How can I make my bedroom lighting feel cozier? 8 tricks designers use that make for dreamy sleep spaces

Turn your bedroom into a cocooning paradise with these super cozy lighting ideas

A cozy bedroom with two types of candle and wall light
(Image credit: Louisa & Fyodor. Design: Studio Officina Architecture PLLC)

Creating a cozy ambiance in the bedroom is all about the lighting. Regardless of texture and color, if your lighting isn't quite right, you run the risk of the space feeling cold and stark - not quite the atmosphere you what you want in the bedroom, especially as we approach fall. 

At Livingetc, we are big fans of layered lighting. It's our number one, golden rule to creating a space that feels complete, and in the bedroom, it's super important. 'Remember, lighting not only affects visibility, it shapes the atmosphere and mood of your space,’ says Artem Kropvinsky, interior designer of New York firm, Arsight. So how do you make your modern bedroom lighting feel cozy? We speak to the experts to find out.

1. Avoid the 'big light'

A bedroom lit with pendants either side of the headboard

(Image credit: Nicole Franzen. Design: The 1818 Collective)

To create that coveted cozy feel in the bedroom, playing with shadow and is your best friend. Work with light and shade to create that warm, comforting feel that helps to calm. Rule number one is therefore all about keeping that big light off. Ceiling lights cast light directly downwards, brighten the whole space, and when turned on, can feel too harsh and not conducive to a relaxing bedroom.

'Direct downlighting is great for cleaning but can really kill the bedroom vibe the rest of the time,' says Anna Drummond, architect and designer at Melbourne-based, CoLAB Design Studio.

This isn't to say you should do away with the main ceiling light altogether, and they are crucial when your bedroom functions as a practical space for getting ready for the day, not to mention that they can provide decorative detail and a focal point - but avoiding turning the main ceiling light encourages you to rely on pockets of layered bedroom lighting around the room instead. 

2. Use shades that diffuse and cover bright light

A bedroom with paper floor lamp

(Image credit: Austin Leis. Design: Ome Dezin)

Think carefully about the shades that you go for. You want to diffuse the light and avoid that glare hitting your eyes. I love my paper floor lamp in my bedroom and always turn it on for guaranteed coziness as I'm winding down at the end of the day. This space designed by Los Angeles design studio, Ome Dezin also relies on a floor paper lantern that softens the bulb's harshness and diffuses the light beautifully around the area, bathing it in a soft, golden glow. 

Think about the direction of the lampshade too. If you can see the bulb when the light is off, it will be bright and harsh to the eye when turned on, so make sure it is covered and filtered. 

'To create coziness in a space, add a lampshade with warm colors,' says lighting product developer, Riccardo Longo at Scandinavian lighting and furniture brand, Audo. 'Additionally, it helps to place lamps in areas throughout the room that won’t shine light directly into anyone’s eyes.'

3. Layer the space with candles

A bedside table with taper candles

(Image credit: Louisa & Fyodor. Design: Lofy Studios)

Candles are my number one go-to for coziness. Bringing a golden, warming glow that calls to nature, there is something so comforting about a flickering flame on your bedside table as you tuck into a good bedtime read. There are so many different types you can enjoy, so make use of candles' decorative appeal, going for a mix of taper candles as well as smaller tea lights in cute holders. 

I like having a few on the go at once, creating different pools of light around the bedroom. Remember to strategically place them around the room too - popping a candle in front of a bedroom mirror is one of my favorite tricks for doubling the light as it bounces off the mirror glass. 

Lastly, the smell of candles creates an atmosphere that can add to a cozy feel. Think lavender for its soothing properties, sandalwood, or cinnamon for an autumnal feel. Creating a scentscape is another surefire way to add comfort and warmth.

4. Think about the type of glow

Small apartment bedroom with statement lighting

(Image credit: Interior Fox)

The actual bulb is important too when it comes to cool light versus warm light. Kelvin-wise, go for anything less than 2000k which gives off a dim glow of light, similar to what you might find from candlelight, best for low-light areas where ambient illumination is welcomed.

