The Ultimate Guide To Bedroom Lighting [2024]

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Are you wondering how to achieve perfectly balanced bedroom lighting to relax and sleep better?

Well, look no further because, in this guide, we will talk about *everything* bedroom lighting. From start to finish, you’ll learn how to design the perfect bedroom lighting to suit your taste. Let’s get into it!

bedroom lighting


I only focus on light design, so this is not an installation guide. I do not give professional advice and you should not attempt to install heavy fixtures or do complicated wiring yourself.

Also, this guide is made as a generic blueprint that can apply to most bedrooms. Perfect lighting can only be achieved if I see your bedroom and speak with you to get a sense of your character, needs, and preferences. However, I’ve done my best to help you understand how light designers think when preparing lighting plans.

Why Is Balanced Bedroom Lighting So Important?

Balanced bedroom lighting is important for several reasons, as it contributes to creating a comfortable and functional living space. Here are some key reasons why balanced lighting in the bedroom is crucial:

  1. Comfort and Relaxation: Proper lighting helps create a calming and relaxing atmosphere in the bedroom. Soft and evenly distributed lighting can promote a sense of comfort and tranquility, making it easier for you to unwind and relax.
  2. Functionality: Bedrooms are not just for sleeping; they often serve as multi-functional spaces for activities such as reading, working on a laptop, or getting dressed. Balanced lighting ensures that you have adequate illumination for these tasks without causing glare or discomfort.
  3. Mood Enhancement: Different lighting levels can influence your mood and emotions. By having a balanced combination of ambient, task, and accent lighting, you can create the right mood for various activities. For example, dimmed lights can be suitable for winding down before sleep, while brighter lights may be preferred for reading or working.
  4. Aesthetics: Balanced lighting enhances the overall aesthetic appeal of the bedroom. It can highlight architectural features, artwork, or furniture, creating a visually pleasing and well-designed space.
  5. Circadian Rhythm Regulation: Proper bedroom lighting can support your natural circadian rhythm. Exposure to bright, natural light during the day and softer, warmer light in the evening can help regulate your sleep-wake cycle and improve the quality of your sleep.
  6. Energy Efficiency: Using a combination of natural light, ambient lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting strategically can help reduce energy consumption. Energy-efficient lighting solutions, such as LED bulbs, can also contribute to a more sustainable and eco-friendly bedroom.
  7. Flexibility: Having a variety of lighting options allows you to adjust the lighting according to your needs and preferences. Dimmer switches or smart lighting systems can offer flexibility in controlling the intensity and color temperature of the light.

If a good night’s rest is something you can only dream of, you’re not alone. Whether you live in a home in Kansas City, MO, an apartment in Minneapolis, MN, or a rental home in Des Moines, IA, there’s a good chance your bedroom isn’t set up for optimal rest. In fact, only about half of Americans wake up feeling well-rested. Check out this Redfin article we were featured in for 17 Strategies to Improve Sleep Quality.

bedroom soft lighting

As you can see, balanced bedroom lighting plays a crucial role in creating a comfortable, functional, and aesthetically pleasing environment. The way to create balanced bedroom lighting is by taking into consideration the various activities that occur in the bedroom and providing appropriate illumination for each.

That’s why we will separate the three main purposes of light and discuss each of them one by one. This is what is called layering.

Ambient Lighting

Ambient light is the main light used in a space – the one that usually replaces sunlight when there is none. Think of your main light source, the first switch you turn on when you enter a room. That is your ambient light!

The main fixtures for ambient light in the bedroom are:

  • Chandeliers
  • Flush or semi-flush mount lights
  • Recessed can lights
  • Pendants
  • Sconces
  • Cove lighting
  • Wall washers

Before you do anything else, you need to calculate how many lumens you need for your bedroom. In short, you need about 15 lumens per square foot (180 lumens per square meter) of ambient light in your bedroom.

