In an Oakland, California master bedroom, the George Nelson pendant light is from Design Within Reach. The bed by Room & Board is dressed with a Libeco duvet, the antique chest is English, and the custom love seat is upholstered in a China Seas fabric. The rug is an antique Heriz and the walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Anchor Gray.
Bedroom lighting can range from basic to bold, and dimmed to dramatic. Whatever your style, these 35 rooms are all the inspiration you need for a uniquely-lit space to read, relax, and of course, doze.
If you expect to do activities that require a bit more focus, like reading, working or applying makeup, then consider layering on top of your general lighting with task lights. Focused task lighting need not be confined to the traditional desk task light. Consider bedside table lamps, low hanging pendants on either side of the bed, sconces, wall mounted task lights on either side of a headboard or other directional lighting placed above it.
In the master bedroom of an Upper West Side apartment, the room’s white and gold pendant is reflected in the gilded mirror. A Hästens bed is dressed in linens by Sferra and Olatz, the circa-1970 side tables are by Milo Baughman, and the lamp is by Taylor; the walls are painted in Farrow & Ball’s Cinder Rose, and the photographs are by Marsha Lebedev Bernstein.
Bedroom Lighting Guide Basics How to Layer Your Lights Ambient Lighting Accent Lighting Task Lighting Dimmers How to Choose the Right Bulb Picking the Brightness Picking the Color Expert Bedroom Lighting Tips from interior designer, Jamie Bush How to Develop a Lighting Plan Incorporating (or not) Symmetry into the Bedroom Bedside Lighting What to Avoid When Lighting Your Bedroom Adding Wall Sconces Mixing Modern Lighting with Traditional Decor Bedroom Lighting Guide: The Basics Layering The Lights In Your Bedroom
A recent episode of the Design and Build show on radio live about bedrooms got me thinking about how you go about lighting one of the overlooked areas of your home. Read on for some inspiration on lighting your own sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of life
In a minimal apartment, the neon wall sculpture in the master bedroom is by Glenn Ligon, and the Corian platform bed, a custom design, is dressed with Belgian linens; the circa-1960 bedside tables are by Joseph-André Motte, and the walls are sheathed in a Marmorino wall finish.
In the same house, the rainbow pendant plays off the array of colors in the kid’s room. A Room & Board bunk bed is dressed in vintage suzanis from Uzbekistan, the school desk is from Windsor Place Antiques, the shades are of a fabric by Flock and the vintage rug is Turkish.
From general to specific, you’ll want to layer the kinds of lighting depending on what you anticipate doing in your bedroom on a regular basis. For starters, begin building your lighting foundation with ambient lighting, or general lighting. Proper ambient light includes natural lighting via large windows or skylights, or artificial lighting; whatever provides a decent amount of lighting that’ll enable you to perform general tasks like cleaning, folding clothes, or making the bed.
In the master bedroom of a penthouse apartment on the French Riviera, the bed is flanked by palm tree sconces and topped with a mohair blanket from the French Alps. The 1950s English bedside table is mahogany, and the hand-painted wallpaper is 19th-century English.
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Whether you retire to a small alcove or a grand master suite, odds are you use your bedroom for more than just sleeping. And while dark rooms are great for getting your eight hours, too little light keeps you from doing much else.
Tucked into a tidy alcove in Steven Gambrel’s Art Deco apartment, this custom bed is upholstered in a Zimmer + Rohde fabric, while the houndstooth pillows are in a Holland & Sherry fabric, and the 1950s sconces are by Ignazio Gardella.
The bed, dresser, and side tables in the master bedroom of a Mexican home are by Roche Bobois; the Eames chair and ottoman are by Herman Miller, the bedside lights are by FontanaArte, and the wall is painted in Patagonia byComex.
In a North Jersey home, the master bedroom’s reading light is by Stephen Miller Siegel and the vintage lamp bases are from Ruby Beets. The bed and side tables are custom designs, the linens are by Frette, the walls are upholstered in a Pindler fabric, and the carpet is by Woolshire Carpet Mills.
