Bedroom lighting ideas are easy to come by, but when it comes to incorporating them into your space, you may need some guidance. After all, every successful lighting scheme starts with expert planning.
For your space to be both functional and attractive, you'll need to incorporate a mixture of different types of lighting. That way, whether you're winding down with a book in bed or getting dressed and ready for the day in the morning, your room's lighting can be tailored to meet your daily needs.
So, we've rounded up unique lighting ideas for your bedroom, plus all the information that you need to know to help guide your lighting scheme in the right direction – from accenting with spotlights to choosing a lampshade – and explain how to combine them to achieve the perfect bedroom lighting design scheme. Use our guide to planning bedroom lighting at the bottom of the page to get just the right mix in your room.
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Task lighting – we're talking spotlights and reading lights – is a must for readers or if you use the bedroom as a home office. Wardrobes will benefit from spotlights, especially in larger rooms with insufficient natural light.
Ambient lighting mimics natural daylight and can be created with pendants, lamps and wall lights for soft pools of light and a relaxed atmosphere. Think dimmable overhead or bedside lamps will help fill your bedroom with soft, diffused light – perfect for winding down before drifting off to sleep.
Accent lighting is a bonus, created with spotlights, downlights and uplights, among other styles of lighting; this is especially used to highlight design features such as alcoves or artwork, but can also be created with table lamps to create zoned pools of light.
How many lights should be in a bedroom?
This depends on the lighting scheme you decide on but if you do choose to layer lighting to enjoy the best results, you will usually have the three types of light mentioned above in your space.
However, bedrooms that are usually only used at night and for varying lengths of time, look their best when lit with low light. So, while you may install the typical three types of artificial lighting – ambient, task and accent – you may rarely use all three at once, unlike in a living room, for example.
‘The best way to create an atmospheric lighting scheme in a bedroom is to use layers of lights,’ says Diane Simpson, lighting buyer at John Lewis. ‘I tend to start with the ceiling and will choose a statement piece. Matching fittings create a more symmetrical look but think about what you use your bedside lighting for before you choose.’
Keep scrolling for the best bedroom lighting ideas around – and for tips on planning bedroom lighting below.
10 bedroom lighting ideas for the perfect scheme
Let's take a look at some unusual bedroom lighting ideas. We're going to cover bedside lights, ceiling lights, decorative lights and task lighting – pick one idea from each and you've got the perfect scheme.
1. Swap bedside table lamps for wall lights
A wall light is must in any bedtime reader’s bedroom, and an extendable wall light makes adjusting the light to your needs easy – plus it adds an on-trend industrial twist. Better still? It's a great idea for small bedrooms where bedside table space is really limited.
2. A bedside lantern creates a rustic, intimate atmosphere
You don’t have to live in a country cottage to enjoy a rustic bedroom ambience. Whitewashed walls and upcycled furniture are a must, but the right bedroom lighting is essential to getting the look right. Choose a bedside lamp with traditional charm to complete the scheme.
The dainty Horse Copper Lantern from Dunelm will add a chic yet country-cottage twist to any bedroom and the low-level right is sure to add a relaxed atmosphere.
3. Save space and create a designer feel with bedside pendants
Putting pendant lights either side of the bed creates a definite designer feel – but this is a bedroom lighting idea that needs to be planned in early to a room revamp because, like wall lighting, it needs to be wired in professionally, rather than just plugged in like a lamp. Ensure there are separate switches either side of the bed to control each light individually, too.
That said, it creates a lovely low pool of light and saves space on the bedside table. Choose your lampshade carefully – opaque ones will direct the light downwards which will look lovely, but won't be practical if you like to read in bed.
Another option for bedside lighting is the dropped pendant or – in the case of this bedroom – a grouping of pendants. Perfect for a stylish hotel look, group these in odd numbers and a range of sizes for best effect.
4. A sleek metallic task lamp is perfect for bedtime reading
A lamp with clean lines and a sleek silhouette is perfect as a bedside light in a contemporary scheme. However, ensure its has a directional head so that the light shines on your book and not in your eyes.
We like the Obie Task Lamp in Brass from Made.com. Its warm metallic finish is right on trend.
5. Use lighting by the bed as an accent
This DIY bedside table, created with shelving and lighting from Ikea (see how in our step by step) performs two roles: it provides a soft light by the bed that's great for the room's general atmosphere and is just at the right level for reading by (see how the light lines up with the pillow. Clever.
6. Be bold with your bedroom ceiling light
You'll probably rely on the central pendant in a bedroom less than you would on the one in the living room, so you can afford to think less practically and more decoratively.
With so many beautiful options out there, it can be tricky to narrow down your favourites. But as a starting point, if your bedroom has high ceilings, a larger pendant shade or chandelier will create a pretty focal point, especially in traditional bedrooms; lower ceilings might benefit more from smaller fittings or, in contemporary bedrooms, downlights or ceiling lights.
7. Use fairy lights to create a welcoming space
With the simple addition of fairy lights, you can create a completely different atmosphere in your bedroom. For a relaxed feel and a natural glow, choose warm white LEDs, while if you're looking for something brighter and more playful, you can opt for white LEDs and even coloured fairy lights.
