps as décor is that they take up valuable space. Recessed lighting doesn’t take up space, and the design is usually so minimal that it’ll work with any style of décor for decades to come. You can make endless changes to a room, and your recessed lighting will still be cohesive with the rest of the room.

If you love to experiment with design, opt for recessed lighting to make room for unique items that don’t need to serve a function. Not only will your room have more light, but you’ll also have more space to fill with other things that inspire you.

Create More Space

Brightening a room is an effective way to make it feel larger, but not all lighting will do the trick. A lamp with a broad base will add a bit of light, but it’ll also clutter your room. The net effect is a cramped room with a little more diffused light.

Decorative floor lamps with long, telescoping, or arcing arms are popular in contemporary design. If they reach over the center of your favorite chair, they can serve as adequate task lighting. However, they also take up a lot of visual space. The entire arc draws the eye and fills the area around the chair.

Imagine that you have more than one overstuffed chair in a room, and each has its own arcing overhead lamp. You may begin to feel as if they’re devouring the room. The cozy, overstuffed chairs that you love to lounge in can still work in the room, but you’ll need to make different lighting decisions.

Adding a telescoping accent light or a downlight near a chair serves the same purpose as the arcing floor lamp, but with little to no footprint. A professional can help you determine what the best solution is for your room and can properly install any new lighting you choose

Direct the Light

Many lamps don’t direct light where you need it; they diffuse and spread light above and below their shades. Many floor lamps send light directly at the ceiling, which doesn’t effectively illuminate the spaces where people actually are. If your goal is to brighten a room, lamps aren’t the best solution.

Task lighting should be above what you’re looking at or working on and should point away from your eyes. Table lamps achieve neither of these things; they sit near eye level and off to the side. Proper lighting is important because, without it, you can strain and fatigue your eyes.

Good lighting isn’t just nice to have, it’s good for your eye health. To get the right balance of light, neither too much nor too little, schedule an in-home consultation with a professional to assess your unique needs.

There’s a Better Way!

Lamps will always have a place in your overall lighting scheme. However, if your goal is to improve your task lighting and to increase the brightness of in a room, you need to look beyond lamps.

Overhead recessed lights are an excellent option to provide adequate lighting without interfering with your décor. They’re directional and dimmable, so you can customize them to suit any task. Usually, the mounting fades away into the ceiling or wall, so you won’t even know it’s there. Recessed lights simultaneously reduce clutter and leave a room brighter than lamps can.

 Before buying that new lamp, speak with a lighting expert about how you can improve your space. The right combination of lights and dimmers will make your room feel more spacious while giving you more control over the room’s brightness.