What is Swing Arm Lighting?

For targeted light in a specific area, swing arm lights are your best friend. These adjustable lighting fixtures have made their way into homes across America, and for good reason! They are one of the most practical lighting sources you can choose for many different parts of your home.

What is swing arm lighting in interior design? Swing arm lighting refers to adjustable lamps that are mounted on arms that can swing and change position. These lights allow you to direct the light where you need it.

Swing arm lamps often clamp onto a table or desk, with an arm extending out that can swing up, down, left, or right. The lamp head at the end of the arm can also tilt and adjust to point the light.

Swing arm lamps provide directional task lighting and are commonly used over beds, desks, craft tables, and other surfaces where adjustable lighting is helpful. Their flexibility makes them useful for reading, writing, sewing, and other close work.

Types of Swing Arm Lighting

There are several main types of swing arm lights to choose from for your kitchen or other rooms in your home.

  • Articulating arm lights – These feature adjustable joints that allow you to bend and move the arm into different positions. The “elbow” joints provide flexibility in directing the light.
  • Counterbalance arm lights – Instead of joints, these have a spring-loaded balanced arm that can be easily repositioned with light pressure, then stays fixed in place. The arm moves up and down smoothly.
  • Gooseneck lights – A basic gooseneck light has a simple arm that can be bent and shaped, but doesn’t have distinct joints or springs. Goosenecks aren’t quite as flexible as articulated arms.
  • Wall sconces with swing arms – Some wall sconces or plug-in wall lights incorporate swing arm extensions to provide adjustability. These function as sconces for general lighting, with the swing arm for task lighting.
  • Pendant lights with swing arms – Pendant lights suspended from the ceiling can also include a swing arm to angle the light in different directions as needed.
  • Clamp-on swing arm lights – These lights feature a clamp that allows you to temporarily attach the swing arm light to shelves, tables, or other surfaces without needing to mount it permanently.

The type of swing arm light you choose can depend on your lighting needs, design style, and installation location. Consider your space and tasks when deciding on the swing arm mechanism and overall look.

Plug-in Vs. Hardwired Swing Arm Lights

When choosing between plug-in and hardwired swing arm lights for your kitchen, there are some key differences to consider.

A plug-in swing arm light is one that simply plugs into a standard electrical outlet. This type is very easy to install yourself, as it doesn’t require any wiring work. Plug-in swing arm lights are portable and adjustable, allowing you to move them around your kitchen and point the light where needed. The downside is that the cord may hang visibly from the light. Cord management options like clips or covers can help keep things looking neat. Plug-in lights are also better suited for temporary use rather than permanent installation.

In contrast, a hardwired swing arm light must be installed directly to the wiring system in your home. This requires basic electrical work to connect the wires within junction boxes. Hardwired lights have a sleeker look as there is no visible cord. They provide a more seamless, built-in appearance for a permanent lighting solution. Hardwired lights are fixed in place rather than portable, so you’ll want to carefully determine the placement during installation. The wiring and installation process does make hardwired lights a less DIY-friendly option than simply plugging in.

Basically, a plug-in light is the easier choice for DIY installation and adjustability. Hardwired lights offer a hidden, built-in look. Weighing the pros and cons of each can help determine which swing arm light option is right for your needs.

Where to Put Swing Arm Lights at Home

Swing arm lights are versatile lighting fixtures that are installed in various parts of the home, depending on your needs. Here’s where you can install swing arm lights at home.


Installing swing arm lights on either side of the bed serves as a great reading light. It can be positioned at eye level, usually around 18 to 24 inches above the mattress, to allow for comfortable reading without straining the eyes. The adjustable nature of the swing arm means the light can be directed precisely where it’s needed, whether you’re reading in bed or simply need soft ambient lighting.


In the kitchen, swing arm lights are great for providing focused task lighting over key work zones like the sink or countertops where you chop and prepare food. Position the light so it can swing over the area needed. Position a swing arm light near the stove to illuminate cooking tasks. Mount it to the side of overhead cabinets or on the backsplash.

A swing arm light over a kitchen dining or breakfast nook provides adjustable lighting for meals and adds a decorative accent. Center the light over the table.

Living Room

In the living room, swing arm lights next to a favorite armchair or sofa can create a cozy reading nook. Positioning them at eye level when seated ensures that they provide adequate light without being too harsh. They can also be used to highlight decorative elements or artworks, as they can be adjusted to focus light directly on specific objects.

Home Office

Swing arm lights are particularly useful in a home office or study area where targeted lighting is necessary. Installing them above the workspace ensures adequate illumination for tasks that require attention to detail. The adjustable arm makes it easy to reposition the light as needed, minimizing shadows and glare on screens or paperwork.

Benefits of Swing Arm Lights

Let’s chat about why these handy little lights are winners in so many ways.

Moderate Lighting Source

Do you have a corner of your home that’s a little bit too dark? Most of us do! Installing an overhead light would be overkill on one hand. Sometimes you just need a small amount of targeted lighting in a particular area.

Not everyone wants a bright light beaming down on them when they’re just trying to do something small like read in bed or work on the computer. If you’re looking for a reasonable lighting source, then a swing arm light would be perfect for you. This is one lighting solution that you shouldn’t ignore.

Adjustable Lighting

Swing arm lights can be adjusted left and right as you need them. They often have a long arm attached to them which can be slid around horizontally as you need it. You can’t beat that kind of personalization!

Targeted Focus

Swing arm lights are targeted lighting sources that only work in the area that you need them to. They’re one of the best choices when you’re looking for Focus lighting and one specific place of your home. That’s what makes them so versatile and practical. You could easily pull one down as you’re preparing a meal on the kitchen counter.

Swing Arm Lights Don’t Take Up Floor Space

Don’t waste your precious floor space on bulky lighting fixtures. Swing arm lights are mounted directly on your wall so you can save the space beneath for a nightstand or side table!

Stylish and Cool

Different designs are available when it comes to swing arm lights. You can find them in a minimal design for a Nordic look, made of brass for an industrial look, and of course, there are so many other styles to choose from. From glass to metal to wood, there are lots of materials to choose from.

I hope this post gave you a good overview of why swing arm lights are amazing lighting fixtures you can buy for your home. Swing arm lights work well in just about any room of your home but they’re clearly best for a space where you need to get something done, like nearby an office desk or reading chair.


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