How to design your living room lighting
Living room lighting design is a big part of a home’s overall interior design. It needs to set a tone which is warm and relaxing, but also functional and adaptable. The first step is choosing light fittings.
What lighting should I have in my living room?
A living room should have a main ceiling light for most of the brightness of the room and for setting the lighting atmosphere. You should accompany your main overhead light with supporting fittings to create layers of light. You can create layers of light by using light fittings such as wall lights, table lamps, floor lamps, recessed downlights, and even LED tape.
Which ceiling light should I use?
In living rooms with lower ceilings, flush or semi-flush lighting offers a diffused horizontal light giving even coverage without glare. Contemporary ceiling lights such as chandeliers or pendants are available in different sizes and designs depending on the room.
Traditional ceiling lights such as chandeliers and pendants are better for rooms with higher ceilings. These have more lights but do not introduce the issue of glare when hung on a higher ceiling.
Light fittings are integral to interior room design both by the atmosphere they create and their visibility. Minimalist ceiling lights are suited to some rooms while designer ceiling lights and more unusual ceiling lights can be used as standalone design features in others.
How do you arrange lights in a room?
The main ceiling light and additional lighting should be arranged according to the room’s main function.
Using the room for watching television
For watching TV, a dimmable flush ceiling light gives plenty of diffuse horizontal lighting and will spread the main light away from the TV. A dimmer allows bulbs of a high lumen to be installed which can be turned down when the tv is on. Other lights such as floor or table lamps can also work well in a television room
Most of the room’s light should come from this main ceiling light and portable lights, as other light sources can cause glare on the TV. Don’t be afraid to use additional lighting, but keep it to a minimum.
Using the room for tasks and reading
A ceiling light is still needed for reading and other tasks, but there are more options on how to augment this light from other sources. This can come from floor lamps and torchieres, downlights and wall lights.
This mix of different lighting sources offers light which is easier on the eye, provided the mix is done to reduce any glare. The light should also be bolder which is useful for reading. Task lighting can then be added such as table lamps and directional floor lamps.
Using the room for guests and social events
For entertaining, a chandelier works well if the room allows it. Designer ceiling lights and unusual pendant lights are also ideal talking points at social gatherings. The main ceiling light can be contrasted with different overhead lighting and plenty of subtle accent lighting.
Lighting contrasts can help in creating a stimulating atmosphere for social events, provided they do not cause glare. As you develop light contrasts and encounter glare problems from the light output, you can reduce glare by using reflectors, opaque light bulbs, shades or dimmers.
How can I make my living room brighter?
You can make your living room brighter by using an ambient, accent or task lighting.
Ambient light underpins overall room brightness. It can be increased by using ceiling lights with 5 rather than 3 light fittings, and by using higher-lumen bulbs.
Downlights and spotlights are often used with ceiling lights due to their contemporary feel. The diffuse light from portable floor lamps can be bounced off walls and floors to lighten dark corners and provide comforting tones. Uplighters are floor lamps which add brightness to the ceiling rather than the wall or floor. Typically long and narrow, wall lights are useful for brightening up recesses or pillars.
If you are elderly, disabled or have trouble gaining access to tight spots in your living room, floor lamps and up-lighters can also come with foot switches to control them from your chair.
Accent lighting is used to highlight room features. It can create interesting lighting contrasts, and draw attention towards the things you want to be visible. Accent lighting also adds to room brightness.
LED lights and niche lights are used on shelving to set off ornaments and books. Picture lights can accentuate pictures and artwork. Floor up-lighters create interesting shadows and colours, light a dark corner, add ambience from behind a television or cabinet and accentuate curtains.
Task lights are bright enough for things like reading and helping the kids with their homework. A small directional arm could be used to help you read without disturbing anybody else, and this can also apply to table lamps.
Blending the three types of lighting
The goal of blending ambient, accent and task lighting is visual comfort. This is a term used by architects to describe lighting that provides enough light, equal coverage and low glare.
Luminous flux (“Enough light”)
This is a measure of how much total light is going into a room (lumens). It is printed on most light bulbs. A room needs about 2 lumens per square metre, so a room of 20 square metres needs 40 lumens. Adding up the total lumens going into a room ensures it has enough light.
Illuminance (“Equal coverage”)
Illuminance is a measure of coverage and is the amount of light (luminous flux) hitting room surfaces. It should be roughly equal across all surfaces. For example, a room of 20 square metres split in two by a large object such as a bookcase or partition would need two light sources of 20 lumens each.
Glare is high contrast in the brightness of two objects close to one another. It can come directly from a light source or from a reflection. Glare suppression is important under flat angles (i.e. directly underneath the light).
Which light bulb is best for the living room?
Living rooms are a place to relax and tend not to be places of high activity such as a kitchen or dining room. Warm white light bulbs are therefore preferable up to 3,300K, with 2700K LED being optimal. It is best to use dimmable light bulbs on the ceiling lights and downlights. Make sure you have a led dimmer to ensure the room can be used for different purposes.
Bulb wattage should be chosen based on the type of light fittings and the room size.
The Nysa light fitting below is shown with warm white light bulbs.
The ceiling light is the most important part of the living room lighting design, but it needs to be chosen with added ambient lighting in mind. Accent lighting can add non-invasive lighting contrast and contribute to brightness. The total amount of light going into the room should bear relation to room size. In the living room, flexibility is really important. Dimmers help this as do different types of lighting that can be switched on or off depending on the room’s use.
James is an experienced professional with over a decade of experience in the lighting industry. His expertise in the field makes him a valuable asset to Scotlight Direct.
James has a deep understanding of the technical and creative aspects of lighting. He is passionate about staying up-to-date with the latest innovations and trends in the field, and he is always looking for ways to apply this knowledge to his work.