For example, if your bedroom is 150 square feet, then you would need 15*150=2250 lumens.

These lumens do not need to be covered from the same fixture! You can have a chandelier of 1000 lumens above the bed and two pendants of 600 lumens each for your bedside tables. Or wall washers that combined give off 1200 lumens.

Although in the bedroom we want soft and warm lights that help with relaxation, it is better to over-light than under-light your bedroom. Simply install dimmer switches and you can adjust the brightness to fit your mood!

For the color temperature of your ambient light, go for 2700-3000 K. Warmer lights are ideal for coziness! And you can read more about the nuances of color temperature in the bedroom here.

Best ceiling lights for the bedroom

In my opinion, the best ceiling lights for the bedroom are:

1. Chandeliers

2. Pendants

3. Flush mount lights

4. Ceiling Fans

Which brings us to our next question:

Is a ceiling fan in the bedroom a good choice?

Overall, a ceiling fan in the bedroom is a great idea! Although some consider them dated or bulky, ceiling fans can be modern and blend in seamlessly with the bedroom.

By maintaining a cool temperature in the summer or recirculating warm air in the winter, they can help save on the electricity bill. If you don’t mind the extra noise, go for it. However, I don’t always include them in my lighting plots. You can read more about my opinion of ceiling fans in the bedroom here.

Cove lighting

Cove lighting is an excellent choice for the bedroom. However, I prefer cove lighting in the living room, and, in my opinion, it’s best not to overdo it.

If you want to install it, you can follow this guide by the Family Handyman or call in a specialist.

Dimmable cove lighting

Wall washers

Wall washers are placed more than 12 inches (30 cm) from the wall at an angle of 30-35 degrees. Consider using them if you have no textured walls (we will talk about textured walls below in accent lighting) and especially if you have dark but popping colors like burgundy or purple.

Task Lighting

Task lighting is lighting used to help us perform an activity. In the bedroom, this might be reading a book in bed, putting on clothes or makeup, or even ironing our clothes.

The most common fixtures for task lighting in the bedroom are:

  • Pendants
  • Wall sconces
  • Table lamps
  • Floor lamps
  • Swing-arm sconces
  • LED strips

Again, you will need to calculate the required lumens for the task you want to perform. This should be about 35 lumens per square foot (or 380 lumens per square meter) of your task area.

The color temperature for your task lighting should be 2500-3500 K. You want warmer colors overall but closer to neutral is ideal for performing tasks in the bedroom.

How to light your bedside table

Most of us know the detrimental effects of artificial light on our health and sleep routine. Our circadian rhythm is directly affected by our exposure to light, and so our sleep schedule can easily be thrown off by improper artificial lighting, especially at night.

Your bedside table is one of the areas that can impact your sleep routine the most. Too much light at night might make it harder to fall asleep, while too little light will strain your eyes.

Bedside table lamp

The most important thing when it comes to bedside lighting is the switch. You definitely want the switch to be within reach of your bed!

So when you decide which fixture to use, make sure that its placement will be convenient.

Next, you need to ensure that it doesn’t get in the way or take too much valuable space. For example, don’t get a table lamp if your bedside table is already small.

You can read more about how to light your bedside table here.

Best fixtures for your bedside table

1. Table lamps
2. Sconces
3. Floor lamps
4. Swing-arm sconces

Light your closet

Another cool idea is to use motion-activated LED strips inside your closet. This way, they can switch on whenever you open the closet and illuminate your clothes.

This functions both as task and as accent lighting.

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting is used to emphasize different elements of your design, such as art and decor. It focuses on a particular area or object and it’s usually meant to accentuate this area and make it shine. However, it can also be standalone decorative light, such as a neon sign or wall light art.

The most common fixtures for accent lighting in the bedroom are:

  • Track lighting
  • Wall sconces
  • Picture lights
  • LED strips
  • Wall washers or grazers
  • Directional can lights
  • Neon signs
  • Step lights
  • LED pucks

Pro Tip: Read here my top 9 lighting ideas for accent lighting in the bedroom!

Check out some impressive light art for your bedroom!

Accent lighting is so cool because it allows you to add your unique, personal touches to your lighting scheme. It doesn’t follow strict rules and you must excuse yourself to no one.

One of my favorite spots for accent lighting is dimmable and motion-activated LED strips under the bedframe.

They give a very fancy glow to your entire bedroom while making late-night kitchen or bathroom trips so much easier!

Another idea is to light up your plants from behind using directional can lights to create a dramatic effect.

Also, you can buy accent floor lamps, which look amazing in the bedroom and give a sense of comfort. You can leave these on during the night if you dislike sleeping in total darkness.

Wall grazers

Definitely consider installing wall grazers if you have textured walls like stacked-stone walls or weathered brick walls. Wall grazers are placed 6-12 inches (15-30 cm) from the wall at an angle of about 10 degrees.

Their purpose is to create shadows on the textured surface of the wall, thus accentuating it and making it much more dramatic.

Some more thoughts…

The bedroom is meant to be a haven of relaxation and coziness. It’s where we go to end long and busy days and it should be free of distractions.

A properly lit bedroom can have so much character while still being discreet and conducive to sleep. This is why I urge you to read my guide on sleeping lights for the bedroom.

Also, choose LED lights wherever you can – they are a lot more energy-efficient and easier on the eye. They are also long-lasting and have a ton of different dimming and color options. Versatility in your bedroom lighting is a must!

Wrapping up

So there you have it. Follow this guide and some of the resources within it, and you can achieve perfectly balanced lighting in your bedroom.

Remember to use all three layers of light for the best result and choose your fixtures based on practicality and your personal preferences.

Start by deciding the placement of your ambient light source. Is it over the bed or in the middle of the room? Will it be recessed can lights throughout the ceiling or a beautiful chandelier?

  • Get creative with your fixtures

Don’t be afraid to experiment with what types of fixtures you buy. Remember, your lighting fixtures should work well together but not match. Matching lighting takes away from the intensity of each individual light source. This is not true of course in the case of sconces and recessed can lights, which should always match.

Calculate the lumen output of these light sources and move on to task lighting by figuring out which poorly lit spaces you use for tasks. Maybe your body creates a shadow over the board when you iron your clothes or maybe the mirror is placed awkwardly and your body is underlit.

  • Dimmers, dimmers, dimmers!

Always connect as many of your fixtures as you can to dimmers. The versatility and freedom dimmers give you is unmatchable. Cozy mood, working time, sleepy time, you can adjust the lighting to each hour of the day!

Similarly, decide which fixtures you will use, determine the required lumen output, and move on to accent lighting. Experiment with light and use it to add your personal touches to your bedroom.

  • Make sure you don’t leave any dark corners

A well-lit bedroom is one that has no dark spaces. Simple as that!

  • Feeling funky? Try out color LED strips

Add some color to your bedroom by installing RGB LED strips under the bed or in your cove lighting. Don’t overdo it though because it can end up looking tacky. And always use only one color at a time.

  • Motion-activated lights

Convenient lighting means, among the other things we discussed, automation. A motion sensor under the bed that lights up whenever your feet touch the floor can transform your bedroom in minutes!

  • Color temperature

The ideal color temperature for the bedroom is 2700-3500 K. Ambient light should be on the lower half of the spectrum, while task lighting should be on the higher half. This is because lower temperatures (warmer colors) are best for relaxation, as they create a cozy mood, while higher temperatures are best for focus and productivity. Still, you don’t want to exceed 3500 K in the bedroom as that would make it harder to fall asleep.

If you follow all these steps, you will have an amazing and super balanced bedroom lighting scheme in a matter of minutes. Do let me know if you have any questions or feel like I forgot something using the contact form on the top right of the page. Happy lighting!


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