7.5 Lighting Tips to Create Va-Va-Voom in Your Bedroom
Updated: Aug 17, 2021
Since the Superbowl of love, Valentine’s Day, is in February and there is a lot of attention on the, ahem…, bedroom, I thought I would offer 7.5 tips to recreate that stylish, sexy look you see in hotels suites in your own home.
Now don’t despair, you don’t have to have a four-diamond budget to create a feeling of relaxation, comfort, and style. Just follow these guidelines and you will be enjoying the “suite life.”
I recently spent a week at the fabulous Venetian/Palazzo hotel in Las Vegas, and our suite, ok…, mini-suite, was smoking hot due to the designer’s artful layering of low-voltage halogen lighting, task lighting and natural light resulting in a knock-out look.
My honey walked in the room and said “Wow!” (and he wasn’t talking about me).
So, I can’t say enough about how much impact the right lighting has on the mood and feeling of a bedroom.
You can select luxurious fabrics, a fabulous wall color, great art, but if the lighting isn’t positioned to highlight these design features it is money wasted and a missed opportunity to create the ambience you desire.
If you like this more dramatic look featured in many hotel rooms -- concentrated pools of light from above and darker room corners or edges -- think about installing small, recessed 50 watt halogen lights in select areas on the ceiling.
Halogen light is crisp and the bulbs come with different beam spreads (10 – 40 degrees, not to get to technical here) to create a larger or smaller circle, or pool of light. Buy a couple of sample halogen bulbs and try them out.
Tip: Two low-voltage, adjustable MR-16 halogen fixtures placed near the head of the bed, and switched independently from their respective sides is ideal. Of course, you will need to supplement these two fixtures with other strategically placed recessed halogen lights depending on the activity zones in your bedroom that need lighting such as exercising, dressing, or reading.
If you prefer more of an overall soft glow of ambient light in your bedroom, rather than a dramatic look, install ceiling-mounted chandeliers or pendant fixtures on pre-set dimmers. Tip: Give careful consideration to the diameter of your light fixture, the drop (I learned this one the hard way), and the light output, in relation to your ceiling height and room size.
The glass beads, silver accents and sumptuous chocolate silk shade on this fixture from AF Lighting will add drama and elegance to your bedroom.
I ordered a stunning Murano glass pink and white chandelier from Italy for a client’s master bedroom two year’s ago.
I received it one piece, thank god, only to find out the total drop, or length of the fixture, was mislabeled on the specs! Had I installed it over her bed as planned I probably would have impaled my client because the fixture was so long.
Fortunately, my client has a good sense of humor and one of my glass artists was able to modify it, rather than send it back (I offered to personally take it back to Italy, she didn’t go for that) and it now works with her ceiling height. Phew…interior design is never boring!
So the lesson here is let your designer or lighting showroom rep guide you in making the right fixture selection for the scale of your room.
Now that you have decided on the quality of overall ambient lighting you desire it is time to consider accent lighting which artfully placed will provide the va-va-voom!
Accent lighting, or spot lighting, an interesting wall surface such as rugged natural stone, a textural wall covering or fabulous sculpture creates drama and a focal point in a bedroom. By incorporating many layers of light – accent lighting, overhead lighting, natural light, or bedside lighting – you create a more stylish, interesting and functional space. So don’t just settle for one type of light in your space. Tip: Think in layers of light. Your accent lighting should spotlight what is meaningful to you in your bedroom and enhance the mood you are trying to create.
This bedroom features accent lighting highlighting the textural quality of the wood headboard wall and artwork. Source: HGTV 2010.
Bedside Table Lighting
The last layer of artificial light to consider is bedside table lighting. I found a fabulous pair of antique crème porcelain table lamps with delicately sculpted flowers, for $20.00 ea, at one of my favorite thrift stores (yes designers shop at thrift stores!) for my bedroom.
I couldn’t believe the price and the condition they were in, I snapped them up, ditched the boring ecru silk shades and had my workroom fabricate new blue silk lampshades and they look smashing.
Tip: Selecting an interesting color or textured lamp shade will enhance the personality of your lamps. Try something a little more daring like a chocolate or black silk shade (depending on your color scheme). This will diffuse the light output and create a moodier look.
This lamp from Arteriors Home has a beautiful sculptural quality and the black shade will diffuse the light to give a moody vibe.
If you like to read in bed, make sure your bedside lamps are tall enough to give you the light you need on your reading surface. Tip: The bottom of the lamp shade should fall between your shoulders and eye level so you are not looking up into the light bulb as you read.
No room for bedside table lamps? Try installing adjustable swing arm bedside lights on your headboard wall. Just be sure to spot the location accurately and
hardwire (wires are placed inside the wall during construction) the fixture. If your walls are already closed up, lighting manufacturers offer coordinating cord covers with swing-arm fixtures that cover the wires. Not my favorite look, but it can be done in a pinch.
Now that you have discussed with your electrician the different layers of light you desire it is time to focus on your room’s natural light and the style of window treatments that will create the intimacy and privacy you need.
While staying at the Venetian/Palazzo hotel, I got spoiled using the motorized window treatments to control the natural light in our suite which was filtered by the sheers, blackout shades, and silk drapes depending on my mood (this was the only remote control I had command over, the three flat-screen remotes were off-limits…..ahhh men).
I’ve installed similar motorized window treatments for client’s using the Somfy system (www.somfy.com) and they just flip at the ease and convenience…ok, and maybe due to the cool factor too.
Whether you decide to select standard window treatments, or motorized for your bedroom, you want to think about how much light and privacy you want, as well as how the fabric you select filters the light, wears due to sun exposure or pets, and complements your color scheme. Tip: Window treatments are a great place to introduce visual interest in your bedroom -- think sumptuous velvet or ultra suede drapes, or textural sheers -- while manipulating the room’s light quality.
Notice the layering of window treatments in this Palazzo Las Vegas Hotel Suite. The stationary drape panels, motorized blackout shades, and sheers help control the light.
And finally my favorite type of light ….candle light. Let’s face it everyone looks great in candle light. Your skin can be the texture of a leather change purse and your body still re-covering from holiday indulging and you will still look fabulous!
When selecting candles for your bedroom, here’s a Tip: look for soy-based candles as they burn cleaner and longer than traditional wax candles and do not emit soot which results in better indoor air quality (in case you are wondering ….the scents for love are sandalwood, jasmine, juniper berry and citrus, and frankincense, among others, reports the Sense of Smell Institute).
So next time you’re in a nice hotel or restaurant, or flipping through a design magazine, observe the multiple layers of light and the mood that is created. Notice how it makes you feel. By becoming more aware of these techniques designers use and incorporating these lighting tips your bedroom will surely never be a snooze!
Gail E. Jamentz, Principal of Soul Interiors Design, proudly serves the communities of Pasadena, San Marino, La Cañada Flintridge, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena, Altadena, Glendale, Los Angeles, Newport Beach, Palm Desert, and Palm Springs.