Your complete guide to buying the perfect lighting equipment for your children's rooms and one that they will find entertaining aesthetics-wise.
Whether you’re decorating a nursery or helping your teenager redesign their room, picking the right lighting options is a major step to creating a safe and functional space for your kids.
Kids’ Lighting Buying Guide
Every parent knows that safety is paramount for any room design choices you make for your children. You’ll want to choose bright options that don’t pose any hazards to your kids, but that also fit with the decor of the room.
You’ll also want to consider a few extra factors, such as the activities that your child will use the beam to do, and where the best placement will be given the outlets and other furniture in the room.
Here we’ll review all the different types of illumination options for children’s bedrooms, and go into detail about what you need to know about each. This will help you narrow down your choices and make the best selection for space.
A. Types of Kids’ Lighting
When you think of lighting options, chances are the image of a floor or table lamp pop into your head. While these are two of the many options for a child’s room, there are several others that can brighten up space and provide both ambient and task-oriented illumination.
Here are the seven most common choices. We’ll outline the main features of each option, as well as discuss installation details, average cost, and pros and cons of each.
1. Table Lamps
If you need extra illumination on an end table or a desk in your child’s bedroom, a table lamp may be the ideal solution. Usually, between 25 and 34 inches in height, they are the most commonly used option in rooms throughout the homes.
The table lamp has origins that date back as far as 70,000 BC, and they were powered by flame. Oil fueled options were popular through the 18th century, and then in 1801, Sir Humphrey Davy invented the first electricity based lantern.
The invention changed the course of history, and once Thomas Edison and Sir Joseph Swann made improvements to the patent in the 1870’s, electrical illumination devices became more mainstream.
Many advancements have been made since, but the table lamp remains a popular way to give your kids’ bedroom a golden glow. Serving as both ambient or task-oriented lighting, designs sometimes feature child-friendly images like animals or objects or are created in bright colors with fun shapes and shades to match a room theme.
To make sure the table lamp is safe, you’ll want to make sure that the bulb is out of reach of small children. As a precaution, it might be a good idea to use something other than a halogen bulb, as they can get extremely hot to the touch and may burn small hands.
Additionally, positioning furniture to cover up electoral sockets is a good way to make sure that the area stays secure. Try placing a heavy item, like a bed or dresser, in front of the outlet.
Table lamps look best when the base and shade have matching designs and are in proportion to one another. When you’re sitting in the room, the lampshade should be at eye level so that you’re unable to see the bulb.
Table lamps are easy to install, and most models are a “plug and play” design. If you want to add a dimmer switch or make the bulb turn on when you flip a switch in the room, it may require some additional electrical tweaking.
Table lamps can vary in price depending on the brand, design, and material you select. As they are one of the smaller lamps, they are generally less expensive than larger options.
Expect to invest less than $100 in your purchase, though you could pay up to $250 if you’re looking for something by a specific designer or with high-end finishes like crystal, beading, or hand sewn details.
If you want to go all out, the most expensive lamp ever sold is the Pink Lotus Tiffany table lamp that went for $2.8 million at auction in 2012. Though, we think that might be a bit extravagant for your average kiddo.
Chandeliers are a beautiful way to add an element of elegance and glamor to your child’s room. Best used as a source of ambient illumination, they produce a gentle glow with a decidedly feminine touch.
Most popular in nurseries or rooms for little girls, chandeliers can also have masculine touches like brass finishes or Edison bulbs that make them a versatile option for either gender.
If you already have an existing ceiling mount in the room, such as the one that’s been used for a fan or a flush mount light, installation is simple. If you’re starting from scratch, you may need to hire an electrician to ensure the wires are run safely and correctly into the room.
From a design standpoint, chandeliers come in a variety of sizes and include different colors and materials. They may also feature several different bulb arrangements, including combinations between one and six bulbs that provide a glow to space.
The price of a chandelier will depend greatly on the materials used in its construction. There are simple and elegant options for under $50 available, but if you want one with hand-cut crystals and premium materials, you could pay as much as $4,000.
When it comes to the right fit for your child, it’s usually smart to make a choice based on aesthetics over quality. Unless you’re considering an heirloom piece that you want to invest in for your home and generations to come, you can probably find a gorgeous option for under $200.
Source: Pottery Barn Kids
Pendants are another type of ceiling fixture option. Like chandeliers, they provide a gentle glow to the room and are a decorative alternative to flush-mounted designs.
Also, sometimes called a drop or suspender, these lone pictures hang from the ceiling and are held by a single contact point, usually a cord, chain, or metal rod. It gets its name from the way it’s suspended, like a pendant on a necklace.
You can hang just one as a focal point in the room, or a row of them like recessed lighting to add more brightness to space.
