The Proper way to light your Bedroom

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Judith Sutton ABR CRS IDS PMN ASP IAHSP SRES GREEN   908 803-0472


When designing lighting for your bedroom, think about versatility. Bedrooms often need to be bright in the morning and relaxing and cozy at night. Layering different types of lighting such as table or floor lamps with wall or ceiling lighting will allow you to achieve this effortlessly. Not only will ‘layering’ light sources add depth and texture, but it will also ensure you can adjust the lighting throughout the day to alter the ambiance.

(Special note)  If you have been following my blogs, you will know just how I feel about how lighting is such an integral part of home design.  All rooms and spaces need special consideration to enhance the colors, furniture, collectibles, and overall charm of the room. (see kitchens). I have specific blogs addressing kitchens and outdoor lighting for your home- please feel free to scroll my blog site to read!)


As I have mentioned before, there are three different types of lighting – task lighting, ambient lighting, and accent lighting. Task lighting is key for tasks like reading, getting dressed, or doing your makeup. Ambient lighting is more of an all-over glow and usually comes in the form of your overhead lighting. Accent lighting is a more dramatic source, a light that draws attention to a certain object or part of the room.


Neutral bedroom with warm yellow throw and green accents

(Image credit: Anna Stathaki)

So in keeping with the rule of three when it comes to lighting, the easiest way to incorporate task, ambient, and accent is to layer your lighting. As Emma Deterding, Founder and Creative Director of Kelling Designs explain, 'When it comes to lighting your bedroom, it’s important to make sure you have different layers to not only change the atmosphere but also make sure you have the option of ample light. It’s where you spend most of your time, so it is definitely worth investing in.' 

Think about how you use the room - is it purely just a bedroom where you relax, sleep, and unwind, or do you have a reading nook or a yoga/workout space there too? This is important as it will help you decide where to place lighting, which types, and how many sources you'll need.

Start with your main light source and choose a ceiling light that will bring enough general light into the room, covering you from getting dressed to kicking back with a good book. In terms of designs, if you want to make a statement of the lighting fixture, then a pendant in glass, metallics, or something in wood or rattan will look the part and create a focal point in the ceiling, after all, your lighting should look the part whether switched on or off.  Be sure to fit a dimmer control as it will allow you to change the mood and atmosphere with ease, whilst creating a calm and cozy feel when needed in the evenings.


An all white Georgian house in Kent

(Image credit: James Merrell)

A chandelier works in any style space, whether you like a rustic bedroom or a more minimalist style like this gorgeous white bedroom. And a chandelier doesn't have to mean huge and opulent with glass crystals dripping from the ceiling, there are plenty of modern designs like the chic globe light designs that would fit right into a Mid-century modern style space, or the ever-popular beaded chandeliers that add a slightly laid back, boho touch. 

'Create drama with an elegant chandelier to add character and a focal point to your bedroom. You will get all the ambient lighting you need from a chandelier with a dimmer switch, while also achieving full decorative value.' 'And for bedrooms with lower ceilings or spatial conflict with the bed, opt for a flush mount or semi-flush mount as this will inject a bit of fun into the room while still providing that base layer. Flush mounts are also perfect for an adjacent dressing area, while a walk-in closet would be paired best with a glamourous pendant or chandelier.' 


Plaster pink bedroom with black woodwork

(Image credit: James Merrell)

If space is tight in a small bedroom, or if you don't want to give up valuable bedside space to lighting, wall-mounted designs are the way to go. And again, there's a design to suit every style – we love how these uber-modern sculptural glass wall lights work in this plaster pink bedroom. They bring an edge to the powdery pink walls, and as do all the pieces in this room, balance out any sweetest that comes from the rosy hues. 

Wall lights are also a lovely way to add a very satisfying symmetry to your bedroom.  'Use a matching pair of bedside wall lights to frame your bed and create an elegant tailored approach to the bedroom. Keep bulbs shaded with material as opposed to glass, unless you want to use the light source for reading. If you’re a book lover, (as I am!) directional wall lights are far more effective than wall or table lamps with lampshades, but they are far less equipped to create warm, ambient light. Consider whether you have room to install both. Super ideal! 


Bedroom with teal scalloped headboard and pendant bedside light

(Image credit: Anna Stathaki)

Not only is this a really practical bedroom lighting idea, but we also cannot get enough of that sumptuous velvet teal paired with the hint of gold. The pendant light really adds warmth to the cooler color palette and brings together that modern take on Art Deco styling that's going on throughout the room. I recently added two of these pendant-type lights to either side of my bed, and love them!     

