When deciding how to decorate a living room with better lighting, there are different types of living room light fixtures and lamps designed for different purposes. Throwing in some living room lighting fixtures might not be the best idea if you need bright light next to a chair. Or a couple of living room lamps may not be enough ambient light to fill a family room.
Think about what each area of the living room needs, and then try breaking down the room into functional areas.
Ask yourself, where do you need the most light?
Does it need to be bright and focused or a background ambient light?
- Lighting the whole living room in general raises overall ambient light
- A brighter light near to where you perform activities helps you read and focus
- Adding decorative accent lamps highlights your living room decor and furniture
Match the most appropriate type of lighting to the kind of light you need.
Modern living room lighting design can feature either ambient lighting, task lighting or accent lighting.
These different kinds of light placement and “concentration” are mainly to do with how focused or localised the light is : is it spread out (diffused) through the room reflecting off surfaces, or is there more direct focused light close to a person performing an activity.
What is Ambient Lighting?
Ambient light is general diffused background light which fills the room and raises the overall light throughout the room. Ambient light fills the room but may not be sufficient for specific activities like reading in a chair. Most ambient light is usually provided by living room lighting fixtures.
Types of light fixtures producing ambient light for your living room include:
- Chandeliers/Pendant hanging from the ceiling
- Wall lights at the sides of the room
- close-to-ceiling light fixtures over-head
- cove lighting using led strips across the ceiling
- A living room ceiling fan with light built-in
What is Task Lighting?
Task lights shine bright light on specific tasks and allow you to highlight a more specific area – next to a chair, over a table, in a cozy corner, etc. These living room lamp ideas help you to perform tasks where you need brighter light to see.
Types of lights for more specific living room activities include:
- Table lamps next to a chair or sofa or in the corners of the room
- Reading lamps next to a chair or couch
- Desk lamps on a desk where you might handle paperwork
- Task lamps designed for hobbies and crafts
- Wall mounted or ceiling mounted spot lights that provide focused downward light over a piano or keyboard
What is Accent Lighting?
Accent lights are more for decoration and add subtle touches to a living room’s lighting. They show off certain features in the room and add a soft local glow in specific areas.
Types of lighting for accenting your living room decor include:
- Accent lamps, novelty lamps and decorative tiffany lamps
- Up-lights or up-down lights on the wall
- Spot lights and picture lights for highlighting artwork
Here are some generic lighting tips to keep in mind:
> The number of light bulbs and the amount of light they output (measured in watts or, more accurately, lumens).
> The distance from the light bulb to significant objects, surfaces or people (influences how much light reaches the subject).
> The lightness or reflectivity of objects and surfaces (darker surfaces absorb light, lighter walls make better use of your light fixtures).
> The type of light bulbs and the colour temperature (lower Kelvin “temperature” are more yellow, higher are more white or blue).
> How shielded the light bulbs are by a shade or cover – these will either block or diffuse the light.
> The “shape” of the light output by the light fixture or lamp, ie what kind of directions the light radiates – is it upwards, downwards, sideways, all directions? This is in large part dictated by the style of lamp shades used.
> The amount of sunlight entering the room – can you remove furniture or other items which block the natural daylight, and is there enough lighting at night when there is no sunlight?
> What kind of reflections, lit areas or shadows the light might produce, for example on walls and ceilings, and can you use this as a deliberate interior design feature?
> The coloration of the shade covering the light bulb – this will influence and filter the light output, “colouring” the whole room with a tint. For a full range of colour representation you’ll want some white or full spectrum lights that are “unfiltered” by the light shade itself.
> Beware of light fixtures with not enough wattage or brightness. Some decorative fixtures might be designed more for looks (e.g. use of low-wattage decorative vintage bulbs) rather than to significantly light the room, unless that’s what you want.