Tired of not being able to see what you're doing? Old outdated light fixtures which look ancient or plain ugly? You've got some lighting but it's still not bright enough to read a book? Or your rooms just don't have enough lighting fixtures built-in?
It's time to shed light on your situation with these powerful living room design tips.
Read on for expert living room decorating ideas to help you bring your living room design ideas to life!
When deciding how to decorate a living room with better lighting, there are different types of living room light fixtures and lamps designed for different purposes.
Throwing in some living room lighting fixtures might not be the best idea if you need bright light next to a chair. Or a couple of living room lamps may not be enough ambient light to fill a family room for your next Super Bowl party. You might even just have the wrong type of lamp shades attached for your needs.
Try breaking down the room into functional areas.
Does it need to be bright and focused or a background ambient light?
Modern living room lighting design can feature either ambient lighting, task lighting or accent lighting.
These different kinds of light placement and "concentration" are mainly to do with how focused or localized the light is - is it spread out (diffused) through the room reflecting off surfaces, or is there more direct focused light close to a person performing an activity.
Different types of light fixtures and lamps attempt to solve one problem:. "How do I position light at the correct horizontal and vertical position in a room to serve a purpose?"
This is usually accomplished through different forms or shapes of light. The physical design of the fixture or lamp itself makes use of one of three possibilities:
Types of lights may spread the light out in different ways depending on the design. For example a table lamp typically reflects some light out the top and bottom of the shade spreading it out more below, whereas a chandelier may radiate light in all directions.
We'll begin with a brief overview of each of the main types of lighting and their intended use.
Ambient light is general diffused background light which fills the room and raises the overall light throughout the room. Ambient light fills the room but may not be sufficient for specific activities like reading in a chair. Most ambient light is usually provided by living room lighting fixtures.
Task lights shine bright light on specific tasks and allow you to highlight a more specific area - next to a chair, over a table, in a cozy corner, etc. These living room lamp ideas help you to perform tasks where you need brighter light to see.
Accent lights are more for decoration and add subtle touches to a living room's lighting. They show off certain features in the room and add a soft local glow in specific areas.
Some things may seem more obvious. Just putting "a light" somewhere in the room will certainly help. But sometimes you may not get the results you expected.
Your modern living room lighting will be well served by adding appropriate lighting fixtures or lamps. Each type of light brings with it tremendous benefits for the whole family.
Wow everyone with accent lights as finishing touches
Every living room should feature a combination of at least ambient lighting and focused task lighting. Accent lighting is an optional extra touch.
If you live in an apartment or some room where you cannot install light fixtures, or you don't want to make a permanent modification, a combination of swag pendant lights or plug-in wall lights and some portable lamps will work wonders. This is also a great way to save money by avoiding the need for an electrician.
Read on for cool living room lighting ideas from our lighting experts.
The living room layouts below are designed for a typical-sized living room with 3-4 people occupancy, large enough to install a couch, a TV, maybe an armchair and some other small furniture. Cool lighting ideas for living rooms include:
Task lighting: (C) Table lamps.
Ideal for: those who can install light fixtures and are making use of opposite walls.
This arrangement places a decorative light fixture in the center of the room which will illuminate most of the room, and then accents it with short-range lights nearer the edges of the room.
If you have high ceilings you may have room for a living room chandelier or pendant. These will hang down so you'll need several feet of additional height to walk beneath them. But they can add beautiful thematic lighting to your room.
If you don't have the head-room, opt for a semi-flush close-to-ceiling light. These have a more decorative design and are not as boring or ugly as basic dome lights.
A pair of wall lights on a major wall, such as behind a couch, can offer additional brightness when you need it. Seating is usually placed away from the center of the room so it helps to bring extra light close to where you'll spend time.
Wall lights can also illuminate over your shoulder for reading. Alternatively place them opposite the couch, typically behind the television.
Complete the balance of light by arranging a pair of table lamps, either at the sides of the couch on end tables, or in the opposite corners of the room. The lamp shades will shield your eyes while remaining in your field of vision.
Placing lamps on the same side as the TV gives you the option of lighting that area or switching the lamps off while you watch the screen. It can sometimes help reduce glare from the TV by having other lights nearby.
If you put your main lounge room light fixture on a separate switch or circuit, you now have the option of 3 different levels of light, including a nice cozy room using just the wall lights and table lamps.
