Living Room Lighting Ideas

pendant light in a living room

The Spruce / Michelle Becker

The living room is generally the largest room in the house, a hub of activity where a variety of activities take place day and night. Making sure that your living room is properly and beautifully lit for gathering with family, entertaining, relaxing, reading, watching TV or movies and all the other activities that take place in this central part of your home is more complicated than putting a dimmer on an overhead light and calling it a day.

A well-lit living room ideally should have layered lighting that illuminates all four corners to create balance and a pleasant atmosphere. It can include a mix of ambient, accent, and task lighting—chandeliers, wall sconces, table lamps, floor lamps, recessed lighting, and even candlelight—to illuminate the room for differing atmospheres and purposes. Here are some bright ideas to help inspire your living room lighting.

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    Oversize Statement Light

    Living room lighting ideas.
    Laura U Interior Design

    For this warm, modern living room, Houston-based Laura Umansky of Laura U Interior Design chose an oversize statement arched floor lamp with a striking, slim silhouette that provides ample but diffused ambient light. And it looks just as good when it's not turned on. Whether you choose a design classic like a mid-century Arco Floor Lamp or an affordable Scandi-style tripod floor lamp, use the extra real estate you're likely to have in the living room to treat lighting as a piece of furniture as well as a source of illumination.

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    Moroccan Lantern

    Moroccan lantern in a London living room
    Andreas von Einsiedel / Getty Images

    You don't need to have a Moroccan-style interior to incorporate a dreamy perforated metal Moroccan lantern into your living room. Polish interior designer Mirka McNeill hung a Moroccan lantern in the living room of her London home, which adds a note of whimsy to the eclectic decor and casts magical shadows when lit up in the center of the room.

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    Wall Light That Doubles As Art

    Eclipse Wall Light by Tilen Sepič for Bazar Noir.
    Pedro Gething / Pamono and Bazar Noir

    If you use your living room primarily for Netflix and chilling, why not use the space above your sofa to install a dramatic wall light like the Eclipse Wall Light by Tilen Sepič for Bazar Noir as seen in this living room set-up by Pamono. It's the kind of functional wall art and decor that is a conversation starter, a mood-setter, and works especially well in minimal space.

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    Old and New

    Living room lighting ideas.
    Chris Tubbs / Charles Mellersh Interior Design

    An antique chandelier or vintage sconces can warm up a contemporary living room, and contemporary lighting design can keep a room with historic bones feeling current. In this lovely London-period home, interior designer Charles Mellersh chose warm contemporary lighting like the Ball Light Wall Brackets in polished brass from Michael Anastassiades hung on either side of the fireplace mantel instead of the formal sconces you might expect to give the classic room a timeless appeal. Additional lighting including an overhead fixture and standing lamp in brass allow you to use different shapes while maintaining a harmonious feel.

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  • 05 of 12

    Colorful Light

    Red living room with raspberry pink accents.
    Seamus Payne Photography / Lisa Gilmore Design

    This saturated raspberry pink living room by Lisa Gilmore Design is all the more atmospheric in the evening thanks to a pair of wall sconces with shades in a similar tone. Positioned directly over the seating area, they provide soft, indirect flattering light and add depth to the wall color without looking too busy so the focus stays on the wall color and the art.

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    Built-In Lighting

    Recessed lighting in a living room
    dit26978 / Getty Images

    To add warmth to a contemporary space, built-in or LED strip lighting can be used to highlight a coffered ceiling; illuminate the underside of a console to give it a leavening effect; or back-light open shelving to highlight decorative objects or books. Be sure to mix in an interesting fixture or two to keep the room feeling homey and add sculptural interest.

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  • 07 of 12

    Highlight Existing Architecture

    LED lit living room mouldings
    Andreas von Einsiedel / Getty Images

    Polish interior designer Mirka McNeill used a mix of lighting styles in this Warsaw apartment living room, including an antique French chandelier and a mid-century Arco lamp. She highlighted the room's intricate period moldings with a subtle strip of LED lights that calls attention to the architectural history of the space while giving it a contemporary touch.

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    Candlelight in a contemporary living room
    bonetta / Getty Images

    Candlelight is the ultimate feel-good light source and adds a finishing layer to any lighting scheme that will make your living room atmosphere extra comfortable and inviting. Mix candlesticks in varying styles and materials to add warmth to a contemporary space.

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  • 09 of 12

    Fireplace as Focal Point

    Living room with fireplace.
    hikesterson / Getty Images

    Nothing is more welcoming than the warm glow of a fire, but those lucky enough to have fireplaces should have a backup plan for warm weather since an empty fireplace can end up making the room feel cold. In this living room, an overhead fixture with warm-colored light bulbs is augmented with wall sconces hung throughout the room to add an even glow and complement the warm wood accents. And of course, you can always fill your fireplace with eco-friendly LED pillar candles with convincingly flickering flames.

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    Sculptural Light

    Sculptural lighting

    Maite Granda

    The classic proportions and bones of this living room/dining room designed by Maite Granda are given an edgy contemporary update with a sculptural LED overhead light hung over the dining table.

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    Perfectly Mismatched

    Mismatched living room lighting

    Nile Johnson Interior Design

    When choosing lighting for either side of a sofa, there's no need to limit yourself to matching table lamps. In this living room, a table lamp on one side and a low-slung chandelier on the other create balance without being too matchy. The brass finishes on both fixtures, as well as the coffee table, keep the pairing harmonious.

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    Transparent Lighting

    Living room chandelier

    Gray Space Interior Design

    If your living room has giant windows, consider choosing fixtures that don't interfere with the natural daylight, like a classic crystal chandelier. For an airy, uncluttered look, try table lamps with clear glass or plastic forms.