The living room is one of the hardest-working rooms in the house and to light it effectively you’ll need everything from overhead lighting (with a dimmer), for occasional use, to table lamps for atmosphere.
And think dramatic in your living room, whether its with eye-catching central shades, table lamps or floor lamps. One hot look at the moment is to group lights together in clusters, particularly pendants, and usually in odd numbers, hung low over focal pieces such as the coffee table.
If you’re decorating the living room from scratch, it’s a good idea to plan where your lighting points and sockets should be installed at an early stage. This will mean that the lighting will suit your major pieces of furniture and not the other way around. You won’t have to trail unsightly cables across the living room. Consider arranging your living room table and floor lamps to be wired on their own separate circuit with dimmer switches, so you’ll be able to control them all from one neat place on the wall.
Getting it right
There is no greater crime than lighting your living room with a single pendant alone. Aim to use a variety of sources to create pools or different levels of light around the living room. That means a central pendant for general ambient light in your living room; uplighters, table lamps or tall floor lamps to light up dark corners; task lighting (such as a table or desk lamp) for reading with; and perhaps a selection of wall lights to show off your favourite pictures.
Providing light for practical purposes is always a priority but you can use simple tricks to change a room’s proportions too. Fitting uplighters to the wall to bounce light onto a white ceiling will make the living room seem larger and taller. Creating panels or shafts of light with downlighters at the far end of a short room will draw your eye towards it as well as make it seem longer. Similarly, lighting all four corners of a small living room will make it seem bigger than it is.
In a living room, it’s worth highlighting favourite pictures, books and even plants or pieces of furniture. A simple way to show off books is to clip a small spotlight to the underside of a shelf. Pictures can be picked out with a simple spotlight but if they’re glazed you’ll need to use an ‘eyeball’ light that swivels and can be set onto a broad beam.
Even your house plants can look quite dramatic when properly lit – the best way to do it is to put a low uplighter or floor-recessed spotlight right behind an impressive specimen and let the light bounce off the leaves. Similarly, your best pieces of furniture can be emphasised as a focal point by placing a striking and decorative lamp alongside them.
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