Livin’ It Up in The Living Room – Lighting Planning and Design Tips

Livin’ It Up in The Living Room – Lighting Planning and Design Tips

20th Dec 2019

Ever wondered why the living room is called a “living” room? The term has a rather interesting, albeit morbid origin, that dates back to the World War I era. As it happened, the end of WWI coincided with the rampant spread of influenza that claimed many lives. The dead were kept in the front room of the house and it came to be known as the “death room.” However (and thankfully), things improved with time and it was suggested that the term “death room” no longer be used. Surely, this room, which was now a livelier place used for socializing and idling, could no longer be described as such? Surely, this room, which now rang with joy and laughter, deserved a new name? And so it came to be called the “living room,” quite literally the opposite of “death room.”

You would have to agree that the living room is the most-frequented and dynamic area of any home. Reading the morning newspaper, catching up with family, hanging out with friends, host social gatherings or unwinding after a long day at work by watching TV or reading a book – there is a host of reasons why the living room is versatile in nature. If this versatility is not complemented by the architectural and lighting planning of the room, it may spell disaster.

Since the living room has a character distinct from every other room in the house, its lighting requirements are also unique. A living room is usually the first room you enter, so it sets the tone for the rest of the house. It needs to have an ambience that is intimate and classy, yet functional.

Many people make the mistake of choosing decorative lighting fixtures without putting enough thought into what purpose they are expected to serve and whether they satisfy the user’s diverse needs. It is important to understand that lighting can make, alter, enhance or worsen any indoor setting. When it comes to the busiest place in the house, you don’t want to go wrong with it.

First and foremost, it is essential that you establish how you intend to use the living room space. As mentioned above, there is a variety of purposes for which different people in a house utilize the room. Once you have this broad-level list ready, you can then start focusing on the important sections of the living room. You can segregate the room into parts, for example:

  • The lounging area
  • The couch in front of the television
  • The reading table, couch or chair
  • The open spaces
  • The fireplace
  • The art pieces
  • The cabinets or storage compartments

The aforementioned segregation is just an example of how you can divide your living room in order to gauge what kind of lighting you require. You may have more or lesser number of categories. Doing this exercise can help you take a layered approach to your lighting design plan for the living room. Layered lighting can help you in different ways, including:

  • Adding a whole lot of depth to your living room
  • Helping you target specific areas within the room and light them up effectively
  • Accentuating the beauty of the interior décor of the living room
  • Setting the right mood or tone in the living room

Different types of lighting and fixtures for your living room

Broadly speaking, there are a few main types of lighting that you should consider to create this layered effect:

  • General lighting or ambient lighting

This is the primary layer of lights that you would install in a living room. As the term suggests, ambient lighting serves as the main source of illumination and sets the mood or tone in the room. Generally, this kind of lighting can be achieved in your living room by either using ceiling lamps, hanging lights, chandeliers or powerful floor lamps.

Smithfield C

Smithfield C Modern Lamps for Living Room

Ray F

Ray F Living Room Floor Lighting

Bibliotheque Nationale

Bibliotheque Nationale Contemporary Lamps for Living Room

  • Accent lighting or spot lighting

Accent lighting is used to highlight a specific area or draw attention to artwork in the living room. This type of lighting is focused and can create a beautiful shadow-casting effect, too. Wall sconces and directional ceiling lamps are excellent choices for this kind of lighting. Using ultramodern track lighting or recessed lighting is also a good option for the living room if you are looking to illuminate hard-to-light areas. In fact, accent lighting, too, can help create the perception of depth in a room. Who doesn’t like a bit of drama?

Long Light

Long Light Decorative Lights for Living Room'


Sawaru Unique Living Room Lighting

  • Task lighting

This type of lighting is used for specific purposes. For instance, you can pick a desk lamp that is designed to help the user read. There are several options when it comes to selecting a lighting fixture that helps you achieve a certain task. Table lamps and floor lamps are popular choices for task lighting since they allow a higher degree of flexibility and provide directional lighting.


Goldman Modern Lamps for Living Room

Kelvin LED Green Mode I

Kelvin LED Green Mode I Lamp for Living Room

Expert tips to select the right living room lights

  • As is the case with any other indoor space, you ideally want to invest in contemporary living room lights that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also functional.
  • The secret to selecting the perfect lights for your living room lies in identifying how much of lighting you need from each of the aforementioned types.
  • The layering would be lesser for a small or modest-sized living room, while you would obviously need more lights or brighter lights for a bigger room. Remember, having a well-lit living room can really liven up your mood, whereas a dimly-lit space can make you feel gloomy and blue.
  • Modern living room lights come with a handy dimmability feature, which means you can control the intensity of light output depending on your needs (and the time of the day).

One of the most frequently-asked questions about living room lighting is how to illuminate the room without ceiling lights. Overhead lighting is just one of the many options that you can explore with contemporary living room lighting. If you, for whatever reason, do not wish to install ceiling lighting, you can look at options to compensate for the lack of it by choosing floor, wall and desk lamps that will suffice.

FLOS offers a wide selection of premium lighting fixtures crafted by world-class designers like Michael Anastassiades, Rodolfo Dordoni, Antonio Citterio, Paolo Rizzato, Jasper Morrison and more. Browse through our modern living room lighting collection.

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