Completely make over your bedroom
without changing colors, fabrics, or furniture! You can do it all
When lighting a
bedroom, you want to create an atmosphere of quiet relaxation, while
providing bright spots for reading and other activities. Develop a
combination of general and task lighting based on these examples,
and remember that dimmer controls let you vary the light to suit
different moods and tasks.
Swing-arm or other bedside
fixtures cast a peaceful light and illuminate bedtime tasks. If you
want to add mood lighting without making the room too bright,
supplement your bedside light with soft sources such as a fireplace
or candles. A dimmer switch can also give you more control over the
When your bed is the focal point in the
room, create drama with recessed downlights near the head of the
bed. Separate controls allow snoozing and reading simultaneously on
opposite sides of the bed. Table lamps elsewhere in the room will
help make the space usefully bright.
Active people love a
room awash in a bright, warm Active people love a room awash in a
bright, warm glow. This design combines an overhead fixture, which
casts a wide beam of downward light, and uplight fixtures that
illuminate shady corners. By wiring the overhead light and the
uplights separately, you can have some or all of them on at one
Highlight the View
To show off attractive
artwork, wall-hung collections, or areas of interest other than the
bed, consider lighting that highlights those areas. These track
fixtures, for instance, are easy to adjust, creating dimension with
shadow. Be sure to install additional sources of ambient lighting to
boost the room's overall function.
Avoid unflattering and
distracting shadows at your dressing table with lights on each side
or one light directly above the table. Side fixtures should have
shades that direct light either up or down at a 45-degree angle from
Types of Light
Knowing the different
kinds of light will help you choose and arrange fixtures
The most basic and
practical form of illumination, ambient lights mimic the qualities
of natural lighting. Often directed from a central, overhead
fixture, they create light that surrounds you uniformly. It's best
to control this type of light with a dimmer switch, which allows you
to adjust the light according to time of day or task.
bedrooms start with one ambient light source, which is a good
beginning, but you'll need other types of lighting to create
dramatic highlights around the bedroom. One drawback to ambient
lighting is that it often creates shadows in front of you, as you
work or read with the ambient light source at your back.
Intended to illuminate a task or a
specific area, this bright light is generally work-oriented
(reading, paying bills, needle-crafting). To generate task lighting,
choose a fixture with a shade that focuses the light onto one spot.
If the shade is open at the top as well as the bottom, it can
supplement the ambient lighting.
you get a headache from your task lighting, your ambient light is
probably too dim and causing an uncomfortable contrast. Remedy this
by increasing the wattage of the bulb in your ambient light,
installing more lighting, or covering your work surface with a
light-color covering to reflect the task light rather than absorb
Used to create drama, this light type also is known as
point-source lighting because it focuses attention on something
important. It does not have room-illuminating qualities, so it
should be combined with ambient and perhaps task lighting. Select a
fixture with a strong beam of light that can be directed onto a
focal point such as art or a vase of flowers.
Kinetic means motion, and this kind of light
flickers and dances to create drama and interest. It can come from
candles, mirror balls, or lava lamps, for instance, but the hypnotic
quality of candlelight or a wood fire is more conducive to a bedroom
than a strobe light would be. Just be sure to place candles on a
nonflammable surface and in a place where they won't be knocked
The Right Height for Lights
Don't underestimate the
proper placement of task lighting. It can save you eyestrain,
headaches, and accidentally pairing blue socks with black pants.
Here are some preferred placement measurements for different task
lights. (Adjust them accordingly if you're a great deal taller or
shorter than the average person.)
Abide by this general rule:
The diameter of the beam spread out of the bottom of the shade for
reading and writing should be about 16 inches.
For a dressing
table, have 2 lights 36 inches apart (on either side of the mirror
you use) and about 15 inches above the base of the table.
Similarly, for lighting a dresser whose top is used for
grooming, place 2 lights 36 inches apart (again, on either side of
your mirror). Assuming the dresser reaches your waist, the lights
should rise 22 inches from the dresser top.
reading lamps, the bottom of the shade should be 20 inches above the
level of your bed. If your night table is extremely tall or short,
you may need to choose lamps to compensate.
At a desk, work
lamps should be 15 inches above the desk's surface, whether they are
mounted on the wall or sitting on the desk.