An illustration of a child's room with an overhead light and arrows coming out of it pointing to the left, down and to the right, labelled "Glare...everywhere!"

1THING: Plug In Kids’ Bedrooms

A few weeks ago I had fun detailing what happens in children’s bedrooms and why typical lighting falls short of serving human needs. This week I take another crack at the kids’ rooms, this time for my 1THING: Plug In solutions series. Honestly, it is a little tougher to light a child’s bedroom with plug in solutions because they need good light in every nook and cranny of their room.

A nice bright ceiling fan light kit in the middle of the room would seem to put light everywhere, but the only sure bet with these utilitarian fixtures is to put glare in your eyes. Too often the single source of light overhead is blocked by our bodies or our books and we have less light where we need more. In the sketch above, the reader on the bed will be fighting to see their book against the glare of the fan light (or single decorative fixture, in some cases). While they may not be aware of what is happening, their irises may be struggling to open enough to read and close enough to be comfortable.

The result can be eyestrain, fatigue, and headaches, which are not much fun.

An illustration of a room with multiple lamps in it and a poster on the wall that says " Lamp Store + More - SALE" and a label over the top of the illustration that says "soft, gentle light...everywhere!"

The Plug In series is all about improving light with as little cost and hassle as possible. I want the solutions I explore here to be achievable in most of the homes in my neighborhood, city, and country. I want better lighting without starting a construction project or major remodel, and without hiring an electrician. I just want to buy the thing and plug it in.

So today I went shopping, at least metaphorically, and stopped by a lamp store. You could also stroll in to a big box retailer’s lighting aisle to get the same effect: dozens and dozens of chandeliers, pendants, wall sconces, lamps, and more sparkling with the gleam of electric magic. Those stores – or aisles – are particularly inviting, so much so that they are often found very near the entrance to the store. Our local big box stores – Menards – have virtually no windows in the entire store except in the lighting section, where arguably daylight is needed the least. The point is not daylight, the point is that a hundred glowing bulbs make a great sales tool.

But we’re talking about kids’ bedrooms, right? Yes…and perhaps they are one and the same.

An illustration of a child's room with many lamps lit and labelled "soft, gentle light...everywhere!"

Kids need light everywhere, soft and gentle on the eyes, with as few deep dark shadows as possible. Walk into the lighting aisle or store and you’ll find just that- soft, gentle light everywhere.

To bring the look home, you’ll need at least four lamps and probably more like six or even eight, depending on the size of the room. You’ll need lamps on desks and dressers and bedside tables. You may need hanging cord pendants that plug into the walls to light up reading areas or play corners.

Really? Six lamps in my kid’s room? Yep. Keep in mind that they probably engage in a much wider array of activities than you do in your room. You might sleep and dress. They sleep, dress, read, build, do homework, play, text…and the list gets longer every day. Because they use their room more often than most adults, because they do more things in their rooms than most adults, they need better lighting than most adult bedrooms. Yes, older folks might need brighter light than kids to see, but just because there is “enough” light does not mean it is “good” light.

So visit a lamp store. Take in the ambience. Then take it home with you, or pick up lamps at thrift stores or garage sales or Facebook marketplace or – as I have done – pick them up off the roadside. Yes, I did pick up a lamp off the roadside.

I probably should have put it in my kids’ room.

Read my 1THING New Build post on kids’ bedrooms.

Light Can Help You