Whether you retire to a small alcove or grand
master suite, you probably use your bedroom for more than simply slumber. Dark
bedrooms are great for sleeping, but too little light hinders other activities
taking place there.
“The bedroom has become a sanctuary, a
haven,” says Kathy Knapp, lighting consultant and designer for Wabash Electric’s
Showroom Division in Indiana. “People are watching TV, reading, relaxing and
spending alone time in their bedroom.”
Dan Blitzer agrees. “Bedrooms are getting
larger,” says the American Lighting Association’s
continuing education instructor. The ALA is an organization of lighting
manufacturers, showrooms, and sales representatives dedicated to providing the
public with quality residential lighting. “And while the bed remains the focal
point, it’s might be sharing its space with a television, workout equipment, a
computer, or a sitting area,” adds Blitzer.
To illuminate its many sides, bedrooms need
layers of diffused light. “You must have enough light to focus on particular
areas, as well as permeate the corners and edges,” says Blitzer. “This means
both overhead and portable lights throughout the room.”
Types and styles of lighting depend on
bedroom occupants. Couples need individually controlled reading lights on each
side of the bed. Children demand extra light for homework areas. The baby’s
nursery requires an installed dimmer or subdued lamp that allows parents to
check on their cherub without waking him up.
A senior citizen’s bedroom has special
lighting needs as well. “Those over fifty need more light to see well,” says
Blitzer. “Their eyes are more sensitive to glare.” For maximum comfort, seniors
should make sure bedroom bulbs are bright enough and covered by shades or
Lighting showrooms offer something for every
taste and pocketbook. Lamps range in style from neo-classic to contemporary.
Rope lighting in cove molding lifts the eye. Recessed cans direct light to
specific areas. “We are beginning to see the use of chandeliers in bedrooms, as
well as semi flush fixtures and ceiling fans, depending on ceiling height,” says
Even in homes
with contemporary bath and kitchens, bedroom trends tend toward traditional. For
warmth, look for bronze, brass and antique brass fixtures. Darker finishes and
colors also predominate. Cream, textured white and brushed nickel offer a
lighter bedside option.
“Bedroom lighting purchases are usually
driven by the existing furniture decor,” says Howard Bernstein, vice-president
of ARTCRAFT, a Canadian-based lighting
manufacturer. “Bedroom furniture is a major purchase and lighting choices should
coordinate with that style.”
To update an existing bedroom, replace a
flush-mount ceiling fixture with a newer design or a ceiling fan. Change or add
portable or table lamps for quick, inexpensive face lift. Uplighting from the
floor to highlight a plant or potted tree adds interest, as does directional
building a new home, consider a pre-construction bedroom lighting plan. “At that
point, you can install lighting exactly where it needs to be,” says Bernstein.
“You can pre-program the outlets so you have them -- and enough of them -- where
you want them.”
Bedroom lighting ranges from basic to bold;
dimmed to dramatic. To help you properly light your bedroom, the American
Lighting Association offers the following tips:
Before buying bedroom
lighting, first determine the size of room, says ARTCRAFT vice president Howard Bernstein.
Take your room measurements, along with outlet locations and furniture placement
to a lighting showroom. The experts there can help you fill in with just the
Consider scale. Bedrooms typically have lower 8 or 9 ft. tall ceilings. Avoid
fixtures with longer bodies in favor of shorter or flush-mounted fixtures. “You
want a certain level for reading and enough lighting for dressing,” says
Bernstein. ”You also need light to be high enough to reach all the areas.”
Decide what you want to
do in the room, then choose appropriate lighting. Home computers, sewing
machines and exercise equipment in the bedroom need directed lighting. Sitting
areas beg for softer, shaded fixtures. Makeup tables demand brighter
Avoid shades on lamps or lights that are too opaque, otherwise your bedroom will
be too dark, say the ALA (http://www.americanlightingassoc.com) experts. The
fixtures may look nice, but the light will not be as functional. “When buying a
table lamp, opt for one with a softly diffused shade,” says Dan Blitzer, ALA
continuing education instructor. “Spend a moment to see how you turn it on and
off to make sure it is not going to be too difficult to manage when you are in
Don’t install lights directly over the bed. You will tend to
look up at them while you are lying in bed. Direct light from overhead is less
comfortable than soft light at face level.
No single source of
light is as visually comfortable as a combination of portable lamps and
installed lighting. “Too much light in one place is unpleasant and glaring,”
says Blitzer. “It’s better to use more light sources of lower wattage.”
“A strong dose of
ambience is also important in the bedroom,” says Blitzer, who suggests
installing dimmers on lights for altering effect. Softer or colored light bulbs
can also change a room’s mood.
Few things are more
frustrating that dark closets. “Closets need good light,” says Blitzer. “But be
careful not to put a hot light bulb too near combustible clothes.” Attach a
closet light 12 inches from the edge of the rod or upper shelf. Lighting experts
favor fluorescent lights because they provide lots of light, are cooler, save
energy and can be concealed behind the header of door. If you use a good color
tube, you will be better able to tell the color of your clothing.
Books and bed seem
synonymous. Portable reading lights set on nightstands offer book lovers
flexibility. “The guiding principle in buying reading lamps should be the
ability to adjust the light to your taste, either by swiveling or moving its
arm,” says Blitzer.” They should also be well-shielded so you don’t see the bulb
and you are able to read without bothering your sleeping partner.” Lighting
controls located at the middle of the headboard allow you to turn off a snoozing
partner’s reading light without disturbing him.
Imagine pushing a
bedside button and turning the lights off or on. No problem with high tech
lighting controls. “There are gadgets to turn off lights with an infrared remote
like you use for your TV,” says Blitzer. “Lighting professionals can help you
American Lighting Association is an organization of lighting manufacturers,
showrooms, and sales representatives dedicated to providing the public with
quality residential lighting. ALA showrooms features a
broad selection of lighting fixtures, as well as Certified Lighting Consultants
and Lighting Specialists who can provide a lighting tips, design lighting
schemes and help choose fixtures that best suit your lighting needs. To find the
ALA Showroom nearest you, call toll free: 1-800-BRIGHT IDEAS
To make sure you have
proper lighting in your bedroom or master suite, the American Lighting
Association suggests asking the following questions. (Tip: You want to be able
to answer “yes” to all!)
1. Can I see well enough to get dressed?
2. Is there a light in the closet?
3. Are there individual reading lights on
each side of the bed?
4. Is there an
overhead light source?
5. Do I have
enough light to determine the colors of clothing in my drawers?
6. Do I have a light source near the
7. Have I installed outlets in
convenient locations while building/renovating my bedroom?
8. Can I fill dark corners with portable
9. Do I have a dimmer
installed on the overhead light source?
10. Are there lights at the dressing table to help with makeup?
The American Lighting Association is an
organization of lighting manufacturers, showrooms, and sales representatives
dedicated to providing the public with quality residential lighting. ALA
showrooms features a broad selection of lighting fixtures, as well as Certified
Lighting Consultants and Lighting Specialists who can provide a lighting tips,
design lighting schemes and help choose fixtures that best suit your lighting
information, visit the ALA web site at www.americanlightingassoc.com or call
toll free 1-800-BRIGHT IDEAS (1-800-274-4484).
For more information: