Bedroom wall lighting ideas - 10 ways to switch things up in your sleep zone

Soften the mood or create a convenient reading nook with bedroom wall lamps

White bedroom with blue wall panelling behind bed
(Image credit: Future / Katie Lee)

Every space need thoughtful and layered lighting. In your boudoir, don't stop at a ceiling light and bedside table - bedroom wall lighting ideas not only add a little 5* luxe to your sleep zone, they are a great space saving solution, too. 

Taking lamps off of the bedside table and combining them with bedroom wall decor gives your space a smarter, clutter-free look that can contribute to a relaxing mood.

'Lighting is one of the most important aspects to think about in any space, as the right light can change the dynamics of a room to create the perfect ambience,' says Marketa Rypacek, MD, Industville Ltd.

'There are three main types of lighting: ambient, task and accent, each adding a different layer to the interior. The correct blend of layered lighting is vital to get right as it influences human moods and emotions. In your bedroom ideas, the wall lights should complement the space and work in harmony with the other lighting sources to accomplish a warm, welcoming room.'

Bedroom wall lighting ideas

'Wall sconces offer a great secondary source of light in large rooms,' says Marketa from Industville. 'Most bedrooms have an overhead, primary light source like a chandelier or pendant, but bedroom wall lighting ideas can be used to add a flattering layer of more indirect light. However, it’s practical if they are operated separately on a different circuit.'

1. Paint a contrasting backdrop for lamps

White bedroom with blue headboard with lights attached

(Image credit: Future)

If you don't have a headboard, painting a section of the wall behind the bed in a contrasting colour block is an eye-catching way to frame and offset bedside wall lamps. 

'Using a matching pair of bedside wall lights to decorate above your bed creates an elegant tailored approach to the bedroom,' says Rohan Blacker, Founder, Pooky. 'Keep bulbs shaded with material as opposed to with glass, unless you want to use the light source for reading.'

2. Hang from a hook

Bedroom with navy blue panelled walls, rope hanging wall light and wooden headboard

(Image credit: Future)

A stylish alternative to fixed bedroom wall lighting ideas is to hang a pendant style light from a hook either side of the bed. This way you can raise or lower the light source too, depending how much illumination you want.

Pendant lights like these can be wired in by an electrician and fixed over a hook on the wall. Alternatively, there are various wall lights that can be suspended from a cable over a peg and plugged into a socket beside the bed. 

'Opting for a lamp that can be wall-mounted provides  the ideal lighting for late night reading as well as a bold style statement that removes the need for clunky lamps that take up valuable space on the bedside table,' says Marteka from Industville..  

'Another trend is to opt for bedside hanging lights. A pendant either side of the bed headboard provides a unique design statement, and with a variety of shade options to choose from, it gives the homeowner the ability to customise their light for a truly unique look.'

3. Choose an oversized swing arm style

Bedroom with blue wall panelling and oversized white wall light

(Image credit: Future / Emma Lee)

Of course, bedroom wall lighting ideas aren't just about how they look, they need to function well practically too. Choosing an oversized adjustable swing arm lamp gives you far more flexibility than a fixed wall light.

Firstly, you're able to angle the direction of the light so that it's overhead and brighter if you're reading. Or point it away and lower it if you want to relax the mood.

'If you're tight on space or don’t have room for a bedside table, an extendable or swing arm wall light is an excellent alternative for a table lamp as it provides just the right amount of illumination without overpowering the space,' says David Amos, CEO, Amos Lighting + Home.

4. Put wall lamps on a dimmer switch

Red and white bedroom with four poster bed

(Image credit: Future)

Whatever style of wall light you choose, it’s useful if they are on a different circuit to your ceiling light, so they can be switched on and off independently, and ideally softened.

'The number one consideration for lighting any space, no matter what the size, scale or budget has to be a dimmer switch,' says Marteka from Industville.

'Dimmer switches are a quick and cost-effective way of offering multiple lighting levels in a space, allowing you to set the tone and change the atmosphere of a room instantly.

'This is integral for a bedroom setting as part of our natural human circadian rhythm, studies have shown that dimmed warm light helps us wind down for the day, and get ready for sleep.'

5. Double up with a directional reading light

Blue bedroom with patterned scalloped headboard

(Image credit: Future / Anna Stathaki)

If you're tired of getting out of bed to turn off the overhead light when you've been engrossed in a best-seller. Or the soft glow from a bedside lamp isn't sufficient for reading, it might be worth installing an additional more powerful light source by the bed.

'If you’re a book lover, directional wall lights are far more effective than wall or table lamps with lampshades, but they are far less equipped to create warm, ambient light. So consider whether you have room to install both,' says Rohan from Pooky.

'To mimic daylight look to incorporate bulbs with a higher kelvin value; between 4000-5000K works well in spaces that require task lighting. In contrast, warmer tones which promote a sense of calm and relaxation, will make a huge difference to the feel of a room, so aim for 2700-3200K in this case. 

'To create a perfect reading nook without settling for bright white lighting, layer those warmer tones by opting for both bedroom wall lighting ideas and an additional lamp if space allows.'

