14 Small Bedroom Lighting Ideas

The truth is, lighting a small bedroom can be tricky. It's a complete misconception that wattage determines how bright a bulb is. Watts is a unit measurement of power consumption and is loosely connected to how bright the light bulb is.

This article is written in a way you can understand how to select the correct illumination for your small bedroom and how you can make the most of the lights you have to create a well-illuminated area where you can work or entertain.

Buckle up as you find out:

  • How to calculate how many lumens you need for a small bedroom
  • How to make a small bedroom look bigger
  • Using light color temperature to achieve an awesome result
  • Cast shadows

How do you make a small room look bigger with light?

Although lighting is not an art form, there are some basic formulas you will need to know if you will provide adequate light for your small bedroom.

Here are a few tips that may help you:

  • Use this formula, divide the height of your ceiling by 2, so if your ceiling is 8 feet, then your answer is 4. This is the distance your downlight/pin lights should be spaced for good light coverage.
  • Wall lights are perfect for showing off cool features or paintings.
  • Use long pendant lighting. This will be in contrast to the height of your ceiling.
  • There are fantastic lamps that can become the focal point of the room and be creative and artistic with designs.
  • Illuminate shady areas of the room, such as corners.
  • Use downlights to illuminate bookshelves, or LED ribbons.

1. Keep it simple and affordable.

A consequence of living in modern homes is that you inevitably have one bedroom that is smaller than the others.

So, do you spend a small fortune on tasteful lighting on a room that could change to a home office or even become a junk room in the future, making the lighting somewhat redundant?

If you are unsure about the future use of a bedroom, then it makes sense to use simple and affordable lighting that provides adequate illumination for the bedroom.

How to create this look?

Keep it simple and cheap, but that doesn't mean the lighting is not adequate for the room and looks dull and dismal, like the room was an afterthought.

A simple neutral color bedside lamp shade with a suitable bulb and a paper-type pendant light shade will look perfectly fine until you define the use of the room in the future.

How many Lumens do you need for a small bedroom? For the average small bedroom, you will need between 500 and 1000 lumens for an average brightness.

If the small bedroom is around 1000 square feet, you could stretch it to 1500 lumens.

2. Take the room shape and decor into account.

When lighting a small bedroom, you will need to consider windows, the shape of the room, and how it's decorated.

This small bedroom utilizes some classic lamp bases and lamp shades to provide adequate lighting for the bed to allow reading.

In addition to the lampshades, overhead ceiling downlights/pin lights have been placed into the ceiling. The lighting is directional and illuminates a feature of the bedroom. A duck green painted wall is often used in Feng Shui for luck.

The ceiling-mounted fan light is subtle as the residents are not trying to have an extremely bright living space, and they treat the bedroom as an environment for sleeping.

How to create this look?

The bedside lamps are a matter of personal choice, so you can create a theme or just go with generic lighting that fits the bedroom's ambiance.

For the ceiling lights, it would be advisable to measure the room's ceiling height and divide that measurement by 2 for the correct downlight/pin light spacing.

How many lumens do you need for this bedroom?  Not having an accurate dimension makes the assessment and estimate. 2000 to 2,500 lumens would light a room of this size with a bright glow.

To determine the needed lumens, you must multiply your room square footage by your room foot-candle requirement. For example, a 100-square-foot living room, which needs 10-20 foot candles, will need 1,000-2,000 lumens. 

3. Soft and seductive

Not every bedroom needs to be brilliantly lit for the effect you are looking for, which does make a farce of the lighting calculations, so many interior designers like to use.

Some bedrooms are best suited to seductive lighting schemes that can be achieved from bedside wall lighting.

In a modern bedroom set like the one depicted above, additional lighting can be made available from pendant lighting. Pendant light shades have an enormous range of options from cheap and cheerful to out and out stylish.

How to create this look?

LED light bulbs can have a variety of ambiance settings; if you wish to recreate this bedroom lighting, you should select soft white or warm white.

LED light bulbs often have a temperature gradient to indicate the warmth of the light from the bulb as it is not related to the actual temperature of the light bulb.

