1THING: Plug In Bedroom Lighting

When it comes to plug-in lighting upgrades in the bedroom, the bedside table lamp is a runaway favorite. Both useful and ubiquitous, this staple of decorative lighting needs no introduction. And devoting an entire blog post to them might be considered a waste of time.

That means I will probably write about bedside lamps someday, but it is not this day.

Instead, I am going to take a little artistic license with my own self-constructed rules and regulations considering my 1THING: Plug In posts. As the name implies, the entire point of these posts is to suggest just one idea – ostensibly the most important idea – for bedroom lighting. To make it a little more challenging, the Plug In subset of posts is bound by a rule that the proposed solution must not require any electrical work or skilled labor. Just plug it in, turn it on, and be done.

I am crossing those carefully constructed boundaries and suggesting something other than the bedside table lamp, which I hope you already have (or will scrounge up before reading the rest of this post. I’m sure there is a neglected lamp around there somewhere). Instead, I am going to suggest the most (seemingly) frivolous of lamps: the accent lamp.

Over twenty-five years ago (can it be that long ago?) I was a young architecture student who learned one distinct lesson regarding project presentations: never say you designed something “because it looked cool.” Accent lamps, those decorative fixtures that sit around on dressers and tables and mantels, are perhaps most often chosen for just that reason. “Because it looked cool” is the very reason there are accent lamps shaped like turtles, or lava lamps, or Moravian stars…heck, I’ve even seen accent lamps made out of polymerized leftover bread loaves. When it comes to accent lamps, anything goes. 

But there is another, perhaps better, reason to add an accent lamp to your bedroom: because you are human. And because you are human, you probably have eyes. Those eyes have a narrow field of vision, about twenty-five degrees wide, where you see in focus. In a bedroom with only bedside lamps, that area can be very dark, leading to less-than-comfortable feelings as you wake or prepare for sleep. Chasing those shadows away can be done by wall-washing or accent light on art from recessed lights, but that would require an electrician if they aren’t already in the ceiling.

Enter the accent lamp. There are floor-standing models if needed, but I love putting a soft, glowing lamp on the dresser in my line of sight. Try one out. It’s like lighting candles without the smoke and mess. 

Just don’t say you did it because it looks cool. Even if it does.

And one more thing…

Need another idea? Start with bedside lamps, preferably something shaded to minimize glare and sleep disruption. If you have a reading chair in your bedroom, how about a floor lamp? Got a plant in a corner? A floor-mounted uplight casts great patterned shadows on the ceiling. And a good indirect light – like the cove light shown here – can round out the light for a very comfortable evening.

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