The right bedroom lighting ideas are key to creating a space that feels calming, restful, and has the soft ambiance you want in a bedroom. Lighting might not be top of your list when designing a modern bedroom but it can actually be the most important factor – colors, wallpapers, furniture, decor, it can all look different under different lighting so we'd always advise to plan your bedroom lighting scheme early on.
But where do you start? What is the best lighting for your space? How do you create a soft, glowing space that also has enough light to get ready for the day, or read, or even work? We cover all this and more right here, so whatever your style whether you are after a very minimalist design or a more traditional lighting setup, you'll find plenty of beautiful ideas to inspire you.
What type of lighting is best for bedrooms?
Before we get into all the lovely bedroom lighting ideas, let talk practicalities. A bedroom ideally needs three different types of lighting – task lighting, ambient lighting, and accent lighting. Task lighting is key for well... 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.
'When designing lighting for your bedroom, versatility is key. Bedrooms often need to be bright in the morning and relaxing and cozy at night. Layering different types of lighting such as a 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.' says Jo Plismy, Founder of Gong (opens in new tab).
'Task lighting for reading is essential and often this can be achieved using two lamps or wall lights either side of the bed. My advice is to add drama with large lamps or statement designs and if possible, have lights on dimmers that can also be controlled independently from each other.'For practical lighting when getting dressed, if it’s not possible to have ceiling or wall lighting, then consider downlights. However, don’t overdo it as it will spoil the overall look of your bedroom.'
1. Layer your bedroom lighting
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.'.
2. Add rustic glamor with a statement chandelier
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.' Ben Marshall Creative Director of Hudson Valley Lighting Group. '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.'
3. Flank your bed with elegant wall lights
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. As Rohan Blacker, founder of Pooky, advises, '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 with glass, unless you want to use the light source for reading. If you’re a book lover, 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.'
4. Keep it sleek with a simple pendant
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 style that's going on throughout the room.
Rohan Blacker, is also an advocate of switching from standard bedside table lamps to elegant pendants, he says 'Consider hanging pendants over each bedside table for an interesting alternative to a table lamp or wall light. 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.'
'If you have wiring for wall lamps, then there are many designs available that will help create a statement too. Whether you opt for designs flush to the wall, or those that are moveable and come out, finishes in glass and metallics will add an elegant feature, whilst bringing in light for when you need it, leaving the bedside table clear for books, personal and decorative items.' adds designers Emma Deterding. 'If you do have a reading nook then ensuring there's a lamp nearby to help you lose yourself in your favorite book is key, whilst a yoga or workout space may need dedicated lighting above.'
5. Go oversized to make a statement
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.
6. Use bedroom lighting to blend styles
Bedroom lighting can be a really easy way to blend styles, adding character, texture and intrigue to a room. For example, your personal tastes maybe 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.
It works both ways too, so if your style is more traditional, you could experiment with some really striking modern lighting to give the room a slight contemporary edge.
7. Add texture with slubby materials
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 slubby 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 like this beautiful design from Gong (opens in new tab).
8. Make a statement with you bedside lamp
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.
As designer Emma Deterding says, 'Lighting at the bedside is essential if you like to read in bed, but will also add a warmer, softer wash of light to the room at night. A pair of matching table lamps on either side of the bed are ideal for this. Finish these with some beautiful lampshades - neutral tones will keep the scheme fresh and light, whilst bolder, patterned shades will add interest and allow your personality to shine. Position matching mirrors behind each lamp to help create the illusion of space, whilst reflecting more light back into the room.'
Pick a statement, oversized design that's going to be a feature in the space even when the light is turned off. And for a very chic, symmetrical look mirror the same look on each side of your bed.
9. Make your bedroom lighting moveable
10. Add interest with an oversized lamp
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 while may be in proportion with the room's size make it feel cluttered and as a result even smaller.
11. Switch bedside lights for pendants
And if you have a small bedroom so have to forgo bedside table lamps or you just want more surface space, switch a traditional bedside lamp for more statement hanging pendants.
‘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 low 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.’ says Ben Marshall, Creative Director of Hudson Valley Lighting (opens in new tab).
