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.
Table Lamps: A great general rule of thumb is that the lamp should be no more than 1.5 times the height of whatever the lamp is sitting on and lampshade diameter should be no wider than the table top.Chandeliers and Pendant Lighting: .
..measure the width or diameter of your table. Then subtract 12” from that number. That’s the maximum limit for the width or diameter of a hanging light. Keep in mind that a fixture with a busy or complex design will actually appear larger, so if that’s what is catching your eye, you’ll want to scale your maximum width down slightly.
Assuming you have 8-foot ceilings, the bottom of the fixture should hang between 30 and 36 inches above the tabletop. But if your ceilings are higher, the suggestion is to add 3 more inches above the table for each additional foot of ceiling.
Sconces: The closer you will be to whatever the sconce is lighting, the smaller the sconce should be. So for example, in bathrooms where you will be close to the mirror, go for tiny ones of about 9-10”.
In bathrooms, mount sconces 36 to 40” apart, flanking the mirror, 18” from the sink’s center line. If the sconces have shades, put the bottom edges of the shades a little below eye level (60 to 68” from the floor).
Soft White/Warm White (2700 Kelvin): Best for bedrooms and living rooms; providing a traditional warm, cozy feel to themBright White/Cool White (4100 Kelvin): Best in kitchens, bathrooms or garages; giving rooms a whiter, more energetic feelDaylight (5000-6000 Kelvin): Best in bathrooms, kitchens and basements; good for reading, intricate projects, or applying makeup—provides the greatest contrast among colors
General or Ambient Lighting acts as the overall lighting of a room. It illuminates all of the room and is considered the room’s “natural light”. You might use a chandelier, pendant light, track lighting or wall sconces to create ambient light that fills the room.
Task Lighting lights up a work or reading area. You want this lighting to be brighter than your ambient lighting, so the contrast focuses the light in the specified area. Desk lamps and under-cabinet kitchen lights are common task lighting options.
But pendants and track lighting can be used for task lighting, too, but it depends on how you layer the lighting in your room, and how bright your bulbs are (which we’ll cover in a bit).Accent Lighting highlights a particular area, like a work of art or a bookcase.
It usually creates shadow around the object for a dramatic effect. Wall lights and landscape lights are common accent lights.
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.
Your task lights should ideally be in a warm color temperature to match that of your ambient lights. You may also want to connect your lamp(s) to a plug-in dimmer switch if you don’t already have a dimmer, and of course, using LED or CFL lights can further your energy savings.
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.
Lighting is a subtly powerful thing. It can impact everything from your sleep schedule to your brain power. So it’s understandable that you want your home, the place you presumably spend a big chunk of your life, to be lit nicely. But there are so many different options to choose from. Here’s a basic guide to get you started.
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.
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.
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The right lighting can make you feel relaxed or productive, but beyond that, there’s function. Certain types of lighting serve a specific purpose, and when it comes to your home, you want the right type, depending on the purpose of your room. To optimize your home’s lighting, first consider how you’re using each room.
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.
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.
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.
Generally, lighting function falls in one of three categories: ambient, task, and accent.
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.
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.
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.
Your bulb is your light source, so the type of bulb determines what the light will look like. Different bulbs perform differently, and there are four basic types:
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.
You can also try this interactive tool from Energy Star, which suggests what kind of bulb to get for different lighting options in every room.
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.
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.
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.
The Lighting Research Center offers detail about some additional light fixtures, including how to install them, what techniques they’re usually used with, and what sort of lighting effect they have. Remember: different fixtures call for different types of bulbs. So as you’re picking a fixture, consider what type of bulb it requires.
To properly light your rooms using these techniques, consider how you’re going to use each room and whether there’s anything you want to accent in the room. Then, start layering. HGTV recommends you start with ambient lighting, then consider task and accent lighting:
Ambient lighting is your primary, all-around light source. In many bedrooms, it comes in the form of a ceiling fan equipped with 3-4 standard shape light bulbs. Ceiling fan light fixtures are practical, and sometimes necessary, for use in the bedroom so you can stay cool while you sleep without hiking up your electrical bill. Sometimes, bigger bedrooms are a little more creative, incorporating a recessed lighting layout or a large, dramatic ceiling fixture (such as a chandelier), while other bedrooms display a stylish close-to-ceiling light to save on space.
