While the bedroom is meant to be a place for rest and relaxation, in today’s home this room often becomes a multi-purpose room. For this reason, picking lights for the bedroom can be a tricky process. The amount and type of light used will depend on whose bedroom it is and how the room is used.
Child’s room—in an infant or young child’s room it is important to have a good reading lamp for those important bedtime stories. This can be in the form of overhead lighting above the reading spot or a lamp placed near the bed or chair used for reading. If you are using a table lamp be sure to place it in an area that cannot be reached by a young child. Since many young children do not like a dark room a small night light will illuminate their room without keeping them awake. This is also a way for parents to avoid a stubbed toe if they have to visit the room during the night!
As your child gets older your lighting needs will change. Once they enter school and have homework it will be necessary to add some task lighting. This can be in the form of an overhead fixture, desk lamp or track lighting. Whichever you choose, be sure to position the light so it illuminates the right spot without creating shadows. This can be accomplished through trial and error. A bright overhead light placed on a dimmer will create enough light for playtime without the danger of knocking over a lamp or burning inquisitive fingers.
A teenager’s room requires a bit more creativity when it comes to picking lights for the bedroom. These older children use their bedroom not only for sleeping but also for studying, socializing and just “getting away.” For their homework they will need proper lighting that allows them to study without eye strain. Often their studying is done laying across the bed so an overhead fixture or track lighting that shines directly on that area may be the answer. If they actually use their desk for homework a desk lamp works well. If studying is done in a chair in the room then a floor lamp may be the answer. These types of lamps often have shades that swivel and direct the light to a specific spot.
Lighting that creates a certain mood, called ambient lighting, is important in a teenager’s room. This can be accomplished through the use of decorative lighting such as a lava lamp (remember those from the seventies?), maybe a disco type ceiling fixture or any lamp that refers to a hobby such as sports or dance. A dimmer switch will allow the teenager to control the amount of light in their room.
In all these rooms it is a good idea to avoid halogen bulbs. These bulbs are very hot and can burn if touched. It can be a fire hazard if a toy or a piece of clothing comes into contact with the bulb. Regular incandescent bulbs or the energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs offer sufficient light for any room.
Master Bedroom—the ideal master bedroom is a quiet and romantic retreat for the occupants. However, in today’s homes this room is often used for work, exercise and television viewing as well as sleeping. These multiple uses result in a need for varied lighting.
If you love to read in bed it is important to have proper lighting to avoid eye and neck strain. A lamp next to the bed is a simple solution. However, there is a difference between a bedside lamp and a table lamp. A bedside lamp can often be small and used for ambient or accent lighting only. They may range in height from 5 inches up to about 15 inches. A table lamp is a better solution for reading and ranges in height from 24-30 inches. The height you choose will depend on the size of your bedside table, the height of your bed and your personal preferences. Using a 3-way bulb allows you to control the amount of light. It is important for reading that the lamp be placed so that the light shines over the shoulder. This will help eliminate annoying shadows. Wall mounted lamps with a swing arm are also a good choice for reading. The swing arm allows the light to be moved when you move.
If you are fortunate enough to have a comfortable chair in your bedroom, placing a floor lamp, table lamp or wall mounted lamp next to it will create a cozy spot for reading.
While not desirable, it is necessary for many people to use the bedroom as a work space. If this is the case, task lighting on or near the desk is important. Unless on a track, overhead lighting can be difficult to work with as you are not able to control the direction of the light. Using a desk lamp with a 3 way bulb allows you to control the amount of light as well as the direction of the light.
Ambient lighting in a master bedroom is very important. A small lamp placed on the dresser creates a soft glow when you are not in the room. Try using pink bulbs in these lamps to “bathe” the room in a rosy color. Everyone looks pretty in pink! Wall sconces wash the wall in light, creating a romantic feel. And a dimmer switch is a must in the master bedroom; especially if the room is used for multiple tasks.
Don’t forget specialized lighting. An uplight placed on the floor behind a plant will cast interesting shadows on the wall as well as light up a corner. If you have special artwork in the room try using lights that highlight a painting or photo. These small lamps create a soft glow and can act as night lights when you are not in the room.
As you can see, picking lights for the bedroom is not an easy task. There are many things to consider. However, making the right choices will result in a comfortable room for you to enjoy for many years.