How many lumens do you need for this bedroom? Keep your bedside wall lamps at a warm or soft temperature. The lower the number on the bulb, the softer the light tome will be and vice versa.

The bedside lamps should not be any more than 500 lumens, and you could consider fitting a dimmer switch if required.

4. When your small bedroom is awesome

Maybe you live in an exclusive one-bedroom apartment that overlooks the ocean, and you need inspiration for lighting.

If your bedroom is small or large, the same principles of light apply. What does make a difference to the type of lights you install is the amount of natural light the room receives from the windows.

Even with light bursting through these ceiling-to-floor windows, you will still experience those overcast winter days when you need light to be comfortable.

The bright white ceiling lights fir this apartment perfectly, bright white or a cold white can be austere in some applications, and in others, it is the only choice.

How to create this look?

There is a lot going on in this bedroom that needs to be considered, not to mention the enormous windows.

The white walls, the light-absorbing black bed linen, and the rustic wood floor absorb light.

Bedside lamps and dark furnishing make this bedroom somewhat of a problem with lighting. 

Only bright lighting can work in this bedroom, soft tones would be absorbed into the oblivion of the dark colors being used.

How many lumens do you need for this bedroom? 5,000 to 7,000 on a dreary day to make this room bright and comfortable. The problem is due to the large expanse of glass, you may be mistaken for a new lighthouse, so you will need to tone the lumens.

Keep to 4000 lumens for this room and enjoy some of the migrant light from the surrounding buildings or even celestial light.

5. Keep the light subtle

This perfect bedroom does not need an abundance of light to emit its radiance and prowess of bedroom design. Its elegant dark furniture and beautiful contrasting silver lamps are testimony to success and wealth.

The perimeter downlight /pin lights are a triumph and provide perfect lighting for illuminating a seductive bed.

The combination of lamps and downlights is the essence of a perfect lighting scheme and, coupled with the reflection of the balcony lights, makes the room exquisite.

How to create this look?

The bedroom is a high-end hotel residence and is furnished as such, the lighting around the perimeter of the bedroom is achieved by downlights and uplights from the cornice.

Once you have this style of cornice in place, the look is not difficult to recreate, and the lamps can be purchased online from a quality lighting company.

How many lumens do you need for this bedroom?  The lumens in this room have been managed perfectly and the perimeter lighting lumens are quite low at say 20 lumens, the main job of the perimeter lighting is for style and appearance only.

The main light in the bedroom is from the bedside lamps which would emit around 300 to 400 lumens at a soft bulb temperature.

6. Keep it warm and bright

Keep it warm and bright by using a combination of bulb temperatures to create a super look that would envy any interior designer.

Warm and bright lighting is somewhat contradictory in terms. You would normally stick to one or the other style of lighting to achieve an overall look and ambiance for your bedroom.

However, in this bedroom, the use of bright with uplights from the cornice and then downlights of a warmer tone in the wall reveal enclosing the headboard is a clever combination of both lights. The bedside lamps are glorious in design and emit a cooler brightness into the room.

How to create this look?

To retrofit this look would be difficult but could be done quite easily as part of a bedroom renovation. Cornice lighting is available at most DIY stores and is easy to fit.

For downlights, you may need an electrician to wire the lights in parallel for you, it would also be a good idea to have both sets of lights on differing light switches.

Of course, it goes without saying the decor will need to be similar for this lighting arrangement to shine through.

How many lumens do you need for this bedroom? 3000 to 4000 would give plenty of illumination for this size of bedroom, and it would be advisable to have different switching for the temperatures of the lights. 

The bathroom would need around 1000 to 1,300 lumens.

8. Teenage boys need light

If you have teenage boys sharing a small bedroom, you will have your work cut out to provide a room with great decor and enough light for them to be able to do homework.

Teenage boys don't need soft warm lights, it's hard enough to keep them awake and focused at the best of times, so let's not encourage any shut-eye when it's work time.

A well illuminated cool, looking bedroom is a masterful use of colors and lighting. The blue works well with bright crisp LED lights that have been incorporated into the cornice.

