How to Light a Bedroom

Last Updated on April 2, 2020 by The Tutor

how to light a bedroom

How to Light a Bedroom

Most people spend almost a third of their lives in the bedroom and yet it is one of the rooms in the home that get the least attention. Learning how to light a bedroom should be on your to-do list for 2019 and you can upgrade the overall appearance of your bedroom without spending a lot of money.

If you have just a lamp on your night stand and maybe one light in the ceiling, then there is a lot of room for improvement. Let’s create an atmosphere that is relaxing and conducive to sleeping, reading and anything else that you like to do in the bedroom. We will take you through the key elements of how to light a bedroom. Then, we will show you some options that you may not have thought of before.

Choosing the Right Color Temperature for the Bedroom

Most people don’t know what the Kelvin color temperature scale is and if you are one of those individuals, I recommend clicking the link to read through that before you make any lighting decisions at all. The bedroom is a place where you want a softer and warmer temperature that is anywhere from 2700k to 3000k. Anything colder than that and your bedroom just will not feel right.

I recommend using a temperature of 3000k in the recessed lighting if you happen to have that in your bedroom. Then, for any lamps and other smaller lights you should use a temperature of 2700k. Make sure that you look closely at the package when purchasing your light bulbs to see what kelvin temperature they are. Read how to choose the right light bulb if you would like to learn more.

Manage the brightness of each fixture with the lumens for each bulb as well as a dimmer switch.

Ambient, Task and Accent Lighting in the Bedroom

When figuring out how to light a bedroom, you will likely need to check the box on ambient, task and accent lighting. Here is the difference between them and when to use them:

  • Ambient Lighting – Ambient lighting is the general lighting in your room. In the case of a bedroom, it would be the recessed lighting or the single light in the ceiling. Its purpose is to deliver the basic ambient light that will provide even light across the entire room. If I could compare ambient lighting to something, it would be the paint color on your walls. It provides a base.
  • Task Lighting – Task Lighting is any light that helps you to perform a task. In the kitchen, it would help to provide enough light to prepare a meal or chop vegetables. In your living room, it could be a lamp on your piano. In the bedroom, it will likely be a reading lamp. It can also be a desk lamp if you have a desk in your bedroom. Finally, if you have a spot where you sit to apply makeup, then the makeup lighting is also task lighting.
  • Accent Lighting – Accent lighting is used to accentuate something in your room. It could be a picture on the wall for example. Accent lighting is not used as often in the bedroom as it is in other rooms. Therefore, you can probably learn how to light a bedroom without adding accent lighting at all.

Determine Your Bedroom Lighting Budget

You cannot begin to think about how to light a bedroom until you can come up with a budget. This is no different than any other home project. We recently talked about how to choose outdoor lighting and we talked a lot about budget there because there are so many fixtures that the cost can skyrocket if you are not careful.

For the bedroom, you can also go crazy and spend a lot of money, but you don’t have to. You can easily improve the overall look and feel of your bedroom without breaking the bank. You potentially can continue to use some of the lighting that is already in your bedroom and just repurpose it.

Figure out how much you are willing to spend for your bedroom lighting project and then move down and see all of your bedroom lighting options.

Recessed lighting

bedroom recessed lighting

Recessed lighting may be something you should consider when figuring out how to light a bedroom. It provides that even ambient light throughout the entire room. If you are able to, I would recommend adding recessed lighting to your bedroom and have it controlled with a dimmer switch.

You can read about how to layout recessed lighting and it will help you whether you plan to do the install yourself or hire an electrician.

Add recessed lighting at a rate of 1 fixture for every 25 square feet of living space. Use 3000k LED light bulbs or purchase the recessed lighting fixtures that have the bulbs already inside. The recessed lights should be the base ambient lighting for every bedroom.

Ceiling Fixtures

bedroom ceiling fixture

If you are unable to install recessed lighting or if you simply do not want to take on that project or expense, then add a ceiling fixture to the center of your room. You may already have some type of fixture there now. If you do, then this may be an easy swap for you to change it to something that will provide the right light for the room and also one that will look better.

If you have an 8 foot ceiling, you will be looking for a flush mount fixture. If your ceilings are 10 feet or higher, then you can also look at fixtures that hang from the ceiling. Do your best to use 3000k color temperature bulbs in this fixture.

Ceiling Fans

bedroom ceiling fan


Another popular option for the bedroom are ceiling fans that also have a light. They obviously serve dual purposes and provide air circulation during the warmer months. You can absolutely add a ceiling fan light combination to the center of your room with recessed lights around the perimeter.

We will not get into styles since those decisions come down to your personal taste. What I find is the light from the ceiling fan does not do a great job of providing adequate ambient light in the room on its own. This is why it should be paired with recessed lighting if possible.

It would be beneficial to purchase a ceiling fan with a remote control. You can adjust the light but more importantly the fan speed from the comfort of your bed. Nobody wants to get up in the middle of the night to flip a switch or pull a chain.

Bedroom Lamps

bedroom lamps

Bedroom lamps are almost always used when trying to figure out how to light a bedroom effectively. The other great thing about bedroom lamps are the fact that there are so many different options and styles. This is where you can get creative with your bedroom décor. The lamp is to the bedroom like the tie is to the suit. It is what adds the color and the character.

