Living rooms with high ceilings can be difficult to decorate and to light. In order to make the most of the high ceiling consider a large central fixture in a take-notice style. The key to hanging fixtures in rooms with high ceilings is to make sure they drop down from the ceiling so that they still feel like they’re part of the room and you don’t have to strain your neck to look up and see them. The sputnik chandelier in this living room by Robert Dana Design is large enough and low…MORE enough that it feels like a part of the seating area.
A mix of different types of lighting, placed at different points in the room, is essential for creating a proper living room lighting scheme. While the first thing you tend to see in this room in London’s Cheyenne Terrace is the central statement fixture, there are also three table lamps, one floor lamp, five pot lights, and an accent light in the ceiling on the window side of the room. They all combine to create a layered and robust lighting scheme, free of shadows.
Highlight architectural details with recessed or strip lighting. In this living room by K2 Design, the exquisite coffered ceilings are accentuated by accent lighting which calls attention to their beautiful details.
In a large room, a single overhead fixture may not be enough. In most cases, pot lights are a good solution, but if recessed lighting isn’t for you there is another solution. Consider hanging multiple fixtures throughout the room, like designer Kari Wilbanks did here. They key to making this look work is to stick with fairly simple fixtures that have clean silhouettes, and hang them on a grid as opposed to random spots throughout the ceiling.
There are a plethora of places offering light fittings. It’s great to have the choice but when renovating sometimes the constant decision making can become a drag.
When it comes to living room lighting the most important thing to do is have a little fun and trust your stylistic instincts. While the lights in this room from Jonathan Adler are all a little wild, they work together beautifully as part of this fun, eclectic room.
When thinking about living room lighting you have to also think about how it connects to other spaces. This upstairs room by CWB Architects has a staircase behind the sofa, with pendants hanging over it to provide light. The designers chose simple globe pendants which don’t just light the staircase, but also play a decorative role in the living room.
When it comes to overhead (ambient) lighting, it’s always a great idea to use two different kinds. In this elegant living room by Su Hodges Interiors, pot lights provide the majority of light (which is spread across the ceiling), while a transitional hanging fixture emphasizes the seating area in the center of the room.
Hallway – I choose glass fittings of a smallish size so that they don’t get in the way of the view through to the garden. The glass also lets out plenty of light which is important in a hallway. Olivia’s room – I chose a pink light shade because it’s a kids room and I wanted it to be fun.
Spare room – I chose a half round shape to mirror the shape of the bed head. The colour is neutral and the texture adds interest. Study – I chose this fitting so it would blend into its surroundings, equally I could have chosen a ‘feature’ light.
It is maneuverable which is useful above a desk. Master bedroom and hall – I chose small fittings for these rooms because the ceiling is lower. The grey is neutral but gives depth to the white surroundings.
The bulb peeking out under the shade creates interest. Stairway – I choose discreet floor lighting to light the stairway. The round shape softens the hard edges of the stairs.
Keep to an overall theme for the house, i.e. Mid-century, classic, ultra-modern, or stick to one colour or texture. Group rooms or areas together – ie keep lighting in adjoining rooms the same. Perhaps the hall and lounge or side by side bedrooms.
Consider the function, then the design. For example in the hallway of Norfolk street I knew I wanted a glass fitting so as not to disrupt the view through to the garden. This decision helped narrow the search.
Pick a price point. There are some amazeball light fittings available. If you want a ‘wow’ feature for one particular room or area, go for it. Then be pragmatic for the rest of the house. Most lighting shops sit at either low or high end.
Know your parameters. Some light fittings come with their own cord and ceiling rose, others are just shades. If you have traditional ceiling roses, like the front bedrooms at Norfolk street, then the way the light fitting connects with the ceiling is important to consider.
Lighting around the perimeter of a ceiling can provide accent light as well a unique detail not common to most living rooms. Not only does the accent light in this room from Creative West Architects accentuate the architectural details of the ceiling, but it adds an aura of elegance to this sophisticated space. When it comes to living room lighting ideas, don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
Make a bold statement with uniques sconces. The modern sconces in this room by Disc Interiors are adjustable, allowing the user to change the size, as well as where the light is being directed. However, even more important than that, they provide a unique, sculptural element that sets a modern tone for the space.
Including accent lights into built-in shelving is a great way to highlight special objects and accessories. In this room from Juliette Byrne, the eye is immediately drawn to the lit up shelves, making for a bright and beautiful focal wall.
Living rooms require a lot of different light sources, but there’s no rule saying they all have to match. Notice in this room by SFA Design that the chandelier and sconces are very classic, but the table lamps are modern. Mixing old and new is a great way to give a room a real sense of character and personality, so don’t be afraid to mix styles and eras.
While it’s nice to have an end table at either side of a sofa, it isn’t always possible (or preferable). When this is the case you can still have visually balanced task lighting by using a table lamp on one side and a floor lamp on the other, as seen here in this photo courtesy of Barbara Brown Photography. This way people sitting on both sides of the sofa get an equal amount of light.
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No ceiling lights? No problem! You can still create a central light source with an arc floor lamp. The arcs on these types of lamps are generally fairly high, ensuring that no one will bump their heard when walking underneath, but considered placement is still very important. Also, keep in mind that these lamps are quite modern and work best in contemporary settings.
This is how and why each light fitting was chosen at Norfolk street.
Living rooms require three types of lighting: ambient, task and accent. Ambient light provides a room with overall illumination, task lighting directs light to certain work zones, and accent lights highlight specific objects. But within those basic requirements are tons of options. Whether you want something fun like this room from Jonathan Adler, or something more subdued, there’s a virtually endless supply of living room lighting ideas for every room.
Combing a light fixture with a ceiling fan can be a great way to maximize space and function. While ceiling fans are certainly not as popular as they once were, in warmer climates they are sometimes necessary. Rather than trying to overdo it and installing both overhead lights and fans, consider two in one options to maximize space. In this mid-century modern room, the old-fashioned ceiling fans fit right in.