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
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.Continue to 2 of 12 below.
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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.Continue to 3 of 12 below.
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Wall Light That Doubles As Art
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 a minimal space.Continue to 4 of 12 below.
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Old and New
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.Continue to 5 of 12 below.
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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.Continue to 6 of 12 below.
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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.Continue to 7 of 12 below.
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Highlight Existing Architecture
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.Continue to 8 of 12 below.
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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.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
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Fireplace as Focal Point
Nothing is more welcoming than the warm glow of a fire, but those lucky enough to have fireplaces should have a back-up 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.Continue to 10 of 12 below.
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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.Continue to 11 of 12 below.
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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.Continue to 12 of 12 below.
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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.