Living Room Lighting Ideas

On this page you'll find simple drawings for living room lighting ideas.  In those fancy decor pictures it's sometimes hard to focus your attention on the different layers of the lighting design.  On this page, you can work through the ideas (and it's a long page because I've lots of ideas for you) and think about which lighting options you'd like to include in your living room lighting design.  There's some real life lighting images at the bottom of the page.

living room lighting ideas top picture

  It's all part of the home lighting design series here on House Plans Helper.

First of all, let's pause to think about the lighting requirements in a living room.  Apart from the need of general lighting when it's dark outside, what activities go on in your living room that should be taken into consideration?  Maybe you relax, watch TV and read in your living room.  Maybe you host a book club or a musical group.  Think about all the different activities and what the lighting needs are.

For relaxing think of ways that the lighting can add atmosphere into the room, or pick out special objects or works of art that you can admire.  When watching TV, light the room to enhance the experience.  Make sure there's enough light for reading in your favorite chair.  You get the idea.

We'll look at feature, task and ambient living room lighting ideas.  We'll start with the feature lighting options because they tend to be least obvious ideas and in my opinion, the most interesting.

Feature lighting

Feature lighting with lamps

Obviously lamps don't have to be wired in but it's worth planning them into your living room lighting ideas so that you can make sure you have enough plug sockets in the right places.  With really good planning, you can put in plug sockets that form a lamp circuit so that you can turn them all off with a switch on the wall.  That saves a few steps every night walking round your room turning the lamps off.

Lamps come in all shapes and sizes.  Let's start with a lamp idea that adds atmosphere and a bit of personality.  It's a floor lamp, but not in traditional sense.  It stands on the floor, but it's not a tall lamp.  The light source is kept near the floor with the light inside a translucent shade that can take on various shapes.  I think it's a bit like having a light pet.

living room lighting ideas display floor lampCreate an atmospheric glow with a sculptural floor lamp

Here's another idea you can try with floor based lamps to create some dramatic lighting from behind an armchair or sofa.  Again the lamp would sit on the floor behind your chairs and this time you need a lamp with a beam directed upwards.

living room lighting ideas lighting behind chairsUse lamps behind armchairs for a dramatic glow

For even more drama you can use a lamp below a plant to throw a shadow on the wall.  It's the last technique on the lighting design techniques page.

living room lighting ideas light behind chairs with plantsUse floor lamps under plants to throw shadow onto the wall

If you have a lovely piece of art on the wall, make the best of it with a picture lamp.  If the picture is above your sofa this light could also contribute to task lighting for reading.

living room lighting ideas picture lightMake the best of your art with a picture lamp

Feature lighting - shelf lighting

Many living rooms have shelves, maybe built-in, maybe free-standing.  Here's some living room lighting ideas for your shelves.

You can use LED strips or florescent tubes to create a downward glow.

living room lighting ideas shelves glowCreate a shelf glow with strip lighting at the back of each shelf

Or an upward glow...

living room lighting ideas shelves upward glowBathe your favorite things on your shelves with an upward glow

I've even seen strip lights installed directly behind shelves so that the glow is in both directions.

Spotlights are another option and are especially effective lighting special objects.  There's also light oozing out from under the cupboards in the image below.

living room lighting ideas shelf downward spotlightsHighlight your favorite things with shelf downlights

Here's spotlights again, but placed and angled differently.

living room lighting ideas shelves object spotsConsider side mounted spotlights angled downwards

And, provided you've got a power socket in the right place and the right lamp, there's no reason why you can't put a lamp in your shelves.

living room lighting ideas shelf lampsNo reason you can't have a lamp on a shelf

Feature lighting - fireplace lighting

If you have a fireplace in your living room, here are a few living room lighting ideas for adding a bit of intrigue to your fireplace.

