There are many factors to consider when choosing the lighting for this very personal space.
This is the area of our home where we are our true selves, where we savor our private time alone or with a loved one.
Not only intended for sleeping, the bedroom is usually the space you get dressed, choose your outfits and also where you curl up with a good book and relax.
Choosing the right bedroom lighting plays a major role in how comfortable you feel, not to mention your ability to choose matching socks.
Most bedrooms have a central ceiling light that is often asked to light the entire room. But you really can’t make one type of light serve all the purposes of reading in bed, getting dressed, etc. Just like any other room in the house, the bedroom, however, benefits tremendously from the use of multiple light sources to create “layers of light”.
Table lamps, wall sconces and floor lamps can all add to the overall feeling of comfort.
Good Bedside lighting is usually the first priority in a bedroom.
These lights can be a great excuse to add something fun and unique to accessorize your room. Table lamps on bedside tables or nightstands is a classic option that provides a good sense of symmetry and balance to a room.
So, how tall do bedside reading lamps be?
I hate to give this answer, but it’s true: It depends.
A lot depends on the scale of the room. An oversized master bedroom suite with high ceilings and a king size bed with a tall headboard can obviously handle larger scale table lamps next to the bed. A small intimate bedroom with small side tables will need a different scale to look balanced. Low modern beds with low nightstands are yet another issue.
Yet, it all boils down to functionality. You want to be able to read comfortably without glare.
Here are some general rules of thumb: If your nightstand is 24” to 30” tall, your lamps should be at least 27” – 32” tall. Low, modern style night stands that are only 18”- 20” off the floor, call for taller lamps for comfortable reading.
Swing-arm lamps great as bedside reading lamps since they doesn’t take up space on the bedside tables.
It is important to mount them at the correct height.
The ideal mounting height depends on how you prefer to read in bed, seated or lying down. You don’t want the lights so high that they create glare and on the other side you want to be comfortable and not have to contort yourself to get light on the pages.
The best way to find your personal favorite mounting height is to get into bed in your normal reading position. Then measure from the floor to just above your shoulder height.
OK, so you like reading sitting up and your partner reads lying down. How is that going to work? Hanging the bedside sconces at different heights on the wall would obviously look wrong. This is where swing-arm wall lights that adjust both vertically and horizontally come in.
Another great way of providing light for reading in bed is using pendants.
Pendant lights have the advantage that they don’t take away space on the usually too small night stands.
It is just critical to get the hanging height right and to choose pendants that don’t just focus the light directly down onto the surface below, but spreads it through the shade.
The following article by the American Lighting Association offers helpful tips and a checklist for lighting your bedroom:
Lighting Experts Offer Lighting Tips for the Bedroom
Whether you retire to a small alcove or grand master suite, you probably use your bedroom for more than simply slumber. Dark bedrooms are great for sleeping, but too little light hinders other activities taking place there.
The bedroom has become a sanctuary, a haven,” says Kathy Knapp, lighting consultant and designer for Wabash Electirc’s Showroom Division in Indiana. “People are watching TV, reading, relaxing and spending time alone in their bedroom.”
Dan Blitzer agrees. “Bedrooms are getting larger,” says the American Lighting Association’s continuing education instructor. “And while the bed remains the focal point, it might be sharing its space with a television, workout equipment, a computer, or a sitting area,” adds Blitzer.
To illuminate its many sides, bedrooms need layers of diffused light. “You must have enough light to focus on particular areas, as well as permeate the corners and edges,” says Blitzer. “This means both overhead and portable lights throughout the room.”Types and styles of lighting depend on bedroom occupants.
Couples need individually controlled reading lights on each side of the bed.
Children demand extra light for homework areas, The baby’s nursery requires an installed dimmer or subdued lamp that allows parents to check on their cherub without waking him or her up.
A senior citizen’s bedroom has special lighting needs as well. “Those over fifty need more light to see well,” says Blitzer. “Their eyes are more sensitive to glare.” For maximum comfort, seniors should make sure bedroom bulbs are bright enough and covered by shades or bowl-type fixtures.
Lighting showrooms offer something for every taste and pocketbook. Lamps range in style from neo-classic to contemporary. Rope lighting in cove molding lifts the eye. Recessed cans direct light to specific areas. “We are beginning to see the use of chandeliers in bedrooms, as well as semi flush fixtures and ceiling fans, depending on ceiling height,” says Knapp.
Even in homes with contemporary bath and kitchens, bedroom trends tend toward traditional. For warmth, look for bronze, brass and antique brass fixtures. Darker finishes and colors also predominate. Cream, textured white and brushed nickel offer a lighter bedside option.
