There’s more to picking the perfect bedroom wall light than you might imagine. Read on to get yours right
Houzz UK deputy editor. I’m an interiors journalist and editor, previously for the… More
A good pair of lights by your bed can really lift the look of your room… equally, the wrong pair can have you squinting, bumping your head or feeling spotlit. Browse the designs and ideas here to discover some of the things to look out for when fitting bedside lights, as well a style to suit your room.
These elegant swing-arm sconces, designed with shallow shades to show off vintage-style bare filament bulbs, are a surprise choice for this clean, contemporary bedroom. But oh how they give the whole scheme a shot of character!
And that’s the beauty of spending time choosing just the right wall lights for your bedroom – they are a small detail but a significant enough one to make or break, or simply radically elevate, your space’s style.
If you’re buying something vintage-style (but new) online, take a good magnified look at the finish of the metal parts of the light – there are lots of varieties out there. The more period authentic or industrial you want, the less sleek the finish should be – something like antique brass or oiled bronze. But for a boutique hotel update on the idea, look at the shinier, sleeker metals – polished nickel or brass. Or mix and match for contrast.
Position to the side
If you have the wall space behind your bed, you’ll give yourself better headroom if you position lights to the side rather than over your pillows.
Over-pillow lights would need to be higher up the wall, which, depending on the fitting, could result in less intimate and less directed lighting.
If you don’t have the space or don’t fancy swing-arm lights, you can also find teeny tiny positionable lamps, too.
Consider the whole
In a small bedroom, perhaps with a low ceiling, the wall lights you choose will have a direct relationship with the main light you flick on as you enter the room. In fact – opting to have your wall lights connected to that main switch by the door will often be a sensible option, space-wise.
Here, there are effectively two sets of wall lights: the high up-down galvanised steel lamps provide a nice utilitarian look, as well as lots of light for the whole room (as well as highlighting the texture of that painted brick wall). They might, however, be too bright for bedtime reading when you’re hoping it’ll send you to sleep. As such, small clip-on secondary reading lights are plugged in and fixed to the headboards here. For pro-level design, have a second on-off switch for the wired-in wall lights close to the bed.
Traditional sconces or swing-arms aren’t the only type of wall light suitable for bedside illumination: here, a dainty pendant has been transformed into a wall light. This is thanks to a very simple idea – that is, fixing an attractive shelf bracket to your wall and drilling a hole into the tip, so that the cable can be threaded through to suspend the pendant in just the right position.
You could even simply wind the cable artfully (as seen here), or knot it – especially if you have a lamp with an inline switch and a plug on the end (again, as seen here) and want to do a quick DIY job.
10 wall lights that don’t need wiring in
Think outside the box
This compact bed-in-a-nook isn’t the obvious spot for expansive swing-arm lamps… but obvious doesn’t always make for the most interesting outcome.
As long as lights don’t threaten to bonk you over the head if you sit up in bed (these ones neatly swing into the alcove above the shelf, or out the other way, to the side of the bed), and as long as the light source can be positioned for comfortable, not-too-bright reading (note the dimmer switches here – essential for when you have lamps with a large reflective light source, like these, positioned so close to you), then they’re the perfect dimensions.
Another lesson to take from this room is to choose your switches as carefully as your light fittings – do you want to blend them in or make them as much of a feature as the lights? (And if the latter, do they work aesthetically with said lights?).
Have a bit on the side
The obvious position for bed wall lights, perhaps, is the wall behind the headboard. But if you have built-in wardrobes, as here, that are close to your bed, then make use of them for tucking lights out of the way; in this example, the lamps can afford to be a little lower down the wall, as they are closer to the back wall than they would be if they were wired into it.
Top tip is that you can use cupboards like this to conceal wiring without having to chase lighting into already-plastered walls.
And here’s yet another version of wall light style – this one, positioned to the side of the bed, will provide ambient rather than directional light.
If you are sharing your bed with someone, ensure you’ll both be happy with this kind of light, which may provide a bigger glow and keep your sleeping pal awake if you like to read late into the night. Dimmers and low-wattage bulbs are one solution, but eye strain will have to be a consideration.
Here, the wall lights are again pendants-turned-into-wall-lights, but probably came this way rather than being DIY-ed.
These types of lights are really good when space is tight, as here. It means that your bedside table – if you even have room for one – doesn’t have any part of its surface area taken up by a lamp base.
What really makes this bed look cosy, though, is that combined with the soft bare-filament-bulb wall lights, there is a gently glowing strip of LED running horizontally above the headboard. Boosting your bedside wall lights with a secondary light source is one way to ‘layer’ your lighting, and this is a sophisticated way to soften the atmosphere of a space. Again, if you’re doing something like this, make sure the LED has switches close to the bed as well as those wall lights: if you’ve ever stayed in a badly designed hotel where you have to get out of bed to turn off your lights, you’ll know the importance of this. The exception is if it’s for a child’s bedroom where you are using the LED as a night-light and it can stay on, or be controlled by you from the door.
A beginner’s guide to LED lighting
Here’s another style of light – a simple wall-fixed globe – that will provide the same type of diffused, all-round glow effect.
Dispense with chasing
If you aren’t doing a complete renovation, or have decided just now, by reading this story, that you’d like wall lamps either side of your bed, but are put off by the thought that an electrician will need to come and ‘chase’ (cut) the wires into the plaster to conceal them, check out this classy room.
Look carefully and you’ll see how those super-swish shaded and swing-arm lamps are connected… the cable has been run along the surface of the wall, but hidden within attractive brass piping. Ask a professional for advice on how this will work in your space (you’ll also need the cables to reach a source of electricity, which could be on the other side of the room). Tubes and pipes suitable for this purpose are widely available online in a variety of different metals.
What are your bedside lamps like? Tell us or show us in the Comments section, or pick a favourite from this list.