Task lighting, or lighting focused on spaces used for activities, is unique to each bedroom. A common example of task lighting in the bedroom is a floor lamp overlooking a reading chair, or a simple table lamp resting on a nightstand. If you have a desk where you write or access your computer, you may want to consider a multi-directional desk lamp that you can easily focus onto your workspace. Wall sconces installed on either side of the bed are an especially stylish task lighting trend.
Any questions or comments on how you should light your bedroom? We’d love your feedback! Share your thoughts below or on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Instagram.
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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.
It helps to have a basic idea of how bulbs work. This way, you can pick and choose a bulb to your liking. Also, dimmers are a great option if you want to vary the intensity of your lighting. We’ve covered how to install a dimmer switch yourself.
The more lumens, the brighter the bulb. A typical home bulb produces about 800 lumens, which is the equivalent of 60 watts. So how many lumens do you need for each room? That’ll depend on how big your room is, what color your walls are, and, obviously, intensity of lighting you prefer. Use this calculator to come up with a specific number, based on your home and preferences. But here’s a general breakdown, via HouseLogic:
For this post, we’re concerned with brightness, which is measured in lumens, and light appearance, which is measured in Kelvins.
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.
There are other types of bulbs, but these are the most common you’ll use in your home. For the purpose of this post, we’re only concerned with how bulbs look. If you want to learn more about how they work, check out this helpful post from the American Lighting Association.
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.
If you’ve bought a bulb recently, you might’ve noticed a new label. The FTC now requires bulb packaging to include information about brightness, how long the bulb will last, how much energy it uses, and whether it meets Energy Star requirements. Here’s a sample label from the NRDC:
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.
If you know how to light your room in terms of watts, here’s a wattage-to-lumens cheat sheet.
For some, home design comes naturally, and it’s easy enough to eyeball your lighting when decorating. For the rest of us, it can take following a few rules and guidelines, and these should get you started in the right direction.
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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.
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.
Of course, if you’re a renter, you may not be able to do much about some of the lighting position in your home or apartment. But these general guidelines can give you an idea of how to work with what you’ve got.
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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.
Now that you know the function of your lighting, how bright you want it, and what temperature you prefer, it’s time to pick the best type of fixture for optimizing all of those factors. Here are some common fixtures, along with how (and where) they’re typically used:
Incandescent: These are the traditional bulbs most of us have used for decades, and they’re starting to phase out in favor of more energy-efficient options. They produce a warm, glowing light.Compact Florescent Bulbs (CFLs): These use 75% less energy than an incandescent bulb.
They also last longer. They usually emit a cooler tone, but you can find them in a range of brightness levels and temperatures. It’s worth noting that CFLs do contain mercury, and while the amounts are small, they still require more careful handling and disposal, says National Geographic.
LEDs: These are just as efficient as CFLs, but they can last up to three times longer. They used to be mostly used for task lighting, because they only provided a harsh, direct light, but like CFLs, they’ve come a long way.
They now offer the same look as incandescents, but they’re efficient, they’re less hot to the touch, and they last a long time. For these reasons, they can also be more expensive, but there are utility rebates available.
Halogen: Theese give off a bright, white light, similar to natural daylight. Great for task lighting. They also use 10-20% less energy than an incandescent bulb.
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.
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Beyond brightness, you also want to consider the color temperature of the light. CFLs weren’t great years ago, because they mostly only produced a very blue, cool light. But they’ve come a long way, and you can now find them in warmer, yellower tones. The package should tell you the color temperature of the light, from warm to cool, measured in Kelvins. The higher the Kelvins, the cooler the light. Lighting blog Batteries + Bulbs explains how bulb boxes typically refer to different bulb temperatures. The also add where these temperatures are best used in your home:
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.
The bedroom is considered a place of rest and relaxation, but if you think about it, you do much more in your bedroom than catch up on sleep. Activities such as reading, studying, or just watching television all require some amount of lighting, whether directed on specific areas or simply present in the background. Though all bedrooms are different and require a unique lighting plan, here’s what you need to know to choose the best lighting for your bedroom.