Task lighting: (A) Pendant lights over seating areas.
Ideal for: You can install light fixtures and also would like a secondary and/or portable level of light.
Pendant lights can hang over an area of the living room where you may not be standing, such as over a couch or chair, over a table or some other furniture.
Since they provide a more focused downward light in a specific area, pendants can be used almost like task lights to highlight parts of the room.
To complement the downward-focused light, place a torchiere-style floor lamp in the corner of the room. Floor lamps tend to be a higher wattage or lumens than table lamps and can give a boost to the ambient light.
A torchiere or torch standing lamp aims light upward and so reflects off the ceiling, complementing the pendant lights in building the overall light level. Some torchieres also feature a reading arm which can make them useful next to a chair.
Finish the look with a mid-level light from a table lamp. Placed in a corner or next to a significant seating area it can help you to see for specific tasks and also draw attention to a more active part of the room.
Then switch off the pendants and just use the floor lamp and table lamp for a soothing experience.
Ambient lighting: (B) Floor lamps.
Ideal for: You cannot install light fixtures but want overhead light as well as occasional task lighting.
If you can't install any light fixtures or hard-wired lighting, the next best option is portable lamps or lighting which can be plugged into a regular wall socket.
A plug in pendant light or swag light features a chain or cord which "swags" or drapes across the ceiling from some hooks, and then down the wall to a regular plug socket.
It's easy to install, requires no electrical experience and can easily be moved to another part of the room or another room entirely. Plus it comes with you if you move house.
As a pendant, the swag light can be positioned over a significant area such as a chair or table, or nearer the center of the room if your ceiling is high enough.
Remember that since the vertical position of the swag pendant is adjustable you can place it much closer to the ceiling if you don't have as much room. It can then serve to provide ambient ceiling light to the whole room or to focus on a specific area.
Floor lamps are your next best friends. They tend to be a higher wattage or brighter light output. They either can aim light upward toward the ceiling, out sideways, downwards or in all directions depending mostly on the shade design.
Place the floor lamps in two complementary corners of the living room, or alongside the couch. These tall standing lamps raise the light bulbs higher in the room above eye-level when seated and are particularly out of sight if behind you while seated on the couch.
Finally to give you a focused light for those occasions when you really need to see some details, choose an adjustable desk lamp.
The desk lamp can sit on a side table or desk near to where you spend the most time, and with an adjustable arm you can move it quickly to focus the light exactly where you need it.
With 3 lamps and a pendant light, each with their own switch, you'll have a number of different levels of illumination to choose from.
Task lighting: (B) Reading lamp.
Ideal for: You want an all-in-one installed light fixture complemented with a table lamp, then a reading lamp for specialized activities.
In a comfortable living room sometimes you need a ceiling fan not only to cool the room in summer but also to help the heat to circulate in winter.
Many ceiling fans come equipped with (or can have added) a light kit, which is a small light fixture typically suspended under the fan. Some fans also have upward-facing lights which add soft ambient light reflected off the ceiling, as a more decorative feature.
You'll be able to operate the fan itself separately from the light fixture. The light kit can contain anywhere from 1 to 4 bulbs. A fan is usually centrally located in the room to provide a general ambient light for the room, or a brighter light if positioned above a seating area.
To complement the fan, add a reading floor lamp. Reading lamps feature an adjustable arm which extends outward and shines light downwards. It can be positioned next to or behind a chair or couch to give you a focused bright light in a small area.
Be sure to check out full spectrum reading lamps which are designed to provide natural light which makes reading and other tasks much easier on the eyes, rendering colors more accurately and reducing glare.
Complete the lighting with an extra table lamp. Since your reading lamp may serve most purposes near to your favorite chair, the table lamp can sit in an opposite or complementary corner to balance the overall light and make sure you don't have dark corners in the room.
Let your fan keep you at the perfect temperature while your lamps soothe your mood.
Task lighting: None - uses the overall ambiance.
Ideal for: You can install some ceiling light fixtures and want overall atmospheric or mood lighting and don't need highly focused light.
This option features a living room ceiling light such as a semi-flush light fixture. These are more decorative and attractive than a typical dome light and can feature up to 3 bulbs.
The ceiling light will make an excellent central light fixture, or you could even go with two in a longer room. It will leave ample headroom in most rooms since they sit quite close to the ceiling and will provide strong overhead lighting throughout the room.
