The Complete Guide to Headboards with Built-In Reading Lights

Looking to upgrade your bedroom with improved lighting for reading in bed? Built-in reading lights integrated into the headboard provide focused illumination without requiring portable lamps and wires cluttering your space. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about headboards featuring built-in reading lights.


Headboards with built-in reading lights provide the perfect solution for comfortable nighttime reading or lounging in bed. The reading lights are built directly into the headboard, eliminating the need for bedside table lamps or clip-on lights. Built-in lights provide hands-free, adjustable lighting from an ideal angle for reading in bed without casting shadows. They also add an aesthetically pleasing accent to the bedroom.

This guide will explore the various types of headboards with integrated reading lights, considerations for choosing the right setup, installation and wiring options, design ideas to complement your decor, and tips to get the most out of built-in headboard lighting. With the information here, you’ll be able to enhance your bedroom with convenient, customized reading lights.

headboard with reading lights built in

Types of Built-In Headboard Reading Lights

Headboards can accommodate reading lights in several configurations to deliver focused task lighting for the bed. Here are some of the most common built-in headboard lighting options.

Wall-Mounted Reading Lights

Wall-mounted reading lights are installed directly onto the wall behind the headboard. The lights are typically mounted at the ideal angle for illuminating books without glaring into your eyes. This is one of the more minimalistic and space-saving options.

The main advantage of wall-mounted headboard lights is keeping the headboard itself free of any lighting fixtures. This streamlined look can complement a wider variety of decor styles. However, changing the direction or position of wall-mounted lights requires adjusting the entire mounting plate.

Wall-mounted reading lights work best when installed centered behind the headboard. Having enough clearance between the wall and bed is necessary for optimal lighting angles.

Surface-Mounted Reading Lights

Surface-mounted headboard reading lights are installed onto the surface or side of the headboard itself. They typically feature adjustable gooseneck designs that allow directing the light beam exactly where needed.

The benefit of surface-mounted lights is flexibility in guiding the lighting precisely. The downside is that the fixtures are visible and can potentially detract from a streamlined headboard aesthetic. Carefully selecting minimalist, integrated fixture designs can help reduce the visual impact.

Proper positioning of surface-mounted headboard lights involves dividing them evenly across the headboard for balanced lighting. Swiveling and tilting the lights allow finding the optimal angle for reading without shadows or glare.

Recessed Reading Lights

For a seamless look, recessed headboard reading lights are installed into compartments built into the headboard itself. Only the light beam is visible during use. The discreet recessed design maintains the style of the headboard.

The advantage of recessed lights is an integrated, almost hidden design for uninterrupted headboard styling. However, with recessed lighting, the position and direction of the lights are fixed based on the headboard construction. The lights themselves are also not removable.

Custom headboards can be designed and built to accommodate recessed lighting aligned properly for reading. This positioning requires planning during the headboard creation.

Clip-On Reading Lights

Clip-on reading lights offer flexibility compared to built-in options. The lights attach securely to the top of the headboard with clamps or clips when needed, and detach for portability.

Clip-on lights are easy to position at the perfect angle for reading. However, any cords must be dealt with and the clamps can potentially damage the headboard surface over time. Clip-on lights also lack an integrated look compared to the built-in options.

To keep clip-on headboard reading lights secure, position the clamps towards the outer edges of the headboard. Adjustability allows directing the beams downwards evenly across the bed.

What to Consider When Choosing Reading Lights

With the variety of built-in headboard lighting designs available, think through a few key factors to select options suited to your needs and preferences:

Light Source

LED lighting has become the top choice for built-in headboard reading lights for its combination of longevity, efficiency, and light quality. LED bulbs last up to 20,000 hours, reducing the need for frequent bulb changes. They also consume very little energy while producing minimal heat.

For a bright but relaxing light, look for LEDs in the warm white or soft white color range. Cool white LEDs tend to emit a harsher clinical-feeling light. Some lights also allow adjusting the color temperature.

Number of Lights

While a single centered reading light can provide enough illumination for some headboards, installing a pair of lights provides more even coverage across the bed. For larger, wider headboards, three or four reading lights are recommended to fully illuminate reading material without shadows from the hands or book.

Even spacing of the lights across the headboard results in uniform lighting. Scale the number of lights proportionally to the width of the headboard and bed size for optimal coverage.


