Of all you home spaces, your bedroom is your sanctum sanctorum – your most private and sacred. Separated from everything else, it’s where you’re most relaxed and most raw. You can go from the most energized, to, quite literally, sedate the next moment, and resting for the following day. I can’t stress it enough that the quality of the bedroom and how well it does its job directly affects the rest of your life. Among all your home spaces, it’s essential that you get it right. And in terms of creating a quality space, few things are more effective, challenging, and nuanced than lighting.
Your bedroom lighting breakdown
Of course bedroom lighting isn’t just one thing. It’s more of a combination of 4 strategies to create a system flexible enough to keep up with your varied requirements.
Atmospheric or mood lighting
A successful room fosters an environment that fits supports the activities it hosts. In the same way that an office should be designed towards focus, and a fast food restaurant design actually makes you hungry and pushes you out in the same move, a bedroom should be designed to relax you. Soft indirect lighting is easy on the eyes, and simulates the dim light of dusk, a natural signal for your primal self to wind down. Whether you’re getting your sleep on, or getting your game on, atmospheric lighting helps ease out the tension.
Indirect lighting such as from coves, or accent lighting on art pieces, are good examples of light that help create atmosphere.
Of course, you do more things in a bedroom. For anything from reading, to computer work, to using a vanity table and mirror to put on your face, you’ll need something altogether brighter, but with a limited amount of glare.
Task lights, or lights focused on specific areas for concentrated work could come in the form of desk lamps, bedside lights, or mirror lights, fitting their task and location.
And then there are times when you’re cleaning, or packing, or just looking for you glasses or keys. Usually colder, general lighting illuminates the room evenly to avoid creating shadows. General lighting may be the most boring, but it’s just as necessary as anything else.
The most utilitarian of the lighting types, general lighting usually takes the form of recessed or even surface mounted lights, regularly spaced around the room.
We’re diurnal creatures of biology and habit. Our circadian rhythms that pace us through the day are reinforced by our exposure to natural light. In this sense there’s no healthier way to wake-up from a good night’s sleep, than to the gradual brightening of of daylight entering the room.
Of course you don’t literally design natural light, but rather control for its entry and spread through a space. For the right orientation, appropriately sized windows maintain privacy and let the outside light in, while controlling for heat and glare. Everything from your colors, to material selections, to window types, to ceiling profiles can affect light bounce.
Or you could want to keep external light out of your space all together. Blackout shades or heavy curtains help to block out the disruptive glare of LED street lamps as well as the sun if you’re working the graveyard shift.
Lighting isn’t just one thing. A space has to be designed to work the strategies cohesively to serve your varied needs. Its further complicated by the fact that at the end of the day, lighting is very much affected by your personal tastes. The best designer can’t read your mind. Take time to go through your needs with your architect, interior designer and specialty supplier if you have something specific in mind. You spend a third of your life in bedrooms, make yours work for you.
1 – Consider your lighting design around how you might use a space. Rooms that may or may not have televisions or double as spaces to work may be lit very differently for ones kept sacred for sleep.
2 – Chances are you’ll be sharing the room with a partner. Consider both your needs individually as well as how you’ll use the space in tandem. Working while your partner is sleeping? Adjust your task lighting to control glare around the rest of the room.
3 – Function is just the start of bedroom lighting design. Each lighting strategy may be applied in any number of styles. Pick to suite your taste ensuring that even the styles work well in combination.
4 – Making your lights dimmable could help cover the general lighting, while allowing for the nuances of creating the mood you’re looking for.
Any badly light bedroom stories you’d like to share? Or maybe great lighting from a hotel you’ve stayed at? I’d like to hear about it! Email firstname.lastname@example.org
If this has been illuminating (hrhrhr,) you might want to look out for an article coming out in a few weeks covering Your Architecture for Better Sleep.