You can show off your fire surround by installing small uplights in your hearth stone.

living room lighting ideas fireplace hearth upglowShow off your fire surround with small uplights

Uplights can also work installed in your mantelpiece.

living room lighting ideas fireplace mantel upglowHighlight art or a mirror with uplights in the mantelpiece

You can create a frame of light by using some uplights at the side of the fireplace.

living room lighting ideas side hearth upglowFrame your fireplace in light with side uplights

Wall sconces can be used to great effect at the front of the chimney breast.  The sconces shown here have a very directional beam upwards and downwards. 

living room lighting ideas sconces chimney breastChimney breast with wall sconces

If you feel your chimney breast is too thin to wear the scones at the front, consider mounting them on the side of the chimney breast.

living room lighting ideas sconces chimney breast sideChimney breast accentuated with sconces to the side

If your chimney breast is textured a wall wash over the chimney breast can be very effective, from the bottom.

living room lighting ideas fireplace full mantel glowSet off your chimney breast with an upward shimmer

Or by inserting a coffer between the chimney breast and the ceiling to create a downward glow. 

living room lighting ideas fireplace high chimney glowMake your chimney breast stand out with a coffered light from the ceiling

Now here's something more traditional.  The classic picture lamp is a great way to highlight a lovely painting or mirror.  I think the chimney breast is a great place to hang an artwork.  The fire is a natural focal point and a lovely picture.

living room lighting ideas picture light fireplaceOne of the best places for art in the living room, lit with a picture light

Feature lighting - window lighting

Now we move on to some living room lighting ideas involving windows and window treatments.

Some of these ideas work well with different types of window treatment.  Consider whether these ideas will work with what you have in mind - curtains, shutters or blinds.

If you have curtains installed in a pelmet or in a coffer in the ceiling why not plan for a strip of lights to produce a lovely glow on the curtains.

living room lighting ideas two windows curtain glowShow off your curtains with a light wash from above

You can create an upward glow from the curtain pelmet and a downward glows from the window sill.

living room lighting ideas window lighting 1 glow above belowLighting possibilities up and down from the curtain pelmet and the window sill

Spotlights installed in the ceiling is a great way to create rhythm in the lighting scheme.

living room lighting ideas ceiling spotlights on windowsCreate rhythm with ceiling spotlights shining down onto curtains

Here's the same idea using two downlights per window with a narrower beam.

living room lighting ideas double spot over curtainsUse a narrow beam to create small pools of light on the floor

If you have blinds installed, installing lights in the window surround becomes a possibility.  The lights need to be placed so that the blind is between the light source and the window.  Here's some downlights which would highlight your blind and any object displayed on the window sill. 

living room lighting ideas window surround downlightsDownlights in the window surround

I've seen uplights in the window surround used to great effect in tall windows that have sills fairly low to the ground.  When it's dark, the window lights bring the atmosphere of the room down to the eye level of sitting on the sofa making the space which feels tall and airy during the day more intimate at night time.

living room lighting ideas window sill uplightsUplights in the window surround

I came across a house once where there was a light source in between the window pane and the blind.  This created a lovely glow inside the room, and the blinds were translucent and had a motif sewn into them which was illuminated and added to the curb appeal of the house during night time.

Feature lighting - TV lighting

Believe it or not, the best lighting for watching television includes having a soft light source behind the screen.  some TVs have backlighting built in.

living room lighting ideas tv lightingA soft glow from behind the screen provides the best lighting conditions for watching TV

Feature lighting with rope lights

Rope lights are a great way of adding a little bit of sparkle to your living room lighting ideas.

Here are three examples of rope lights installed in the wall at ceiling level, picture rail and floor level.

living room lighting ideas rope light covingRope lights at ceiling level
living room lighting ideas rope light dadoMake your picture rail contribute to your lighting design with rope lights
living room lighting ideas rope light floorCreate a glow across the floor with rope lights at floor level

Task lighting

Task lighting with lamps

No living room is complete without lamps.  So here's a few living room lighting ideas involving lamps.

Side table lamps are a great way to tackle the requirement for light for reading and to add atmosphere.  Here's a set with solid shades.

living room lighting ideas lamps opaque shadesSide table lamps for reading light and atmosphere

Tips for living room lighting ideas with lamps

Try some of these tips when you're thinking about what lamps to use on your side tables:

  1. Have a think about the shade.  You can find solid shades, translucent shades that create a glow, or even shades that case a pretty shadow.