Mini LEDs to eliminate the desk surface will allow the boys to be industrious without becoming drowsy.

How to create this look?

Take one small bedroom and custom make furniture so boys can share. Use a color scheme that is suitable and keep everything bright and clean.

Think bright and white for boys, homework needs to be done and a bright environment is conducive to study.

The use of white light and blue walls give an incredibly appealing look.

How many lumens do you need for this bedroom? 4000, the room is small and 4000 lumens may seem a lot of light but you are typing to create an ambiance of bright and clean so why not go all in, The room is very bright and works well.

8. Make use of lighting around the headboard.

Many adults still prefer to pick up a book rather than a smartphone or tablet when they get into bed and as such, you will need sufficient light to read and lights that are easily controlled from the side of your bed.

This beautiful inviting bedroom utilizes pull cord wall laps but into the recess of the bed's headboard with three down lights above for extra illumination.

Beautiful designed and craftsman-constructed bedroom.

How to create this look?

Having a bespoke bed headboard is the easiest way to achieve this look. Alternatively, you could install a cornice in your bedroom and fit LED lights.

To install wall lights is an easy process and if you opt for a smart lighting system, you could switch the lights on and off from a smartphone from any location providing you have an internet connection on both sides.

How many lumens do you need for this bedroom? Use 1000 lumens and a dimmer switch to give you a precise level of lighting for reading, you could also select some warm white temperature bulbs to give the bedroom a soft white glow.

9. Cast shadows

Lighting does need to be technical and expensive, you can create some beautiful bedroom lighting with simple lampshades, such as this Tropical luxurious look.

The shadows are intriguing and the patterns are dissipating into the abyss of darkness of the night.

A warm glow set the perfect scene for a cocktail or two before bed and a restful night. Would Bogart and Becall approve of such an ambiance?

How to create this look?

This one is simple, search for a suitable light shade that is going to cast shadows, there are lots of Moroccan-inspired lamps that would emulate this look, you could add some colors into the mix for a little more excitement and fun.

How many lumens do you need for this bedroom? Forget the lumens in this room and focus on the look. Select a bulb midway down the temperature scale, you don't want bright white cold or warm white.

The light shade will dictate the lumens of the room so go with your gut feeling on this one.

10. When only warmth is enough

Let’s face it, who doesn't like to sleep in a bedroom that has a warmth and relaxing feel, the use of natural tones and colors that are impossible to offend are frequently used in hotels for good reason.

The use of the modern hanging orb light is almost sci-fi in its concept but it fits perfectly in this modern environment.

The row of downlights leads you into the main bedroom as runway lights lead an aircraft safely home.

The bedside light is contradictory in styling, it could be from an old industrial unit but it looks fabulous in the bedroom.

How to create this look?

Think of warm colors and natural tones, in a modern environment. The look is easy to create even from the partition wall.

Downlights/pin lights are common and easy to install, the decorative lamps are great but you could find lamps that work equally as well in this space.

How many lumens do you need for this bedroom?  This room has subdued lighting and the downlights are a psychological trick to lead you into the bedroom, they look great but the light emitted is minimal and mainly for lighting the floor space from the bedroom to the bathroom.

To illuminate this room adequately go with 1,500 to 2000 lumens.

11. Style and grandeur

When looking at lighting it is all about the concept and the context the lighting is going to be used. If you have a room and it is painted out in white then don't be tempted to use warm white lights.

Warm white lights have their uses with certain decors but if it's white keep it white.

Does all-white look stark? Maybe in the daytime but clearly from the image all white lights in the right setting can be seductive and stunning in their brilliance.

Even in small rooms, you can make use of a backlit makeup mirror!

How to create this look?

White paint, white wall, white ceiling, white bedside lights, and a backlit mirror is of course white light.

It's an easy look to achieve and it's perfect for a small bedroom, a small bedroom can be closed in by the colors and white offers you the perfect way of opening up every nook and cranny in the bedroom.

