Pink marble is having a moment. Timeless and on trend, bold and versatile, refined and quirky—we can’t think of a reason not to use this piece as a night light to foster all of our best dream ideas.
Designers agree: A great living room starts with a great sofa. “So often I come into a house and the owners have good taste, but they already have a sofa that they want to work with,” explains stylist and TV host Emily Henderson. “They don’t want to replace it because it’s not that old and they don’t mind it. I’ve had to break the news over and over that with a sofa like that, they would never get the room they want,” says Henderson.
While the days of unused “sitting rooms” and plastic-wrapped furniture are long gone, Roberts still insists on paying special attention to making your living room fits the conveniences of everyday living. “Select textiles and rugs that can take the wear and tear of everyday living,” she recommends.
For Henderson, one of the main offenders in living room decorating is the poorly sized rug. “America has been suffering for too long from ‘small rug’ syndrome,” she says. “I see it virtually every day, and it pains me—especially when it can be so easily avoided.” Huge rugs can be expensive and can feel like such a scary commitment, but according to the stylist, it’s one of the most important aspects of a room.
With a metal eyeball socket shade, this ’60s-inspired slim arc light is the perfect way to bring in personality without having to rely on bulky furniture items or extra décor clutter to get the job done.
Interior designers spend their lives studying the little details that make a room perfect. And sometimes, what is wrong in our own living rooms can be as simple as a painting hung too high or a lack of eye-level lamps. To shed some light on the most common living room decorating mistakes that may be plaguing our spaces, we asked a stylist, an interior designer, and a residential architect to share the decorating mistakes they frequently notice in living rooms everywhere. The living room of your dreams may not be so out of reach—simply fix these mistakes, and then enjoy your new and improved space.
“Living rooms almost always need at least an 8-by-10-foot (if not a 9-by-12-foot) rug. Unless you have a tiny living room, stay away from anything under 6-by-9-feet. A 4-by-6-foot rug might be fine next to a bed, in a kitchen, or in an entrance, but it will assuredly not work in your living room,” advises Henderson.
Ranging from an eye-catching chandelier to a sculptural table lamp to a set of wall-mounted sconces, we’ve collected five living room lighting ideas to illuminate your space—no matter how dark or small it is—in style. Whether you’re a homeowner looking for a timeless staple or a renter searching for an affordable fix, we have a solution that’ll brighten up your space. Scroll through these five living room lighting ideas that will always work.
This story with originally published on September 21, 2017, and has since been updated.
Roberts says, “There are some great outdoor fabrics that we’re using indoors that dogs and kids cannot destroy. It’s important to select rugs that will wear well. Beware of the seductive silk rug. Wool is a much better rug for a family. Make sure that there’s adequate storage in the living room to contain all of the items that we like to have around: toys (if you have children), books, remotes, and a junk drawer. It’s always helpful!”
Roberts has one indispensable trick for combining periods and styles: “When mixing new and vintage elements, pay attention to furniture heights, as traditional furniture is typically higher than modern pieces.”
If you want to set the mood with indirect light, this is about as cool as it gets. The polished steel chrome finish is sleek and glam.
Whimsical details meet classic shape and design, making this ceramic table lamp a simple, classic, and cheerful addition to your bedroom.
If you have enough floor space in your bedroom for a tall lamp, this can be a great way to bring in an additional light source while also picking up on décor details throughout your room. You get to choose whether it adds a sense of cohesion or makes a style statement.
When entering a meticulously designed living room, we feel it right away: the perfect proportions giving the space a certain grandeur, the plush seating drawing us in, each well-appointed seat suggesting long lazy afternoons spent without having to leave the living room… Just like a beautifully directed movie, a well-decorated living room is at once engaging and impressive, but it’s also familiar and safe. Trying to replicate this attention to detail in our own homes, though, is another challenge. As much as we try to replicate the feelings we’ve experienced in certain rooms (that we’ve visited and loved), there’s usually something that’s just off.
Architectural and unique yet slim in silhouette, this floor lamp is the perfect thing to place by an armchair or even next to the bed. It comes in an array of neutral hues, from black to brown clay and white, but we’re really feeling this light gray one for a casually bold look.