The second half of our bedroom lighting guide is a Q&A with Los Angeles-based interior designer, Jamie Bush, recognized for his ability to combine period and contemporary decor, sharing his secrets for a well-lit, functional, and restful modern bedroom.
The Lantern in this Greenwich Village penthouse is 19th-century Indian. The bed is upholstered in a Robert Kime stripe and dressed in antique French linens, the side table is 18th-century English, and the landscape paintings are English, French and American. The walls are painted in Farrow & Ball’s Off-White.
What are good alternatives to table lamps for bedside lighting?
One trick I have used a few times is to use a low level light like an LED striplight in a built-in pelmet or perhaps built into the top of your headboard to create an ambient background ‘mood’ light for the bedroom. We have even had customers purchase this striplight with colour changing LED’s so they can set a romantic atmosphere to the room.
Accent lighting is typically meant to draw attention and highlight features–like artwork–within a given space. For the bedroom, accent lighting on its own can act as a subdued version of ambient lighting, giving off a pleasant glow and creating a cozy atmosphere. Utilizing recessed lighting in the bedroom, wall sconces, tape lights or creative repurposing of other fixtures are a few ways to incorporate this feature in your bedroom’s light design.
In Andy Cohen’s Greenwich Village apartment, the shades on the vintage Pierre Giraudon green-resin nightstand lamps from John Salibello match the Ralph Lauren Home wallpaper in the master bedroom. The bed is upholstered in a Maharam plaid by Paul Smith and dressed with Pratesi linens.
After settling on the maximum lumen output of a bulb, you need to consider if the bulb type you want is dimmable. CFLs (or Compact Fluorescent Lamps) are difficult to control with a standard dimmer, as are some low-voltage LEDs. In these cases, special dimmers will be needed for smooth, flicker- and buzz-free control.
The Loca Pendant Light can add a unique touch to your ambient lighting Task Lighting
Jamie Bush: I’m trained as an architect, so we start with a furniture floor plan and measure everything out, down to where the plugs go. If there’s art on the wall, we install ceiling spotlights, set two feet in from the wall if it’s a standard eight-foot ceiling, or farther in if the ceiling is taller. You want the light to hit at eye level, where artwork hangs. If we use a pendant or a semi-flush ceiling fixture, it’s usually centered in the room, often over the bed. So, we try not to hang it too low—typically eight to 12 inches from the ceiling. I like to use fairly large fixtures—my philosophy is that fewer, larger elements in modern design makes a larger impact. I don’t use many small or standardized sizes. To me they seem to lay flat, or look like tchotchkes. I prefer things with presence and size and scale.
Expert Bedroom Lighting Tips with interior designer, Jamie Bush
Adjustable spotlights create a beam of light that doesnt interfere as much with your partner while you are reading in bed. These days we are using a lot of LED reading lights like this mainly due to the much lower heat, its not that nice having a hot light over your head while you read in bed. Chunky headboards are common these days and an LED spot on a long gooseneck helps to bring the light around a chunky headboard.
Table and desk lamps are still a great option, there are heaps of different varieties. Shades are easy to replace and customisable, also they are portable which is great if you like to have the option of rearranging a room. These lights work great for a study desk in a kids room as well.
JB: Sometimes we’ll hang pendants over bedside tables—they’re a good option, especially for smaller rooms, because they don’t take up space on the table. It’s more for mood lighting than reading, though.
Inside a house in Uruguay, the master bedroom’s floor lamp and chair were found in Buenos Aires, the rug is an antique Bolivian poncho that was a gift from Claessens’s mother, the painting is by Claessens and the antique shutters were bought at auction in Montevideo, Uruguay.
This form of lighting can be very energy efficient, these days you can find ceiling button models that use 32W of power that will be around about the equivalent of a 150W normal light bulb.
We hope that you find our guide on how to light a bedroom helpful. If you have any questions or comments on how to perfect your bedroom lighting design, don’t be shy and leave a comment below.
I find bedrooms to be an area that I try and get away from downlights completely. You don’t tend to heat that part of the house so a hole in the insulation from a downlight is going to let out whatever heat you have in the room.