How many lumens do you need for this bedroom? For the bedroom in the image, it would be around 1000 lumens from those lights, that are on the cold light temperature scale.

The candles look great and in the right environment make for a nice addition to the light but for bedrooms, don't use candles, when you fall asleep it could be a major hazard. There are plenty of electric bulb candles that give a perfect imitation of candlelight.

12. High-rise living

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Living in a high-rise apartment block in the city can be an ideal solution for many working people and even some that just adore city life, but high-rise apartments can come with tiny bedrooms so what's the best lighting to use?

If you live in a high-rise apartment block you are likely to opt for a very modern-looking bedroom to suit your environment, so you will need a modern lighting solution.

Ceiling downlights/pin lights are an ideal solution, they are unobtrusive and functional. But how about adding some style to the bedroom?

Using these ceiling-hung pendants is skillful, the orbs give a warm glow and break the edges of the concrete urban jungle.

How to create this look?

If you have a budget for designer lights it's an easy fix but if you don't have that type of budget you make something equally as spectacular at a fraction of the cost.

Find any lamp shade you like, literally anyone. Now, have the power flex of the lamp extended to the length you need and terminated into a ceiling rose, an electrician will be with you for twenty minutes to install your lights.

How many lumens do you need for this bedroom? It's a small bedroom with a lot of natural light so as not to become a nighttime beacon for the city. Keep your lumens to 1000 and use warm lights so aircraft don't make a beeline for your apartment!

13. Living in the wilderness

If you are fortunate to have a home where you can enjoy peace and solitude then lighting may not be your priority.

However, keeping your cabin home cozy and warm through cold nights is the key to happiness and success.

There is only one type of lighting that should be used in a bedroom of this nature and it is simple lighting with warm light. Yes, you can have bright lights in a cabin home, try the kitchen but not the bedroom.

How to create this look?

The surroundings and the decor dictate simple so that is the best choice in this bedroom setting, buy suitable bedside lamps and use bulbs that give off a warm light.

How many lumens do you need for this bedroom? Forget the lumens for this room and just achieve the warmth of the light by selecting the correct light bulb.

14. Modern living

Not everyone enjoys the blinding lights that are found in many bedrooms, yes, you need them for cleaning and making the bed in the morning but the rest of the time do you really need to have dazzling lights in a bedroom?

Subdued and restrained light can work extremely well in a bedroom, it can even substitute for a night light while you sleep.

Using a single lamp to emit just enough light can save your toes from being crunched on the corner of the bed over and over again.

How to create this look?

The room has cornice lights around the perimeter, but there is something satisfying about a solitary dim light in a bedroom.

Use a simple lamp with a low lumen output bulb to add a nightlight effect to the bedroom, it can always substitute for other lamps around the home also.

How many lumens do you need for this bedroom? To illuminate a room of this size use 1,500 to 2000 lumens. However, for subdued lighting or a night light effect select the lowest lumen output or a 5-watt bulb to do the job.

Closing thoughts

Lighting small bedrooms can be a challenge and also fun at the same time. If your bedroom is very small it's okay, don't focus on lumens, focus on the light from the bulb such as warm or cool.

On most LED bulb boxes there will be a temperature gradient that indicates what type of light you will get from the bulb, the lower the bulb is on the scale the warmer the light is going to be.

In conjunction with the light bulb, consider what type of light shade you will use. Material light shades diffuse the light further and make for an awesome soft light look.

Use the concept of lighting and hopefully the images and the narrative inspire you. Keep in mind it's about the concept and not the size of the bedroom in the images.

Experiment with bright white light, it can be awesome, and if used with a lampshade that throws shadows, you can create a Moroccan or Asian vibe in your bedroom.

Use the guides for how to calculate distances and how many lumens you need for a given size of the room.

Here it is again to refresh your memory.

To determine the needed lumens, you will need to multiply your room square footage by your room foot-candle requirement. For example, a 100-square-foot living room, which needs 10-20 foot candles, will need 1,000-2,000 lumens. A 100-square-foot dining room, which needs 30-40 foot candles, will need 3,000-4,000 lumens.

Images credited to:

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