Lighting in your children’s rooms

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Redecorating, Remodeling    by: ITC

General lighting for young children should be bright and revealing. Children like to make full use of the whole room and all the floor space when they are playing, and they will be encouraged to do so if the room is well lit.

Satisfactory lighting can be provided by a single ceiling pendant with a high-wattage bulb, up to 150 watts, and a pretty but not too obscuring shade. The ubiquitous Japanese globe-shaped paper lampshades are ideal for this, giving a clear but non-glaring light. Many have printed designs specially for children, although the natural white ones give a lovely light. If you do buy one with pictures or some sort of design, check that it lets plenty of clear light through.

All desks in the house should be provided with an adjustable lamp and children’s homework areas are no exception. Even before they go to school, children like to paint and draw, cut out, stick, make models and so on, and for all these activities they need good light. Bad light will deter them from doing homework, although neither child nor parent may realize what the problem is.

For older children, it is important that this general light should be boosted by various lights for the different activities they undertake. The smaller the home, the more likely a child will be to sleep, work, play and entertain friends in the one room.

These individual lights should be chosen with care. Take the bed, for example: even very young children like to look at picture books in bed, and older children usually enjoy reading before they go to sleep. A good reading light is essential and if the children are in bunks each bunk should have its own lamp. Young children should have a pull cord and a light fixed to the wall, not one standing on a table which could be knocked over. Alternatively, the light could be switched on and off from the door so that the parent is in control. An older child can have a light which is switched on and off from the bed so that he or she can read before settling down to sleep.

In children’s rooms it is most important to plan for safety. There should be absolutely no trailing leads, and nothing easily knocked over or broken. Lamps should be ceiling- or wall-hung, or firmly fixed to the frame of the bed or bunk. When installing sockets, set them at table height so that young crawlers and toddlers won’t be tempted to poke their fingers into them. Where floor-level sockets already exist, fit them with clip-on socket covers.

Unfortunately, children are prime targets for badly made goods; if something is pretty enough or advertised enough, a child will want it and it can be hard to say no. However, where lighting is concerned, poor-quality fittings must be absolutely taboo. Metal lamps may be badly insulated and become live; plastic lamps may break or simply fall to pieces. Always look for safety symbols when buying lamps, or buy from reputable manufacturers and retailers. Old fittings, no matter how charming and nostalgic, are a potential danger and there are plenty of new fittings which are safe, fun and inexpensive.

Another very important consideration for children’s rooms is a nightlight. Some children find it frightening to be left completely in the dark, but there is a good choice of lamps which just give a dim glow to help them to go to sleep and to comfort them if they wake up in the middle of the night. It doesn’t have to be a bright illumination, indeed too bright a light would be disturbing.

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