The lamp shade can also be changed too. If you see a lamp base that you like but do not like the shade, then find a shade you like and change it. You can also change shades according to the season. Let the lamp bring your personality out into the room.

The lamps can serve to be a task light as well. You may need one by your bedside to provide enough light to read. Maybe you have a small desk in the bedroom and the lamp is providing light for that purpose.

Touch control lamps are a really good option if you can find one that you like. You can turn the lamp and also dim it with just a touch. This will really help at night when you want to turn the lamp on. No longer do you have to search for the switch. Just touch the base and the light is on for you.

There are also floor lamps which are not used too often in bedrooms. They are traditionally put off into a corner to either provide more ambient lighting or sometimes are next to a comfortable chair in the bedroom. Get creative with the floor lamp too as it can also be fun to choose something unique.

Bedside Reading lights

bedroom reading lights

It may seem like a duplication of the bedroom lamp example above, but it is not. Reading lights serve just that one purpose and often are not adding so much in aesthetics. Not only do they come in the form of a lamp, but they also can be attached to the wall just behind your bed or even to the bed itself.  These are usually just a small inexpensive reading light that can be woven into the theme of your bedroom.

Do your best to refrain from buying a cheap clip on light. Remember that your lighting is also part of your décor and your reading light is no exception. It will always be there next to your bed so pick one out that works well but also looks good and goes with the décor.

Shop our preferred Bedside Reading Lights on Amazon

Bedroom Sconces

bedroom sconce

Bedroom sconces are typically used just above the night table in lieu of a lamp. They are also found just above the headboard at times to provide some low ambient light without recessed lights shining in your face. Bedroom sconces can be extremely decorative and also the light source may be elevated higher than that of a lamp.

One of the things that may not be optimal is the installation cost if you plan to hard wire them. However, there are options where a decorative wire cover will wide the wire that is heading down to a n outlet below.

For me the biggest issue I have with the sconces in this area is the fact that you cannot re-arrange your bedroom. Your bed will be positioned in that spot forever because the sconces are on the wall. Take this into consideration before you install a bedroom sconce above or next to your bed. If you decide to move the bed one day, you will just have to remove them and re-install.

Bedroom Pendants

bedroom pendant lights

How to light a bedroom with pendants is another great option in lieu of a bedroom lamp. A hanging pendant directly over your night table will add a great new look to your bedroom. These are not used too often but they are a great option to bring a different and non-traditional look to your bedroom.

Similar to a lamp, you can get really creative with the type of pendant that you use here. Go for colors that add come accent to the room.

Consider where you will keep the light switch and what it will take to install these. You want to be able to turn them both off while laying in bed if possible. Add a switch at your bedside and never run a wire down the side of the wall. Next to recessed lighting, the bedroom pendant lights will be the most complicated to install.

Bedroom Dimmer Switches

We talk a lot about dimmer switches throughout the various Lighting Tutor articles. You will often want to bring the lights down a bit in the bedroom. As a result, you should have a dimmer switch on every light in the room with the exception of maybe the bedside lamp.

Remember to make sure you are matching the dimmer to the light bulbs and vice versa. You need an LED dimmer and also LED lights that can be dimmed. Otherwise, you will be asking Why Do LED Lights Buzz When I Dim Them?

Remote Control Lighting

Nobody likes to get out of bed to turn the lights off. I have been fortunate enough to stay in a few high end hotels where the lights were all controlled by a panel of buttons at the side of the bed. Even the curtains could be opened and closed.

A company named Insteon makes some very interesting home lighting hub kits. They allow you to plug lamps into a special wireless dimmer plugs and control them with a remote at your bed. They can also control special wall switches for your recessed lights or other lights that are controlled by a switch.

I plan to write a special article about this product and may also embed a video tutorial showing the features and benefits as well as the installation process.


By now you should only be using LED bulbs. For the bedroom, do not use the filament bulbs even though they are used for effect unless you have a clear glass fixture. Then, your only option really will be an LED filament bulb. Stay with temperatures of 3000k for the ceiling and 2700k for all lamps, sconces and pendants. Read how to choose the right light bulb.        

If you are using a fixture that has multiple bulbs, remember to down size the total lumens (all bulbs combined) to match the amount of light you want from that fixture.

Final Recommended Method of How to Light a Bedroom

This is my recommended method to light a bedroom for the average homeowner. Use the following combination of lights

  • Recessed Lighting
  • Ceiling Fixture or Fan/light combination
  • Touch Lamps or Wall Sconces
  • Dimmer Switches for all lights
  • Insteon Home Hub to control them all

Closing Thoughts

Follow the approach of starting with a budget. Layout a plan and come up with a serious of lighting options for your bedroom. Then, have fun selecting your fixtures and install everything one Saturday. The proper lighting will not only make your bedroom feel cozier, but you may look forward to spending time there at the end of the day.

Related Questions

How can I increase light in my bedroom?
If you are just trying to increase the amount of light, you can always change your bulbs to ones that have more lumens because lumens are light. You can also add more fixtures to your bedroom which will of course add more light.

What is the best lightbulb for a bedroom?
I am partial to LED bulbs and the color temperature you need is 2700k or 3000k.

How many lights should be in a bedroom?
Bedrooms do not need to have a certain number of lights. Plus, every bedroom is a different size so there is not going to be one right answer. It all depends upon the type of lights you plan to add to your bedroom. Follow the method above.