Using layers of ambient, task and accent lighting with careful placement and dimming controls will have a great impact on the bedroom’s look and feel. The second half of our bedroom lighting guide is a Q&A with Los Angeles-based interior designer Jamie Bush, recognized for his ability to combine period and contemporary decor, sharing his secrets for a well-lit, functional, and restful modern bedroom.
Accent lighting is typically meant to draw attention and highlight features—like artwork—within a given space. Proper lighting/dimmers are important, because if there’s only one bright light source, it’s hard to transition into a relaxed sleep-mode. When layering your bedroom lighting, dimmers play an important role in the grander scheme of the design. Not only do dimmers let you add an extra dimension to the room’s environment, but they’re inherently multifunctional.
Certain bulbs, such as Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) or low-voltage LEDs, are prone to flickering and buzzing when dimmed. As you layer your bedroom lighting, it’s also important to consider the type of bulb you’ll use for each fixture. Depending on the bulb’s lighting intensity and the color it emits, it has the potential to positively or negatively affect the way you function during and after a given activity.
But before you set out to hunt for any old bulb, you’ll want to figure out your preferred brightness level, or lumens. CFLs (or Compact Fluorescent Lamps) are difficult to control with a standard dimmer, as are some low-voltage LEDs. In these cases, special dimmers will be needed for smooth, flicker and buzz-free control.
Gople LED Rechargeable Table Lamp by Bjarke Ingels Group for Artemide For starters, think about the type of bulb: incandescent/halogen bulbs typically give off a soft white glow, CFLs tend to diffuse a lot of blue (although they have evolved to include a broader spectrum of colors), while LEDs can run a range of color temperatures. Because blue and white lights increase alertness and subsequently suppress the production of melatonin (or hormones that induce sleep), they are not ideal if you’re trying to wind down and relax in the bedroom after a long day. On the other hand, lighting that diffuses warmer colors (like yellow) don’t interfere with melatonin production. So, warmer lights are best for bedroom activities like reading, watching TV or simply relaxing. Expert Bedroom Lighting Tips with interior designer, Jamie Bush
Jamie Bush: I’m trained as an architect, so we start with a furniture floor plan and measure everything out, down to where the plugs go. Bringing light to different corners makes a space feel bigger and balanced. For great overall ambience I’d use a combination of the following fixture types: I’d put a floor lamp next to a lounge chair in a corner, and hang a pendant light about 18 to 24 inches from the ceiling as a statement piece.
JB: The key is creating flexibility, and the ability to control light levels, so if someone wants to sleep and someone wants to work, you can accommodate that. At a desk, use task lights as well as a couple overhead pins to illuminate the whole space; that way you have options. A black or dark gray shade might look cool, but if it doesn’t glow with light you can’t read by it.
If you’re a serious reader, opt for a swing-arm task light that’s adjustable both vertically and horizontally for maximum flexibility. JB: Sometimes we’ll hang pendants over bedside tables—they’re a good option, especially for smaller rooms, because they don’t take up space on the table.
Sometimes I’ll use one sconce to flank a doorway or an architectural feature, like a wall between two windows.
You have two options: Either pick one big statement piece—a contemporary fixture in the center of a room that has scale and presence and is clearly an anomaly, the thing that breaks the rule.