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 bowl-type fixtures.
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 Knapp.
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 lighting.
When 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.”
The Right Night Light
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:
BE SIZE WISE: 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 right light.
HEIGHT RIGHT: 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.”
ROOM TO GLOW: 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 light.
THE LIGHTER SIDE: Avoid shades on lamps or lights that are too opaque, otherwise your bedroom will be too dark, say the ALA 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 bed.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: 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.
MORE IS MORE: 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.”
IN THE MOOD: “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.
CLOSET CONDITIONS: 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.
BEDSIDE READING: 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.
CONTROL POWER: 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 install these.”
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 needs. To find the ALA Showroom nearest you, call toll free: 1-800-BRIGHT IDEAS (1-800-274-4484)
Bedroom Lighting Checklist
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 door?
7. Have I installed outlets in convenient locations while building/renovating my bedroom?
8. Can I fill dark corners with portable lighting sources?
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 needs.