Small bedroom lighting ideas - the ultimate expert guide to creating stylish and elegant spaces

Small bedroom lighting ideas are essential for making the most of of your sleeping space

small bedroom lighting ideas
Design by White Arrow
(Image credit: Thomas Richter)

Banish the dull and the dingy with these small bedroom lighting ideas. Perhaps you’ve got an awkward layout, a tiny box room, or just simply aren’t sure which type of lighting is best. We’ve called in the experts to offer smart lighting solutions that’ll solve your spatial dilemmas.

Whether you’re at the beginning stages of a bedroom redesign, pulling together your initial small bedroom ideas, or are just trying to make an existing space work better, read on for clever tips and tricks that will help you get the very best out of the smallest of bedrooms. 

1. Try iNTEGRATED WALL LIGHTS FOR AWKWARD SPACES

small bedroom lighting ideas with wall lights

Design by Imperfect Interiors

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

Wall lights are no-brainer space-savers, and they’re a small bedroom’s most trusty companion, featuring heavily in many small bedroom layouts. They can free up the surface of a bedside table, or even remove the need for one entirely if space is at a premium. In fact, wall lights are used to their greatest effect when integrated into the spatial design of a room. Beth Dadswell, founder of Imperfect Interiors, has made the most of every inch in this bedroom design. 

‘If you have to have the bed tucked into a tight alcove or against a wardrobe, take to the wall to create an area for nighttime necessities,’ says Beth. ‘Building a small recess will provide space for a drink, book and even a charging station. Add a wall light above, and you’ve got everything you need for a relaxing evening’. 

2. CONSIDER DITCHING PENDANT LIGHTING IF YOUR CEILINGS ARE LOW 

small bedroom lighting ideas with high wall lights

Design by A New Day

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

With any room, it’s important to be realistic about its shortcomings and what is actually possible within the space. Low ceilings may not be the most desirable feature, but Andrew Griffiths, founder of A New Day has worked wonders in this loft bedroom. 

‘Loft or eaves bedroom spaces can be some of the trickiest small bedrooms to work with’, he says, even though their irregular shapes can often be useful for small bedroom storage ideas. ‘Given the limited ceiling height, it’s actually better to avoid pendant lighting altogether. Instead, globe style wall lamps positioned high up the wall will offer a warm glow while also opening up the ceiling space for a greater sense of height. Pair with dimmable table lamps for additional flexibility.’ 

3.TURN A TABLE LAMP INTO A FOCAL POINT

small bedroom lighting ideas with table lamps

Design by Natalia Miyar Atelier

(Image credit: Atelier Natalia Miyar)

‘Lighting is one of the most important considerations in all of our projects’, says Natalia Miyar of Natalia Miyar Atelier. ‘Taking full advantage of the natural light available should always be the first priority - think about how to maximise the potential of windows and introduce skylights if possible.’

Once this has been addressed, Natalia likes to use a combination of accent lighting and table lamps - this also works when considering small bedroom office ideas. ‘I love using table lamps generously’, she says, ‘and a particularly sculptural or textured lamp base in a small room will create an instant focal point. They’re also a great way to add an extra layer of colour and tactility; both of which will help bring a smaller space to life.’ 

4. LAYER MULTIPLE SOURCES OF LIGHT

small bedroom lighting ideas layering lights

Design by K&H Design

(Image credit: K&H Design)

By far the most resounding piece of advice for small bedroom lighting ideas from our experts was to layer your lighting, with everyone emphasising its importance in creating a successful small bedroom scheme. This attic bedroom by K&H Design is a masterclass in layering different light sources with style, while also using a muted palette of some of the best colors for small bedrooms. Each element has a distinct purpose, as well as working cohesively together. 

‘We celebrated and exaggerated the high ceilings with a central molecular light from House Doctor, which darts generous shafts of light around the room,’ say Henry Miller-Robinson and Katie Glaister, both founders of K&H Design. ‘Bedside lights are perfect for reading, but also to help change the mood from day to night. Finally, we chose a pair of Mullan Prei industrial wall lights to flank the mirror above the desk. They help to zone the space, as well as illuminating an area for working or getting ready for an evening out.’ 

5. MAKE SURE IT’S FUNCTIONAL 

small bedroom lighting ideas

Design by White Arrow

(Image credit: Thomas Richter)

In a small space, every element of the room has to work harder - and lighting is no exception, which is why it is so key in all modern bedroom ideas. Keren Ritcher, Co-Founder and Principal Designer at White Arrow, talks through some particularly practical options to maximise space. 

‘For rooms that are smaller in scale look out for articulating wall lights,’ she says. ‘Something that pivots can provide really useful directional light, possibly doing the job of multiple lights in one. It can also tuck away neatly when not in use.’

‘Materials are also going to really make a difference,’ says Keren. ‘A desk lamp with a glass shade is functional as well as offering a beautiful glow at night. It’ll really alter the lighting temperature for a softer look, and coupled with a dimmer, will feel as flattering as candlelight. The end goal is always that a room feels warm and welcoming, regardless of its size.’