In the master bedroom of designer Jean-Louis Deniot’s Parisian apartment, the crystal lamps and bronze ceiling pendant are by designer Deniot. The leather rug is by Serge Lesage, the walls are in a custom color, and the portraits are from the 16th century through the 1960s.
As you layer your bedroom lighting, it’s also important to consider the type of bulb you’ll use for each fixture. Depending on the bulb’s lighting intensity and the color it emits, it has the potential to positively or negatively affect the way you function during and after a given activity. But before you set out to hunt for any old bulb, you’ll want to figure out your preferred brightness level, or lumens. While the suggested lumens for the bedroom ranges between 2,000 and 4,000, this is a subjective decision that changes based on the type of ambience you desire for your bedroom.
In a bedroom it is important to stick to warmer light sources, incandescent and warm coloured fluorescents provide a warmer more relaxing atmosphere that works to help you relax after a long day. Halogen or cooler coloured fluorescents are great for kitchens and bathroom as these are task areas, you want to feel bright and alert, but that is usually not what the bedroom is for.
Amanda Seyfried’s dog, Finn, relaxes in the master bedroom of her Catskills home, where The pendant light is by &tradition, and the beadboard walls are painted in Ammonite by Farrow & Ball.The bed is by Restoration Hardware, the bench is from Gilt and the rug is from ABC Carpet & Home.
Nowadays, many bedrooms are more than just places to sleep—they’re also places to work, read, and spend family time. How can lighting help accommodate all these activities in a single room?
Knowing how to layer your lighting is the key to creating the best lighting your bedroom. This means finding the right balance between ambient, task, and accent lighting. By creating this balance, you will be able to create the lighting for any mood and any activity with the flick of a switch.
How would you incorporate modern lighting into a more traditional bedroom?
Click through our table of contents to find the topic you are interested in, or read through for our bedroom lighting tips.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of layering your lighting, it’s time to delve a little deeper into crafting your bedroom lighting with the expert advice of Jamie Bush.
In designer Megan Winters’ Chicago home, the bedroom features a hide rug by Kyle Butning. The toile is by Lee Jofa, the vintage chandelier is French, and the table lamps and wallcovering are by Ralph Lauren Home.
A fixture constructed of paper plates by Christopher Trujillo playfully evokes clouds in a bedroom designed by Stephen Sills in a storied Manhattan apartment building. The custom-made bed is upholstered in a Pierre Frey fabric, and the bedside tables are from Crate & Barrel.
The first thing to achieve in any space is a base light that will create enough light to make the room feel lit. In a bedroom this can be achieved by recessed downlights, a ceiling button or a pendant depending on the look of your home.
Of all the rooms in your home, your bedroom is probably the most sacred to you. Your retreat, your place to relax. So, getting your bedroom lighting design just right is essential to make it a comfortable place where you can lay your head down every night. But as the bedroom has evolved into being more than just a place for sleeping, so has the need for the room’s design to evolve alongside with it…including the lighting.
According to Leah Harmatz, Owner & Designer for Field Theory, “Proper lighting/dimmers are important, because if there’s only one bright light source, it’s hard to transition into a relaxed sleep-mode. [With a] bedside lamp or sconce, you can ease into sleep or wake more gradually.”
Anything people should make sure to avoid when lighting a bedroom?
In this French Duplex, the bedroom’s chrome pendant light is a modern addition to this classic room. The cedar bed, knotted-rope furniture, and sculptures are by passionate collector Christian Astuguevieille.
The circa-1970 Mazzega ceiling light in the master bedroom of this Hudson River home was found at a Paris flea market.The bed is upholstered in an Edelman leather and dressed in Pratesi and Frette linens, the bedside tables are by Jallu Ebénistes, and the Carol Egan stool from Maison Gerard is upholstered in a Toyine Sellers fabric.
JB: I like swing-arm sconces for reading. Sometimes I’ll use one sconce to flank a doorway or an architectural feature, like a wall between two windows. They can be used along a hallway leading from bedroom to bathroom. A more sculptural sconce can stand alone as a strong design element in a room.
The next step in room lighting design is to identify the task lighting for the room. Reading lights either side of the headboard give you the light you need to read and if you use decorative lights instead of spotlights the you get extra light to bounce light off walls generating a softer mood and a more spacious feeling.
