Should I Have Hanging Bedside Lights?

Hannah contacted MadAboutTheHouse to ask about lighting in her bedroom.

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Q: I’m thinking of installing bed-side lighting and the contractor who came round to quote for the job said that in terms of the work involved, it would be a lot easier to suspend lights from the ceiling rather than them have wall-mounted. I have one double socket by the bed but there isn’t room for two bedside tables and I would like to have two lamps to make it look even. Have you seen hanging bedside lights before and do you think it can work?

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A: Funnily enough I was keen on this look myself and then, as we were having electrical work done on the wall behind the bed anyway, I chose wall lights. But I have seen pendant lights hanging low at either end of a sofa which looks great, and is something I may yet do as we don’t have a central pendant light in that room. The other advantage is that it will free up space on the bedside table (for all those books you may not have got round to reading yet). So yes I do think it can work really well.

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Although bear in mind that once you have done it you won’t be able to move the bed, which is usually fine as there’s often only one place it will go anyway but for those of you with big bedrooms, think carefully.

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In terms of the price; running a cable along from a ceiling light and branching out to either side of the bed will be a similar price to running a cable up from your existing socket (and branching out to include the other side of the bed). Both jobs will require a little making good of the wall and then painting.

image by nadine muller
image by nadine muller

The main thing to bear in mind is that you don’t bang your head on the lights when you get in or out of bed; that they aren’t shining a spotlight on your face when you turn them on and finally (some would say lazily) that you can reach the off-switch from your lying-in-bed-reading position.



Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Hi there,

    Can you help me? I am having huge bi-fold doors in my new kitchen. The only way I can afford these it to get some via a fantastic offer (not dodgy, don’t worry), but this means that they will be oak (no choice). They will be in a wall which otherwise has painted windows, and a set of French doors, also painted. Will this not look odd? Which colours might I re-paint the windows (they are currently white, and the French doors are green) which will look good with the oak? Or am I fighting a losing battle (in which case I should pay for the bi-folds to be painted – but I am worried that this won’t ever look really good as it’s such a tricky job. Thanks for any advice!

    1. Hello! So without seeing the room it is, of course, hard to judge. I would say that if your whole room is quite co-ordinated (matching chairs/tables and units etc) then you might need to consider either painting the bi-folds or stripping the French doors so that there is some co-ordination. If, on the other hand, your style is a little more free-form – dare I say boho – then you can get away with everything being different. It’s worth asking for a quote for painting the doors – ours are painted wood – and then you could either match the doors or the window; it doesn’t all have to be the same colour. If your worktops are oak/wooden then you can perhaps leave the doors as that will go, and think about a green cushion or mugs to pick up on the French doors. In addition to which, white, wood and green is a great combination so the best solution might be to wait until it’s all done and see how you feel. I don’t know if that helps. Do send over a picture if you like and we can have a look when it’s done: [email protected]

  2. Hi Kate,
    I love your blog, thank you very much for all the great ideas and inspiration.
    We recently moved and have lots of books. In our old place we had a built in wall to wall library so we’re currently desperate for new bookshelves. This time we’d like to install a vitsoe system but while we save enough money to buy it we’d love to have a floor to ceiling library that won’t cost the earth and that looks as beautiful as the one you have in your house. Our wall is 4 metres W for 2.73 H. Is yours made to measure? Did you buy a ready made system? I looked at the obvious place but can’t find a simple one.
    Thanks for your help,

    1. Hi Alexandra,
      thank you for your kind comments, I’m so glad you have found inspiration from the blog. I would love a Vitsoe system but I can appreciate that it will take a while to save up for. Our shelves were built by the carpenter during the whole renovation process so I completely couldn’t tell you the cost as it was part of a massive job. Having said that, I think it took him no more than three days to build and, I’m afraid, the long bit was the painting. Ours are made from mdf (cheap) and professionally painted (expensive). But he prepped them really well, filling all the screw holes and sanding and undercoating, before adding at least two, and possibly three coats of paint. As I said time consuming. However, if you have a good carpenter and are prepared to paint yourselves then I would say it’s a really economical way to have shelving. Otherwise I would guess it’s labour costs for three days build and a week of painting. I hope that helps, let me know what you decide, Kate

  3. Hi Kate – these are some really great suggestions – I’ve never thought of hanging pendants by the side of the bed, but I can see it would really work.

  4. I did this in our bedroom and love it, when we had the electrics done we aslo put a light switch near the headboard. Separate controls. On walking in the room we can select main light or side light and from bed we can switch on/off side lights….with dimmers makes a nice touch. just make 100% sure you want the bed in that position….

  5. Hi Kate, love the ceiling-hung pendants! So I have a question…

    We are looking for some wallpaper for behind the bed in the master bedroom. The walls, floorboards and bedspread are white, and there are accents of canary yellow in the room (bedside tables, photo frames). The vanity unit is black, and the velvet headboard is grey. So the main tones the wallpaper has to sync with (or be in contrast to) are white, grey, yellow and black. But a bit of warmth and colour in the wallpaper would be good too, as it’s pretty cold looking in there. Pip studio has some lovely floral wallpapers which include yellow and grey in them, but i can’t find a uk stockist. Help!

    1. Hi Emma, thanks for your question. I’m on the trail of some gorgeous wallpapers for you and will post a reply as soon as I have them. Check back soon to see.

  6. Hi Kate!

    I really like the hanging Lily lights and will seriously considerthem in our bedroom refurb – so thnks!

    1. They’re pretty aren’t they? There’s also a snowflake design which you might like too. Have a look at the website.

  7. Thank you so much for the advice Kate, that’s so helpful. I love the Hanging Lily lamps – they’re so pretty! Good to know too that I could use an electric cable running up from the existing plug socket.

    I really like the look and will let you know what I decide to do.

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