HomeJun 15, 20185 Living Room Lighting Ideas That Will Always Work—Here’s Why
Similar to a floor lamp, a good table lamp is a perfect reading light, and you can add it to your bedroom desk or an end table. Since they’re on the smaller side, you won’t have to worry that they’ll overlight your space or cast unflattering shadows from too many sources. They’re also an easy way to incorporate pops of color or contrasting materials and textures into your room. At the same time, they can help create consistency and draw upon other details throughout the room to build a theme.
Another mistake that plagues living rooms everywhere, according to New York–based architect Elizabeth Roberts, is the “showroom feel.” (In other words, a room that looks like it’s all been purchased from the same store.) “It’s important to us to mix new and vintage elements in order to create an interesting, eclectic, and individualised room,” she says. DISC Interiors agrees: “We love the patina of vintage furniture, especially paired with modern upholstery.”
And now that we’ve covered bedroom lighting ideas, read about the bedding essentials our editors can’t live without.
Table lamps can instantly brighten a living room as soon as they’re plugged in. Opt for a design that doubles as a sculptural art piece to curate a stylish side table vignette, as Sarah Sherman Samuel demonstrates in the photo above.
Sure, we’d all love to have a living room with floor-to-ceiling windows that flood our space with natural light, but the reality is that we don’t all have the budget to afford such a luxury. So for those of us furnishing a living room that receives minimal sunlight, a stylish light fixture is the next best thing. Luckily, there are plenty of layouts and fixtures to choose from, and just in time for the twilight nights of summer, we’re sharing some of our favorites.
And last but not least, let’s talk sconces and wall lighting. Using your wall space for things like storage and light sources is a great way to open up the space and limit clutter. There’s also just something that feels refined and grown-up about sconces. Flanking your bed with them in lieu of table lamps on a bedside table can create a beautiful sense of symmetry. That being said, depending on what kind of wall light you choose, sconces are usually better for indirect light.
Now for the fun part—let’s talk about design. Ahead, we break down four bedroom lighting ideas, with styling tips and shopping suggestions for each. Just think of all the bright ideas that are about to come to you in your dreams.
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No matter the style, a bedroom should always promote calm and relaxation. And while things like soft sheets, clutter-free surfaces, and décor that speaks to personality are all important parts of the package, there’s one other ingredient that can make or break the sanctuary, as it directly impacts mood and well-being: lighting.
“To avoid choosing the wrong sofa, stick to something simple,” adds Henderson. “No one loves a simple sofa more than me because they are so easy to style.” She recommends paying particular attention to the quality of the fabric and the timelessness of the shape. Henderson recommends staying away from overly ornate details like curved legs, winged arms, tufts, and nailheads.
Dick says, “Often times people feel boxed in and limited by the architecture of their home and select furniture based on the home’s architecture and time period. Our solution is to mix furniture styles with the style of architecture.” In one Georgia home, the design firm merged contemporary furniture with traditional crown molding, Moroccan antique rugs, African beaded benches, and contemporary art. “We love to recover and rework vintage pieces and mix them with custom sofas so the living room feels timeless and approachable,” he adds.
Basically, it’s okay to act like Goldilocks when you’re selecting the lights for any space you spend a lot of time in, like your bedroom, seeing as the stakes are pretty high. But don’t let that intimidate you. In fact, lighting is one of the most exciting parts of the decorating process, as it allows you to get creative with how you meld function with form.
While it may be tempting to push a sofa against a wall facing the TV stand and call it a day, Roberts reminds us that there is more involved in planning a great living room layout. “It’s important to consider and create conversation groupings, especially if the room is long and narrow like many townhouses and lofts,” she says.
Fashion-forward, sophisticated, and insanely affordable, this globe feels like it can do everything. Well, it probably can’t tell your fortune, despite its crystal ball–esque aesthetic.
Let your pendant light take center stage in the bedroom. This modern take on the chandelier is bursting with personality and always makes a statement, yet it also blends nicely with a variety of décor schemes and environments.
“Art hung the wrong way on a wall is like a character in a movie wearing a really bad wig,” Henderson says, “it’s just kinda hard not to see it, and you wish so bad you could just rip it off, knowing that everything would be so much better without it. It doesn’t ruin your experience, but it’s just terribly distracting.”
