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Five Types Of Bedside Lighting That Go Beyond The Classic Table Lamp

Almost everyone has some kind of lamp sitting on their night stand. It’s a bare-bones, basic kind of bedside lighting that gets the job done, and usually isn’t too expensive to set up. But while table lamps are the go-to for getting a little light next to your bed, they’re far from the only option out there. If you want to get creative with your bedroom lighting, check out these five innovative options (and why they might be a better choice than a table lamp).

So What’s Wrong With A Table Lamp?

Table lamps are a tried and true classic - and not without reason - but they're far from the only option out there (by LLI Design)
Table lamps are a tried and true classic – and not without reason – but they’re far from the only option out there (by LLI Design)

There’s nothing inherently wrong with using a table lamp to get your bedside lighting; after all, they are the most ubiquitous choice for a reason. Table lamps are inexpensive and easy to set up; as long as you’ve got $20 and an outlet, they’re good to go in as little time as it takes to plug them in. If you’re willing to spend a little more, you can even get some really stylish designs that can spice up your room, and either way, they’re relatively easy to swap out if you want to change up the look of your bedroom. So what’s the problem? Simply put, table lamps are clunky: they take up most of the space on your nightstand (not to mention one of your outlets!), they’re awkward to turn on and off while you’re in bed, and offer little to no control over how much light they produce or where it’s directed.

Solution #1: Hang A Pendant Light

If you want to make a stylish statement with your bedside lighting, pendants are the way to go, with a huge selection of styles and a lovely symmetrical look (by Rachel Laxer Interiors)
If you want to make a stylish statement with your bedside lighting, pendants are the way to go, with a huge selection of styles and a lovely symmetrical look (by Rachel Laxer Interiors)

If your biggest concerns is reclaiming the surface space on your nightstand, or if you really want your beside lighting to make a statement, you might want to consider upgrading from a table lamp to a pendant light. Now, pendant lights (and most of the options from here on out) will need a little electrical work to wire in and install. But mounting twin pendant lights over the nightstands on either side of your bed is not only a great way to clear off the table, but also perfect for building a really gorgeous symmetrical design. Pendant lights also come in probably the widest range of styles, so if you want a look that really expresses your personal aesthetic, this is the way to do it. The drawback? As with table lamps, pendant lights don’t typically offer a lot of control over the light they produce beyond the height you hang them at during installation.

Solution #2: Install Some Sconces

Simple sconces clear off your nightstand and put a light conveniently over your shoulder - perfect for reading in bed (by carré designs)
Simple sconces clear off your nightstand and put a light conveniently over your shoulder – perfect for reading in bed (by carré designs)

Wall sconces are another great alternative, and one you might have seen in a hotel – mounted to the wall behind the bed, either directly above where you sleep or off to the side (in roughly the same place you’d put a table lamp). As with pendant lights, you’ll probably need an electrician to install a new sconce, but they keep your nightstand clear, and are usually pretty unobtrusive in design if you want something a little less showy. Since they’re positioned behind and above your head, sconces make great reading lights, too!

Solution #3: Upgrade To A Swing-Arm Light

Swing-arm lighting can be pushed out of the way or pulled to where you need it, ensuring the light shines exactly - and only - where you want it to (by Vani Sayeed Studios)
Swing-arm lighting can be pushed out of the way or pulled to where you need it, ensuring the light shines exactly – and only – where you want it to (by Vani Sayeed Studios)

If your primary concern is getting control of your lighting – specifically, if you share a bed with someone who doesn’t share your bedtime (or if one of you likes to read at night but doesn’t want to keep the other awake), your best bet is a subset of wall sconces called swing-arm lights. As the name implies, these lights are attached to bendable metal arms so you can grab onto them and adjust the height and direction of the light so it’s pointed right at your book and not at the face of the person sleeping next to you. Swing arm lights come in all kinds of designs, from simple fixtures with lights that swing side to side to elaborate ones with pulleys or accordion arms if you want either more control or a slightly more whimsical look.

Solution #4: Recess Your Lighting

Recessed lighting gives you soft, diffuse, dimmable light above your bed, and can add a great layer of lighting throughout your bedroom (by Highmark Builders)
Recessed lighting gives you soft, diffuse, dimmable light above your bed, and can add a great layer of lighting throughout your bedroom (by Highmark Builders)

If you really want your bedside lighting out of your way, though, your best option isn’t a fixture at all, but recessed lights installed directly above your bed. This is definitely the most invasive type of lighting to install (you’ll have to cut some holes to stuff the lighting fixtures into your ceiling), but is also the most unobtrusive once you’ve got it set up – when they’re turned off, you’ll hardly even notice they’re there. On a dimmer switch, recessed lighting makes a great soft background light for snuggling up in bed and watching a movie or the nightly news, and because they’re so out of the way, they’re also great for using in tandem with some of the other options on this list – giving you both beautiful layered lighting and great control over the light levels near your bed.

Solution #5: Build Your Lights Right Into Your Bed!

Wenge Queen Sized Bed with Built In Lights T2666BBA53206 from Rossetto
Wenge Queen Sized Bed with Built In Lights T2666BBA53206 from Rossetto

This last option is a bit of an oddball one, but it should appeal to anyone who’s suffered through huddling around a reading light clipped to your headboard. The idea here is the same, but the execution is a whole lot more elegant: headboards with soft reading lights integrated right into their design. These are, admittedly, a little difficult to find and generally skew towards a more modern aesthetic where you can find them, but they really can’t be beat for that late night reading, since the lights themselves are very, very close to where you’re reading and designed to be not-too-bright – just enough to see by but not so much that it’ll keep someone on the other side of the bed awake!

The obvious drawback to using anything other than a table lamp for your bedside lighting is that can require quite a bit more installation and is often a little more expensive. But what you get in exchange can be well worth the effort: a unique and pleasing design, good lighting control, and a setup that won’t be in your way!