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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.
Keep in mind, these are very rough estimates and account for having different types of bulbs and lighting options in each room. Kitchens are typically brighter and include a mix of ambient light and task lighting, for example. Bedrooms and living rooms are typically less bright.
Living Room: In addition to ambient light, Real Simple suggests using an accent light in one corner of the room. Focus on an object, like a piece of art or a chair.Kitchen: Add your ambient light overhead, then add lower task lighting to illuminate the counter space where you work.
If possible, the sink is also a good spot to add task lighting. Bedroom: It’s common to have task lighting in your bedroom on nightstands. Real Simple recommends pointing any light away from the bed.
They suggest angling overhead ambient light away from the bed and toward the dressing area, specifically.Bathroom: Bathroom lighting can be tricky. You want task lighting for the mirror, but an overhead task light can create shadows.
Consider lighting the mirror on either side. Then, use an overhead ambient light to fully illuminate the room.
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.
Be sure to check out their full post for more details on sizing.
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This is more of a design rule than a lighting rule, but when picking the right fixture, you also want to consider size. A fixture that’s too small or too big can make your room’s proportions look odd. LightsOnline lists some guidelines for choosing the right size fixture, but here are some highlights:
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.
“I like to move from general to specific when planning the lighting for a room,” says lighting designer Markus Earley of Providence, R.I. With rooms that are heavily task-oriented, however, such as home offices, some designers focus on task lighting first. And in a hallway that doubles as a photo or art gallery, accent lighting might be the first consideration.
Ceiling mount fixtures: Pretty standard for ambient lighting. The House Designers say they’re ideal in entry foyers, hallways, bedrooms, task areas, stairways. In hallways, they recommend spacing out fixtures every 8 to 10 feet for adequate illumination.
Chandeliers: When used for general or ambient lighting, they’re best used in dining room or or bedrooms.Wall-mounted fixtures: These are usually sconces. They can be used in any room for ambient, task, or accent lighting, depending on where you put them and what kind of bulb you use.
Pendant lighting: Used for task or general lighting, they hang from the ceiling and are equipped with shades to avoid glare. They work best over dining room tables, countertops or other work areas. Recessed lighting: Again, recessed lighting can be used anywhere for general, task or accent lighting.
It all depends on how bright they are and where they’re located. Track Lighting: You can use track lighting for pretty much anything, too. It’s especially versatile because you can often move the individual lamps around and point them in whatever direction you want.
This might be as an accent to highlight some artwork, or you might just use them to illuminate the whole room.Table lamps: Great for accent lighting in a living room or task lighting in a bedroom.
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.
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.
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Accent lighting is purely decorative illumination. It is typically used to create ambiance or highlight artistic elements in a room. A few popular ways to incorporate accent lighting in the bedroom include hanging Christmas lights around your windows or bedframe, or plugging in a nightlight in a kids room. If your room has cool artwork or architectural features, you could display them better with track lights or spotlights. You could also use LED tape light to backlight your TV. Feel free to play around with colors and different intensities of light. Accent lighting is supposed to be creative—so just have fun with it!
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.
Then, think about where that lighting will go in the room. Don’t worry about the fixtures yet, just think about where you want different lighting to fall in the room. If you’re not sure where to start, consider these general, room-by-room suggestions:
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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.
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.
Kitchens: 5,000-10,000 total lumens Bathrooms: 4,000-8,000 total lumensBedrooms: 2,000-4,000 total lumensLiving rooms: 1,500-3,000 lumensDining rooms: 3,000-6,000 lumensHome offices: 3,000-6,000 lumens
Along with fixtures, you should also pay attention to the quality of your lights. A warm color temperature (about 2700K) will help create a cozy atmosphere in your bedroom since it’s softer and easier on the eyes than bright, cool-toned light. Dimmer switches are a necessary luxury, allowing you to lower your lights to a comfortable, relaxing glow after dark. And if you spend a lot of time in your room, we also recommend purchasing energy-efficient LED or CFL lights to help you save money on your monthly electricity bill.
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