“Bedroom lighting purchases are usually driven by existing furniture decor,” says Howard Bernstein, vice-president of ARTCRAFT, a Canadian-based lighting manufacturer. “Bedroom furniture is a major purchase and lighting choices should coordinate with that style.”
To update an existing bedroom, replace a flush-mount ceiling fixture with a newer design or a ceiling fan. Change or add portable table lamps for a quick, inexpensive face lift.
Uplighting from the floor to highlight a plant or potted tree adds interest, as does directional lighting.
When building a new home, consider a pre-construction bedroom lighting plan. “At that point, you can install lighting exactly where it needs to be,” says Bernstein. “You can pre-program the outlets so you have them-and enough of them-where you want them.”
The Right Night Light
Bedroom lighting ranges from basic to bold, dimmed to dramatic. To help you properly light your bedroom, the American Lighting Association offers the following tips:
BE SIZE WISE: Before buying bedroom lighting, first determine the size of room, says ARTCRAFT vice president Howard Bernstein. Take your room measurements, along with outlet locations and furniture placement to a lighting showroom. The experts there can help you fill in with just the right light.
HEIGHT RIGHT: Consider scale. Bedrooms typically have lower 8 or 9 ft. tall ceilings. Avoid fixtures with longer bodies in favor of shorter or flush-mounted fixtures. “You want a certain level for reading and enough lighting for dressing,” says Bernstein. “You also need light to be high enough to reach all the areas.”
ROOM TO GLOW: Decide what you want to do in the room, then choose appropriate lighting. Home computers, sewing machines and exercise equipment in the bedroom need directed lighting. Sitting areas beg for softer, shaded fixtures. Makeup tables demand brighter light.
THE LIGHTER SIDE: Avoid shades on lamps or lights that are too opaque, otherwise your bedroom will be too dark, say the ALA experts. The fixtures may look nice, but the light will not be as functional. “When bying a table lamp opt for one with a softly diffused shade,” says Dan Blitzer, ALA continuing education instructor. “Spend a moment to see how you turn it on and off to make sure it is not going to be too difficult to manage when you are in bed.”
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: Don’t install lights directly over the bed. You will tend to look up at them while you are laying in bed. Direct light from overhead is less comfortable than soft light at face level.
MORE IS MORE: No single source of light is as visually comfortable as a combination of portable lamps and installed lighting. “Too much light in one place is unpleasant and glaring,” says Blitzer. “It’s better to see more light sources of lower wattage.”
IN THE MOOD: “A strong dose of ambience is also important in the bedroom,” says Blitzer, who suggests installing dimmers on lights for altering effect. Softer or colored light bulbs can also change a room’s mood.
CLOSET CONDITIONS: Few things are more frustrating than dark closets. “Closets need good light,” says Blitzer. “But be careful not to put a hot light bulb too near combustible clothes.” Attach a closet light 12 inches from the edge of the rod or upper shelf. Lighting experts favor fluorescent lights because they provide lots of light, are cooler, save energy and can be concealed behind the header of the door. If you use a good color tube, you will be better able to tell the color of your clothing.
BEDSIDE READING: Books and bed seems synonymous. Portable reading lights set on nightstands offer book lovers flexibility. “The guiding principle in buying reading lamps should be the ability to adjust the light to your taste, either by swiveling or moving its arm,” says Blitzer. “They should also be well-shielded so you don’t see the bulb and you are able to read without bothering your sleeping partner.” Lighting controls located at the middle of the headboard allow you to turn off a snoozing partner’s reading light without disturbing them.
CONTROL POWER: Imagine pushing a bedside button and turning the lights off or on. No problem, with high tech lighting controls. “There are gadgets to turn off lights with an infrared remote like you use for your TV,” says Blitzer. “Lighting professionals can help y0u install these.”
BEDROOM LIGHTING CHECKLIST: To make sure you have proper lighting in your bedroom or master suite, the American Lighting Association suggests asking the following questions. (Tips: You want to be able to answer “yes” to all!)
1. Can I see well enough to get dressed?
2. Is there a light in the closet?
3. Are there individual reading lights on each side of the bed?
4. Is there an overhead light source?
5. Do I have enough light to determine the colors of clothing in my drawers?
6.Do I have a light source near the door?
7. Have I installed outlets in convenient locations while building/renovating my bedroom?
8. Can I fill dark corners with portable lighting sources?
9. Do I have a dimmer installed on the overhead light source?
10. Are there lights at the dressing table to help with makeup?