About Floor Lamps
Floor lamps are unique in that they supply light yet have a small footprint unlike table lamps which require a piece of furniture to support them. Like table lamps, they are portable and can be moved around to achieve whatever effect you want.
In choosing a floor lamp, consider its purpose. Is your goal to gently light a room for friendly human interaction? Then a torchiere that reflects light off the ceiling and brings ambient light to the room may be the configuration you need. Do you want to cuddle up in a big, comfy chair and read? A standard floor lamp with at least 100 watts of illumination will do the job. Try one with a three-way bulb so you can switch it to the mood you want to create. A bridge arm floor lamp or one with a swing arm can be positioned right over your reading and then later swung out of the way for general room lighting. Have no place to put your coffee? Then a tray floor lamp (one with a built-in table) will be perfect. Is your floor space so precious that you don't want to devote any of it even to the small footprint of a standard floor lamp? Then try a single or multi-light arc lamp that can be placed behind furniture to provide overhead illumination.
Floor lamps typically range in height from 53 inches to 72 inches. They can have cloth, glass, Tiffany, or metal shades. Many of their bases are made of metal which is a natural choice in a tall design because of its strength. Metal bases come in a variety of finishes--there are the usual ones, such as brown, chrome, or polished brass, but in addition there are special hand-applied finishes that give a rich effect of varied colors. Bases can also be made of wood, either in Colonial style turned-wood, blocky sawn wood, or even driftwood for a seaside-inspired room. Stone, ceramic, and glass elements are often incorporated into metal base designs.
Characteristics of traditional floor lamps include bell-shaped cloth shades on decorative metal bases, sometimes with accents of marble or glass. The finishes are usually brown, brass, or gold. Contemporary floor lamps tend to incorporate basic geometric shapes: straight line bases with cylinder, sphere, square, or rectangular shades. Occasionally you will see elements in the shapes of ellipses and triangles. Finishes often are chrome, brushed nickel, or black. The whole effect is simple and spare.
Casual floor lamps are opposite in style from contemporary. Shapes are organic and flowing, rather than geometric and spare. Finishes are warmer and a sense of whimsy prevails. Similar in feel to casual are tropical style floor lamps. The difference here is subject matter: tropical will include flowers and leaves, monkeys, and parrots.
Floor lamps made with crystal have a variety of looks. Some look like chandeliers on a tall pole; some are traditional in silhouette and use molded accents of crystal on the base. Some are contemporary and freeform. Designs over a hundred years old, of Victorian, Tiffany, and Craftsman styles, are also available in floor lamps and grace many a restored home.
Colonial style floor lamps come in either polished brass candlestick type of bases with white or black shades (these are excellent choices for libraries) or turned wood bases. Rustic style ones make liberal use of twigs, bark, and branches in the designs.