How to Add a Lamp to an End Table

Adding a lamp to an end table is easy once you take measurements and evaluate how you will use the lamp.
Measure your end table and any lamp you wish to add, and consider the style of the end table so you can choose a complementary lamp. Choosing the right size lamp is important, as one too large will look out of place and could be a safety hazard.

Step 1

Measure the diameter, or length and width, of the top of your table and write this dimension down. Choose a lamp base and shade smaller in diameter or in length and width than the size of your tabletop. Both the lamp base at the point of contact with the table and the overall size of the base must be smaller than the top of your end table. This allows the lamp to sit on the table squarely and prevents people from bumping into the shade as they pass by the end table and lamp.

Step 2

Sit on your chair or sofa next to the end table and measure the distance from the floor to your eye level and write this dimension down. The bottom shade of the lamp should sit just at eye level to prevent the socket and the bulb from being visible.

Step 3

Measure the height of your end table and write it down. Subtract this dimension from the measurement from the floor to eye level in step 2. The resulting number is the approximate height your lamp base should be.

Step 4

Determine the use of the lamp sitting on the end table. Is it for ambient light or will you be reading or sewing next to this lamp? If it is for ambient light only, a regular base and fabric shade that provides soft, diffused illumination will provide enough light for you. If the end table lamp is for reading or sewing, consider a swing-arm lamp where the light is focused downward.

Step 5

Place the lamp you have chosen onto your end table and evaluate how it looks. Does the style of the lamp complement the end table? Does the scale of the lamp look proportionate? Does it provide enough light? If you answer yes, you have selected a good lamp for your end table. If you answer no, reconsider the size, scale or style of your lamp.


  • The base of the lamp where it contacts the table should be approximately half the size of the top of your end table or smaller. This allows plenty of surface area to place a beverage or book next to the lamp.


  • Knocking over a lamp presents a fire hazard. If you have rambunctious children or pets, consider adhering the lamp base to the tabletop with removable tape or putty.
  • Always place the correct wattage bulb in your lamp. The maximum wattage allowed for a lamp is usually stamped on the socket. Using a bulb over the maximum wattage stated on the lamp can cause an electrical fire.

About the Author

Amy Swanton Mills is a writer and designer residing in Los Angeles. She has spent the past 10 years working in various aspects of the architecture, furniture and interior design industry. Her articles on furniture, design and green lifestyle issues regularly appear on and She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and History from UCLA.