21OAK may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

How recessed lighting can illuminate your bedroom

The bedroom is one of those areas that you want to make your personal, comfortable space. It’s where you wake up and where you wind down to sleep. You’ve spent time picking out the perfect bed, the perfect sheets and comforter and the perfect wall color. But don’t neglect the lighting, and recessed lighting is just the thing to illuminate your space in the best way possible.

Illumination and room size

While lamps, sconce lighting, and lighting from ceiling fans help with spot lighting, the best lighting for bedroom ceilings is recessed lighting. It provides ambient and general lighting. It can spotlight an area or make the room look like it is bathed in sunlight. 

Recessed lighting is 80 percent more efficient than other lighting. It can be placed close to the wall for an effect called “wall washing.” This illuminates the entire wall and focuses attention on the wall and what is on the wall versus the light.

This has the design effect of expanding the room. But it is also a softer way of illuminating an area — perfect for winding down to restful sleep or getting started in the morning.

child's room with recessed lighting

The spacing of overhead bedroom light fixtures is important, especially in smaller rooms.

If the ceiling is too small, the room may not be illuminated quite the way you want, so you may need to use some spot lights to highlight areas. An added bonus of recessed lighting, especially for small rooms, is no cords or cables to clutter up an area.

Lighting specifics

First, think about the color of the lights. You want even, overall lighting to provide a restful atmosphere. Lighting classified as “warm white” is considered most restful  for a bedroom. Light temperature is measured in kelvin units. Warm white is 2700 to 3000k while cool white — like a white you would see in a medical clinic — is 6000 to 6500k. While it may seem like you would want the brightest white for an area like a reading nook, it is way too hard on the eyes. The higher the kelvin count, the “whiter” the white.

Using different whites will also throw off the color scheme of the room. It will be as different as what a paint color looks at dusk or in the afternoon sunlight. Plus, an antiseptic, white-washed wall is never a soothing sight in a bedroom!

Remember, if you want both complete darkness and great light, and you want to control the amount, you can always use dimmer switches with your bedroom ceiling recessed lighting.

Because recessed lighting is so efficient, you can use up to 30 lights on a standard 15 amp breaker.

Size, distance, and design

Correct lighting increases the value of a home. And recessed lighting will never go out of style, so don’t be reluctant to use it. The general rule of thumb when deciding how much lighting you need is about one recessed light for every 4 to 6 foot of ceiling space. 

Some technical stuff — the housing is the recessed part of the light and the trim is the visible part of the light. 

A 4-inch light is just the light part, not the trim. That is important when you are placing lights around a ceiling fan. You don’t want the trim to interfere with the movements of the blades.

There are dozens and dozens of trim options and that’s where you can get creative with shape and color.

Choosing the right trim can make an area look modern, refined, or unobtrusively elegant depending on what you are going for.

Square is considered modern while round is classic and using beveled trim is a sort of minimalist approach.

You can vary the size of the lights as well as the size of the trim depending on where you are placing them. You might want a larger light near a piece of artwork you are highlighting in your bedroom. Or, you may want several smaller lights to provide soft, widespread illumination in a dressing or makeup area.

Generally, it’s a good idea to order all of your lights and trim at the same time. There can be variations in the warmth of lights ordered at different times even if the kelvin units are the same. There are also manufacturing variations in trim color even if you are re-ordering the same color trim.

Using recessed lighting for your overhead bedroom light fixtures is a smart idea. There are great design options that allow you to tailor the lighting to your specific needs and the specific room size and setup.

Editors' Recommendations