Add a couple of wall lights on one wall to bring emphasis to an important side of the room. This could be behind the couch or either side of a central feature like a fireplace.
We then would place a pair of canister up-lights, which sit on the floor or low area and shine light upwards, either side of some significant room feature. They could be either side of a fireplace or in two corners of the room, behind a furniture piece or illuminating a house plant to produce interesting shadows.
The up-lights shine light upward, much of which reflects off the ceiling as ambient light, but also much of the light may make contact with a wall or vertical surface, breaking up large expanses of wall or highlighting textures.
To add some finishing touches, choose a couple of decorative accent lamps. These can work in concert with the can lights when the main ceiling lights are switched off, to provide softer mood lighting and fill the room with a lower level of light output.
Accent lamps tend to be relatively dim so should mainly be considered for evening use since sunlight will drown them out.
Turn on some romantic music, flip on the accent lamps and you're good to go.
There are numerous possible ways to light a larger room. The extra space sets your creativity free!
Whether you'll focus on several of the same type of light fixture, or a combination of two or thee types of lighting, it depends on the style of your room and what practical functionality the room must serve.
You can use light fixtures and/or lamps in various combinations. Below are some popular lighting layouts for a bigger living room which you may be able to adapt or build upon.
Unless you are going to equip your larger living room with several lamps, you likely will need to have light fixtures installed by an electrician.
But remember that swag pendant lights and plug in wall lights are an option for an electrician-free setup, providing light fixtures without the extra hassle. Here are some popular living room lighting ideas:
Task lighting: (C) Table lamps.
Ideal for: A room with a taller ceiling to accommodate a chandelier, and featuring some seating areas.
In this simple arrangement, you will light the majority of the room with a larger chandelier featuring 6 or more lights. If your room is especially large you may be suited to using 2 or more chandeliers.
While very large chandeliers with 12 or more lights can be magnificent, they will cluster most of the light around a fairly confined area which may not spread well throughout a significantly larger room. The larger the room is the more we would suggest breaking up the lighting into separate fixtures.
The central chandelier will provide a gorgeous centerpiece in any large living room and will fill the room with ambient light from above.
Secondly, place wall sconces along mostly-bare walls. A wall sconce will provide additional ambient light which is fairly confined to the area near the wall, as well as lighting the wall itself in a decorative way, reflecting diffused light off the wall. Depending on the size of the room, you may need at least two wall lights if not several.
Then in order to bring brighter light closer to seating areas, add table lamps on convenient side-tables next to chairs or couches. You'll want the lamps to be closer to where people will spend most of their time
A table lamp with a classic empire (pyramid shaped with open top and bottom) shade will help to spread light out beneath the lamp to shine onto the chair, and thus onto the lap of the person sitting there.
Task lighting: (C) Desk lamps.
Ideal for: Positioning downward bright light over seating areas or in the main body of a taller room, then providing functional lamps for occasional use.
Pendant lights are versatile in that they can be hung at varying heights. This is true of chandeliers also but a chandelier also has a large body and so needs extra room.
You can hang a pendant light nearer to or further from the ceiling, or at different heights for artistic effect. Several pendants can work together, perhaps with different colored shades or designs. A pendant typically features only one or a few light bulbs, so you will likely need more than one.
It will create ambient light in a fairly local section of the room, particularly if the shade reflects the light upwards. If the pendant is more downward-facing, it will reflect most light below, producing a brighter light for people, and so can for example be a good idea over a seating area or table.
To complement the downward pendant lights, add some upward-facing torchiere floor lamps or floor lamps whose shade directs light upward and downward. These will shine ambient light toward the ceiling and diffuse it further into the room, as well as possibly providing downward light near to a seating area.
To provide more focused local light when needed, add some adjustable desk lamps on side tables next to seating areas so that humans can use a brighter light when needed. This can be useful for reading or other activities.
Ambient lighting: (A) Ceiling lights
Ideal for: Living rooms with lower ceilings
When you haven't got the height available for a hanging light fixture, you can always look to fixtures which hug closer to the ceiling. This includes semi-flush-mounted ceiling lights, fully flush-mounted lights (dome lights), recessed lights and ceiling or wall-mounted spot-lights.