JB: If your reading light is a table lamp, make sure you pick a shade with a light tone. A black or dark gray shade might look cool, but if it doesn’t glow with light you can’t read by it. If you’re a serious reader, opt for for a swing-arm task light that’s adjustable both vertically and horizontally, for maximum flexibility. But if you don’t read much, or you only read on an iPad, sharp light is less critical, so you might want something more sculptural, like a glowing blown-glass fixture. The soft glow at night would be soothing and incredibly warm.
JB: It’s all about the mix. You have two options: Either pick one big statement piece—a contemporary fixture in the center of a room that has scale and presence and is clearly an anomaly, the thing that breaks the rule. Or, introduce several modern fixtures, to create a rhythm and train the eye that it’s an intentional move to introduce this new design language, and not a mistake or lonely leftover. Natural materials work best, those with texture and irregularity such as woods, alabaster, natural stones, metals with patina, and linen. Chrome and white glass can look cold in that type of setting.
In this Paris home, the guest bedroom boasts two ornate chandeliers. The custom Turquerie-style sofa bed and canopy are covered in a hand-printed cotton that was also used on the walls.
In this sense, the bedroom task light can essentially take on any form, as long as it offers ample lighting needed for sustained concentration. Apart from its design and location, a task light’s functionality also resides within its bulb (more on that later).
When layering your bedroom lighting, dimmers play an important role in the grander scheme of the design. Not only do dimmers let you add an extra dimension to the room’s environment, but they’re inherently multifunctional. Between low lighting to full brightness, a dimmer can accommodate multiple lighting needs. At max brightness, the dimmer lends itself to general lighting, while at lower settings, the feature allows for mood setting. Because dimmers are easy to install (and as long as the bulb type allows for it), any lighting fixture can take on a multipurpose role.
The large hanging lantern in the bedroom of artist Anne Becker’s Manhattan apartment provides an additional light source to the room already flooded by light through the wood shutters by designer Gregory Bissonnette and stained-glass insets by Jacqueline Rusca. The suzani coverlet is from Sheherazade.
For great overall ambience I’d use a combination of the following fixture types: I’d put a floor lamp next to a lounge chair in a corner, and hang a pendant light about 18 to 24 inches from the ceiling as a statement piece. I’d complement those with a pair of bedside table lamps.
Accent Lighting with Rituals 2, Rituals 1 and Rituals 3 Pendant Light, from Foscarini. Image via Dimmers
In terms of artificial lighting, ambient light is best achieved with ceiling fixtures (like flush mount ceiling lights, chandeliers, pendant lights, etc.) or through portable, like floor lamps. Both lighting types will offer a sufficient amount of lighting for activities that don’t require bright, focused light.
With the evolving functions of the bedroom comes the need for proper lighting to support these functions. Between appropriate lighting layers, dimmers and suitable bulbs, getting these aspects right is a sure-fire way to ensuring a comfortable lighting situation in your bedroom. So, get creative and choose the fixtures you need to get just the bedroom lighting scheme you want here.
In a luxurious Palm Springs home, the bed in the master bedroom, which features task lamps attached to the headboard, came with the house. It is dressed in Barbara Martin linens with a blanket and shams by Hermès. The painting is by Daryl Edwards and the wood screen and marble bedside tables are estate-sale finds.
A crystal chandelier dangles above the bed inside an Italian castle. The Red Room’s bed and bedside tables were made for the castle in the late 19th century, and the bedding is by Ralph Lauren Home.
In a NYC apartment, the guest room’s Roberto Rida lamp is from Bernd Goeckler and the curtains are of an Osborne & Little fabric.The Joseph Jeup bed is upholstered in a Toyine Sellers fabric, the bench by Anne and Vincent Corbiere is covered in a Soie de Lune fabric, and the bedside table is by HH Ruseau.
To this end a good quality fluorescent ceiling button (ceiling dome) or a decorative pendant gives a really good baselight for a bedroom, it will fill the whole room with light making the room feel less small.
