Just like with any other room, the first things we ask ourselves when we lay out the lighting plan for a nursery are "Which activities is this room being used for?"In a nursery these are pretty much defined as: sleeping nursing and feeding diaper changing
Later as the baby grows, the room will also be used for playing getting dressed/undressed bedtime stories
Since the room will be used not only for the infant stage I am going to address lighting needs for a nursery that will grow into a kids' room.
We need at least two kinds of light: ambient lighting, and task lighting.
Ideally a nursery has a lot of exposure to natural daylight. Daylight is good for us. Period. At night the nursery needs nice ambient light that gives the room a pleasant atmosphere. Dimmers are important to allow the light intensity to be regulated from soothing to "look-there-is-no-boogieman-under-the-bed." Recessed lights or surface mounted ceiling lights work well for providing ambient light. Only if it is a tiny room will a single center-mounted ceiling light be sufficient, and then only if it holds several bulbs. You'd want to have a fixture you can use to flood the room with light in an emergency. Ceiling fans are really nice for a nursery, but since their main function is to make you feel comfortable they shouldn't be tasked with providing the only illumination for the room as well.
It is important to supplement the ceiling fan light with additional light sources like recessed lights. Task lighting is needed for the changing table where, as much as we want it or not, a lot of activity will take place at night. And when I say task lighting, I don't mean bright lights, but lighting that is focused on a specific area. Again, a dimmer is practically a must.
Safety is of course a major concern in a nursery/play room. Therefore portable lamps are problematic unless they are of the LED kid-friendly kind like the Follow-Me by Marset, below. Available at Form + Function. In Stock, ready to ship.
This is an accident waiting to happen! I could just picture a baby reaching for this floor lamp and chewing on the socket!!! But night-lights are a must! We all know that kids wake up at night and often they need a reassuring light to orient themselves by. Parents need to be able to tip-toe into the room without risking life or limb, or worse: stepping on a Lego block barefoot.
There are so many great LED nightlights on the market that are fun, safe and provide the light needed for maneuvering in the room without turning on the lights.