12. Hang ceiling lights in groups
This blue bedroom zings with punchy color combinations and quirky yet classic motifs. A trio of 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 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 texture, or colored glass to make a style statement, even if the lighting is switched off.' advises Martin Waller, Founder of Andrew Martin (opens in new tab).
13. Place bedroom lighting at different heights
The key to creating that lovely all-over glow you want in a bedroom is to have plenty of different sources, positioned at different heights. That way you'll get multiple soft pools of lights throughout the room.
'Create a conversation with your lighting using different heights with side lamps as well as floor standing and ceiling lights too.; says Martin. 'Why limit yourself to a single dimmer switch when you can be surrounded with warmth? Good lighting is imperative to creating an ambiance, a cove of coziness and intimacy.'
14. Focus of certain aspects with accent lighting
Task lighting and ambient lighting are key in a bedroom lighting scheme and you'll find that your bring these sorts of sources into your room without even thinking about it. But accent lighting often gets ignored and yet it's key to creating that all-over soft glow you want in a bedroom.
'In rooms designed for unwinding and resting, accent lighting should not be forgotten. To create a warm, chilled ambiance, sconces and picture lights are a perfect choice, and can also be used to accentuate a corner of a room, drawing attention to a favorite piece of artwork or furniture.' says Ben Marshall.
'If you have a dressing area in your bedroom, accent lighting can also double up as task lighting, with sconces lighting up your space when choosing clothing. On those early mornings especially when ambient bright lighting is hard to bear, some accent lighting is a great addition to help you ease yourself into the morning at a slower pace.'
15. Bring in pools of light with a floor lamp
We don't see floor lamps all that often anymore do we? But we think the can be a great additional source of light in softer rooms like bedrooms and living rooms. They create these lovely soft pools of light that are perfect for illuminating dressing tables or if you have a seating area in your bedroom.
Just be wary of heights, you don't want the lamp to be so tall you see under the shade and are faced with a harsh downward light, and ensure you choose a shade that's going to gentle disperse light rather than create a spot light on a very small portion of the room.
16. Counteract cool tones with warm lighting
Blues, greens and greys are all ideal bedroom colors. They create spaces that are calming and uplifting and yet under the wrong lighting that can appear frosty and cold. So if you are decorating with one of these cooler shades, always balance it out with plenty of warm, glowy lighting.
'A bedroom should be seen as the ultimate sanctuary space. We are fully embracing cool and calming colours, particularly soft blues and greens with warm lighting as this gives a feeling calmness and serenity.' says Camilla Clarke, Creative Director at Albion Nord (opens in new tab).
17. Double up on lighting with a cleverly positioned mirror
This is such a nifty bedroom lighting idea, especially if you are dealing with a small bedroom or one that lacks natural light. Position your lighting in front of a mirror to bounce even more light around the room. Plus, mirrors always create the allusion of more space.
'Invest in a good pair of matching table lamps (preferably with two matching mirrors behind, to reflect and double the light). This adds a symmetrical finish that will give the room structure and balance. Don’t forget to choose a stylish lampshade; neutral tones will keep it fresh and clean, whilst a printed shade will add a bold dose of color and pattern. A colored shade also lets out a warmer tone of light - perfect for creating a calming environment.' advises Emma Deterding.
18. Switch traditional light fixtures for lanterns
Another great example of the mirror trick being used to maximize light. But we are being drawn to the statement, oversized lantern – an unexpected and quirky choice for bedroom lighting, and yet it really works, creating a modern and yet relaxed, boho feel to the room. The fabric adds a softness too which feels just right for the laid-back, neutral bedroom, a traditional, structured bedside lamp would feel out of place amongst all the natural textures and slubby bedlinen.
19. Contrast styles with your bedroom lighting
Bedroom lighting is a really easy way to bring in a style that contrasts that of the rest of your bedroom without it overwhelming the room or feeling like too obvious of a clash. Pick uber-modern bedside lights to add edge to a more traditional bedroom, an antique floor lamp to add texture to a contemporary space, or, as can be seen in this space, hang a statement contemporary chandelier in a soft rustic bedroom. This mixing of styles is what gives a bedroom personality, adds depth and interest.
