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 an awkward space
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
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. Opt for slim fixtures
Wall sconces and slim fixtures serve several purposes. If installed above the bed, they offer light for small bedside tasks such as reading, clipping nails, etc. If installed above the headboard, they provide illumination to the overall bed area. And, since these are placed on walls or ceilings, they save precious floor space.
Even in small bedroom layouts, some areas can remain dark that even lamps and ceiling lights cannot illuminate. This is where sconces come in, casting an overall glow. These can also be used for spotlighting a particular part of the room – for example, and artwork that you want to draw attention to. Their less-is-more look adds to the functionality of the room and doesn't make the small space seem cluttered.
'When designing a small space, I love to find items that maximize the space. I like using sconces in bedrooms when there isn’t a lot of space on the nightstands,' offers interior designer Nicole Cohen.
4. Turn a table lamp into a focal point
‘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 maximize 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 color and tactility; both of which will help bring a smaller space to life.’
4. Draw the eyes up with statement ceiling fixtures
Small tricks can go a long way in making a small bedroom look bigger. One way is by distraction. To keep the attention away from the small floor area, suspend a statement light to draw attention to the ceiling. 'We will sometimes swap a typical ceiling fan for a pretty flush mount, allowing the room to have something that is both decorative and functional.' explains Sara Cukerbaum, Principal Designer of SLIC Design.
Chandeliers have and always will be part of lighting trends, but if these aren't for you, choose lighting fixtures made of other, interesting materials like rattan, jute, bamboo. The lighting piece can become a conversation starter and give a decorative touch without overwhelming the space. Keep in mind that it's useful to implement a ceiling light with a dimmer, so you can control and set the mood of your room right.
5. Layer multiple sources of light
By far the most resounding piece of advice for small bedroom lighting ideas from our experts was to layer your lighting, with everyone emphasizing 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.’
6. Let the fixture merge with the decor
Bedroom wallpapers can lend a bold and decorative personality to a room, and if you have made the brave choice of zoning the room with wallpaper, then let it be the hero of the decor. Don't overlay it with a large light or even place big bedside lamps in front of it. Choose a design that seamlessly merges or hides within the wall.
'It’s not important to have bedside lamps on either side of the bed especially when you have no space on your nightstand, or if the nightstands are compact and small. What one can do is use the wall or the ceiling to fix either a bedside lamp or a reading light or to hang a beautiful bedside corner light that works as task lighting to read and accent lighting to enhance the room's decor,' says interior designer Noorein Kapoor.
In this kid's bedroom, the tiny pink-toned sconce hides wonderfully within the patterned wallpaper in brown-blush colors. If you want to further ensure that the light is completely camouflaged, choose a design with a glass base, so that the feature wall is visible without any distractions.
7. Make sure it's functional
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 maximize 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.’
8. Try floor lamps by the bedside
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.’
9. Bedside lights don't have to match
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’.
10. Place a mirror behind a table lamp
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.
11. Hang a statement pendant light
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 maximize 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.'
12. Double up on bedside lighting
A bedroom is all about mood and ambiance, 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.’
13. Don't be afraid to go for an oversized design
For an injection of glamor and a 'wow' factor, try supersized lighting fixtures, and completely transform your bedroom from dull to dazzling. Consider rustic lighting pieces like wood beaded chandeliers to give the space a warm touch. If you happen to have a high ceiling room, a voluptuous light will help enhance the ceiling.
If you're unsure about one large piece, why not combine several stand-out light fittings from the ceiling? You can even treat this bouquet of lights as simply decorative additions to the room without having to keep them switched on at all times.
How do you plan lighting in a small bedroom?
'Lighting plays a huge role in creating the vibe or feel of the space. The different kinds of lighting in a bedroom include reading lights, task lights, general lights, and ambient lights. You also have to decide whether you want to fill the ceiling with a lot of downlights. I believe that if you have enough reading lights in the bedroom you don't need a lot of different options in lighting.' says Kumpal Vaid, founder, Purple Backyard.
'For ambient lighting, you can use dimmers and if the intensity could be increased, they can also be used as a general light. For your dresser or makeup table, you can have a light hanging from the ceiling so that it bounces off the mirror and you can get a clear view. Task light can be specifically used in places where you are reading, getting ready, or for other activities and, the intensity can be adjusted so that it can also act as ambient lighting.'
Overall, you want your bedroom to have soft lighting, and focused lighting, as a combination of two will set the mood and help you accomplish tasks. Keep in mind that your bedroom should bring you peace and relaxation. And, a major contributor to achieving that is through lights.
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.
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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.
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