Lighting for Kids' Rooms

Find out what type of lighting works best in your child's room.


Photo courtesy of Serena Lily

Photo courtesy of Serena Lily

By: Amanda Lecky

Lighting is possibly the most overlooked element in any room’s design — and also one of the most important, particularly in a multifunctional space like a child's room.

Lighting Ideas for Your Kids' Room

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Playful Paper Lanterns

The right light fixture can help visually divide a large, shared space like this one. The designer used inexpensive paper lanterns in a range of colors and sizes, suspended at different heights to create a focal point well suited to the space's sloped ceiling. Design by B. Pila Design Studio

Photo By: B. Pila Design Studio


A nightlight can comfort small children when they're tucked in for bed. This friendly woodland creature adds a soft glow from a compact fluorescent bulb. Photo courtesy of The Land of Nod

Ceiling Fixtures

A vintage swag petal light fixture is a clever solution near the glider, since floor lamps are toppling hazards in a baby's room. Design by Christie Chase

Desk Lamps

Desk lighting should be utilitarian but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice style. Your best bet is an adjustable lamp with a wide, stable base — perhaps in a bright, fun hue like brilliant blue or citrus green. Design by HGTV hosts Cortney and Robert Novogratz

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Table Lamps

Accent lighting should make a bold impact. The exaggerated curves and glossy black finish of this table lamp stand out against the ornate butterfly-papered wall in this girl's room. JAC Interiors

Drum Pendants and Task Lighting

By adding drum pendants above the beds and homework table, along with task lighting on the nightstand, this attic bedroom remains perfectly illuminated until it's time for bed. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn

Reading Lights

Encourage your child's love of reading by creating a designated book nook. A comfy chair, a pouf to put the feet up on, and a good reading light are all you need. In an older child's room, a floor lamp is fine; one that's adjustable is ideal. JAC Interiors

Photo By: JAC Interiors

LED Lighting

The most magical element in this nursery is the starry ceiling, created by fiber-optic LED lights installed in the crawlspace. Twin girls fall asleep to their soft glow. Photo courtesy of John Burton Brown

3 Basic Types of Lighting

Ambient lighting creates a pleasing overall glow. Overhead fixtures, both ceiling-mounted and recessed, provide ambient light.

Task lighting illuminates specific activities such as homework or reading. Sconces and lamps offer task lighting.

Accent lighting highlights architectural and design elements. A recessed ceiling fixture positioned to shine on a favorite piece of artwork is an example of accent lighting.

Every room must have both ambient and task lighting. Accent lighting is the icing on the cake, the element that makes all the hard work you put into choosing the right wall hangings, hand-painted murals, showstopping window treatments and more shine through.

Plan for Safety

You'll need to think about safety as you choose your lighting fixtures and lamps. Designer and mother of boys Terry Ervin advises, "go with lighting that isn't breakable — wood lamps, not glass or pottery. And recessed lighting is safer than ceiling or wall fixtures that can be hit with balls and paper airplanes. Be attuned to things that could fly through the air."

Try to imagine what a curious toddler might topple. "Babies can easily pull floor lamps over," says Pam Ginocchio, co-founder of Project Nursery. "Be sure to secure lamp cords to the leg of a table, or to the wall."

Pink Glamour

Pink Glamour

Design by Liz Carroll

Design by Liz Carroll

Design Options

When you're ready to shop, remember that lamps and lighting fixtures can be strong decorative elements.

"Don't go too small," says Susanna Salk, designer and author of Room for Children. "People tend to think tiny for a child's room, but bold, chunky lamps — especially in pairs, like on each end of a dresser — look really great."

And, remember function. "Reading lights should be adjustable," says Nancy Barrett, designer of Decorating Den Interiors. "So you can direct the beam right where you need it. And, three-way lamps, which have three levels of illumination controlled at the switch, are great. Even better: Install dimmers at all your wall switches."

The lampshade you choose is another important decision, and an opportunity to personalize your lamp. "I love to buy inexpensive lamps and have the kids decorate the lampshade with trim, tassels, paint or decoupage. It's an easy way to get them involved in the design," says Barbara Tabak, designer of Decorating Den Interiors.

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