Lighting for bedrooms

Must have tips for Bedroom Lighting

The design brief for a bedroom is quite easy don’t you think?  Make it multi-functional; reading, dressing, watching TV, studying, romantic; while exuding my personal style by making it vibrant and fabulous; also making it harmonious and relaxing to entice rest; and of course highlighting my art and photo frames.  Easy! Or maybe not so easy.  So how do we light the room for all of that?
Bedrooms in particular, are a room we need to light for multiple functions, therefore they need a multitude of lighting styles and fitting types.  Some of the strategies here will be quite different to some of the other rooms.


 Once again to light our bedroom successfully we need to use all 3 of the lighting types (Accent, Ambient, and Task: More on these after), and layer them to cater for the different ways we use the room.


lighting for bedrooms

Dressing / General
Some activities just need maximum ambient light, like getting dressed or packing suitcases for a trip.  Some designers don’t like using downlights in bedrooms as they can end up shining straight in your eyes when you are lying in bed, however I like to use them for general purpose, and then other lighting types for when you are in the bed.  So I recommend ceiling downlights either warm or neutral colour temperature, and of course, they must be dimmable.
Bedside / Reading
If you’re in bed, we can turn off the downlights and turn on some task lighting on either side of the bed.  Typically, this will be a table lamp or pendants hanging from the ceiling.  Depending on the type and size of the bedside table, my preference is usually a pendant.  However, a lot can be said for a table lamp that can be changed or updated with fashions, seasons, or whims.  Goes without saying that these should be dimmable, they will also generally be on the warmer temperature scale.
Nothing looks nicer when you’re walking past or entering a bedroom with a small amount of Accent lighting.  The downlights and beside lamps on 5% and the wall washers or wall spots, highlighting your picture frames, on at 20%.  The room becomes very inviting.  To cycle quickly between this and other lighting ‘scenes’, consider adding lighting control to your bedroom.
Secondary Rooms
In most cases, larger bedrooms will have subsidiary rooms, most commonly the walk in robe, and the ensuite.  While the walk in robe is easy enough with some neutral downlights and maybe some wall sconces either side of a mirror, the ensuite will have a few more layers. 

Generally, you will have downlights, or panels, for ambient bedroom lighting, in neutral or cold white colour temperature.  Then you may have wall sconces or vanity lighting either side of the mirror.  You could have heatlamps in the ceiling for those cold mornings, and maybe some warm wall sconces either side of the bathtub for that rare occasion you enjoy a relaxing bath.  Joined in to the lighting circuits will often be an exhaust fan and maybe even floor and towel warmers.

With a Lighting Control system, the WIR and Ensuite will most often have lighting sensors as well.  This means you don’t need a switch for the WIR, just walk in and the lights will come on.  5 minutes after you’ve left, they turn out.  A well programmed system will turn the lights to 10% when you shuffle half asleep into the ensuite in the middle of the night, therefore saving your retinas.
So there is that other purpose of a bedroom… Creating a romantic environment in the bedroom is essentially done with all of the lighting above, just dimmed to 5 – 10%, and of course supplemented with candles, rose petals, and Kenny G; or it might be incense and death metal, each to their own.

Just remember one thing… lighting your bedroom for romance might lead to needing more bedrooms with great lighting in your home.


Bedroom Lighting



Ambient Lighting – This is normal lighting that we all understand and have used all our lives.  Typically, in bedroom lighting it will be downlights designed to light up all the corners of the room.  These lights should be dimmable and between warm white (2500K), and natural white (4500K) in colour temperature.

Accent Lighting – This is how we show off the room; wall washers or spotlights lighting framed pictures in the wall.  LED strips around the bed head are an option as well.  LED strips would usually be neutral to cold white, wall washers and spotlights warm white to neutral.

Task Lighting – Task lighting is localised to the area you need it.  So in the Kitchen it generally means under-bench LED strips and pendants over the island.  Dimming is not essential but could add to the ambience of the room, and colour temperature would normally be cool (6000K) to natural (4500K).

 lighting for bedrooms

To win at  your bedroom lighting, you need to get lighting control like C-Bus, Dynalite, or Control4.  It will add, to all of the above, the ability to create scenes.  A scene is like a memory or snapshot of a set configuration of lights.  So you can set the lights according to the ‘Dining’ mode above, then save it to a button.  So instead of setting 5 or 6 different lights on/off or dimmed every time you want to change function, you simply press a button to recall a scene.  More on lighting control here.

In Summary:

  • Use 3 types of lighting – Ambient, Task, and Accent
  • Dimmers with dimmable lights are a must
  • Layer the types of lights for different room functions
  • Invest in lighting control

Your bedroom is your sanctuary, make it fascinating.


Bedroom Lighting


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