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What is a nightstand light?

Minimalist Nightstand lights for the modern bedroom

Written by Gantri Editorial Team

Sep 27, 2020

Pyrasphere Table Light by Louis Filosa

Choosing the right lighting for your home can be a tricky process. From accent lights to full overhead lighting, the options appear to be endless, leading many down the wrong path. While bedrooms have traditionally been lit with a Floor Light in the corner (often associated with a vanity or a reading nook), a ceiling light in the closet and a pair of matching nightstand lights on nightstands, consumer preferences are changing. Homeowners and renters are hoping to infuse more personality into their bedrooms, often opting for different styles of lighting and nightstands on their side of the bed (versus their partner’s) to compliment their personal design style, as well as their taste in books.

Many couples have different needs when it comes to choosing a nightstand light -- one may prefer to watch a video online from their tablet in the dark while the other needs soft lighting by which to read a new chapter each night. Follow below for tips on choosing the perfect nightstand light for your needs and your style, whether you share a bedroom or live alone.


What Is a nightstand light?

Nightstand lights (or bedside lights) typically flank a bed, either on one side for a room with a smaller mattress or on both sides for a larger queen or California king mattress. They can be floated over a nightstand like a Wall Light or they can be set atop a nightstand, which is the most common. Unfortunately, many traditional nightstand lights are clunky and provide indirect light due to shades that cast the light downwards. These traditional nightstand lights aren’t well suited for bedtime readers since they provide little illumination to make out words on the page. They are often oddly proportioned. Nightstand lights are usually too tall, with a large shade and heavy bottom, making them easy to knock over when getting out of bed in the middle of the night.

Why you need a nightstand light

With this new era of work-from-home, many people are leaving offices and traditional workplaces for the comfort and safety of their houses or apartments. Unfortunately, few homes are equipped with a work-from-home office space. Thousands of newly remote workers have found themselves joining Zoom meetings and taking calls from their bedrooms. While still a place of calm and refuge, our bedrooms have been remastered as a mock-office in which many couples keep different hours. One partner might work late into the night while the other is up at dawn to start the day.

While you might not have the space to carve out offices for yourself and your partner, you can use lighting to create individual zones to bring you together when the work day is over. Another plus is that you will be able to create a space with lighting that is not as harsh on your eyes as modern office lighting. Some could argue that choosing nightstand lights for your bedroom is the most significant lighting decision made in your home. Especially when paired with a dimmer, nightstand lights offer a variety of lighting options for any bedroom, from direct Task Lighting and mood lighting to a pale nightlight for those late-night trips to the bathroom.


The ideal nightstand light

The right nightstand light is proportional. Newer designs include conical, pyramidal, cylindrical, or spherical shapes that are nearly as wide as they are tall, minimizing the chance they might be knocked over. Gantri styles like the Maskor Table Light and Cantilever Table Light offer innovative shapes in smaller sizes, making them the perfect style for most bedrooms. The perfect nightstand light offers soft, warm light that provides atmosphere when spending time with a partner and allows for late-night reading without waking them. Nightstand lights should also be flattering, offering enough light to perform certain activities without washing you out with harsh, bright light. Because nightstand lights are typically positioned next to beds, which have lots of linens, quilts, pillows and other flammable textiles, the bulbs should ideally be cool to the touch and as fire-safe as possible.

How to choose the right nightstand light


Size and placement

One of the most difficult aspects of choosing a nightstand light is determining which size light is most appropriate. This process generally includes balancing the size of the light with the nightstand it will sit atop and choosing an appropriate Light for the activities you plan to engage in. This may begin with choosing the correct nightstand for your bedroom. The nightstand should be just about mattress-level -- set a few inches away from the bed so you don’t bump your knees or smash your fingers, but not so far away that your ability to pull things out of its drawers is hindered. Choosing a nightstand that is too low for your bed may lead you to overcompensate by purchasing a taller nightstand lights, which may be easily knocked over or broken.

While some recommend purchasing a nightstand lights around the same height of the nightstand itself, this is somewhat outdated and not the most practical choice. Choosing a smaller nightstand light about half the width of the nightstand, offers a number of benefits. It opens up a range of lighting positions, allowing you to place the light on the far side of the nightstand when trying to choose one of books or closer towards you when actually reading. The Maskor Table Light from Gantri is only 8.5 inches wide, making it the perfect space-saving nightstand lights. Choosing a nightstand light without a lampshade is the easiest way to reduce the amount of space needed since it’s typically several inches wider than the base.

You might also consider a wall-mounted nightstand light if space is limited. Perfect for narrow bedrooms, modern Wall Lights softly illuminate one or both sides of the room without taking up valuable real estate. Wall Lights are also the ideal choice for smaller bedrooms as they provide mood and Task Lighting without needing a surface to sit on. Gantri’s Gio Wall Light, which is only 7.5 inches wide, is a great choice for small bedrooms because it offers effective lighting and can be mounted in the skinniest of spaces. The location of the switch can also be a frustrating element when choosing a nightstand light. The switch should be located close to the bed, either slightly above shoulder height at an angle your arm can easily reach or attached to the light in some way. A wall switch on the other side of the room only offers opportunities for stubbed toes in the moments of darkness between turning it off and climbing into bed.

Lighting footprint

The footprint of your nightstand light refers to how far the bulb’s light reaches. When used as a task light, your Light’s footprint should reach far enough to softly but effectively illuminate your book or magazine without shining in your partner’s face while they try to sleep. When used for mood lighting, they should provide a twilight effect across the room, offering a pale wash of light without creating unflattering spotlights, shadows or contrasts. Ideally, your nightstand light will emit the perfect amount of task or atmospheric light without taking up too much space.

Brightness and color temperature

Common knowledge tells us that soft, warm light is far more flattering to the face and gentler on the eyes than bright, blue-toned fluorescent light. LED light bulbs, like those in each Gantri light, are considered the premier choice for residential lighting. LED bulbs are cost- and energy-efficient, relatively cool to the touch and available in a number of colors. They also offer great color accuracy and readability. Paired with a dimmer, LED bulbs provide a great range, from bright task lighting to a soft, sunset-glow. Whichever bulb you choose, the construction and exterior of your light is just as important. Frosted glass, the effect of which is achieved in most of Gantri’s modern Table Lights, is considered ultra flattering for most skin tones because it diffuses the light in a way that lightly touches surfaces rather than overwhelming them.

The design of your nightstand light is also important because it determines the direction of the light. Whether mood or task lighting is your goal, torchere-effect lights should be avoided as they cast light directly upward. Heavily shaded lights should also be left behind because they cast light downward. A nightstand light with a frosted glass body that emits soft light all the way around rather than from or at a single point is ideal. Nightstand lights with dimmers, like those offered by Gantri, are preferable because they allow for easy control, which is the second key to flattering light in your home. Dimmers allow you to alter the intensity of light to the perfect degree for any mood or situation.

In the end, whether you choose a subtle, streamlined light like the Pyrasphere Table Light, a floated space-saving light like the Gio Wall Light or one infused with personality like the Iceberg Table Light, all Gantri Table Lights offer the perfect answer to all your nightstand light needs. From their warm, dimmable LED bulbs to their flattering frosted bodies, each Gantri Table Light and Wall Light provides the ideal light source by which to work, read, drift peacefully off to sleep or enjoy your partner’s company.