String fairy lights around the bed, around the bedhead, around the frame of a four-poster, or from a high ceiling, as below.
8. Choose task lighting for dressing tables and desks
Whether you use your bedroom for putting on makeup or for work, having an angled desk lamp is a real bonus (the Realhomes.com ed has a desk lamp on her dressing table and swears by it for accurate makeup application – especially when your eyesight isn't 20/20!).
9. Accent with spotlights in dark corners
Spotlights or downlights are the best solution for areas of the bedroom that tend to be always dark, such as walk-in wardrobes and fitted bedroom storage units. If you have a freestanding wardrobe, you can use a clip-on or freestanding spotlight on top as an affordable option.
Walk-in wardrobes and complex fitted solutions will need a professional lighting installation – many fitted furniture companies will sell and install the lighting as part of the package.
Love the idea of a walk-in wardrobe? You'll be lusting over our walk-in wardrobe and dressing room ideas design guide.
10. Choose the right lampshades and bulbs to diffuse and warm light
Contemporary bedrooms can look cool with task lights and spotlights, but a good lampshade cannot be beaten for providing soft, diffused glow, especially important in more traditional bedrooms. Choose the best quality lampshade you can afford, and pick an off-white or cream colour for maximum warmth.
You can also warm up a cool bedroom (and save money) by choosing the right lightbulb. More on that just below.
Planning bedroom lighting
Now we've enthused you with a few great bedroom lighting ideas, here's the science.
The best light bulbs for a bedroom
LED (Light Emitting Diode) bulbs last for more than 20,000 hours, give off a warm, white light, are cool to the touch and are as efficient as energy-saving bulbs. Dimmable versions are available, although they are not recommended for use with touch lamps.
Tungsten bulbs produce a warm, instant light, last about 1,000 hours, get hot when lit and are fully dimmable. They are being phased out in favour of bulbs with greater energy efficiency.
Halogen bulbs give off a bright, instant white light, last about 2,000 hours, become hot when lit and are fully dimmable. They also come in low-voltage capsule types for armed lighting, which may require specialist dimmers.
Energy-saving bulbs, also known as compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL), give off a warm, white light, take around 60 seconds to warm up and last for 8,000 plus hours; they are not generally dimmable, although there are some versions available, which are not recommended for touch lamps.
Plan bedroom lighting ideas around how you use the room
The first thing to do when designing the lighting scheme for your bedroom is the amount of natural light that comes in. Then think about your needs and habits: are you much of a reader at night?
Then you'll need to invest in good quality reading lights. Or do you mainly use your bedroom for evening lounging in on the weekends? In which case, you'll want some atmospheric, low level and dimmable lighting. Do you need good lighting in winter to find clothes or put on makeup? Then you'll need good ambient and task lighting.
How will you control your bedroom lighting?
With a rough idea of the lighting effects you want to create planned out, you can think about how your lighting will be controlled – and this is where a bigger budget will come into play.
If you are renovating your home from scratch, it is worth talking to a lighting designer early on to include clever control systems in your scheme. ‘The lighting design needs to be finalised before the first fix electrics,’ says Sian Parsons, senior lighting designer at John Cullen Lighting. ‘This will ensure the scheme is fully integrated into the joinery and architecture of each room. The more information provided about the furniture layout and decorative scheme, the better the lighting will enhance your home.’
No bedroom lighting scheme will look its best controlled by one switch – putting your bedroom lighting on different circuits is a must. An average bedroom will need at least two or three circuits: one for downlights or the central pendant; one for table lamps; and one for wall lights, for example. Ideally, you should be able to control all of the room's lighting from just by the bedroom door and from the bed.
Set the right mood with dimmer switches
If you are designing a bedroom on a budget, dimmer switches are an inexpensive option and are great for changing the mood of a room.
There are several types: a touch dimmer, controlled by touching the light or switch plate; a switch dimmer, turned on by adjusting a rotating or in-line switch on the lamp or switch plate by hand; and a remote dimmer, usually a wall plate with a remote control-operated touch-sensitive switch. This last type can be programmed to remember your ideal lighting levels.
Dimmers can’t be used with energy-saving bulbs, but the dimming itself will usually save energy. Halogen bulbs can be dimmed but may need a higher wattage dimmer than the total wattage of the light fitting – a qualified electrician can easily deal with this.
Beware if you buy LED lamps for dimming, as you may experience flickering or overheating. This might be a sign that either the lamp isn’t dimmable in the first place, or the dimmer is only capable of dimming lamps from certain manufacturers, so check your bulb is compatible with your switch.
Can you install bedroom lighting yourself?
If you are on a budget, you might be tempted to install your own lighting, but if you are carrying out any electrical work in your home or garden in England and Wales, you will have to conform to building regulations. This means using an installer who is registered with a competent person scheme to seek approval from a Building Control body. You do not need to tell Building Control about repairs, replacements and maintenance work, extra power or lighting points, or other alterations to existing circuits, unless the work is carried out in a kitchen or bathroom.