Tips for Lighting Children’s Rooms
Our expert explains the best way to illuminate rooms for the kiddies.
Randall, I was enthusiastic about purchasing your residential lighting book. However, I could not find solutions inside for children’s rooms. For a recent project, I used two CFL downlights in the ceiling, one uplight on a wall and two table lamps. In a meeting with the electrician, he recommended one incandescent light in the center of the room to enable furniture to be moved around easily. He also said the CFL would be too bright, yet not provide enough useful light. I’m confused. Can you give me some advice?
First of all, thank you for plugging the book—and for pointing out that I had totally overlooked lighting kids’ bedrooms. You will be happy to know that the latest version of “Residential Lighting, A Practical Guide,” due out in November, will have an extensive section on this very subject. Children’s rooms get treated a little differently than those of their parents. Right through their teenage years, kids tend to spend a lot of time on the floor. They are playing, doing homework or just hanging out. For this reason, an extra dose of indirect light is needed. With this type of light—a torchiere, a wall sconce—the furniture can be moved around as needed. Infants are often on their backs—sleeping, getting diapers changed or snuggling in their parents’ arms. Glary recessed or surface-mounted fixtures are uncomfortable. This is true whether the light source is incandescent or fluorescent. An even illumination that is bounced off the ceiling is much more comfortable. This can come from wall sconces or ceiling-mounted fixtures that have an opaque or semi-opaque diffusion. Although this type of light could also come from a torchiere, it is not a good idea to have a floor lamp in a toddler’s room since children at that age use objects to pull themselves up as they learn to walk. They could easily pull over a torchiere. As children get older it is also a good idea to make sure that the indirect light sources you choose have some sort of covering at the top, like a lens, to keep kids from tossing a sock—or a gerbil—into the fixture.
Randall Whitehead, IALD

Randall Whitehead, IALD, is a professional lighting designer and author. His books include "Residential Lighting, A Practical Guide." Whitehead has worked on projects worldwide, appeared on the Discovery Channel, HGTV and CNN, and he is regular guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio. Visit his website for more information on books, upcoming seminars and the latest lighting trends.

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