20. Add a softness with fabric lighting
A bedroom is a space that's filled with soft textures and layers of tactile fabrics and don't let that stop at your lighting. As Jo Plismy recommends 'I often recommend using fabric with lighting to achieve a romantic and tranquil atmosphere. There’s something timeless and luxurious about using fabric with lighting and I personally love the warmth that can be created with a fabric shade.'
In this bedroom, the light airy feel and all those soft, tonal shades don't lend themselves to adding too structured, so the pendant light with all its beautiful folds of fabrics works perfectly.
21. Keep it simple with exposed bulbs
Sometimes less is more when it comes to bedroom lighting and a single exposed bulb can make just as much of a statement as an oversized chandelier. This kind of simple design can work with so many styles too from industrial to rustic. Just be sure to choose your bulb carefully, you don't want it to cast a harsh light around the room so opt for a tinted LED bulb that will fill the space with warm, glowy light. And if you can, make it dimmable too so you have the option to turn it from task lighting to ambient lighting.
22. Save space with an adjustable wall lamp
Wall mounting your bedside tables is a simple solution to free up surface space on your bedside table, or a good option if you have a small bedroom so don't have room to squeeze in a bedside table. Choose a lamp with an arm that can be angled so you have the flexibility to focus it either on the bed whilst your read or away towards the rest of the room when you aren't in need of a strong task light.
23. Double up
Fallen for a bedside lamp that you know is really just for decoration? It's never going to provide the right amount of light to read by and yet it just fits perfectly into your bedroom? Well, why not double up on your bedside lighting? A lamp that gives of a nice glow but it's purely for decor and more subtle wall mounted light that's a far more practical choice and ideal for reading.
'Bear in mind that whilst bedside lamps are a brilliant way of making a statement, the light you get through a shade will be to afford you an ambient glow - which is very important to create a sanctuary in the bedroom.' says designer Benji Lewis. 'In order for bedside lighting to be suitable for reading, I include neat wall spot lights either side of the bed, that can be directed towards the pillow so you don’t struggle to see the words on your page.'
24. Incorporate plenty of switch options
It's not the most glamorous bedroom lighting idea, but when planning in your lighting be consider how and where each light will turn off. You want plenty of options.
Rob Lessmann's, founder of interior design studio, Design'd Living, top tip is to 'make sure that all the lighting is able to be switched on and off from three points in the room, either at the side of the bed as there is nothing worse than getting into bed and forgetting to turn the lights off, by the door for when you enter and leave the room, and then we will always make sure that all sidelights or floor lights are switched from the main lighting controls.'
How many lights should a bedroom have?
'The first thing to consider when planning your bedroom lighting is what you need on a practical level. With us all now working from home, our spaces have become multifunctional, and the bedroom is no exception. The minimum number of lights in a bedroom is probably two: a ceiling light and a bedside lamp or pendant, but there really is no maximum! First and foremost, the bedroom is for relaxation, so using soft lighting with dimmers is ideal for mood lighting and creating the perfect ambience.' explains Niki Wright founder of Lights and Lamps (opens in new tab).
How bright should bedroom lighting be?
The reason bedroom lighting is so important to get right is it has to serve a lot of purposes in order to create a room that feels cozy and inviting and yet has enough light to be functional too. For this reason, the easiest way to ensure the right brightness in your bedroom is to have dimmer switches so you can adjust your lighting depending on the time of day.
However, if you what to get technical, to get the right brightness in your bedroom you need to look at the lumens of the bulbs you are using – Lumens are how modern LED light bulbs are measured. According to the lighting experts at Pooky (opens in new tab) a bedroom needs around 10-20 lumens per square foot for the perfect amount of brightness.
Lotte is the Digital Editor for Livingetc, and has been with the website since its launch. She has a background in online journalism and writing for SEO, with previous editor roles at Good Living, Good Housekeeping, Country & Townhouse, and BBC Good Food among others, as well as her own successful interiors blog. When she's not busy writing or tracking analytics, she's doing up houses, two of which have features in interior design magazines. She's just finished doing up her house in Wimbledon, and is eyeing up Bath for her next project.
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