Contemporary Bedroom Lighting

For the most up-to-date look for your bedroom, choose contemporary lights.

Contemporary bedroom lighting doesn't have to follow trends and fads.

Do you want your bedroom's decor to show the latest in style? Choosing contemporary lights may seem like an elusive task; try not to get too wrapped up in the distinction between "contemporary" and "modern." Design purists use the terms to describe two distinct styles, while manufacturers and lay people use the terms interchangeably.

True "modern" design isn't technically new; it emerged in the late 1800s and leans on Asian and Scandinavian design. Modern furnishings incorporate straight lines and geometric forms and are usually neutral in color. The emphasis is on simplicity and function. The "contemporary" decorating style emerged later - in the 1970s - and continues to evolve based on current trends. While having similarities to modern style, contemporary design pulls on a mix of Art Deco, deconstructivism, futurism and other styles. But don't stress over semantics; if you're looking for clean, simple lines for your bedroom lighting, you have many choices.

For a contemporary look, you'll likely want to choose fixtures with simple, straight lines. Choose colors that complement your decor, and don't be afraid to experiment. You can truly go in any direction you wish, from neutrals to neon bright.

If you love unusual designs, contemporary lighting style is for you. Search the Internet and magazines for ideas. Check out local art galleries for designers' one-of-a-kind pieces. Contemporary means new; you may find a fixture you love that you'd never imagined.

As for light placement, the same general rules apply for contemporary style as for other styles. Table lamps, floor lamps and wall sconces are natural choices. Wall lamps with swing arms can serve as substitutes for nightstand tables, freeing up room on the table for books, an alarm clock and other items. A wall fixture installed closer to the ceiling can provide ambient light. Floor lamps in the category are simple in design and can provide task or accent lighting anywhere your bedroom needs it.

Cove lighting, in which tubes or other lights are hidden above a tray ceiling or crown molding, is a natural choice for a contemporary bedroom, as are recessed lights and lights installed in unexpected places, such as a headboard.

For a dramatic focal point, you may choose to hang a contemporary chandelier over your bed. The size of your fixture will depend on the size of your room and bed and the height of your ceiling. The same principles apply to contemporary bedroom lighting as with traditional, but contemporary chandeliers, which are typically designed more simply and with fewer branches, will look larger than they actually are. These are good choices for bedrooms with higher ceilings (more than 9 feet).

For the look of a chandelier but on a smaller scale, you can hang three or more matching or coordinating pendant lights over your bed. For added interest, choose pendants that are similar in style but have globes in different shapes and shades, and hang them in varying heights. Just be sure to provide enough clearance for getting in and out of your bed.

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