5 Expert Tips for Planning Your Bedroom Lighting
Designing a new bedroom? Read these nuggets of advice from lighting professionals
Professional advice from: Neil Tomkinson of Lumen Designers; Mike Thorpe of Lighting by Plum; Mark Howorth of Callender Howorth
The first thing you need to think about when you’re considering bedroom lighting ideas is the way in which you use the space, and how to vary the illumination for different tasks, such as dressing, reading, waking up and winding down.
“The most comfortable spaces in the home are lit in such a way that you can vary the light output,” Neil Tomkinson says.
Mike Thorpe agrees and says, “Try to achieve three levels of light – ceiling, wall and floor. This will provide both practical and atmospheric lighting.”
Got a pitched or vaulted ceiling? Mike recommends using LED strip lighting, which would be easier to fit than pendants or downlights.
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“Consider light placement thoroughly,” says Mark Howorth. “There’s nothing worse than lying in bed and being presented with a glaring downlight above your head, or a room that’s so out of balance, it feels as if you’re tucked in a corner out of the way.”
Mike agrees, and says, “Ensure you place your lights so that when you’re reading your book, dressing or simply lying on the bed, they don’t shine directly into your eyes or anybody else’s sharing the room with you.
“Most people design a room in their heads while either sitting at a desk or standing in the empty space itself,” he says. “Instead, position yourself where you’d be when, say, reading a book in bed to ensure the light doesn’t spill onto the adjacent pillow, disturbing the other person’s sleep.
“Don’t place lights so they’re behind you when you stand in front of the wardrobe, or are at a dressing table mirror,” he continues, “as you won’t be able to see the colour of your clothes or make-up.”
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To control the different lighting levels in your bedroom, Neil recommends three different methods. “You could use multiple switching circuits to operate the different lights in the room,” he says.
“Alternatively, add dimmers to vary the light levels. However, ensure you take advice regarding your chosen lights,” he warns, “as not all are dimmable and some that are can only be controlled by certain types of dimmers.”
The third method Neil suggests is more hi-tech. “You could add a small device that can control multiple dimming circuits,” he says, “with scenarios such as a ‘go to sleep’, ‘wake up my side of the bed’, or ‘wake up all’ function at the push of a button.”
This could be a complex, wired-in version, or a wireless connection that involves a straight swap with a standard wall switch. For both, Neil recommends hiring a qualified electrician to install it.
If you’re someone who needs to find their way around in the middle of the night, Mike’s modern bedroom lighting tip could come in handy. “Try to think about night-time navigation by adding low-level floor lights, activated by a motion sensor or an easy-to-find switch,” he suggests. “This navigation should be used to lead you to the bathroom at night, or the dressing area for an early start.”
As the bedroom is such a personal space, it provides a good opportunity to add your own touch. “Make a statement with personality pieces,” Mark says. “Whether this is through pendants or wall lights, give the room a personal touch. It’s a space you should make feel special.”
As the bed is the main element in the room, it’s a good idea to use it as a starting point for your lighting. “Try to define the bed position by making a feature of it, such as backlighting a headboard, lighting a dropped canopy, or framing it with wall lights or dropped pendants either side,” Mike says.
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When you’re designing your bedroom, it’s important to focus on soft illumination, says Mark. “The bedroom’s main operational time is when it’s dark outside, so consider soft, nondirectional lighting from low-level lights, or feature floor or table lamps.
“Bring the lighting level down to a soft glow,” he says. “It will be far more comfortable.”
Mark adds, “If you’re one of those people who’re susceptible to a lack of sleep or being woken up in the night by stray light, chances are your eyes have a degree of photosensitivity. Manufacturers have started to reduce the blue content and brightness of LED screens, but you should also consider the intensity of the light fixtures in your bedroom.”
He advises you choose more bulbs with less intensity, rather than fewer brighter bulbs. “For example, a six-light chandelier with 300lm lamps provides the same amount of light as a three-light chandelier with 600lm lamps, but the light given off by each 300lm lamp is less intense and less impactful on the eye than the 600lm ones.
“We also recommend shades with quality polymer diffusers,” he adds, “to soften the light output and reduce eye strain early morning and late at night.”
How are you designing the lighting scheme in your bedroom? Share your thoughts and ideas in the Comments section.