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3 Steps to Lighting a Dark Bedroom

December 05, 2017


The (totally non-tantric) science of bedroom enlightenment.

Now, before you skip over this bit, rest assured: this is not going to be some touchy-feely feng shui-ninja mumbo-jumbo. This is about science (yes, admittedly the science of bedroom decoration) and hard facts. It is about how light behaves. Scientifically. Leaving aside for the moment concepts like wave-particle duality and electromagnetic energy, light behaves (in many ways) like waves. And like waves breaking on a beach, light can be either repulsed/reflected (by the rocks) or absorbed (by the sand). Ever wonder why your camera-phone (in night mode) flashes multiple times before taking the actual picture? It’s not just to avoid the ever-so-popular Dracula-eyes. It is also because that light hangs around, reflecting and re-reflecting off dust molecules in the air, making the entire picture that much brighter. Read on to see how to implement this sciency stuff in your dreary bedroom.

We’re going to be discussing the three necessary steps to lighten your mood and your boudoir: things to remove; things to change; and things to add.

Things to remove

First-off, unless you’re going to install the Bat-signal in your bedroom (a valid decorating choice) you’re going to want to make the most of whatever natural light you have. South Africa being in the in the southern hemisphere, this means sunlight from the East, North (as the day wears on) and West. Give the sunlight access to your bedroom: trim obstructing trees and bushes and remove any grime from your windows.

Don’t purposely block the sunlight. Curtains made from heavy fabrics or dark colors will absorb the light and not give it back. Replace these with lightweight, light-colored fabrics that are permeable to the sun. If privacy is an issue, consider curtain alternatives (like blinds or shutters) or, better yet, frosted glass. You can even add a pane of frosted glass to the bedroom door itself, if that is where the light is coming from.

Things to change

Once you’ve gotten as much natural light into your bedroom as possible, your goal should be to get it to hang around. Like the night-mode camera flash, this means giving it an opportunity to reflect and re-reflect as much as possible. To do that, you need to have a look at (all) the surfaces in your bedroom: are they rocks (good) or are they sand (bad)? Reflective surfaces are good. Dark colors are bad.

If you’ve got any heavy, darkly upholstered pieces of furniture or sombre wallhangings, show them the door. Replace these with pieces that will either reflect the light or allow it to pass. Chrome, silver, brass and gold are favourites. So are clear- or gloss acrylics and glass. Whitewash and pale wood also do nicely (see our collection in-store).

The floor, ceiling and walls are (by far) the largest surfaces in any bedroom and are subject to the same principles as outlined here above. Pale colors (cream, camel, tan, etc.) will reflect light and help (literally) brighten up the room. Don’t opt for gloss enamel paint as this will only add glare. Flat, mat colors will reflect a diffuse light evenly and naturally. If you can’t bear to paint over your mahogany floorboards, a pale carpet will do.

Although modern sensibilities are moving away from this style, many pendant-type lighting fixtures still tend to focus the light on a single, downward point and throws the ceiling into complete shadow. This is an absolute waste. Use flush- or recessed lighting that spread the light around evenly (including on the ceiling) so it makes the maximum use of all reflective surfaces. A wall lamp that throws a lot of light on the ceiling can be used as a stop-gap.

Don’t forget your bedding! Pale, lightweight fabrics are key to pulling a sunlit bedroom together. We offer an exquisite duvet cover set that is soft as a cloud and reflects light just as well.

Things to add

For preference, things to add would include more windows and a skylight. But since this is ruinously expensive (and since most of us don’t live in Wayne Manor) let’s look at some work-arounds. An honorable mention should go to so-called tubular skylights (a patent whereby a bendy tube brings natural sunlight from a bubble on the roof into a windowless room that does not even abut the roof).

Crucially important: mirrors are your friend. Use mirrors (opposite sun-facing windows or each other) to dam as much as possible light in the room. Additionally, face-to-face mirrors create the optical illusion of infinite space, tricking the viewer into seeing the room as more airy and therefore less oppressive / lighter. Wall mounted mirrors can serve as excellent faux windows but any large mirror, including dressing tables and make-up stations, add to the effect.

And that is the science of light. You don’t need to sleep in a dreary, ill-lit cave (unless doing otherwise would interfere with your crime-fighting activities). Let Bed King play Alfred to your Batman. Flap your way down to our store today and gear up to science the sunlight into your bedroom.


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