Bedroom lighting: the key must-haves for a layered scheme

bedroom lighting neon sign twinkle twinkle

Think about your ideal bedroom lighting scheme. Go on, let your fantasy go wild.

And now let me guess: it was all soft and glowy, miles away from any stark overhead illumination, right?

After all, our bedrooms are spaces where we want to wind down and relax, be it after a long day or to just lounge about in bed on a lazy morning – and to do that, they have to feel cosy and inviting.

Andrew Martin bedroom lighting dark scheme

Go bold with your lighting, whether that’s choosing a pendant or deciding on large-scale neon designs – what matters is having fun. These designs from Andrew Martin start from £2195 each and are shown here with the Sage headboard in Wales Navy fabric, from £795.

The key to achieving that look lies in layering your light and assign different purposes – task illumination is for getting dressed and putting on makeup, while a softer atmosphere is for relaxing.

So put down that ceiling light you don’t quite like anyways – here are the three main light sources that can help you transform your bedroom into a well-lit sanctuary.

Pendants and overhead lights

I know what I said about that ceiling light, but hear me out – they’re not all made equal.

Black and brass/brzone drum pendant

Pendants don’t always have to be large and central – smaller designs make for excellent, on-trend bedside lights. These brass and bronze drum from The French Bedroom Company are priced £85.

Overhead fixtures do have their place, but for a bedroom pendants are the much better alternative. Not only do they emit a softer glow, their shades can also add a real design statement to your space.

Every room needs a main light, and this one is it. Pick a style you like, whether that’s big and bold or a more muted colour in a classic shape – there are no rules here, as long as you like it.

However, if you have unusually high or slightly lower ceilings, consider the pendant’s drop, aka how far away from the ground it will hang.

Tom Raffled bedroom lighting oak pendant

Clustered together or on its own, a large pendant can make a statement. Choose one from a material such as wood to add extra warmth into your space. These Tom Raffield No1 oak pendants are priced £1425 for a triple cluster or £475 if you buy them individually.

You don’t want to bump into it while walking around, but equally it also shouldn’t look lost because it’s so far up. For high ceilings, a clustered design or those with variable lengths are great, as you can adjust them to fit just right.

Also keep an eye out for the proportions. Too small and it’ll once again look lost, but too large and your light will overrule everything else and kick your scheme out of balance.

As a good rule of thumb your pendant should enhance the look, not dominate.

Oh, and one pro tip: place light switches by your bed. This way, you won’t even have to leave the covers to switch your pendant on and off.

Bedside and reading lamps

This kind of lighting creates a more subtle illumination – ideal for hunkering down with a good book, your favourite film, or your latest Netflix binge. (We don’t judge your screen use, don’t worry.)

Industrial wall light with scissor arm

A good bedroom lighting scheme needs layers of illumination – including a bedside or reading solution. Opt for an adjustable fixture so you can read all night without waking your partner. Industrial harmonica arm wall lamp in Antique Zinc with frame shade and scissors cage, around £83.40 (€99.95), Qazqa.

They’re also great if you and your partner operate on different sleep cycles, especially if you choose adjustable fixtures – this way you can direct them exactly where they’re needed for you to still enjoy your read without waking your other half.

It’s also a good idea to have a single lamp on your dressing table to get ready, or place one on a sideboard or shelf to add another glowy layer.

Lune wall shelf with integrated bedroom lighting solution

Why not combine your bedside table and reading lamp into one? This Lune wall shelf by Marz Designs has a frosted bulb integrated into the piece – practical and stylish. It is priced around £477.31 (AUS$925) for the shown left-handed version in white powder coated metal with the bulb’s ceramic fitting in Vanilla Bean.

If you do choose wall-mounted bedroom lighting, ensure the angle just right for you. To find out, think about how you like to arrange yourself while reading: do you sit or lounge against the headboard? Lie down on your back? Or maybe on your belly?

Or are you like me and find the weirdest position possible – one that can’t possibly look comfortable to any outsider – and happily spend hours curled up like a human pretzel? (I have a backlit eReader for exactly this reason… reading lights are wasted on me.)

Also make sure there are enough plug sockets around your bed. It’d be a bit awkward to have all these beautiful lamps but no way to switch them all on.

Decorative and ambient bedroom lighting

These designs give off a subtle illumination you may not immediately notice. It’s bright enough to do everyday tasks – think plinth lighting to guide you to the bathroom, LED strips in a shadow gap, or a gentle glow behind your headboard.

Audenza gold giraffe table lamp

Your decorative fittings are a chance to go bold. This gold Giraffe table lamp from Audenza, for example, is guaranteed to draw the eye. Priced £128, the animal in question peeks out of a more pared-back white shade – but that doesn’t lessen the fun factor.

It forms one of the ‘layers’ I mentioned earlier, which help create a relaxing scheme.

To make this type of lighting stand out, why not pick a statement shade or wall fixture?

When you do choose one, however, make sure you take the whole look into account. Decorative lighting is all about finishing off what you have created, so it should match rather than contrast ¬– unless a wild mix is your thing, in which case please go ahead.

Just don’t forget to share your pictures with me; I love a good contrast!

Featured image: Why not add neon lighting for a fun twist? Available in a range of colours, these designs – whether you choose a slogan, favourite quote, or simply a symbol – also add atmospheric lighting. This Twinkle Twinkle sign from Lights4Fun is launching in 2020, price on application.

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