Sarah Montgomery Design

Tuft and Tassel

The blog of Sarah Montgomery Design

The 9 Best Modern Ambient Floor Lamps

Good lighting can make or break a room and there are many resources to consult when coming up with a lighting plan for your space in terms of look and function. I don’t think it’s as complicated as it sounds, but then when I’m doing my favorite thing of looking into people’s houses when it’s dark, I’ll see people going about their evening with the overhead light on, so maybe it is??

But this post isn’t about that, I’m going to spend some time here talking about making sure you incorporate the right type of lighting and I’ve rounded up a few of my favorites. I’ll show you some of the really cool floor lamps you may be seeing everywhere and why they may NOT work in your space.

When it comes to style mixing there are certain micro trends you might start to see pop up. Some things just photograph well, like a white fur on a wishbone chair. One lamp style I’ve seen incorporated into some more traditional interiors that really adds an unexpected wow factor are these sculptural floor lamps.

Serge Mouille style task lamp in the home of David Delfin and Gorka Postigo

Serge Mouille style task lamp in the home of David Delfin and Gorka Postigo

I love the look of this and it CAN work in your space, but there are certain things to consider about the type of light it provides.

Ambient lighting is the lighting in a room that makes it bright enough to see move around in. This can include ceiling lights and stand alone fixtures like floor and table lamps.

Accent lighting is the lighting that accentuates an area, like a picture light or in cabinet lighting.

Task lighting is focused light that is often adjustable and should only be layered on top of ambient lighting.

Sarah Montgomery Design photo by Margaret Rajic

Sarah Montgomery Design photo by Margaret Rajic

It’s crucial to have good ambient lighting in a space. Hopefully you’ve got your table lamps covered (at least two), but then you need a floor lamp for that dead, dark corner. You start to gather inspiration and see all these images with really cool, sculptural floor lamps. It can be so easy to get caught up in how great it will look AND fill out that space, it’s almost like a piece of art!

Captain Flint lamp by  Flos

Captain Flint lamp by Flos

This is when the mistake can happen. You get that awesome new floor lamp and set it up and it looks so cool and then it gets dark and you realize it’s really just a task light and only provides lighting in one direction and makes that dark corner even scarier with all the shadows its creating.

The shades are metal rather than paper or fabric and light can only point in one direction away from the shade rather than through it. This can work for you if that spot is also lit by ambient lighting and you plan to read or do cross stitch here.

Image via  Cheerhuzz

Image via Cheerhuzz

When I’m developing a lighting plan for clients it’s easy to get seduced by the thought of that beautiful grasshopper like creature, fantasizing about it’s photo op. But I quickly come back to reality and realize what they really need is an ambient floor lamp.

Sarah Montgomery Design modern floor lamp

I’ve rounded up 10 of the best modern ambient floor lamps that will give you the look you want while creating the ambient lighting you need.

From left to right  1  /  2  /  3  /  4  /  5  /  6  /  7  /  8  /  9

From left to right 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9

This is something you should keep in mind if you are considering bedroom sconces as well. If you’re in and out of the bedroom in the evening once it’s dark, you may want to keep some sort of light on. If your bedside lamps are the only source of light other than the overhead, you may want to make sure the sconces you choose have milk or frosted glass bulb covers or fabric shades. If not, you will be passing by wondering how you spend any time before bed under that garish task light.

Sarah Montgomery Design photo by Margaret Rajic

Sarah Montgomery Design photo by Margaret Rajic

Do I have a vendetta against the function of task lamps? Maybe. Is it because I’m not a night owl and I don’t sew any more? It could be. This is one of those functional details of design that can easily be overlooked so of course I wanted to spend a whole day writing about it for you!