A flush or semi-flush fixture will live near to the ceiling, with or without a gap between the ceiling and the shade. These simple lights typically house up to 3 bulbs, so for a larger room you may need a few of them. They will usually output diffused ambient light unless you opt for a fixture with spot lights or downward-facing exposed bulbs.
Recessed lights sit "inside" the ceiling, with very little external fixture showing. This is great if your ceiling can accommodate such lights and keeps the room free of protruding objects. Note that such lighting is quite downward-pointing so will highlight a fairly local area, and being distant from the area may not produce bright enough light for tasks. Recessed lights are fairly inexpensive since they don't feature much in the way of a decorative body.
Spot lights can be a good option for a lower-ceiling room because you can either mount them on the ceiling or high up on a wall. They allow you to customize where the light is directed since they output a narrower cone of light, so you can aim them at significant objects or seating areas.
Note that since they are distant from the target, they require strong light bulbs, otherwise you'll have to accept them as a semi-ambient light source - good for illuminating an area but not for when you need a brighter local light. You could of course aim more than one at the same area.
To bring a stronger light to the lower areas of the room, opt for some table lamps sitting next to seating areas. This will complement the general overhead lighting and help users to see better when reading a book or working on seated activities.
Ambient lighting: (A) Ceiling fan with lights and (B) wall lights
Task lighting: (C) Table lamps
Ideal for: A living room or family room you'll "live in" more of the time, especially in a hot summer
There's nothing quite like a cool breeze from a living room ceiling fan in summer when you need to cool down or keep out of the heat. Ceiling fans provide this extra air circulation, can help with your heating bills in winter, and are a must-have for any location where the summers are uncomfortable.
Fans come with or without lights but many can also be adapted to accept a "light kit" which usually attaches under the fan. These provide up to 4 light bulbs and usually radiate light downwards. This can be helpful especially positioned over a seating area where you are receiving both light and airflow.
A fan can substitute for a central room light but in a big living room you'll possibly need more than one, or you will need to complement the fan with some other light fixtures. This is where wall lights come in. Add wall sconces, wall brackets or swing-arm wall lamps. You can also obtain wall lights which plug in to a regular wall socket.
A ceiling fan will struggle to distribute light throughout an entire room so lighting on the walls is a great way to balance the light throughout the room. A wall light can also be stationed near to a seating area to help there. You will likely need at least a couple of wall lights if not more depending on the room size.
Finally, opt for some table lamps positioned near to seating areas to help bring extra light. Depending on whether your ceiling fan light is directly over seating or not, you can either place table lamps next to the seating, or as a secondary lighting option while seating, or in corners of the room to bring light to those area that the fan light doesn't reach.
Ideal for: When you cannot or would rather not install hard-wired light fixtures, to save expense or to make your lighting more portable and rearrangeable.
A great lighting setup is to use entirely portable lighting. The great benefit here is the flexibility - when you get bored and want to rearrange your room, you can literally move your lights wherever you prefer to suit your new layout. You can also experiment within "living in" the room over time to see if the arrangement suits your needs, and later make modifications to position.
Another significant benefit to portable living room lights is not having to hire and pay an electrician. This makes installation far quicker, you can take your lights with you if you move or move them to another room, and you can be up and running in no time. Not to mention, if you don't like where the light ended up, you can always move it.
Using a plug-in pendant light or swag light, you can drape the chain or cord across a couple of ceiling hooks which are easy to install and make minimal disruption to the room's surfaces. It then simply continues down a wall and plugs into a regular electrical outlet. This means you can also place the lights on a dimmer switch if desired.
A swag pendant light can also then be adjusted, height-wise, lowered closer to a chair or table or raised up depending on your needs. These versatile hanging light fixtures complement most styles of rooms and can double as either producing ambient light or a more focused light in a specific area.
Secondly, add two or more floor lamps to the room. These tall lamps will be out of eye-level sight when people are seated, provide brighter ambient light and help to fill the room with light. They are a great complement to the hanging swag lights and will bounce light off the ceiling. A floor lamp may also be positioned near to seating to provide nearby downward light.
For even more practical local light, add some table lamps or desk lamps next to chairs or either side of a couch to provide bright nearby light for tasks and activities. When someone is seated to read a book they may need light over the shoulder or next to them, on a side-table or end-table, and so work well with the rest of your living room furniture.
There's lighting options suitable for a smaller living room as well. Below are the best lighting for living rooms that are small. The best lighting options for living rooms are also often less expensive.
