How to Choose Bedroom Lighting

The bedroom is a place of rest and recouperation, and getting a good night’s sleep is on anyone’s agenda after a long day. Unwinding and relaxing are key to sound sleep, whether that’s reading a book, sipping a hot brew or meditating. And the right atmosphere will help you hit pause and stop everyday stressors from intruding your mind. There’s little question that lighting is key to finding harmony and balance in your bedroom. So, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on how to choose bedroom lighting. Once you have finished reading our guide head on over to our bedroom lighting collection for more ideas for your home.

How to Light a Bedroom

We spend a good part of the day in living areas outside of the bedroom. For greater privacy bedrooms are oriented to the rear end, fitted with heavy blinds, or even zoned to the darker areas of the house. Whether your bedroom receives natural light or not, it is at night that you primarily occupy the space. In contrast, getting dressed in the morning requires adequate lighting. The right bedroom lighting design makes sure you factor in these daily needs to map out lighting accordingly. 

As with any other key zone in your home layering your lighting is the best place to start.

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General lighting  

General or ambient lighting evenly spreads across the space and serves as the foundation for the entire lighting scheme. The amount of ambient lighting depends largely on the size and scale of your space.

Modern Luxury Crystal Chandelier For Living Room

Ceiling lights: A simple approach for a contemporary style bedroom would be downlights to maintain a seamless profile. The number and arrangement of recessed lights should be scaled to suit the size of your space and taking a grid pattern approach will prove useful. Downlights offer the added advantage of easily combining with any other style of lighting giving you the flexibility to personalise with other layers of lighting.

Bedroom ceiling lights such as flush mounts and pendants are popular choices for general lighting and give you room to get creative with the range of shades and sizes available. A small bedroom may only require a single flush mount or pendant combined with other layers of lighting to compensate where needed. Furthermore, bedrooms often have low ceilings which means flush mounts are the better choice. For spacious bedrooms, a stunning chandelier can add luxury and set apart a master bedroom or suite from other rooms in your home while giving you sufficient ambient lighting with its multi light fixture.

A word of caution when it comes to placing a ceiling light; directly above your bed it will cause discomfort to your eyes as you lie down. Position the ceiling light further away to avoid this glare.

Plug-in lights: If the hassle of wiring for ceiling fixtures is putting you off and you are wondering how to light a bedroom without overhead lighting the simple answer would be floor lamps. These fixtures give you various placement and style options while providing a soft and inviting ambience. Within this category are arc floor lamps which offer a great way to add ambient lighting that appears to illuminate from above.

Similarly, a plug-in pendant light that can be mounted to the ceiling offers a simple solution for a small space provided there is sufficient cord length and a well-placed plug point. This allows you to easily convert an extra space into a bedroom while doing away with the hassle of wiring required for ceiling fixtures.

When it comes to general lighting for a bedroom, we recommend installing a dimmer switch to easily adjust the level of lighting.

This means you can have the desired level of lighting whether you want to wind down for the night, get dressed in the morning or for a night out. However, make sure that the type of light source or bulb can give you enough range to reduce or brighten as needed. 

Task lighting

In bedrooms, task lighting comes into play for reading in bed and for grooming. This layer of lighting is especially necessary to give your space added functionality.

How to choose bedside lamps: Bedside lamps are often an important part of bedroom lighting given the convenience of easy reach while in bed. It means, you won’t be stumbling in the dark to get to bed or to turn on the lights in the night. Lighting for bedside is also where you can exercise the most personalisation to enhance the theme of your bedroom.

Bedroom furniture sets the stage for your space, and table lamps would need to complement your side table in terms of style as well as proportion. While you must consider the height of its shade while you sit in bed, oversized table lamps can throw off the balance and interfere with the harmony of your space. Read our table and floor lamp guide to choose the right proportions for a bedside table lamp. Bedside lighting is the ideal reading light for bed, as it offers focused lighting with little disturbance to another sleeping occupant. You could take this step a further with a swing arm table lamp or wall lamp that allows you to adjust the direction of lighting as well.

The right shade: There’s a lot to take into consideration when selecting from a wide variety of shades for table lamps. Clear glass shades for instance provide direct light while patterned or frosted glass and fabric diffuse light for softer illumination. If you are a heavy reader keep in mind that shades with light colours are preferable as dark shades dilute light resulting in mood lighting. The inner surface of a shade also influences the amount of light you receive. Shades with a white or metallic lining for instance will reflect more light while dark finishes absorb light. Be mindful of the shape of the shade you pick as well – an opaque, cone shaped shade with a reflective inner will give you ample focused lighting, if that’s your requirement.