6. TRY FLOOR LAMPS BY THE BEDSIDE

floor lamps small bedroom lighting ideas

Design by Christian Bense

(Image credit: Alexander James)

If wall lights aren’t an option - perhaps you’re renting, or simply don’t want the hassle of wiring - the best floor lamps are another way to free up some precious space. Christian Bense found these lights from Visual Comfort to be the perfect option in this smart bedroom design. 

‘As the space was quite confined, we opted for floor lamps either side of the bed so that we didn’t have to lose any surface area on the bedside tables,’ he says. ‘We could have opted for wall lights, but a key part of the design for this bedroom was a long and linear headboard to give the effect of stretching and widening the space. Wall lights would have interrupted the visual flow, but floor lamps work beautifully.’

7. BEDSIDE LIGHTS DON’T HAVE TO MATCH

small bedroom lighting ideas with lights that don't match

Design by Interior Fox

(Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez)

It’s certainly traditional to have a pair of matching lamps either side of a bed, and while this is a fail-safe option, it’s definitely not a must. In fact, contrasting designs will create a dynamic and contemporary look that not only works better for a small space, but is visually appealing too. 

This bedroom, designed by Interior Fox, is a wonderful example. A tight nook on the left is illuminated with a hanging pendant that keeps the bedside clutter free, while the chest of drawers is styled simply with a smart table lamp. 

‘The large paper chandelier from Hay adds drama and softness, drawing the eye up and increasing the sense of height in the room,’ say Jenna and Mariana of Interior Fox. ‘The angular cobalt blue table lamp from HK Living provides lower light, perfect for bedtime reading. When mixing lighting, it’s important to find something in common that unites them. In this instance, both lights are a slightly playful take on Japanese design’. 

8. PLACE A MIRROR BEHIND A TABLE LAMP

small bedroom lighting ideas using mirrors

Design by Barlow & Barlow

(Image credit: Jonathan Bond)

It’s no secret that mirrors are an excellent way to bounce more light into a room. So it’s easy to see how this clever technique will offer a more bountiful feeling of light and space in a small bedroom. 

To pull it off successfully, take note. You will always want the mirror to be higher than the lamp in front, so make sure this works with your headboard. Either line up the top of the mirror with the top of the headboard, or have it just off - a dramatic difference won’t work visually. A generously sized table lamp will be much more effective, so think about whether you’re happy to sacrifice the bedside table space. Finally, symmetry is best in this case, so double up on either side of the bed. 

9. HANG A STATEMENT PENDANT

small bedroom lighting ideas

Design by Sara Cosgrove

(Image credit: Jonathan Bond)

If square footage is low but you’re lucky enough to have high ceilings, then your room is calling out for a show stopping pendant. Sara Cosgrove, founder of Sara Cosgrove Studio, saw an opportunity in this small bedroom to add a touch of drama. 

‘Adding a playful statement pendant creates a sense of unexpected drama, while also helping to maximise space by creating a focal point,’ she says. ‘This particular design, with its eye-catching curves and fun fringing, adds a dash of whimsy and interest which is something I love to include in an interior’. 

10. GO WITHOUT CEILING LAMPS AND DOUBLE UP ON BEDSIDE LIGHTING   

bedroom ideas with bedroom lighting

Design by Helen Green Design

(Image credit: Helen Green Design)

A bedroom is all about mood and ambience, so you don’t need to think of overhead lighting as compulsory. Alexandra Jurkiewicz, Creative Lead at Helen Green Design explains, ‘Being sanctuaries of peace and rest, strong lighting is not necessarily required in a bedroom - especially in a small space. Light fittings should either perform more of a decorative role, or offer a very directional glow for specific tasks.’

‘Our general rule of thumb is to keep light fittings as small as possible, and placed only on the periphery of the room,’ says Alexandra. ‘At Helen Green Design, we love to use small foldable wall lights for reading, combined with simple hanging pendants to accentuate the main elevation of the room.’ 

What is the best lighting for a small bedroom?

Wall lights are always going to be a surefire winner when space is tight. And if they can be built into recesses, alcoves, or the headboard itself - even better. Another top tip is to go for a dimmable function, be it on wall lights, a table lamp or ceiling light. It will enable one light source to do the job of many, giving you total flexibility throughout the day and night. 

How do I choose a ceiling light for a small bedroom?

There are a couple of avenues to go down, but the height of your ceilings are going to determine which is right for your room. If they’re high, or the bedroom is in the eaves with an incline to a generous peak, you can afford to make a statement. Larger designs in eye-catching shapes and materials will help draw your eye up, and give a greater sense of height to the room overall.

If ceilings are on the low side, it’s best to choose something that sits flush, or avoid altogether. Instead, wall lights mounted high up are a great option. Go for something that directs the light up, rather than casting it down - this will help make the room feel a little taller. 

Amy Neason

Interiors stylist and journalist Amy Neason was the Deputy Style and Interiors editor at House Beautiful for years. She is now a freelance props and set stylist, creating work for a range of national publications and brands such as Imogen Heath. She has previously worked at Established & Sons, and her skills include styling still life and interiors shots for editorial features and sourcing unique products to create inspirational imagery.

She is particularly respected for interpreting seasonal trends into feature ideas and style stories.