Living Room Lighting: 10 Types of Lighting

Lighting is one of the most crucial elements within a space. Consider how light makes you feel. Gloomy days often make us feel gloomy, while bright and sunny days make people feel energized and motivated. Sleepy, dim lighting makes us feel cozy and relaxed. The bright and sterile lighting of a hospital can sometimes make people feel anxious or rigid. The lighting in your living room will determine how people feel when they're sitting in that space. 

Lighting can suit a variety of moods, and your living room is a multipurpose space. Choosing the right combination of light sources will give you control over your living room's ambiance at any given moment. The lighting you choose can dictate whether your living room is a library, a conversation space, or a home theater. The right combination of lighting will allow it to be all three, whenever you need it to be.

1. Natural Lighting

Natural lighting is important for our wellbeing. Exposure to natural light helps the brain to produce serotonin, the happy chemical that puts a little pep back in our step. Rooms without adequate natural light will often feel dreary to be in. A dim bedroom might help to improve sleep and create a cozy nesting place, but a dim living room is contrary to everything a living room should be.

If you don't have a lot of natural light in your living room, it might not be feasible to install more windows or a skylight. To make the most of what you have, use light, sheer window treatments and forego blinds. Allow in as much natural light as you can possibly get. Strategically placed wall mirrors and light colored reflective surfaces will help the light to bounce around the room a little bit. The space will feel more open and welcoming in the daytime. 

2. Decorative Lighting

Decorative lighting adds a festive aura to your living room. String lights or small decorative lamps act as both points of interest and functional solutions. LED string lights can be strategically placed behind televisions as backlights, reducing eye strain and giving your living room a home theater feel. 

People with a taste for modern decor utilize colorful neon lights in various shapes that match the theme of the room. Sculptural decorative lights serve as conversation pieces, especially when they're a room's major artistic feature. Use these kinds of lights sparingly. They're beautiful, but they lose their value and novelty when they're the sole illuminators for a space.

3. Ceiling Fan Lighting

Ceiling fan lighting isn't typically regarded as the most beautiful lighting, but it's the best of both worlds when it comes to function and form. Small living rooms in warmer climates often benefit from ceiling fan lighting. When there's no room for floor lamps, the next logical step is to affix the lamp to the ceiling. When it's dark out, the light keeps the room bright. When it's sweltering out, the fan keeps the room cool. Everyone wins. 

Ceiling fan lighting is a great option for people renovating on a budget. While many boxed ceiling fan lights are plain, there are decorative variants with ornate lights and uniquely shaped blades. If you want something a little more special, splurge for a decorative model. There's no need for practical solutions to be unsightly. 

Just remember that an ornate ceiling fan can double as a focal point in the same way a chandelier can. Overdecorating in a room with a large fan fixture can quickly cause the space to feel crowded and busy. Make sure all the components of your living space work well together.

4. Ceiling Lamps

Ceiling lamps are great light sources in living rooms where floor space is limited. Some people love the look of ornate floor lamps in every corner, but for those living in smaller homes, the ceiling is the best space to use. Smaller floor spaces pair perfectly with vertical solutions. Tall shelves and use of the ceiling space (like with ceiling lamps and suspended shelves) will keep the area open and easy to navigate.

Ceiling lamps are often domed in shape, with one or more very bright bulbs beneath the dome. They illuminate the same way a powerful floor lamp might, but they illuminate from overhead. This allows the light to cover a greater distance without obstruction, offering the best possible illumination from a single lighting fixture. 

5. Wall Sconces

Wall sconces are light sources that also serve as decorative touches. There are sconces intended for candles that are often underused in modern decor. Living rooms with a gothic or Victorian twist fare well with wall sconces suited for candles. Just be sure they aren't too close to curtains or anything else that may catch fire if an errant gust of wind should blow through. 

Modern wall sconces work with bulbs of varying shapes and sizes. As the bulbs are often exposed, be sure to choose a shape and style that best reflects your living room's decor. Strategically placed wall sconces add character to a room. Try using wall sconces to flank large windows, pieces of art, or large mirrors with ornate frames. 

Although wall sconces alone typically won't be enough to illuminate an entire living room, they lend an ambient aura and make a space feel warm. They're a beautiful source of low light for relaxing moments. For an intimate gathering, wall sconces and fireplace light are the perfect combination. 

6. Chandeliers

Most people associate chandeliers with dining rooms. While they do provide perfect lighting for an intimate dinner, they also provide the perfect lighting for intimate conversation. A well-placed chandelier in your living room creates the perfect space for sipping wine and playing cards with your preferred company. 

Chandeliers aren't always exquisite and formal. If you like the look of a dazzling crystal chandelier, there is no shortage of options. You'll also find minimalist and industrial looking chandeliers. Wrought iron chandeliers complement rustic spaces and country decor perfectly. A chandelier is, in essence, a centerpiece for the whole room. Choose one that speaks to you.

7. Recessed Lighting

Recessed lighting isn't much to look at. In fact, it isn't anything to look at. The bulbs are concealed within the ceiling, and that's the allure. Recessed lighting can make a living space feel like an art gallery. As long as the lights are positioned properly, recessed lighting is capable of fully illuminating a room. 

The key with recessed lighting is to use it to illuminate the walls, rather than the floor. Focus recessed lighting on key areas of your living room and position the rest of your recessed lights strategically above the walls. The light will bounce off the walls, creating a pleasant glow that fills the space. 

Just don't go overboard with recessed lighting. A few well placed recessed lights will look beautiful, but installing too many can have some unsightly consequences. Use it in conjunction with other lighting sources to avoid making your ceiling look like swiss cheese. 

8. Pendant Lighting

Pendant lighting can be bulky or dainty. It all depends on your personal taste. Smaller pendant lights above shelving or surfaces gently illuminate your furniture and decor. Larger pendant lights above coffee tables provide the perfect amount of illumination for family game night. Pendant lights are perfect with living rooms that feature a lot of activity spaces, like chess tables or pool tables. 

9. Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting transforms your living room into the perfect destination for night time entertainment. Lighting strips affixed around the room's perimeter or strategically placed LED bulbs will help you achieve the ultimate ambient lighting. A popular modern take on ambient lighting is remote controlled color changing LED bulbs or strings. Nothing can impact the mood of a room more significantly than the color of the light in that space. 

10. Task Lighting 

Task lighting is as straightforward as it sounds. It's a light source designated for a specific task that you might perform in your living room. Lights next to comfortable chairs make it easy to read, draw, knit, build puzzles, play cards, or do anything else your heart desires. If your living room serves as a multipurpose space, you'll want some strategically placed task lighting to help facilitate the things you love to do when you're relaxed. 


Lighting plays an important role in the way a space can be enjoyed. It's all about finding the right balance and combination for your living room. Too much light can make a space feel sterile and unwelcoming. Too little light will make you stub your toe on the coffee table every time you walk past it. Establish your lighting needs first, determine where you'll want to install your lights, and then select the lighting fixtures you prefer. Never build your room around your lighting - build your lighting around your room. 


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