As bedrooms are primarily used for sleeping it is easy to assume that lighting should be soft and low. However, we also use the space for more practical uses, such as dressing, applying make-up and reading, all of which have specific lighting requirements. As a result, there are certain considerations that need to be taken into account when choosing bedroom lighting.
In this guide, interior experts Rebecca Dupere, Emile Azan and Gilly Craft share their expertise on lighting the master bedroom, including advice on the following areas:
Bedroom lighting recommendations from the experts
The type of lighting used will depend on the size of the room and ceiling height; however, I would suggest a mix of ambient, task and accent lighting.
Interior designer and founder of Dupere Design
A bedroom is somewhere to relax so you want lighting that fits that mood, therefore ‘layering’ a mix of overhead and side lamps will work well to achieve a good overall atmosphere.
Interior designer and founder of Chameleon Interior Design
To create the perfect bedroom ambience I would suggest using a combination of task and decorative lighting. A warm lighting temperature will create the best, most relaxing atmosphere.
President of the British Institute of Interior Designers and director of Koubou Interiors
Layered lighting is key in a master bedroom—a collection of different sources of light from spots to pendants, to wall and floor will create a high-quality ambience. You need overhead lighting for when you are wanting to see clearly—for this LED spotlights are popular. However, it is essential to be able to turn these off and have softer lighting for when you are in bed.
A combination of ceiling, wall, table and floor lights will provide illumination at different levels and can be directed to brighten darker corners or spaces. Mixing and layering fittings is also an easy way to tailor the levels of lighting in your bedroom, depending on what you’re doing. For example, a floor light looks great in a corner of a bedroom and can also create a great functional space for activities such as reading.
For most daytime tasks you will require a decent quality of light. If this can't be achieved with natural light alone then choosing a fixture that has a high lumen output will be crucial.
For night-time, there is a rich variety of bedside lighting companions designed to focus light downwards to provide a softer glow—ideal if you like to read in bed without disturbing your partner.
Lighting according to task
Task lighting is designed specifically to provide a crisp, clear light source for clear visibility. Certain tasks, however, may require different types of task lighting.
If you have a dressing table, or if you do your hair and make-up in the bedroom, ensure that you have good task lighting so you can see what you are doing and don’t have deep shadows.
Bedside lamps not only look attractive but give off a relaxing, soft light. If the room is big enough, a comfy reading chair illuminated by a floor lamp can also be a nice addition.
Overhead pendant lighting
The most popular fitting for a bedroom has to be the pendant light. Pendants with optimum down-light levels can be positioned to illuminate specific areas and can turned on when required for extra brightness.
Choosing a statement, standalone shade as your main lighting source can be very eye-catching and provide warm, soft light in abundance. Remember to choose a size of pendant that reflects both the ceiling height as well as the size of the room.
Choosing lighting according to ceiling height
The height of the bedroom ceiling may make a difference to the type of lighting that you require. A high ceiling opens up more possibilities for statement fittings, however you may need a brighter bulb—or additional spotlights—to ensure adequate lighting.
Overhead pendants are a practical choice if you have a good ceiling height and are looking for a fixture that has the ability to cast light across a whole room.
Lower ceilings—typically found in loft conversions—are likely to require recessed lighting to maximise head height. Uplighters can be used to create the impression of a higher ceiling.
The way that bedroom lighting can be operated is just as important as the lighting itself, particularly as it is often necessary to switch between ambient and practical lighting.
I would recommend having task and decorative lighting wired onto different circuits so that they can be operated independently. Ensure that at least some of the bedroom lighting can be dimmed to create a relaxing ambience.
Shapes and textures
If you're after a statement piece to add texture and drama to your space opt for a decorative fitting. You may even prefer a more abstract fitting, such as a birch dowel cage that creates shadows, textures and alluring patterns in the dark.
If you are looking for a subtle luminaire, a fixture that is specifically designed to be used without a shade can be very effective. It will allow light to disperse evenly around the room.
Never use just one single source of lighting in the bedroom—you will always need a mix.
The look and feel of a room is very much dictated by the colour temperature of the lighting. A lower temperature will create a warm glow which works well in a bedroom.