BRIGHT IDEAS: Night Owl LED wall fixture, from $108, at Lightology. For more lamp ideas check out our
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A. Perfect, to us, means a good-looking lamp with light that lands where we need it to land, bright enough to read by but not harsh or hot. Is that so much to ask?

Sometimes. "What’s practical is not always what’s beautiful,"; says designer Jack Kreitinger, owner of Kreitinger Design (1512 N. Fremont St., 312-751-8802;, who has personally wrestled with the reading-light problem. "I happen to love black shades,"; he says. "I have one on the nightstand lamp in my Michigan weekend home, and I have to hang my head off the edge of the bed in order to read."

His favorite tabletop reading light (and the one he has at home in Chicago) is the Lange table lamp by Nessen (, product number NT451)—a spare, contemporary piece with polished nickel legs, a narrow upright tube (available in different metal finishes or leath­er clad), and a shallow white linen shade. A perforated disc at the topof the shade directs the light downward. The lamp is 16 inches tall, takes up to a 150-watt incandescent or compact fluorescent bulb (more wattage than most people need for reading), and has a dimmer switch. It starts at $405.

Halogen lighting is another way to go, and the tiny bulbs have inspired many contemporary lamp designs. Certified lighting consultant Xavier Yager (773-469-7283) says halogen’s "good clean light"; is perfect for reading, though the bulbs put out quite a bit of heat. His solution: "Choose a higher wattage so you can raise the light higher and keep the heat at a distance."

Among Yager’s favorite reading lamps are two clean, sleek styles made by Holtkötter (; one is a floor lamp, the other is for a table, and they both come in brass, nickel, and bronze finishes with either a glass or metal shade. The floor lamp has a swing arm that makes positioning the light easy; its height adjusts from 40 to 62 inches. The table lamp is 12.62 inches high and is not adjustable. These lamps, though modern, are slim and chameleon-like and would look handsome with almost any decor. They are available for $278 (table) and $587 (floor) at Lightology (215 W. Chicago Ave., 312-944-1000;

More modern still is an LED (light-emitting diode) lamp, which has the advantage of being cool and extremely long lasting (50,000 hours!), and using very little electricity. These tiny bulbs aren’t widely available yet in conventional fixtures such as table and floor lamps, but Yager thinks they’re a great choice for reading and likes a model at Lightology called Night Owl (in bronze or nickel, from $108). A graceful, unobtrusive wall fixture with a gooseneck arm that can be positioned as you choose, it comes in a hardwirable version and also in one that plugs into an outlet with a cord.


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