A floor lamp can sit in a corner or behind a couch or chair and provide relatively bright light, usually are brighter than table or desk lamps and you can read by them. They provide ambient light for the whole room but also localized near to a seating area.
Tucked in a corner of a room they also work well to light the whole room. Some of the modern LED floor lamps now feature bright lighting in a very minimalist design that takes up barely any space.
Floor lamps tend to be much brighter than other types of lamps so can help to light the whole room.
If you have a desk or side table in the room, a desk lamp is a good option. They generally take up less space than a table lamp, are often adjustable and easily positioned to bring the light near to where you want it, and can sit out of the way when not in use.
A full spectrum desk lamp is also great for reading, crafts and hobbies and is easier on the eyes. Modern desk lamps may also feature long-lasting LED light bulbs.
A desk lamp makes an interesting alternative to a table lamp in a living room.
A buffet lamp is a type of table lamp designed to fit on a narrower table. They tend to be proportionately taller than a regular lamp and also narrower in design.
Tall and slim buffet lamps will take up less space in the room and can sit on a side-table or at the edge of the room or in a corner, taking up a lot less space and keeping within the confines of the furniture.
A buffet lamp will also work well in a narrow space like in a hallway.
To get a strong ceiling light into a small room you don't really want a lot of bulk hanging down. A small room probably doesn't have a high ceiling. So move the light closer to the ceiling. You can do this with a flush-mounted or close-to-ceiling fixture.
Or if you want to totally get the light out of the way, put in some recessed lights. These will act like strong spot lights aiming downward, so won't produce as much ambient reflected light, but can highlight important areas.
A can-light or up light is like a small cylinder which you can sit on the floor or behind furniture or in a corner to shine light upwards.
This will produce mostly reflected ambient light and is more decorative. Note that a spot light is probably not an ideal substitute for a lamp positioned near to where you need the light.
Wall-mounted lights tend to be quite small in terms of size and in their extension into the room. Particularly you can look for ADA certified (American Disabilities Act) wall lights which are designed with a low extension so as to not protrude into the room too far, and will sit flatter to the wall.
Also look for a "wall sconce" or "wall pocket" which tend to sit closer to the wall than a wall bracket or swing-arm wall light.
A couple of wall lights in a room will help to provide ambient light. You could also opt for a swing-arm wall light, tuck it away when not in use, and swing it out over a chair when needed.
Mini pendants usually feature quite small glass or metal shades which hang down from the ceiling. Usually no wider than 8-10 inches across, they take up very little room.
Ideally hang one or more mini pendants over a seating area or table to light that area of the room. While you can certainly get away with a regular pendant light in a small room, mini pendants offer the smallest possible hanging-light option.
We will now feature the 20 best interior design ideas for improving the interior lighting of your living area or family room!
We have grouped these into 3 sets - ambient lights for general lighting, localized task lights for short-range activities, and accent lights for decoration.
A chandelier can be a central masterpiece in your living room. Especially beautiful and intricately designed, these magnificent light fixtures have a long history and are still popular today in a wide range of styles, ranging from traditional to ultra-modern.
Chandeliers typically feature a central column or pivot out of which multiple arms spring, each featuring an individual light. At least, that's been the tradition.
With modern LED chandeliers, the LED lights now make it possible to explore exciting new designs and break the mold through interesting shapes and large numbers of small lights.
Floor lamps make a great living room light for several reasons. They feature quite bright bulbs usually, brighter than table lamps, often in the 300-watt range or equivalent. This helps to raise the ambient light in the room.
A floor lamp will disperse the light upwards and/or downwards and possibly out sideways depending primarily on the design of the lampshade. Reflected light off the ceiling by a torchiere floor lamp can diffuse the light further.
A good floor lamp can also be positioned near to a chair or seating area to provide downward light for reading etc.
A pendant light hangs from the ceiling and usually features a single shade, housing up to 3 light bulbs. This light may be directed upward or downward depending on the shade orientation.
When aimed upwards, a pendant light will produce ambient light reflected off the ceiling. This keeps intense light out of the eyes of onlookers and contributes to the overall light in the room.
When aimed downwards or when the light is shone through a bowl or other shades in a downward direction, a pendant light fixture sends more of its light below. This is useful for more practical purposes such as highlighting an area of the room, bringing bright light over a chair or table, or making sure that the light is not as diffused.
