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Getting bedroom lighting right is key to creating a restful retreat, a space where you can unwind at the end of the day. It's all about striking the right mood and layering your lighting in a way that creates a soft ambiance.
In a way, lighting is a decorative addition to a modern bedroom, as important as the wall color, furniture and decor. In the wrong light, your bedroom can be stark, too bright, and not conducive to relaxation. 'Lighting creates a huge impact, both on and off,' says Emma Deterding, founder and creative director at Kelling Designs and KD Loves. 'So think about every area of your home. Walk through your home and think about the mood you want to create and the light that is required or is missing.'
But choosing where to start can be a difficult feat with so many options out there, from floor lamps to task lighting to sconces and statement bedroom chandeliers, what is right for your bedroom? Read on to discover what the designers think, and our favorite bedroom schemes designed to inspire.
Oonagh is one of Livingetc's content editors, bringing content to the site every week on the latest trends, design ideas and expert advice. She's updated our bedroom lighting ideas article with fresh advice from her favorite designers with inspiring schemes.
Planning your bedroom lighting ideas
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to planning your bedroom lighting, but generally, a bedroom should have three different light sources to layer the lighting. 'Why limit yourself to a single dimmer switch when you can be surrounded with warmth?' points out Martin Waller of Andrew Martin. 'Good lighting is imperative to creating an ambiance, a cove of coziness and intimacy.'
This includes task lighting, ambient lighting and accent lighting. Task lighting is essential for reading, some self-pampering at the dressing table or getting dressed, and is associated with activity. Ambient lighting is about the overall glow of your overhead light. Not only is the tone of the glow important, but what form this fixture takes can set the tone for your room. Is it a statement central light, recessed lighting or a subtle lampshade? Accent lighting might highlight a dark corner or reading nook.
‘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,’ says Ben Marshall, interior designer and creative director of Hudson Valley Lighting.
'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.
1. Switch bedside lamps for pendants
Switch a traditional bedside lamp for more statement hanging pendants by your bedside table. Not only do they give you more space for side table decor, but look perfectly elegant. This scheme designed by Beata Heuman has a reflective mirror behind the light too, further reflecting its glow.
Beata has released a charming collection alongside Original BTC, called Alma, which features ceramic pieces including this pendant light and others, that give a touch of charm and luxuriousness to the traditional bedroom light fitting. Designed to be a luxe interpretation of a utilitarian aesthetic, the light fitting hangs from the ceiling and combines bone china and brass.
Rohan Blacker of Pooky also advocates a dimmer switch for the pendant to really ushed in that nighttime mood. '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.'
2. Try a bedroom light that is fixed into the headboard
Elevate your statement headboard even further with an in-built light, making it high tech and an aesthetic talking point. This townhouse bedroom, designed Brooklyn’s Home Studios, embraced the bedroom trend with a custom built-in headboard that incorporates bedside tables.
“The incorporation of collectible design and art was very important to this project as it was our wish to provide the client with a unique home environment that speaks directly to their lifestyle,” says Oliver Haslegrave, the founder of Home Studios. “We designed the custom rattan, walnut and travertine bed as a focal piece of the room.” With its muted palette but clever use of shapes this is another example of why beige bedroom ideas are never bland.
3. Go for LED lighting in the bedroom
LED lighting can create beautiful moments of lighting in the bedroom that aren't too harsh on the eye. From concealed lighting that is hidden away under the cornicing, providing only a mere suggestion of light, to lighting on the floor, it's a great way of subtly introducing light. LED is also an energy efficient way of lighting your bedroom, so if you're finding your energy consumption getting drained by leaving that bedroom light on, you might want to make the switch.
You can also install LED lighting like a piece of art, and give it a structural quality. In this example, the ring of LED light acts like a halo, drawing the eye to the bed which is the focal point of the scheme.
4. Get a light that works on the table or the wall
Bedside table lamps are moving on from the typical format of lampshade-style, and these frosted table lamps are seriously cute for your next bedroom idea. Not only do they provide a warming glow on your bedside table, with a handy dimmer switch so you can control the light, but you can move them around. These Tala lamps also sit on your wall, so you can have a versatile, moveable wall sconce. Mix and match where you put your lamp on the wall. Maybe you want two flanking your bed, or perhaps you want it providing light over your bedroom vanity table or desk. The transferable factor is reflective of the desire for our interiors to be flexible and move around with us.
5. Layer your bedroom lighting
So in keeping with the rule of three when it comes to bedroom 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.'
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, metallic, 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 bedroom feel when needed in the evenings.
6. Add rustic glamor with a statement chandelier
A chandelier works in any style space, whether you like something rustic 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,' explains Ben Marshall, creative director of Hudson Valley Lighting. '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.'
7. 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. 'Wall rather than table lights in small bedrooms also avoid cluttered surfaces,' says Charlie Bowles, director at Original BTC. 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.
'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.
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.'
8. 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.
9. Add texture with materials inspired from nature
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 bedroom look, layered 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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.'
13. Don't forget the floor lamp
Bringing in pools of light and giving your bedroom well-lit corners are the faithful floor lamp. They 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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.
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 a bedroom needs around 10-20 lumens per square foot for the perfect amount of brightness.
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Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com. 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.
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