Look for reading lights with adjustable goosenecks or joints that allow easily directing the light beam at different angles. The ability to swivel and tilt the lights ensures you can position them to avoid glare while bringing the light source closer to reading material to reduce shadows.

Flexible adjustment lets you customize the lighting for individual comfort. However, wall-mounted or recessed reading lights often have fixed direction.


Convenient access to the on/off switch for your reading lights is important for comfortable use. Many headboards feature touch controls, swipe dimmers, or remote controls. There are even options to control your lights via smartphone apps for total ease of use.

Hands-free controls like clap-activated switches can be ideal when lounging in bed. Just be sure the placement allows easy access from a lying position.

Extra Features

Some headboards feature accents like integrated USB charging ports in addition to reading lights. Built-in USB ports allow keeping phones and other devices powered up overnight. Just be sure your headboard lighting is designed to accommodate the extra electricity draw.

Other features like ambient night lights or being able to set the lights on a timer add extra flexibility.

Installation and Wiring Considerations

Depending on your existing electrical setup and the complexity of the lighting system, you may be able to handle installing built-in headboard lighting yourself or choose to bring in a professional.

Hardwired vs Battery-Powered

Hardwired headboard reading lights provide consistent power and don’t require batteries. However, installing the necessary wiring and electrical connections for hardwired lights requires professional expertise. An electrician can assess your breaker box and identify the right location to tie the lights into your home’s electrical system.

Battery-powered headboard lighting provides plug-and-play simplicity without wiring. However, the batteries must be replaced periodically. Combining hardwired and battery-powered lights in one headboard allows enjoying the convenience of both options.

Working with an Electrician

For any built-in headboard lighting requiring access to electrical systems or wall openings, consult a licensed electrician. Safety should always be the top priority. An electrician can also handle planning issues like load calculations and identifying appropriate circuits.

Factor in electrician costs and timeline when planning a headboard lighting project. The installation process typically takes 1-2 days with inspection and permits.

DIY Installation Tips and Tricks

For simpler lighting setups like clip-on lights or self-contained battery-powered lights, DIY installation may be feasible. Carefully review manufacturer instructions for proper mounting procedures, weight load capacities, and safety notices.

When possible, completely pre-assemble and test the lights before permanent mounting. Use painter’s tape to experiment with positioning first. Anchor heavy lights securely into wall studs, not just drywall.

Style and Design Ideas

Built-in headboard lighting should not only provide perfect reading light, but also complement your bedroom’s decor and design themes:

Lighting Design Principles

Follow basic lighting design best practices to make your headboard reading lights fit seamlessly into your space’s overall ambiance.

Layer ambient light from ceiling fixtures or table and floor lamps with the task lighting from your headboard. Varying the light levels and sources avoids a static feel.

Focus your headboard lighting on meeting functional needs like reading while accentuating your decor style. The lighting should balance attractive and practical.

Decor Styles

Match the style of your headboard lighting to your existing furnishings and bedroom aesthetics. For example, sleek minimalist sconces suit modern spaces, while antique brass finishes complement traditional rooms.

Headboards with warm wood tones look best with metal or fabric reading lights. Faux leather or upholstered headboards pair well with sleek plastic or metal lights.

Headboard Materials

Select headboard lighting fixtures that integrate properly with the construction of the headboard itself. For instance, small surface-mounted lights complement intricate carved headboards better than large fixtures.

The fixtures should mount securely and safely onto the chosen headboard material. Extra care is needed when mounting lights onto soft upholstered headboards compared to wood headboards, for example.

Bed Sizes and Layouts

Scale your lighting layout to match the width and size of the headboard and bed. For example, a twin or full size bed requires less overall lighting than a queen or king size.

Reading lights for a twin bed may only need to cover one centralized spot. But a king headboard should have evenly placed lights across the entire width for complete coverage.

Integrating adjustable reading lights directly into your headboard creates a convenient and comfortable nighttime reading or relaxation oasis. The focused lighting reduces eye strain while allowing you to lounge in bed hands-free.

As you have read, there are numerous options for built-in headboard lighting to match any budget, installation situation, design style, and lighting preference. From minimalist wall-mounted lights to flexible clip-on fixtures, create your ideal setup.

By following the tips and guidelines provided here for choosing and installing headboard-mounted reading lights, you can easily enhance your bedroom with this useful and stylish upgrade.

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