Wall lights serve at the edges of a living room to add extra ambient light and add interest to a flat wall area. Light is often reflected against the wall and this helps to decorate the wall or break up mundane flat areas.
Wall lights are a great complement to other types of light fixtures elsewhere in the room. Light doesn't always reach to the edges of a room and a well-placed wall lamp can help to flesh out the overall light balance. Pair them up with a chandelier or pendant light for beautiful lighting teamwork.
Especially excellent for rooms with lower ceilings, a flush or semi-flush close-to-ceiling light in your living room gets mostly out of the way while placing strong overhead lighting above you.
Sometimes affectionately named "dome lights", you don't have to settle for a basic design. These lights are now available with decorative shades, and in particular the "semi-flush" ceiling lights bring the fixture a little further away from the ceiling in order to make room for a more decorative design.
Serving a dual purpose, what is more practical than a ceiling fan in your living room area? A fan provides better circulation of both warm and cool air, can help with your heating or air conditioning bills, and are very quiet to run.
Modern ceiling fans also feature light kit attachments which can give your fan a dual function. Since it is taking up space near the center of your room or over a significant seating area (best not to waste that cool breeze over a table), you'll want it to also double as a light fixture.
Some fans include "up lights" as well as "down lights" to provide ambient lighting, but mostly the down-lights will fill the room with broad ambient light centered around the fixture.
Recessed lights work well in a modern contemporary living room. They don't protrude into the room barely at all and instead sit "recessed into" the ceiling itself. This means you barely notice them until they are switched on.
Recessed ceiling lights shine directly downwards and often feature a reflector bulb which is designed to aim all light downwards. This light does spread outwards but the light proceeds in a cone shape.
It will provide ambient lighting reflecting off objects and surfaces below, or directly illuminating them from above. But you will also notice hot-spots of lighting in the room when standing nearer the lights. You will also need more than one in any room to provide enough light since each light features only one bulb.
Photo copyright by Callum Mundine at LEDWorld.
What would a living room be without table lamps? You can certainly buck the trend by having a room with no lamps, but table lamps have been the staple of living rooms worldwide for decades.
A table lamp, suitably named given it typically sits on top of a table, side-table, end-table, chair side table or some other flat-topped furniture, features a decorative base and shade. Thus it contributes to the overall decorative theme of your room.
Different shade shapes and designs will direct light differently but usually a living room table lamp will flare outward at the bottom in order to direct most of the light "down and out", covering a larger area below than above.
Table lamps are well suited when situated next to a living room chair or sofa since it shines onto your lap to help you to read or perform crafts and hobbies.
A reading lamp is a special kind of floor lamp well suited to a living room. The lamp features some form of downward-facing light which shines all of its light down onto some activity you are engaged in. Typically they are for reading but also can be used for crafts and hobbies or other seated activities.
Living room reading lamps can sit behind a couch or next to a chair and aim the light "over" the furniture. It then shines down from above and behind or to the side of you. You won't see bright glare of the light because it will be outside your visual window, and instead you'll benefit from light shining onto the surfaces you are engaged with.
Reading lamps are often adjustable with a gooseneck, may take the form of a "pharmacy lamp" with an adjustable height or with a swing-arm functionality that allows you to move them nearer of further per your wishes.
A desk lamp is typically designed so that light from the lamp can shine downwards, but also so that this light is "off to the side" rather than being directly positioned over the lamp base. This means that the area below the lamp head is a clear desk or tabletop surface.
They therefore work great in an office or study but you can also use them in your living room. They are a great alternative to table lamps and are quite adjustable, making them versatile for a variety of uses.
Situate a living room desk lamp next to a chair or where you spend time, or on a side table or desk for those times when you need to sit and handle some paperwork.
Sometimes your living room is a great place to perform crafts and hobbies and various other intricate activities. For this you need a good strong light without too much glare, accurate color representation and some degree of flexibility. Here, task lamps and craft lamps come in handy.
Task and craft lamps for your living room include magnifier lamps which feature a large magnifying glass combined with illumination, adjustable desk lamps where you can position the head of the lamp where you need it and move it away quickly, and full spectrum desk and floor lamps which render colors accurately and are easier on the eyes.
A full-spectrum lamp provides a bright and "natural" spectrum of light attempting to mimic natural daylight.
The light is often quite "white" and so renders colors quite accurately. This helps details to stand out without distortions of contrast or color and so makes it easier on your eyes to read and perform tasks.
There are also some health benefits with the use of full-spectrum lamps such as helping to diminish seasonal-affective disorder (SAD). They're great for older eyes and make focused tasks much more comfortable and relaxed. It's almost like bringing the sunlight inside.
Pendant lights are versatile and can be used either to light a large part of the room or to focus light on a specific area. If you take a pendant with a downward-facing shade, it will direct the light downward in a cone shape.
This can be placed over a chair or table to light that specific area in a focused way, making it easier to see to perform tasks or activities in that part of the living room.
A pendant can also be installed at various heights with an adjustable chain or cord, allowing it to adapt to the terrain of your furniture.
Mini pendants should also be considered - these typically are no wider than 6-8 inches and often feature colorful glass shades. They provide a small area of light and so can be used to highlight specific areas of the room or over a certain feature or seating area.
Additionally, if you cannot install a pendant or pendants you can opt for a plug-in swag pendant. This simply hangs from simple hooks in the ceiling which are easy to install, and then drapes across to the wall and continues down the wall to a regular plug socket. You can hang a swag light over or near to a sitting area in your sitting room to highlight the area.
An often overlooked opportunity in living room interior design is the use of a swing-arm lamp. These lamps are not quite as popular as they used to be but these "pharmacy lamps" feature a hinged arm which allows the head of the lamp to swing out to different positions or be tucked in closer to the lamp.
This allows the lamp to sit next to a chair or desk and be positioned out over the work surface or seat to shine focused light on that area. They are often quite classically styled lamps which add an elegant touch to your living space.
A complement to a swing-arm lamp is a swing-arm wall light. Often overlooked in any room, these classic light fixtures are installed on a wall and typically feature a lamp shade covering a light.
The light and shade are on the end of a hinged arm which allows the light to be folded outwards when needed or tucked away.
A swing-arm wall light is excellent near to a desk or a chair where you'll spend time sitting, or even next to a table against a wall. You can swing the light out when you need it to shed light and push it back into place when you're done.
If your living room features a grand piano or upright piano, a keyboard or even a computer, you might consider using a piano lamp or a banker's lamp. These adorable little lamps feature an elongated shade and one or two light bulbs which are specifically designed to output a "strip of light" horizontally.
When placed on top of a piano or over a keyboard, these lamps provide excellent illumination to see what you're typing or what key's your playing.
Affectionately named "piano lamps" they are literally designed for use with a piano and make for a functional and useful task lamp in the home.
While the most important aspect of living room lighting is to create enough light and to put the most important light in the most important areas of the room, the overall atmosphere and look of a room can be greatly enhanced with some accent lighting.
Accent lamps are typically quite small lamps, smaller than a typical table lamp. They are usually highly decorative and often feature beautiful tiffany stained glass which illuminates with gorgeous colors when the lamp is switched on.
These adorable little lamps will usually feature a very low wattage bulb - like a 7 watt incandescent candelabra bulb - and so are not so much a significant light source. They are more decorative and particularly come to life in the evening or used as a night light.
Accent lamps can be used to flesh out the finer details of lighting in a living room and to break up the room with attractive highlights.
Up-lighting or can-lighting entails a small, usually cylindrical canister, with a single strong light bulb which shines light out of the top of the unit.
The can light is designed to sit on the floor or low down in the room, perhaps either side of a fireplace or alongside the television.
Light shines upward in an elongated narrow funnel shape and will reflect ambient light off the walls and off the ceiling.
Placed near other objects like house plants they can create interesting shadows projected onto the ceiling to add extra interest to a corner of a room.
Some of the light is also typically reflected off the wall and up-lights are a good way to break up a blank wall area and to create additional tones of color similar to your wall color scheme.
A fun way to highlight an area of your living room is with a spot light. Spot lights used to be more popular but they're still available. They can be placed on a ceiling or on a wall in any location, and feature the ability to be aimed in a wide range of directions.
Therefore you can use a spot light in your living room to highlight artwork, to create additional partly-focused light in a specific area, or to add accents to certain parts of the room that are otherwise dark or monotonous.
Spot lights are adjustable and can also be found attached to track lighting, allowing their position to be moved as desired. Even without a track, spot lights can be adjusted at any time to aim toward a different part of the room. But bear in mind their range may be limited.
A spot light is a great way to highlight something on your living room walls such as artwork or just to highlight the area to make your walls more interesting.
To highlight your living room artwork on a wall, or to provide some lighting over a living room wall mirror, you can attach a small light fixture just above on the wall to shine focused light onto that one object.
Picture lights feature an elongated narrow shade which spreads the light out horizontally and aims to produce a reasonably wide window of light when the light makes contact with the wall-mounted art piece.
Some picture lights are also plug-in meaning that while a cord will hang down the wall, you can plug them into a regular electrical outlet. Others may require hardwired electrical installation.
While it varies as to whether you want your room bright or more subdued, and how you plan to break up your lighting into separate fixtures or lamps, you can get an approximation of the required lighting needed for most living rooms.
Below are some examples of living room sizes and the amount of wattage needed to light the room.
Note that these wattages are for traditional incandescent lights bulbs.
Find the column corresponding to the length of your room on the top row, the width of the room on the left side column, and trace across to the cell where the row and the column meet - that's how much wattage you need (results have been pre-multiplied by 1.5 so are the final wattage needed).
For example a 16x12 room requires at least 288 watts of incandescent light. To produce an even brighter room, try adding on an extra 25-50%.
Unless you plan on having a single light fixture or lamp fulfill your entire wattage needs, you will need to divide up the total wattage between multiple fixtures or lamps.
Focus on the main light sources first (most likely ambient light or major light fixtures), see how much wattage they will produce, and then fill in the rest of the wattage with additional fixtures or lamps.
You can switch both types of light on together for a bright room, or switch one of them off for a softer and more relaxed atmosphere. This is why you should ideally use at least 2 distinct types of light in a living room.
Remember that accent lighting will not contribute significantly to the overall room illumination so is almost a freebie, but it will add some low level of light.
Remember that different forms of lighting, be they chandeliers or lamps, produce different shapes of light, different concentrations of light, different directions of light, and are used in different parts of the room reflecting off different surfaces.
Remember also that the more distance there is between a light source and some physical object being illuminated, the more the light diffuses and becomes dimmer
Installing recessed lights in the ceiling, trying to achieve your total wattage for a room, may miss the fact that lower down in the room light will be dispersed and someone sitting to read might not have enough light intensity nearby.
So try not to put all your eggs in one basket. Combine functionalities of light fixtures and lamps to accommodate differs horizontal areas of the room, and also different vertical layers of the room.
Two or three different types of light source is a safe bet to ensure there is enough light where you need it most.
Note that different lights will require or come with different kinds of bulbs and not all bulbs are equal.
While traditional incandescent lights are represented in the table above, fluorescent bulbs output the same amount of light from a lower wattage. Similarly LED bulbs use much less wattage for the same amount of light.
Therefore if you select lights which use fluorescent or LED or other lower wattage bulbs you will need to convert the wattage into an incandescent equivalent in order to make sure you are getting enough total light.
Another approach is to convert the incandescent wattage into LUMENS, which is a measure of the brightness of the light regardless of the technology of the light bulb.
This gives you another way to standardize the way you are measuring light. Then you can assess whether you have enough lumens for your room. To do this you will need to convert numbers in the above table to lumens first.
A 100 watt incandescent bulb gives off about 1600 lumens of light. Therefore 1 watt of incandescent light gives about 16 lumens.
Below is a chart of how many LUMENS you would need in a given sized living room. Measure again the room length and width in feet, then you can find the total lumens required in the table below.
Using the table below, you can approximately convert the total wattage needed for your living room, or for a specific light or lamp, into the equivalent compact fluorescent or LED wattage.
For a given amount of light output (lumens), you will need much less overall wattage for your room if you are choosing to use LED or fluorescent bulbs rather than traditional incandescent bulbs.
Now that you've learned how to choose lighting for living rooms and the different functions of each type of lighting, and the kind of light they output in different parts of the room, you can now start to explore the vast array of options available for your living room.
We've simplified the options available and categorized them into each of the top 20 types of light fixtures and lamps for living rooms.
We've also arranged these lights in order of best-selling first so that you can see what's popular and which kinds of lights other people are in love with!
What did you think of this guide? Was there anything missing that you need to know? Let us know in the comments below!