6. Offset lamps against a panelled wall

White bedroom with blue wall panelling behind bed

(Image credit: Future / Anna Stathaki)

Channel hotel style luxe by placing bedroom wall lighting ideas and corresponding switches on timber cladding or panelling. Using bedroom accent wall ideas in this way will give your space a sophisticated look and make it easier to hide the electric wiring behind the cladding.

'Wall-mounted lights are great space-savers in small low ceilinged rooms and are ideal for creating a clean boutique hotel look,' says Peter Bowles, MD, Original BTC.

'Remember to illuminate dressing tables and wardrobes as well as reading nooks, where more focussed light is required.'

7. Coordinate warm metal finishes

Neutral bedroom with two metallic wall lights above bed

(Image credit: Future / Anna Stathaki)

Coordinate metal finishes across lighting, accessories and brassware to provide a more cohesive bedroom scheme. For example, if your overhead lighting has a fixture with a warm brass finish, choose this for your wall lamps, switches and sockets too. 

Bulbs will also reflect the finish that surrounds them, so you're more likely to get a golden glow against a warm brass background. 

'Wall lights can throw beams of light around the edge of your space in a decorative way,' says Mary Buchanan, Creative Director, Där Lighting.

'Use lighting styles to coordinate with your chosen aesthetic, with designs that are as functional as they are good to look at.’ After all, chosen correctly, your lighting can act as bedroom wall art ideas, too.

8. Make use of side walls

Bedroom with patterned wallpaper and curved, shaded wall light beside bed

(Image credit: Future / Anna Stathaki)

It's tempting to think bedroom wall lighting ideas should be situated on the wall behind the bed for reading. Yet it's not essential. In a small or narrow space a fixed lamp can work just as well on a wall to the side of the bed, particularly in kids or teen rooms, where a light is only required on one side. 

'Wall lights can also be used to light up darker areas of the room, or even to highlight architectural features and design elements such as artwork, decorative shelving or bedroom wallpaper ideas,' points out Marketa from Industville. 

9. Choose a dome-shaped shade

Bedroom with panel of wallpaper above bed and blue wall lights

(Image credit: Future / Dominic Bradbury)

The choice in wall lamps is vast, so it's worth narrowing down the options. Unlike other rooms in the home, such as the kitchen, where task lighting needs to be bright,  bedroom wall lighting tends to be softer, so you can see well enough to read, while still being able to drift off to sleep. So decide what look and feel you're after.  

'To create a more subdued atmosphere a metal sconce or dome will direct light down and away from the eyes, whereas a bare bulb will provide ideal light for reading and looks modern and stylish,' says Marketa at Industville.

10. Place over a dressing table

Bedroom with wall and ceiling lights, wooden headboard and grey feature wall

(Image credit: W Birch Developments / Industville Ltd)

Keep in mind that bedroom wall lighting ideas aren't just for the bedside. Don't forget areas such as dressing tables, particularly if it's where you get ready to go out of an evening. An extra light source, in addition to a ceiling pendant or chandelier can be useful, especially during the darker months of the year.

Alternatively, just switching on wall and bedside lamps instead of the bright ceiling lights can make for a calmer mood when you're preparing to go to bed of an evening.

'Wall lights are a good alternative to ceiling lights as they provide a softer ambiance and therefore a more relaxing space, plus they work if your ceilings are on the lower side (as pendant lights can be too long),' says Ann Marie Cousins, Founder, AMC Design

'Think about the other finishes in a room and make sure that you are consistent in your use of finishes – so avoid adding a chrome light fitting if all your light switches and socket plates are brass.'

Where should bedside wall lights be placed?

When positioning your bedroom wall lighting ideas, there are many variables that can determine the ideal height and spacing, including the style and size of the wall sconce, the dimensions of the room and the look you are wanting to create. 

'A good place to start is 30-36 inches above the top of the mattress (or aim for 6-12 inches above your shoulder when sitting up against the headboard), and no more than a foot from the edges of the bed,' advises Marketa from Industville.

'Placing your lights close to your bedside table will provide ideal lighting for late night reading, as well as ensuring you can operate the lights easily from the bed.'

Do people still have wall lights?

Wall lights have seen a huge resurgence in recent years, and are a big design trend, particularly in bedroom schemes. 

When run on a different circuit to the ceiling light, with accessible switches, bedroom wall lighting ideas are convenient, as you don't have to get out of bed to switch the light off. It can also free up valuable surface space and look stylish.  

'The position of a wall light can be chosen for either practicality, such as next to the bed as a reading light or either side of a dressing table, or to illuminate a darker corner of the room, allowing it to feel larger,' says Ian Cameron, Creative Director, Empty State

'When working as a bedside light, aim it within reaching distance of the bed, but not so close that it will strain your eyes. The light needs to emit a soft glow, so experiment with the position before you attach it to the wall.'


Jacky Parker is a freelance interiors & lifestyle journalist, specialising in modern interiors, design and eco living. She has written for Future’s interior magazines and websites including Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home for over fifteen years, both as a freelance contributor and inhouse, with stints as Acting Digital Editor, Livingetc and Acting Style Content Editor, Country Homes & Interiors. Her work also features in national and international publications including Sunday Times Style, Telegraph Stella, The Guardian, Grand Designs, House Beautiful and more. With years of experience in the industry Jacky is privy to the insider view and the go-to places for interior inspiration and design-savvy décor.