You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Should bedrooms have ceiling lights? A mood-ruiner or an essential fixture – experts discuss

Homes & Gardens logo Homes & Gardens 2/2/2023 Chiana Dickson

Interior design is full of contentious conundrums about the layout and planning of rooms, one of which is whether bedrooms should have ceiling lights. 

Although adding bedroom ceiling lights when planning bedroom lighting may seem like a no-brainer, some question whether these overhead fittings are essential for a cozy and relaxing space we go to unwind.

Here, top interior designers debate whether bedrooms should have ceiling lights and offer their advice for you to get it right.

Should bedrooms have ceiling lights? 

In general, the consensus among designers is that bedroom ceiling lighting is essential for several important, functional reasons. 

‘Ceiling lighting is so important, especially in a bedroom,’ declares interior designer Meredith Owens, principal designer and founder of Meredith Owen Interiors. ‘If you have high ceilings this is especially nice as it can cast a nice glow from above. 

‘I think ceiling lights are also important in bedrooms for those times when you are getting ready and need extra lighting,’ adds 1stDibs50 designer, Heidi Caillier. ‘This is why we recommend layers of light, which can be used in variable ways to adjust what is needed.’ 

Not everyone is entirely convinced by having bedroom lighting on the ceiling, though. ‘When it comes to ceiling lights, it is not necessary to have one in the room,’ counters Artem Kropovinsky, principal designer and founder of NYC studio, Arsight, ‘but it can be beneficial for overall illumination,’ he adds. 

A similar sentiment is shared by 1stDibs50 designer Brigitta Spinocchia Freund. ‘It depends on the size of the room,’ she begins. When it comes to lighting a bedroom there are other forms of lighting to prioritize, which will ensure good layering for the atmosphere, she says. ‘Ceiling pendant lighting is usually used for decorative purposes over the seating area in the bedroom, or aligned centrally to the room.

‘From there, you should focus on bedside tables to create low-level mood lighting, and vanity lighting to give the correct illumination on the face – precision is important. Also, projector frame lights can be important and interesting to consider – we use them to light artwork, no matter the shape or size and where it is in the room,’ Brigitta explains.

Whether or not you need a ceiling light in a bedroom can also depend on the amount of natural light your space gets during the day. More often than not, at night, many of us avoid using the harsh overhead light in favor of cozier-looking lamps to help ready us for sleep, meaning the overhead light is never used. 

Among younger generations especially, avoiding what is dubbed 'the big light' on ceilings entirely has become quite popular, with many younger people claiming that kitchen ceiling lighting is the only overhead lighting they have ever actually turned on in their homes marking a clear shift away from the presumed need for ceiling lighting throughout the home, but especially in a relaxed space such as the bedroom. 

How to use bedroom ceiling lights correctly  

If you are adding ceiling lights to your bedroom, then the one thing designers unanimously agree on is making sure to use them correctly and not wasting a design opportunity. There are four main things you should consider for the best lighting for bedrooms.  

1. Use a statement fitting on the bedroom ceiling

Whether you are keen on following lighting trends or opting for a more timeless fitting, a statement ceiling light adds character to a bedroom and prevents practicality from dictating your design decisions. ‘Add a chandelier to draw the eye upward,’ suggests designer Lauren Sullivan of online studio Well x Design, ‘then add recessed or additional ceiling lights if necessary.’ 

2. Always add dimmers to control ceiling lights 

A common bedroom lighting mistake, missing out on dimmers when setting up your lighting scheme is detrimental to the practicality of your bedroom.  

‘Always remember dimmers,’ insists Lauren Sullivan, ‘you don't need the same amount of light for every task throughout the day and dimmers allow you to adjust the ambiance accordingly.’

Dimmers will allow your bedroom to be more relaxed in the evenings or first thing in the morning to help you wake up, but brighter and more practical when getting ready to leave the house. 

3. Choose warm-toned lightbulbs for ceilings

Good ceiling lights are often dictated by the lighting temperature you select. ‘A light fixture is only as good as the lightbulb within it. We never go over 2700 Kelvin for bedroom color temperatures,’ says Ashley Macuga, principal designer of Collected Interiors. ‘Ensure that the space feels warm and soothing. Not cold and bright.’ 

© Provided by Homes & Gardens

Philips Hue White Ambiance Bulb | Was $44.99, Now $39.99 at Amazon

The Phillips Hue Ambience Bulbs can be controlled from your smartphone or smart home device, allowing a range of temperatures from warm white to daylight in one bulb.View Deal

4. Consider directional lighting over downlighting  

Just because a light is on a ceiling, does not mean that it has to cast a harsh downward shadow on you and your furniture. ‘Think about lighting the walls vs straight down too, directional lighting is very nice in a bedroom,’ reminds Meredith Owens of Meredith Owens Interiors. 

What to do if you do not have a bedroom ceiling light  

If your bedroom is lacking a ceiling fixture, then there are plenty of ways to effectively light the space and keep it functional without overloading the room with standing lamps. 

‘If a ceiling light is not an option, you can use other light sources to make the room more functional. Don't be afraid to experiment with different lighting fixtures and bulbs to find the perfect combination for your bedroom,’ assures Artem Kropovinsky of Arsight. 

Opt instead for adding bedroom wall lighting, including plug-in options for practicality where needed, or layer lighting with floor lamps and table lamps. Bedroom lighting trends are leaning more towards sculptural lamps and statement lighting pieces too, making it an ideal time to experiment with unconventional silhouettes.  

© Provided by Homes & Gardens

BSOD LED Magic Bulb | $18.99 at Amazon

This small rechargeable light bulb can be easily added to any lamp or sconce, allowing you to easily add extra decorative light without hard wiring. View Deal

Where should a ceiling light be placed in a bedroom?  

Usually, a ceiling light should be located in the center of the room. In a bedroom, it is also typical for a ceiling light to be located over the bed, however, this is not necessary when laying out a bedroom for optimal flow. This will usually be the case when laying out a larger bedroom, where a ceiling light may be over a seating area, or towards the end of the bed.  


More from Homes & Gardens

Homes & Gardens
Homes & Gardens
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon