Ideas for Living Room Lighting

May 7th

Living rooms are used for many different purposes and having the appropriate living room lighting is very important. Some rooms used purely for entertaining, others for watching television and many for a whole host of other activities. It’s important to have appropriate lighting for living room that not only looks great in the space, but also accommodates all of the events that take place there.

Living Room Lighting

Gallery Ideas for Living Room Lighting

An artful combination of track lighting and accent lighting puts the spotlight on this living room’s artwork and vintage furnishings. These fixtures use halogen bulbs for a bright white light that renders colors more accurately than ordinary incandescent, and lends an extra sparkle to fine wood veneers and gilt picture frames. A vintage floor lamp rounds out the room’s illumination while also acting as a reading lamp beside the easy chair on the right.

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Globe-shaped paper lanterns are inexpensive and unobtrusive, and they cast a soft, even, Omni-directional light that’s both pleasing and effective. Such lamps are available in a wide variety of sizes and can use either standard incandescent or compact florescent bulbs. Hung either individually or in groups from a ceiling, these lighting fixtures provide a mobile-like effect that’s equally attractive whether the bulbs are on or off. While often used in contemporary interiors, the minimalist lanterns work just as well in updated traditional interiors such as this one.

Sconces are lighting fixtures that attach to the wall, rather than the ceiling. They may be equipped with shades, as these are, or with glass diffusers to soften their light, as they’re often installed at or near eye-level. In living rooms, sconces are often installed in pairs, typically over the mantelpiece or on either side of the fireplace. There they help define the room’s focal point, and provide accent lighting that complements firelight when a low light level is appropriate–as when hosting after-dinner gatherings.

The most classic of all living room lighting fixtures is the chandelier. Generally positioned in the center of the room directly over the main seating area, these elaborate lighting fixtures are at once the room’s main source of illumination and works of art. Their sculptural shapes fill the void between the ceiling and the living space, and their twinkling, often candle-shaped bulbs provide a multi-point illumination that softens shadows and makes the room’s highlights sparkle. Dimmer switches in the chandelier’s lighting circuit allow varying light levels.

For lots of light from an unobtrusive source, such as the illumination needed in this basement living room, it’s hard to beat recessed lighting. With illumination provided by halogen, incandescent, or compact florescent bulbs, recessed can lights allow you to position a focused, downward facing beam exactly where you need it. You can overlap beams, as in this room, for overall illumination from a virtually invisible source. Dimmers and separate switches for various light banks allow you to change the character and emphasis of a room’s illumination to suit various purposes. Separate, smaller recessed fixtures highlight art objects in the wall niches.

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Usually a room requires more than one type of lighting to create the desired ambiance. This living room uses table lamps flanking the sofa and easy chair for reading light; recessed lighting to illuminate the artwork on the wall behind the sofa, a pair of sconces (one out of view to the left) to signal the transition from the main seating area to a reading nook, and finally a fanlight in the reading nook for general illumination. Consider various lighting types when planning your lighting scheme.

Ideally you want to use different types of lighting to provide a nice mix. While pot lights and track lighting can be practical and provide a lot of overhead light, they’re not really the best choice for living room lighting. Ultimately you want a mix of task and ambient light so try mixing floor lamps, table lamps, and maybe an overhead light and/or sconces. Make sure there’s enough light near reading or work areas and also use light to call attention to unexpected or special places.

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