One important design choice when selecting a pendant is the space between the fixture and the living area. Make sure to hang it high enough that it won’t accidentally hit a taller child in the head as they are walking by.
If you’re installing it over a desk or workspace, make sure that the bulb is high enough that it doesn’t cut off sightless and impede work. If it’s going in over a bed as a reading light, check that it won’t hit anyone in the head when they sit up at night.
From an installation standpoint, if you already have the wiring in the ceiling from another fixture or ceiling plan, it’s a simple process. If you need to add the wiring to space, you’ll need a little electrical know-how to get the job done.
Depending on your area, a handyman can do the installation for you for around $200.
Like most of the other options, pendants can vary widely in price depending on what style, design, brand name, and materials you favor. On average, you’ll pay between $60 and $150 for each fixture, but high-end options that feature details like Swarovski crystals or are reproductions of Chihuly artwork could run you upwards of $1,000 or more per fixture.
4. Floor Lamps
Floor lamps are the ultimate dual-purpose choice for a kids room. They can either add an ambient glow to a room with an overhead source of brightness, or they could be a primary source if you don’t want to add wiring in the ceiling of their bedroom.
Many models will utilize an adjustable three-way bulb so that you can control the brightness and make changes as you transition from day to night. Some options will be a stationary source, but others may have an adjustable neck that allows you to aim the beam in different directions depending on your needs.
Floor options can provide torchiere lighting, which uses a shade that sends the glow upwards towards the ceiling. They may also use a traditional lamp shade which will focus the lumination both up and down towards the floor. Some designs won’t require a shade at all.
Like table versions, floor models are incredibly simple to install, and most will just need to be plugged in. Take care to keep outlets and hot bulbs out of reach of small children.
There are loads of floor lamp options for under $100 that would look perfect in a room for your little one. Of course, if you want a high-end designer piece you could pay as much as $1,000 for fancy details.
5. Flush Mounts
Flush or semi-flush ceiling mounts are a potential alternative to pendant lighting if you need more headroom in the space. Flush mounts attach directly to the roof without any gap between the fixture where semi-flush versions have a small stem that creates a gap between the ceiling and the fixture.
Usually dome shaped, the accessories range from 12 to 24 inches in diameter with most right at 13 inches. Semi-flush versions may be smaller, at between 6.25 and 23 inches wide.
The decorative domes are made from a variety of materials giving you design options that coordinate with nearly any decor scheme. You can choose from glass, fabric, crystal, caged, or themed overlays in your space.
Much like the other ceiling mounted options, if you already have the wiring in place this is a simple installation that most homeowners can do without assistance. If you need help from a handyman or need to have the wiring routed to the room expect to pay between $88 and $222 in labor costs for the job.
The fixtures themselves vary in price depending on the size, type, materials, and dome you select. There are plenty of attractive options for under $100, and even some of the high-end choices are less than $200.
6. Desk Lamps
Source: Pottery Barn Kids
Desk varieties, which are sometimes also called accent lamps, are another option to help your children illuminate tasks in their bedroom. Typically smaller than a table lamp, desk versions are usually 20 inches or less in height and may use a smaller bulb.
They come in a variety of designs and might feature playful animals, shapes, or objects that add character to space. They may require a shade or not, and some models will have an adjustable neck to make it simple to focus the brightness of the most significant space.
Desktop models are easy to install; just plug them into the nearest wall outlet and turn the switch. Some may use multi-level bulbs allowing your child to control the amount of glow in one of three settings.
As they are the smallest of the bunch, they also tend to be the least expensive. You can find some excellent prospects for less than $50, and on the high end, you likely won’t pay more than $150 for a desk lamp.
7. Night Lights
Whether your child has a fear of the dark, or they want some gentle illumination in their bedroom when they sleep, a night light is a great solution. There are two main design types to choose from, battery-powered freestanding or plug-in models.
Each style will feature a light source covered by a decorative faceplate or surface that will diffuse and dull the brightness, making them emit a gentle glow.
Here are the differences between the two choices.
Freestanding varieties are battery powered or rechargeable and don’t need to be plugged in to operate. They usually work similar to a table lamp, and you simply turn them on at bedtime.
Some have timers and are programmable allowing you to switch off the device after an hour or two, while others use a simple on/off switch. Freestanding options are usually a bit more expensive, and you will also need to factor in the cost of regularly replacing batteries.
Source: Pottery Barn Kids
The more conventional nightlight design is a plug-in option. Attaching directly to a wall socket, this variety is inexpensive and doesn’t require any additional charging or batteries to operate.
If you like this design, be sure that your children know that the nightlight isn’t a toy. You’ll need a visible outlet to make it work, which can lead to curious fingers and may be a risk of electric shock for little ones.
