Lighting Options for Your Master Retreat

More than any other single design element, light has ability to set tone and feel of a room. It determines whether the ambiance is one of seclusion or openness. Gently dispersed, it can bring the bedroom a warm and sensuous beauty. Well-designed lamps become pieces of art themselves as well as setting the mood.

The benefits of master suites include grand room size and the ability to perform many activities. However, this does complicate the lighting scheme. When a bedroom is used for more than sleeping, layers of light are required to facilitate reading, working, working out, lounging, and whatever else you’d like to do in your haven.

Start with a lamped ceiling fan, recessed, or semi-flush lighting. Add uplighting from the floor to highlight art and architectural details, or to keep the recesses of the room from staying too shadowed. Rope lighting (the type used along movie theater aisles) can be run around molding to create an ambient glow.


Swank lighting is definite “do.” Crystal chandeliers are no longer just above the baby grand. The pieces are most effective in unexpected places. Use a chandelier to define the seating area, add glamour to the dressing room, or play brilliantly against the mirrors of the bath. New designs run the gamut from swank Swarovski prisms to bright hand-blown Murano glass.

Lamps and Reading Lights

Let your existing bedroom furniture help dictate lamp style. If classic, go for bronze or brass fixtures. If contemporary, go for brushed nickel or sculptural glass. Cream or white porcelain and dark polished wood bases work with either style. Couples need individually controlled, dimmer equipped, reading lights on each side of the bed. If you’re more inclined to curl up with a book in the sitting area, try a pewter or brass standing swing-arm lamp to keep from sacrificing table space.


Though you must be careful not to fall asleep with the flame still aflicker, candles are always popular ambience enhancers. Mere votives won’t do when there are more fashionable alternatives. Cluster hurricanes on sitting area tables. Fill the fireplace with rows of pillar candles. A candlier makes a cozy alternative to a chandelier.

Natural Light

Harness to the sun for the most distinctive lighting effects. New window treatments are not just style conscious, they can protect art by regulating UV rays. Simultaneously modern and traditional, shutters or 2″ wood blinds deflect sunlight for more drama. Privacy sheers diffuse light for a delicate glow. Silhouette shades are made of operational vanes between two panels of sheer fabric facing. Light is then expertly controlled without sacrificing the view. Sunlight streaming from skylights, or through French doors opening onto a veranda, should be factored when planning the scheme, and protecting fade-prone textiles.

When designing a master suite, formulate a preconstruction lighting plan – not only for permanent fixtures, but for ample and well-placed outlets to accommodate portable fixtures as well. A combination of light sources ensures that your retreat can be as serviceable as it is chic.

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