'It's a great tip if you are on a budget,' adds Alexandra Coxon, interior designer at boutique studio, My Habitat Design. 'Simply selecting bulbs that are soft white or warm white will make all the difference without having to invest in a new fixture.'

'Tala is a great lightbulb brand and one that Audo recommends,' says Riccardo. 'For those warm, cozy lights, you can use a color range of 2500K to 2700K. The watt you need truly depends on the area you’re trying to light up, dimmable bulbs help with this too.'

5. Try wall lights over the bed

A bedside table lit with wall light

(Image credit: Inna Kostukovsky. Design: Atelier Ochre)

'Lighting is the quickest way to determine how cozy your bedroom feels,' says Alexandra. 'I love opting for a couple of wall lights to provide areas of light that are more relaxing than ceiling lights.' I'm a big fan of wall lights too. They add a decorative addition to your wall and give you the functional option of directing light perfectly above your bed, ideal for cozying up with a good read without having to rely on that dreaded 'big light'. 

Plug-in wall lights have come a long way now, with the best plug-in sconces just as decorative and luxurious looking as built-in pieces, just without all the drama with fitting hardware. Place above your bed on either side, or go for the one-sided look for a subtle addition, and pick a colorway or material that matches the scheme of your room. For cozy colors for the bedroom, think autumnal hues of brown, dark red, or sumptuous plums. Material-wise, brass or gold can bring a warm sheen. 

'Wall lights are also a key addition as they add a warming, cozy glow but can also be used to highlight key pieces of art or architectural details. The layered scheme will ensure you have all the light you need for various tasks, times of day and for whatever ambience you want to create,' says Emma Deterding, founder and creative director of Kelling Designs.

Wall lights are also great for breaking up the wall space, points out Caroline Savin, co-founder of Bloomint Design. 'If we have a lot of white wall surface, some decorative wall sconces will give the space a more human scale.'

6. Remember to dim

Dimming is also up there when it comes to creating the perfect cozy feel in the bedroom. 'The ability to adjust the brightness of your lighting allows you to create a personalized ambience in your bedroom,' says Jade Jiambutr, architect and founder of Invoke, a design studio based in Thailand and The US. 'And it's not just for ceiling lights. Beyond adding dimmers to your overhead lights, also consider ones for your bedside lamps.'

7. Try concealed lighting

A lit niche provides extra light on a shelf

(Image credit: Bloomint Design)

Add concealed lighting, either in the trim or cleverly built into the wall. This will add a subtle glow that isn't too overwhelming. 'Adding cove lighting along cabinet or wall bases can introduce a gentle, warm glow that not only enhances the quality of the space but also conveniently functions as a nightlight,' says Jade.

In this example by Bloomint Design, the niche acts as a focal point like a headboard would. 'When it comes to the bed and headboard, we always like to play with the combination of decorative suspensions and reading lamps built into the wall or included in the headboard if it is custom-made,' says Caroline. 'In the case of this master bedroom we also created a backlit niche to display decorative objects or books.'

8. Consolidate light switches

Bedroom lighting that is controlled by one switch

(Image credit: David Chatfield. Wrightson Stewart)

Finally, consolidating your light switches to one clear place in the bedroom is a practical solution that can help you sink into your cozy space. ‘Consider hardwiring outlets for lamps into your main switch panel too,’ says Emma. ‘Have one circuit for your main ceiling light to add brightness and general lighting throughout the day, and a separate one for wall lights and lamps to bring in that warming glow for those cozy evenings. 

'Not only will this make your lighting easier to control but it’ll also ensure you don’t have to turn multiple lamps on individually. If you have the budget to put your table lamps on a 5 amp circuit, this will mean that you can switch all your lamps on from the switch at the door and save you hours of time walking around switching them on and off.’ 

Oonagh Turner
Livingetc content editor and design expert

Oonagh is a content editor at and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.