As white and blue light colors have been shown to promote alertness, lighting with such hues are best used with task or directional lighting to support focused activities. Because blue and white lights increase alertness and subsequently suppress the production of melatonin (or hormones that induce sleep), they are not ideal if you’re trying to wind down and relax in the bedroom after a long day. On the other hand, lighting that diffuses warmer colors (like yellow) don’t interfere with melatonin production. So, warmer lights are best for bedroom activities like reading, watching TV or simply relaxing.
In the master bedroom of this Los Angeles farmhouse, the light fixture made from vintage airplane trusses is from Get Back Inc., the giltwood settee is Italian, the Swedish rug is from Lief, and the flooring is walnut.
In the master bedroom of this West Village apartment, the sconces are by Jason Koharik. The bed and side tables are custom designs, and the walls are sheathed in a custom grass cloth by Work + Sea.
We’ve compiled this bedroom lighting guide to teach you how to light a bedroom the right way. The first half will go over basic bedroom lighting tips and how to layer your lights using ambient, accent, and task lighting. We will also go over picking the right bulbs for your bedroom so that their brightness and color match your bedroom perfectly.
In a Brooklyn townhouse, the master bedroom’s light fixture is from West Elm and the sconces are by Serena & Lily.The bed by Ballard Designs is upholstered in a Lake August fabric and topped with a vintage Moroccan blanket and a pillow from Breuckelen Berber. The painting is by Alex Mason and the walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Gray Owl.
No. But balancing and layering the light is. I like multiple types of fixtures. For example, I might place a floor lamp next to a lounge chair, table lamps on either side of the bed, and a decorative fixture on a dresser. I always try to have something with a shade to give a general warm glow. Also, some source of indirect lighting—light bouncing off something—whether sconces that throw light back on wall, cove lighting that grazes the ceiling or an architectural feature, or picture lights or spots for artwork. The goal is to bring your eye around the entire room, not just to focus on the bed. Bringing light to different corners makes a space feel bigger and balanced. The goal isn’t an evenly lit room, but an interestingly lit one, so your eye travels from fixture to fixture.
In the same house, the daughter’s room features a chandelier found on 1stdibs, and has an Italian shell bed from the owners’ former house in Europe. The mirrored side table is from JF Chen.
The guest room in the poolhouse of this Bridgehampton farmhouse features an 11-candle chandelier adorned in justice roping. The bed is by John Himmel and is dressed in Schweitzer Linen bedding. The rug is Restoration Hardware, and a blue and white table lamp sits on top of the Swedish painted chest.
In a Park Avenue apartment, the vintage bedside tables by Enrique Garcel are topped with lamps by Porta Romana.The custom-made bed is upholstered in a velvet by Dedar, and the chair is by the Campana Brothers. The hand-painted wallpaper is by Gracie, the curtains are of a silk linen by Christopher Hyland, and the rug is by ABC Carpet & Home.
At their house in Marrakech, Samuel and Caitlin Dowe-Sandes’s daughter’s room features a light fixture by Claire Norcross for Luminosity. The floor is paved in starburst floor tiles by their firm, Popham Design. The iron bed is a flea market find.
This joyful bedroom designed for Aerin Lauder’s son in an East Hampton home features electrifying shades of blue from the walls to the bed and pendant. The zebra painting is by Andy Warhol.
JB: The key is creating flexibility, and the ability to control light levels, so if someone wants to sleep and someone wants to work, you can accommodate that. Instead of one big overhead light, use different lighting in each area. At a desk, use task lights as well as a couple overhead pins to illuminate the whole space; that way you have options.
Bedrooms are an area to escape the world for awhile and ambient lighting helps to change your mood and relax. Recessed wall uplights like those pictured above create an indirect source of light to set a relaxing atmosphere.
Light color plays an important role with supporting certain activities. For starters, think about the type of bulb: incandescent/halogen bulbs typically give off a soft white glow, CFLs tend to diffuse a lot of blue (although they have evolved to include a broader spectrum of colors), while LEDs can run the color temperature gamut.
JB: Installing only overhead cans—or too many—is a common mistake. It flattens everything out, there’s no dimension, and it’s unflattering—you look older and more saggy.