10 illuminating ideas to liven up your bedroom lighting

Here's how to change the mood of your bedroom more with a little help from sunrise lamps, smart bulbs, strip lights and more

Lumie Bodyclock Shine 300
(Image credit: Lumie)

The best bedside lamps can brighten up any bedroom, but bedroom lighting is capable of much more. Smart bulbs can give your room an instant makeover or set any mood, while sunlight lamps are designed to wake you up in a more natural way. And some lamps even double as smart speakers that you can use to play the perfect going-out soundtrack. Let's discover how to make your bedroom brighter, more colourful and more you.

1. Don't be too direct

When you want to create a cosy ambience, indirect lighting can be really effective. Today's best smart bulbs enable you to adjust the brightness, whiteness and colour (if you have coloured bulbs) with the flick of a finger or a word to your smart speaker. We're fond of the Philips Hue range, whose bulbs are available for every conceivable fitting and whose siblings include LED light strips and LED lamps, all controlled from the same app or smart speaker. If you'd rather do it more cheaply there are great options from brands such as Lifx too (see how they compare to the market leaders in our Philips Hue vs Lifx bulbs showdown).

bedroom lighting tips: Philips Hue Iris lamp

(Image credit: Philips)

2. Think in threes

Designers recommend you have three different kinds of light in any room: general lighting, which might be recessed spotlights or a hanging pendant; task lighting, such as lamps for reading; and ambient lighting, which is just for decoration and atmosphere. If you're going for downlighters, place them around the edges of the room so you can see into drawers and don't put them directly over your bed.

3. Rise and shine

Today's best wake-up lights are designed to mimic sunrise and sunset, designed to help you feel brighter during the dark days of winter by using gradually brightening light to wake you up gently with natural light and sounds, as well as promoting a more natural sleep-wake cycle. Devices such as the Lumie Bodyclock Luxe 750DAB have more to offer, too: it has a built-in DAB radio and variable light intensity to help you relax at bedtime. Some sunrise lamps are specifically designed to counter the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – the feeling of low mood that some people experience when there isn't much sun. 

bedroom lighting tips: Lumie Bodyclock

(Image credit: Lumie)

4. Choose the best shade for your shades

Different colours of lampshades do different things to light. Whiter shades let more light pass through but can feel colder and more stark than the light from coloured shades, which can make the light feel warmer (assuming you choose a colour with warm tones rather than, say, a cool blue). If you're buying white LED bulbs, make sure you're getting warm white rather than cool white: it makes a huge difference to the feel of a room.

5. Make your string lights smart

If you've already got LED string lights to add a little bit of warmth to the room, you could replace them with a smart, app-controlled string – or you could do it even more cheaply and stick them on a smart plug so you can control them with Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri. A Philips Hue smart plug is currently less than £30, and TP-Link plugs can be bought for less than £10 each.

6. Bring the noise

IKEA's Symfonisk table lamps aren't just pretty; they're pretty clever too, with Sonos-made smart speakers inside each one. They deliver spectacular sound despite their diminutive dimensions. And because the lamps use standard bulb fittings, there's no reason why you can't stick a smart bulb in there too. 

bedroom lighting tips: IKEA Symfonisk

(Image credit: IKEA)

7. Get your bedroom insta-ready 

Whether it's perfecting your makeup or snapping the perfect selfie for your socials, a mirror ringed by light is a brilliant investment. We're big fans of the Hollywood Mirror style, which surrounds your mirror with multiple individual bulbs, but if you fancy something sleeker there are plenty of options where the illumination is built into a strip, circle or rectangle behind the mirror glass. And illuminated mirrors aren't just for faces: you can get the same design in full-length mirrors so you can make sure you look your best before heading out.

8. Create more space with mirrors

Strategically placed mirrors can make darker rooms much brighter, maximising natural light or boosting the glow from your lamps at night. They're particularly handy for smaller rooms, where they can make the space feel much more roomy.

9. Get a little bit touchy

Whether it's a noise in the night or your alarm on a dark morning, the last thing you need when you want light is to mess around trying to find an On switch. Once again smart lights are here to help – you can program digital assistants such as Alexa to trigger specific scenes based on your commands, so for example you might have a smart bulb recipe triggered by 'good morning' – or you can invest in touch-controlled lamps that'll light up when your sleepy hand gets reasonably close. John Lewis does some lovely ones such as the cute Lucy, which is £25 for two.

bedroom lighting tips: Lucy touch lamp- John Lewis

(Image credit: John Lewis)

10. Climb into your cupboards

An easy way to illuminate cupboards is to add LED strips with motion sensors: open the door and they turn on, close it again and they go off. The most convenient ones are battery powered: because they're only on for a short time and LEDs aren't very power-hungry they last for ages.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).