This organic light is a classic. The materials allow it to emit a soft glow, so this should be a go-to for anyone looking to mix Japanese and Scandinavian design while also avoiding harsh artificial light.
This baby-pink rectangular fiberglass-and-onyx floor lamp is beyond chic, and aside from adding extra light to your space, it can also be used as a pedestal. In other words, your bedside table lamp is also your bedside table if your bed is high enough off the ground.
In a study evaluating lighting’s effect on the mood of people who work indoors, researchers found what you might expect: “The light and color of the workplace itself also had an influence on the mood of persons working there. The workers’ mood was at its lowest when the lighting was experienced as much too dark. The mood then improved and reached its highest level when the lighting was experienced as just right, but when it became too bright the mood declined again.”
Super sophisticated without looking ostentatious, this sconce would look gorgeous in any environment, no matter the style.
David John Dick of DISC Interiors agrees, “We hear time and time again from our clients how the sofa they purchased in the past was not comfortable or was too big (or too small) for the room. In living rooms, a good sofa is key to comfort, but it’s also central to how a room feels and looks. Our tip for getting it right is to pay attention to sofa seat height (a low seat is hard to get in and out of) and to draw a furniture floor plan before purchasing. Buying on impulse is great for accessories and side tables, but never for a sofa, as it can be a very costly mistake.”
If you’re lucky enough to have high ceilings, take style notes from Sarah Sherman Samuel, and hang a statement chandelier. This lighting option is a foolproof way to create a focal point in your living room, and a modern mobile design (like the one pictured) sheds light while adding visual interest to your space. You can even keep your wall art to a minimum with such an eye-catching fixture.
The 7 Decorating Mistakes Everyone Makes in Their Living Room
While light fixtures like the aforementioned chandelier require calling an electrician, floor lamps can be plugged into the outlets you already have, making them an ideal option for renters and homeowners who don’t want to drill into drywall. Gain living room layout inspiration from Sarah Sherman Samuel, and place a floor lamp in a corner strategically within arm’s reach of your couch for convenience.
“It’s also very important to consider views from major seating elements. In a large open room, it’s nice to be able to sit on a favourite piece while addressing the rest of the room. In a small room, it’s important to consider necessary window views. In a room with a fireplace, it’s often difficult to know where to put the TV—large TV cabinets are cumbersome and don’t fool many. My favourite solution is a projector that projects onto the white wall above the mantel,” says Roberts.
While some agree that art should be hung at eye level, the stylist stresses that this doesn’t apply in every case. “Yes, the art should be at eye level, but not if your ceilings are really low and not if you are really tall,” she says. “If the wall were cut up vertically into four sections (going from bottom to top), think of the art being in the third quadrant (counting from the floor),” says Henderson.
This matte clay pendant boasts a modern yet laid-back coastal feel. Hanging it next to the bed as a night light instead of going for the standard bedside table lamp will give your room an offbeat, cool ambiance.
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For a fixture that’ll blend seamlessly into your space, a pendant lamp offers all the convenience of overhead lighting with all the style of a decorative hanging light. If you’re working with white walls and a relatively low ceiling, copy this living room designed by Space Exploration, and hang a white pendant lamp to give the illusion of a larger space.
If you have high ceilings or your flushed mount needs some love, opt for a pendant or chandelier. This ensures that the most important functional element of the room (aside from the bed maybe) also makes a style statement. So transform your overhead lighting into something beautiful rather than having to cluster a bunch of plug-in light sources.
This plug-in gold sconce proves that wall lights can be super easy to use. The lightweight and simple piece is the perfect sconce to place right by the bed.
To avoid feeling like you’re in a store, Roberts also recommends leaving adequate room in the budget for lighting, textiles, and accessories after large items are selected. “The small pieces are what add personality,” says Roberts. “We also prefer to light the living room with low lighting instead of overhead light. Floor lamps and table lamps are best for living rooms,” she says.
Wall-mounted sconces are ideal for small living rooms with low ceilings that may not allow for hanging light fixtures. Rather than sacrificing precious square footage to floor lamps or side tables to house table lamps, install a pair of sconces, as Max Humphrey has above the fireplace here.