Lighting a children’s bedroom

Getting the lighting right in a nursery or child’s bedroom isn’t easy - especially if your beloved is a bookworm, afraid of the dark, or a horribly early riser. Writer and mother Misti Traya shares her tips...

Lighting a child’s room can be tricky. Their preferences regarding how they sleep can change as quickly as their favourite foods, stuffed animals, or superheroes. Take for example, my daughter. She was the lightest sleeper throughout the whole of her infancy and toddler years. If she could see so much as a crack of light there was no way she would go to sleep. Then out of nowhere she announced that she was afraid of the dark. Suddenly her lighting preference went from that of deep dark cave to operating theatre. The moment my husband and I thought we had finally found the perfect lighting scheme for her room, she learned to read and became an absolute bookworm. Like a Roald Dahl heroine, reading is far and away her favourite pastime. There is one problem though. She’ll do it long after we’ve put her to bed. Her going to bed ritual includes two stories, one from me and one from my husband. Then she gets tucked in and the lights go out. The thing is, she’ll stay awake reading even in the dark. You can hear it and it’s the most precious thing ever the way she reads stories her toys. But her eyes! Her poor little eyes. As we can’t keep her from reading and we also want to encourage her newfound love of books, the only change to be made was the lighting in her room. So, here is the present situation:

There is an overhead light with a paper lantern which adds warmth to her room. One of Pooky’s light diffusing simple linen shades will create the same soft glow. If you want your child to have something brighter, I’d go with the Stella pendant light. Its three dimensional star shape adds infinite cheer.


Pooky's larger Stella pendant in clear glass - shop here Next to her bed we have a directional floor lamp very much like the Astaire model. This allows her to read after she’s been tucked in with her toys.


Astaire floor lamp in brass with antique silver finish - shop here

The reason we went with a floor lamp is because she doesn’t have a bedside table. If she did, I’d get her a Catona light which offers a classic design in bright blue or orange.

Cantona desk light in blue - Unfortunately the Cantona desk light is no longer available, but please take a look at our extensive range of desk lamps here

To ensure she actually gets some sleep, this bedside light gets turned off after an hour. Which is why she always keeps a sneaky torch handy. I can hear when she’s using it too as it’s hand-driven. If she wants light from it, she has to squeeze it to make the electricity run. I like it because it’s more than just a flashlight; it’s also a science lesson about energy conversions. As a child, I was never scared of the dark except in the swimming pool. Ours had a black bottom. The moment the sun dropped I was terrified to be in it. I knew there was nothing sinister lurking in the shadows but logic didn’t apply. Dangerous creatures may have slipped in with the darkness--like lampreys the size of the Loch Ness monster or peckish piranhas. Or worse. Crocodiles. These days my daughter is not so scared of the dark, but sometimes she does still feel vulnerable, like after she’s seen or read something that leaves her feeling a bit frightened. So we keep a few nightlights around. The main requirement for me is that this light can’t be too bright. Bright lights disrupt our circadian rhythms and can reset our body clocks. This is why I think LED nightlights are fantastic. They emit just enough light so a child doesn’t feel alone but can still fall asleep. We’ve had both owl and rabbit lights that my daughter loved. There are plenty of styles to choose from online.

Shadow lanterns are also really good. I had one when I was a child. I remember being lulled to sleep, almost transfixed, by the swirling images that spun around the shade. It was comforting and hypnotic. Illuminating a room with a constellation of glow-in-the-dark star stickers is another fun idea. We designated a space on just one wall for these. To make them brighter or extend their life, hold a bright light to them and they’ll recharge. Think of it like clapping for Tinkerbell. Most importantly, don’t forget the importance of darkness even where there is light. To put it plainly, British summer is upon us. Light your child’s room well but make sure you don’t forget the blackout blinds or curtains to keep the sunlight to a minimum. Otherwise, like little roosters, they will wake with it which means so too will you.

We love this nursery, complete with a Pooky Drop Down linen shade in the ‘clouds’ colour styled by Gemma Sherlock. Image credit. - Unfortunately the Drop Down linen shade in the ‘clouds’ colour is no longer available, but please take a look at our extensive range of lamp shades here

Misti Traya fell in love with an Englishman and moved from Los Angeles to London in 2009. Her blog Chagrinnamon Toast won the writing category at the 2014 Young British Foodies. She has written for Gawker, Jezebel, Look, Mslexia, The Pool, The Spectator, and Stella Magazine.