Bedroom Lighting Secrets

Bedrooms have evolved: During waking hours, many now double as dressing rooms, workspaces, libraries, and even exercise studios. All this adds up to a conundrum when it comes to lighting: Soft, ambient light is needed to create a relaxing retreat, while brighter, more-focused light is a necessity for tasks. What to do? Lighting designer Thomas Paterson, founder of London– and Mexico City–based Lux Populi, offers his tips.

Bedroom Lighting Secrets

What’s the simplest way to light a bedroom?

Overall ambient light is the first step. “The most robust way of lighting a bedroom in general is a surface-mounted ceiling light,” advises Paterson. This type of fixture offers soft, diffuse light throughout the space. “The effect is a bit flat sometimes, but as part of the mix, it’s a great way of lighting a space simply, cheaply, and effectively,” he says. A dimmer for your primary light is ideal: “Bedrooms sometimes need to be really bright, such as when you’re getting up early and want to wake up fast, or when you’re packing a bag, or cleaning. But, of course, they don’t always need to be,” says Paterson.

Do ceiling can lights work?

In a word: rarely. “Downlights [cans] on bedroom ceilings are a terrible solution most of the time,” says Paterson. Why? “You lie in bed looking up into them, the glare and the guts. That’s why they’re especially to be avoided directly over the bed. And downlights never really add atmosphere; they just light the floor.”

How effective are standing lamps for lighting a bedroom?

A big floor lamp that provides lots of light up out of its top can work wonders in a space. Look for lamps with dense shades on the sides so they primarily light up and down, rather than sideways.

What about wall lights?

One of Paterson’s favorite techniques for lighting a bedroom is to wash a wall with light. Recessed ceiling wall-wash fixtures, such as the WAC Tesla Wall-Wash Light, are effective without being distracting. Most often Paterson selects the largest white wall in the room, but not the wall with the bed. “The light bounces off the wall softly into the room, but it also lets you light art and decoration on that wall.”

Any special tips for lighting artwork in a bedroom?

Paterson recommends using a couple of spotlights or a picture light, both of which can add great depth and contrast to a bedroom. “But be careful with placement,” he advises. “When lying in bed, you don’t want to be looking up into these spotlights.”

What’s the best way to illuminate a bedroom workspace?

“Although most of us aspire to having a bedroom for the sole purpose of sleep, bedrooms are where our kids do their homework, and where we go to get away from the noise in social spaces,” says Paterson. The best solution for lighting? Desk lamps. “They can add atmosphere even when the desk is not in action.” Paterson often uses banker’s lamps.

credit: Remodelista