Plug-in bedsides: For bedside lighting, wall lights and pendant lights are space saving alternatives, and plug-in options for these lights eliminate the involvement of a sparky. 

Designs for plug in pendant lights have advanced over time to favour their use beside the bed. 

A simple three metre or six metre plug-in cord length with a wall plug at one end and lampholder at the other can be paired with a suitable shade as shown in the image.

These pendant lights must be mounted correctly over a bedside table. While a mounting hook fixed to the wall offers a simple approach, a shelf bracket to mount and adjust the length of cord adds another design element.


Lighting for grooming: For tasks that require sustained concentration such as grooming, a table lamp offers an easy solution for a dressing table. And one with an adjustable arm or swivel head is ideal to focus and direct light as needed. Alternately, wall sconces mounted on either side of the mirror offer a fixed solution while Hollywood mirror lights is an example of form and function bringing with it a dose of character.

Lighting for storage:
 Another lighting option that can go overlooked are LED strip lights. Strip lights come in handy to illuminate those spaces that don’t receive enough ambient lighting. In a bedroom, these are often recessed spaces such as storage shelves and wardrobes. To help you see clearly as you rummage through your clothes or linens, strip lights can be mounted to the upper shelves. For walk-in robes track lights or spotlights along with a central source of lighting offer a suitable alternative.

Accent lighting

Now that you’ve achieved a functional space with general and task lighting, you can set your sights on lighting for aesthetic purpose. While the aforementioned levels of lighting do bring style and character, you could take it a step further to turn it into your personal haven of comfort.

Highlight a feature: A favourite artwork or a collection of family portraits can be highlighted with a picture light to bring aesthetic value to your bedroom. These lights on their own can serve as mood lighting with the best features in your space highlighted in a soft glow.

Create atmosphere: Who doesn’t like gazing at a starry night sky. You can bring a little of that magic into your bedroom with festoon lights. Strung along the walls or across the ceiling these string lights make a whimsical feature adding charm to the simplest bedroom. It’s a simple lighting concept that’s ideal for kids’ bedrooms as well. The type of bulb you choose will greatly impact the final result. Starry bulbs create that charming outcome ideal for a kid’s bedroom and 0.5W bulbs with a dim and warm illumination produces a cool or funky atmosphere a teenager might prefer. There are other interesting or fun lighting features you could add to a bedroom for aesthetic effect. Marquee lights for a vintage touch or light boxes to highlight words are a few examples that can not only add character but bring ambiance and mood. 

Although, layering your lighting and ticking all the boxes is strongly recommended, a little restraint is also needed to avoid overwhelming your space with too many lights. After all, the bedroom does need to be a tranquil space for rest and relaxation.

What light bulb do I need for my bedroom

If you are thinking ‘what light bulb do I need for my bedroom?’ you are asking the right question. It’s important to consider the type of bulb as it will affect the atmosphere and the aesthetics of the light fixtures. Consider the shade material as well when choosing  your bulb. Brighter bulbs can be used for shades that are opaque such as as opal glass or fabric.

Lumens and wattage: To select the right bulb, you must consider what type of lighting is best for bedrooms. The recommended lumens or the bulb’s light output requirement vary greatly depending the size of the bedroom. As a rule, bulbs with a higher number of lumens per watt are more energy efficient. As mentioned above, in the end you need a lighting system that covers all areas of the room, including a level of light for reading and sufficient light for dressing.

Colour temperature: In conjunction with lumens, the colour or the bulb’s kelvin count also plays a role in creating a suitable environment. Cool white or blue are known to promote alertness and can disrupt your sleep patterns while the warmer hues help your body prepare for sleep. Colour temperatures ranging from 2700K to 3,300K reflect a soft, warm light suitable for bedrooms. You can take this concept a step further and factor in lighting for waking up in the morning to stop you from reaching for the snooze button. 

Dimming and Controls

For the greatest efficiency, a dimmer will come in handy to adjust brightness as needed. This means ensuring that you choose dimmable bulbs and fixtures. Dimming controls for bedroom lighting and even colour temperature adjustment can help you wind down and even kick start your day. Another alternative is the use of smart bulbs that can be controlled remotely via your phone app allowing you to schedule as well as adjust their levels.

For more in-depth coverage on light bulbs have a read of our Light Bulb Buying Guide.. And, if you’re still stuck on bedroom lighting ideas, why not get in touch with our friendly team at Fat Shack Vintage? We’re always on call to assist in creating the perfect kitchen space. 

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