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How to choose lighting for a bedroom

Soho Home Interior Style Manager, Josefine Calmels, shares her tips on achieving a relaxing lighting scheme for a bedroom.

By Megan Murray

There are many aspects to decorating a bedroom, but once you've picked out the right bed and chosen key pieces of furniture, lighting is next on the agenda. Lighting in a bedroom is crucial to creating a calming atmosphere and framing this space as a santuary.

In fact, according to Soho Home Interior Style Manager, Josefine Calmels, it's almost the most important part of designing a bedroom. 'Lighting has the biggest role to play - apart from the bed,' she says.

'There are lots of elements when choosing lighting for a bedroom. Everything from the colour of the bulb to the material of the lampshade makes a difference.'

Here, Calmels talks us through the different stages of selecting bedroom lights and how to create a glowing space that's easy to unwind in.

Creating the best lighting

To get the optimum lighting for a space designed to lull you into sleep, Calmels says that creating different levels are key.

'Psychologically, the process of unwinding before sleep is aided with different layers of lighting, which can be turned off gradually.'

'Having various light sources contributes to a multi-level scheme, which creates pockets of warmth around the room for a relaxing glow. All of Soho Home's lamps have dimmer switches, and it's something that you'll find in our Houses, too. This is a crucial factor for mood lighting so that you can ease yourself into being ready for bed.'

How to choose a ceiling light

'Modern properties tend to have spotlights fitted into the ceiling and, unfortunately, this is the worst kind of light as the strong beams of light are too harsh.'

'I'd also avoid choosing a statement overhead light, such as a chandelier. The bedroom is a place for relaxing, not entertaining, so we want something that blends in and complements the mood - instead of stealing the show.

'The perfect bedroom light is a small to medium-sized pendant. It feels soft, feminine, and stylish. Opt for a mottled, flecked or textured glass for a warm, hazy light. The Riley and Flecs pendants are often my go-to suggestions for clients of our design service.'

Picking the right colour bulb

'When choosing a lightbulb, think about the hue that you want it to emit. There's natural white and cool white, which are harsher. Then, at the softer end of the scale are warm white and soft white - these are the perfect colours for a bedroom.

'In an atmospheric space where you might be sitting, relaxing, dining or sleeping, warm white is the colour you need. Cool white is acceptable for the kitchen, over counter tops where you'll be doing tasks, but that's about it.'

Where to position lighting

'A rule that we use in all of our Houses is to always have matching lamps on either side of the bed, positioned on bedside tables.

'If you have the space, wall lights on both sides of the room add another element and are soothing to dim right down in the evening. Then, I advise placing a floor lamp in one corner of the room. Ideally, this would be tucked behind a lovely armchair to give you a place to read a book or just relax.'

Keep lampshades neutral

'It's nice to give a bedroom character with accents of colour and pattern, but I prefer to do this with cushions and throws. When it comes to lampshades, the simpler the better.

'The colour and material of the lampshade will affect how the light looks, so it's best to choose something in a soft but warm neutral shade, such as flax or beige. A red lampshade, for example, would make the lighting too heavy, while a blue lampshade would fill the room with cold light.

'In terms of material, linen is perfect because it has a little bit of texture, which softens the appearance of the light further. It's relaxed and cosy, plus it works well with other materials and so will likely complement the rest of your bedroom.'

Don’t forget candlelight

'It wouldn't be right to mention atmospheric lighting without noting the effect that candlelight can have, too. While decorative, tapered candles are great for bringing ambience to a dinner setting, I find large, scented candles are best for the bedroom.

'Soho Home's Rose Water scent is just right as it's not too strong or heady. A bedroom fragrance shouldn't be overwhelming - just perceptible enough to give the space some warmth. Plus, the natural aspect of this scent offers a relaxing element, which is also important for a bedroom.

'Place a scented candle on a bedside table, dresser or bookcase, and scatter a few smaller tealights in clusters around the room for a real glow.'