  2. Look out for lamps that can be dimmed or have different light level settings.  Then you can have them on bright when you want to read, and down low when it's a calm ambiance that you're after.
living room lighting ideas lamps with patternsSide table lamps with translucent shades which cast a pattern on the ceiling

This trend of hanging your reading lights from the ceiling seems to be catching on.  The only thing is if you want to change the width of your sofa or the layout of your living room, you'll have to re-do the lighting.

living room lighting ideas lamp pendantsTable lamps suspended from the ceiling

I am a fan of two lamps on a sofa table behind the sofa.

living room lighting ideas sofa table lampsLamps on a sofa table is another option

A tall floor lamp is another great solution to task and ambient lighting.

living room lighting ideas floor lampA tall floor lamp never goes out of style

Ambient lighting

Ambient lighting with ceiling lighting

If you're planning on providing your ambient lighting with a central ceiling fixture, take a look at these living room lighting ideas for ceilings.

Ain't nothin' wrong with a good looking ceiling globe.  This is a great option if you don't have a huge amount of ceiling height to accommodate a pendant fixture.

living room lighting ideas ceilA ceiling globe is a great option if there isn't enough ceiling height for a pendant fixture

Here's a pendant fixture with shade in its most basic form.  Consider getting a shade with one of those translucent discs that sits at the bottom of the shade and hides the light bulb from view.

living room lighting ideas ceiling pendantThe basic pendant with shade fixture

This shade is a bit more exciting.  Find a shade with cut outs or crystals which will cast an interesting dazzle around your living room.

living room lighting ideas penant patternAdd a bit of sparkle with a shade with cut outs or crystals

If your living room has the right proportions for it, try a chandelier.

living room lighting ideas ceiling chandelierWill a chandelier suit your living room?

I am a big fan of playing with the ceiling to create beautifully atmospheric lighting effects.

Here's a dropped ceiling with light creeping out from around the edges.

living room lighting ideas dropped ceilingA dropped ceiling lighting scheme adds atmosphere

And here we have a coffered ceiling offering a gentle glow from above.

living room lighting ideas ceiling cofferA coffered ceiling lends a gentle shimmer from above

And downlights area great way to introduce a bit of rhythm into your ceiling lighting.

living room lighting ideas downlightsAdd rhythm to your ceiling with downlights

It's a little strange to put a lamp in the section on ceiling living room lighting ideas but a tall lamp with an upward pointing beam means most of the light reflects off the ceiling.

It's an interesting option to think about because you can try it at different places in the room and it's an inexpensive way of adding a bit of interest to the highest lighting layer.

living room lighting ideas ceiling lampA ceiling lamp is an inexpensive way to add interest to your ceiling

Ambient lighting with wall mounted lighting

Nearly there.  This is the last section of living room lighting ideas. 

I like using wall sconces.  Generally most of the activity that goes on in a living room involves sitting so it's nice to bring the light level down a bit.  Having light fixtures on the walls means you can admire them more easily as they are in view without craning your neck towards the ceiling.

Here's three options with different shaped sconces.

living room lighting ideas glowing wall sconceTranslucent wall scones with a multi-directional glow
living room lighting ideas wall sconces upward curvedSconces with a wide upwards direction beam
living room lighting ideas dramatic wall sconcesSconces with a dramatic narrow beam creating a vertical accent

Another alternative is to install lighting in a picture rail.

living room lighting ideas dado rope lighCould picture rail lighting be right for your living room?

It might seem strange to put this lighting arrangement with downlights from a baffle in the ceiling into the section on wall based living room lighting ideas but these downlights are illuminating the wall, so the light reads as if it's from the wall rather than the ceiling.

living room lighting ideas feature downlightsCreate a wall wash with downlights from the ceiling

Real Life Living Room Lighting Ideas

Phew - that was a long page.  Now it's time for me to share my Houzz living room lighting ideas ideabook with you.  I've collected together some real life examples to illustrate some of the lighting options we've looked at on this page.

More Home Lighting Design for you...

You might also enjoy reading these other pages on home lighting design.

Lighting know-how

Room by room lighting ideas