B. Key Considerations of Kids’ Lighting
The type of lighting you choose for your kids’ room will likely serve a purpose beyond just looking cool and matching their bedspread. You’ll want an option that meets their needs and is safe and effective.
Here are a few additional factors to consider when selecting the style that’s right for your home.
Although it’s been mentioned in nearly every category so far, it’s worth repeating that safety should be a key consideration for any space that your kids occupied. Carefully consider each option to make sure that you’re not introducing any unnecessary hazards into their environment.
Check the details on the product to make sure it can use lower heat bulbs and consider installing socket covers if there will be any exposed in the room. Consider if it’s prudent to set up lamps on switches making it simple to turn them on and off, and to keep little one’s fingers away from hot bulbs.
The best option to illuminate the room will depend on how your child will use the space. Some people have a separate library or homework room in their home, while others use the bedroom for that purpose.
Be sure to choose a design that provides the right amount of luminescing for the task at hand.
Source: Lighting Direct
Good choices for ambient or indirect illumination are chandeliers, flush or semi-flush mounts, and floor lamps. They can add a glow to space without a focused beam on one specific area of the room.
b. Task Oriented
Task oriented designs, like table, desk, or pendant options provide focused illumination that brightens a workspace. These are excellent choices at a desk, in a reading nook, or any area where your little ones might want to focus attention on work or play time.
C. Styles of Kids’ Lighting
There are endless design styles of lamps and fixtures to choose from. In lighting for kids and teens, you’ll find a few common themes that make it easy to match your choice to the existing decor of the room.
While these aren’t the only ones available, you’ll often see gender and age specific designs which make it easy to narrow down your search criteria to find the best fit for you.
1. Gender Specific
Source: Pottery Barn Kids
While there are no rules that say that little girls can’t love sports and Star Wars and little boys can’t love flowers and the color pink, many fixtures feature designs with gender norms in mind. This makes it simple to search by gender and find an option that fits with a color scheme or design in a nursery or bedroom.
2. Age Specific
Source: Pottery Barn Kids
At some point, every mom wishes her little ones would stay little forever, but unfortunately it doesn’t work what way. Because of that, lamps and lights that work in a nursery or room for your toddler, may not be the right fit for your pre-teen or teenager.
Choosing age-appropriate options will not only help your child to develop a sense of style and taste, but it will also allow them to continue to love their bedroom as they grow up.
D. Kids’ Lighting Considerations
Now that we’ve reviewed all the different types available we want to point out a few special considerations that may help you to decide which manufacturer, brand, or store are the right one for you to use to make your purchase.
1. Position of Outlets
Source: Lighting Direct
If you’re not interested in rewiring the room, you’ll want to play close attention to the position of the outlets and which ones may already operate on a switch. For safety, it’s always best to keep the outlets covered, by either placing large furniture in front or by using outlet protectors.
Long lamp cords can also pose a tripping hazard, so look at ways to arrange the room that conceals the cords behind furniture or under a rug or play mat to eliminate the risk. Remember, you can alleyways choose battery powered or rechargeable options to add brightness to space if you don’t have a plug available.
While most lamps will come with an attached shade, you can also update a basic design with a whimsical shade to create an instant hit in your kid’s room. Lampshades are an inexpensive way to update an existing table, floor, or desk lamp and can be cute, glamorous, funky, trendy, and gender-specific.
There are a few additional factors that might influence your buying decision. Here are some things to keep in mind as you search and shop in store and online.
We discussed the installation basics for each of the main styles above, but here is a more detailed overview of the options that are more involved than the plug and play options.
1. Light Fixture or Chandelier
Fixtures and Chandeliers may be a simple project if the wiring is already in place in the room. If not, plan to hire an electrician or handyman to do the job for you so that you can ensure it’s done safely and correctly.
2. Special Projects
There are lots of ways to use LED bulbs and strands to create a unique space for your kiddos. These special projects require extra effort, but for some creative teens, it’s a way to make space their own.
When setting your budget for the illumination project, be sure to factor in all of the elements that may cost money. Not only will you need to choose the model or fixture that you like best, but you’ll need to purchase the bulbs as well.
If you pick a chandelier that requires four or six custom bulbs, that could add $30 to $50 to your overall purchase price. If you settled on a battery-operated option, factor in the cost of the batteries.
Professional installation averages $80-$250 for simple projects, so if you need an electrician to help, this can drive up the price of your purchase as well.
Luckily, there are lots of affordable options from both big box stores and custom boutique retailers that fit within any budget parameters to get you the look you desire for the price you can afford.
Where to Buy Kids’ Lighting
There is no shortage of places to find quality kids lighting at great prices. These are a few of our favorite online retailers with big selections and robust search filters to help you narrow down your choices quickly and efficiently.