Lighting Ideas for Living Room

The living or family room is often a type of multipurpose room where we spend our time with guests or family to entertain, watch TV, read, or just relax. Proper lighting is a must. When working out a lighting plan for the living room it’s best to incorporate layers of lighting from various sources such as table lamps, floor lamps, spot lights, and recessed lights.  These lighting ideas for living room illumination will transform your living room from looking so-so to fabulous.

table lamp in living room

Table Lamps – Lighting Ideas for Living Room

Table lamps provide provide general,  task,  or accent lighting .  And, they are wonderful accessories that add lots of style. Dimmers and 3-way switches are indispensable for controlling the lighting intensity.

For a more formal or traditional look, place matching  lamps at the ends of a couch. Or, place 2 matching lamps on  a buffet table to create a strong focal point.  Symmetry is an important feature in Traditional design.

Or, for a more informal or contemporary look, place lamps that don’t match at the ends of a couch.  This could be a different style table lamp or floor lamp.  When selecting a table lamp, make sure that the lampshade width is no larger than the table on which its sets.  Otherwise, the lampshade will hang over the table – and that’s not a good look.

buffet lampsLampshades: If the lampshade is a light color and translucent material,  soft and diffused lighting will brighten the entire room.  And, when one is close to the light source,  a brighter and concentrated form of  task lighting is provided.

If the lampshade is a dark or opaque material, the lighting is more concentrated and provides a more dramatic effect.  Table lamps with opaque shades often work well on buffet tables where accent lighting and decorative accessories are desired or other areas where general lighting is not needed.

Black shades add a dramatic touch.  Many designers recommend using  black somewhere in a space to add  more depth and richness.

lining room floor lampsFloor Lamps

Floor lamps also provide  general, task, or accent lighting – and they are a great alternative to table lamps. They add a strong vertical element to a room.  And, if a table is small, they free up space on  the table to use for other accessories.

A floor lamp, offset to one side,  is a good substitute for a table lamp located between two chairs where a table lamp would obscure the vision between two people having a conversation.

Floor lamps with metal shades are typically used for reading lamps (task lighting).  And then, there are the “torchiere floor lamps” which provide a lovely wash of accent lighting on the wall and ceiling.

chandeliers for living roomChandeliers and Pendants

Chandeliers and pendants make wonderful “statement pieces” and are great at highlighting a special area of the room. For example, an eye-catching chandelier over a piano would draw attention to that area.

Where chandeliers are located over a traffic area, the ceiling needs to be at least 9′ high – so you don’t hit your head.

Here is a general rule of thumb for determining the right size chandelier for a room:  Add the width and length of the room in feet and translate into inches: For example, you have a room that 12′ wide +14′ deep = 26′.  The  diameter for the chandelier should be “around” 26”.

wall sconces ideasWall Sconces

Wall sconces are another form of  decorative accent lighting that bring attention to the perimeter of a room.  And, when dimmers are included, offer a great way to control the mood of the space.

Wall sconces are  a type of “wall art” and they make a lovely addition when placed along either side of a mirror or wall picture.  When spaced along a wall, they are generally placed about 5 feet above the floor and spaced 8-10 feet apart.

living room cable lighting

Track and Cable Lighting

Track and cable lighting accentuate special features such as a fireplace, textured wall, or artwork. This type of lighting is more suited to Contemporary and Modern interiors.

In most cases, these features are not used everyday.  However, as shown in the photo at right, cable lighting may also be used for general lighting.

Many of these  fixtures have directional capabilities which allow light to be directed exactly where it is needed.

pot lights for living room

Recessed  Lighting and Spot Lights

Recessed lights, also referred to as “pot lights”, may be used for general or  accent lighting. In the living room, recessed lighting usually works best as accent lighting located near the perimeter of the space, or possibly a few carefully placed fixtures located toward the center of the room.

The use of many pot lights is sometimes criticized as creating a ceiling that looks “pot-marked”.  Unless  a  “celestial” look is desired, avoid  scattering too many recessed lights  across the ceiling. They would likely distract from the floor area where the focus is needed.

recessed lightingAs indicated above, recessed lighting can add a bold cascade of of cone shaped patterns along a wall when they are located about  12-18″ from the wall.  There are many types of recessed lighting fixtures that create different lighting patterns from soft and diffused to crisp and concentrated.

Spot lights  are a great way to focus attention on a specific area.  They usually consist of a single fixture with a single bulb – sometimes a decorative feature and sometimes concealed.

Occasionally, and more so in Modern interiors, you will find that colored lenses are added to the fixture which is used to create a pattern of yellow, red, green, or blue spills of light.  Spot lights may be located on the floor, wall, or ceiling.

cove lightingCove Lighting

Cove lighting is a form of indirect lighting that  lends an ethereal feel to a living room.  Built into ledges or recesses, it adds a beautiful wash of continuous light that sweeps across a ceiling or down an adjacent  wall.

Cove lighting is usually used as a form of accent lighting , but it could be used for the primary lighting as well.  Since  this is an architectural feature, some construction pre-planning is usually required.

Dimmer Switches

Dimmer switches are a fantastic way to open up a wide range of lighting possibilities and moods from bright for reading to a soft romantic glow. They will work for any fixture from ceiling lights to table lamps.   Dimmers not only provide flexible lighting options but they also help you save energy and extend the life of your light bulbs.

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Having flexibility in terms of lighting is important to the way a living room functions and how it appears – from bright and cheery to subdued and dreamy. Incorporate lighting from difference sources – and you will be rewarded.  Hopefully these lighting ideas for living rooms gave you the inspiration to create a room that sheds the best light on your taste and your style.

Photo Source:  HOUZZ

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