Try switching from standard bedside table lamps to these elegant pendants.  Consider hanging pendants over each bedside table for an interesting alternative to a table lamp or wall light. It also gives you more room on your table!  A dimmer switch is always a good option for the bedroom, it offers flexibility, providing brighter lighting for when you are getting dressed and softer mood lighting for bedtimes.    


A modern house in London featuring a muted palette and statement art and furniture

(Image credit: Mary Wadsworth)

And pendant lighting doesn't have to be subtle and sleek either, you could choose to go bold and make a statement with something oversized that hangs low over a bedside table. Now bold doesn't always have to overwhelm a room either, as this neutral bedroom proves, you can add some drama without taking away focus from the entire room. Choose larger, oversized designs and let that make the statement, the fabrics, materials, and shapes can be kept chic and simple as can be seen with this voluminous rattan shade. 


Small bedroom with chandelier

(Image credit: James Merrell)

Bedroom lighting can be a really easy way to blend styles, adding character, texture, and intrigue to a room. For example, your personal tastes may be contemporary – simple shapes and minimal clutter, however, add a lighting fixture that contrasts all that, like a beautiful chandelier and you instantly have a point of interest, something to contrast what's going on in the rest of the room.


Interiors of The Hatch available to rent through Unique Homestays

(Image credit: Unique Homestays)

We love the idea of using lighting to add an extra layer of texture to a bedroom. A bedroom should be filled with soft, inviting, tactile pieces that shouldn't stop at your lighting. If you love that rustic, layered look with plenty of linens and grassy materials, mirror that in your lampshades too. Pick out shades in the materials used throughout the rest of the room, or bring in some natural textures with rattan, seagrass, or cane. And avoid any clean lines or structure shapes too, you want there to be a relaxed look to your lighting! 


pale pink bedroom with pale green headboard, green side cabinet and texture bed side light


(Image credit: Future)

The humble bedside table lamp can make all the difference in a bedroom lighting scheme – in fact, we would say it is the most important light source in a bedroom. Pick the right design and it will add all three types of light to your room, task lighting for reading, an all-over glow for ambiance, and a pool of light around your bedside table for accent. How cozy does this look? 


White bedroom with grey painted ceiling

(Image credit: Davide Lovati)


Dark red bedroom

(Image credit: Alexander James)

Often when it comes to interiors,  size does matter. Choosing the right sized lighting fixtures for your space is something to be carefully considered and can totally change the look and focus of the room. 

For example, if this bedside light was a quarter of the size, you almost wouldn't notice it – a standard bedside light that adds a pop of color but not much else. Make it huge and wow, you have a focus of the room that feels bold and decided. It becomes a quirky focal point that balances with all the larger pieces of furniture in the room. And going oversized with lighting doesn't only work in larger spaces, it can look great in small bedrooms, where we'd always recommend going for larger pieces and less of them than lots of smaller pieces that may be in proportion with the room's size make it feel cluttered and as a result even smaller. 


small bedrooms storage idea with shelves built into the headboard

(Image credit: Future)

And if you have a small bedroom and have to forgo bedside table lamps or you just want more surface space, switch to a traditional bedside lamp; or for more statement hanging pendants.  (I love Hunter Green!)   

Typically, you will find task lighting placed right by the bed as it comes in handy for reading or shining a light on something just before you get into bed. Traditionally you could opt for a feature lamp on the bedside table, or for something more striking. You can also suspend a one-light pendant or two lower ones on either side of the bed. In more compact spaces, sconces are the best fit: they take up little space and some have switches that can be easily turned off from the comfort of the bed.


Blue and white bedroom with wallpaper

This bedroom shines with different color combinations and quirky yet classic motifs. Three oversized yellow globe pendants are hung at different heights, adding more of a statement than just a single light. 

Opt for dramatic pendants as your main source of light and pair them with statement table lamps to create an atmospheric mood. Wall lights work well as accent lighting to highlight interesting features in the room, such as art or artifacts.  Choose bold pieces featuring structural shapes, interesting textures, or colored glass to make a style statement, even if the lighting is switched off

So, how do you feel about some of these unique bedroom ideas?  Let me know!  I'm always interested in hearing from you!  

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