Set The Right Ambience With These Living Room Lighting Ideas

When we endeavour to decorate our homes, the focus usually falls on the furniture, carpentry and walls, with lighting often becoming an afterthought. However, as we hope to explain in this article, living room lighting should be right up there with the sofa and coffee table as one of the most important elements of the room. It not only serves a vital purpose but also works as a decorative element, adding to the room’s overall atmosphere and impacting our emotions and moods. Read on as we share our living room lighting ideas and top tips for creating that all-important ambience.

ambient living room lighting

A Balancing Act

Before we begin, let’s get back to basics. Did you know there should be three layers of living room lighting? These three types of lighting should work harmoniously together to set the right ambience:

  1. Ambient lighting – this provides a room with overall illumination
  2. Task lighting – this directs light to certain areas of the room such as work zones
  3. Accent lighting – this is used to highlight specific areas or objects such as an art piece or decorative object and adds a touch of drama to the room

A mix of these three types of lighting, cleverly positioned at different points of the room, will bounce illumination throughout the room and eliminate shadows from corners. Keep this in mind when brainstorming lounge lighting ideas to ensure your living room is lit to perfection.

Why is ambient lighting important in the living room?

The living room is the heart of the home; a multipurpose space to lounge, laugh and socialise. Due to its versatile uses, living room mood lighting is essential to adjusting the atmosphere; brighter lights are ideal when we need to feel alert and awake, whereas dimmer, softer lights are important for relaxing and enjoying an afternoon nap. Dimmer switches, therefore, are ideal for creating ambient lighting. Softening the light will create a calming environment in which to sit back and unwind, and is also ideal for evenings spent with friends, creating an intimate, relaxing atmosphere and encouraging the flow of comfortable coversation.

Combine ambient living room lighting with calming colours to create a super soothing santuary – read our top tips on introducing tranquil colours to your lounge here.

ambient lighting ideas

Shop the look: ARMAND table light

How to use pendants and ceiling lights in your lounge?

Chandeliers, ceiling and pendant lights are a striking addition to any living room, providing an illuminating glow to the space. Drawing the eye upwards, they add real depth to the room and are great conversation-starters; just make sure your ceilings are high enough to prevent any head-banging accidents!

Whether you’re after a purely functional classic style or want your living room light fixtures to pack a punch, there are plenty of options to choose from. Brushed, plated or powder-coated metal styles lend themselves well to an industrial interior theme, whereas softer-look ceramics and glass are perfect for an elegant aesthetic.

ceiling light ideas

While thinking of living room ceiling lighting ideas, it’s also worth considering whether you’d rather have one look-at-me style or would prefer to group a few ceiling lights together for maximum visual impact.

cluster of pendant lights

Either way, you’ll see your ceiling in a whole new light.

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How can you use lamps to illuminate your living room?

Don’t fancy a ceiling light? No problem! Living room lamps can be just as effective light sources, offering both task and ambient lighting.

With a small footprint but big impact, living room floor lamps are perfect for adding light where there’s limited table surface, such as next to the sofa, or in an otherwise neglected corner. Often striking visually, they will enhance your room’s décor, offering a cool finishing touch.

The question is, which type of floor lamp will you go for? One of the best things about floor lamps is their portability, meaning you can update your living room layout every so often to keep things fresh and interesting. However, to help your make a decision it’s worth thinking about the lamp’s main purpose – for example, metal lamps with angled heads are ideal for reading, overreach styles are perfect for illuminating a particular area whereas stand-out designs cast a lovely glow while also making a style statement.

If you’re lucky enough to benefit from a large lounge with high ceilings, look to tall living room lights to accentuate the space. Arc floor lamps are particularly popular at the moment, tapping into the mid-century modern trend. For tight spaces, however, look to straight-up-and-down styles with a smaller base.

floor lamps

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Masters of the ‘je ne sais quoi’ effect, table lamps will effortlessly pull a living room look together. We recommend having a few scattered throughout the room. For a sophisticated look, place a pair of matching lamps in a symmetrical position, for example on side tables at either end of the sofa. However, if you prefer a more eclectic, less pulled together aesthetic, choose mismatched styles placed at random positions around the room.

marble and brass table lamp

Shop the look: KURIKO marble and gold lamp

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Wall lighting ideas for your living room

Wall lights are another clever way to add instant ambience to your living room; bathe your walls in a warm glow of light with a stylish wall light or illuminate your favourite piece of art with sleek spotlights. These range from on-trend extendable copper styles to minimalist linear designs and tend to work best in a living room when used alongside other light sources. With a variety of styles available we recommend having a flick through your favourite interior magazines and Pinterest for more living room wall lighting ideas.

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Tiny lounge or low ceiling? Try these small living room lighting ideas

Never underestimate the power of lighting to transform the way a room looks, particularly the dimensions. So even if you are short on space, with a few clever tricks you can light your way to a bigger space.

Lighting ideas for small living rooms include:

  • Using wall washers on a large area of – preferably light coloured – ceiling
  • Looking to uplighters to bounce light onto the ceiling and walls
  • Lighting up all four corners of the room with cleverly positioned lights

To make a room seem taller follow our living room lighting ideas for a low ceiling:

  • Opt for lighting with a lightweight appearance as heavier looking pieces will constrict a space; tripod table lamps or slim stem styles are perfect, making the area seem more open
  • Use vertical light beams
  • As weird as it sounds, low hung pendants will actually create an illusion of height

Follow these top tips and your living room will look and feel immediately bigger, promise!

small living room lighting ideas

Lighting ideas for larger living rooms

Bigger space to play with? Lucky you! With so many lust-worthy lights on offer, at least you won’t have to face the challenge of choosing just one. So, what is the best lighting for a large living room? A spacious lounge is the perfect excuse to rock a statement chandelier or stand-out ceiling pendant to draw the eye upwards, as well as inducing an ‘ooo’ reaction from guests. Needless to say, in a large room you’ll most likely need more lights to illuminate the whole space. A single overhead fixture may not cut it so have fun with multiple ceiling lights; the trick here is to stick with fairly simple fixtures and hang them on a grid as opposed to random spots throughout the ceiling.

large living room lighting ideas

Modern lighting ideas for a contemporary living space

When it comes to modern living room lighting ideas, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. This season the spotlight is on dramatic conceptual pieces and unusual lighting effects. Cool living room lights, such as the hollow-framed Shadow light, take centre stage. Its thin strips of LED cast vivid slices of light against the wall and floor, making it a guaranteed talking point amongst guests.

modern lighting ideas

Simple linear is also a key trend in lighting this season. This is about refined and sparing linear shapes, like hand-drawn lines or design sketches.

modern lighting ideas

Materials and textures have moved on too with marble and polished brass emerging as the materials of the moment. The design below is our modern homage to 1970s Italian glamour, with a very elegant profile emitting a warm, glow, on top of a brass stem and polished marble base.

marble and brass floor lamp

Shop the look: KURIKO marble and gold floor lamp 

How to achieve a vintage look with traditional living room lighting

If the modern look doesn’t do it for you, there’s plenty of vintage living room lighting styles to suit a more traditional aesthetic. Look to classic designs and industrial inspired pieces to give your interior a cool edge.

vintage lighting

Shop the look: EMMANUELLE black metal ceiling light, EMMANUELLE cream metal ceiling light and INDUSTRY silver ceiling light

On a budget? Try these cheap lounge lights and lamps

Envy-inducing lighting doesn’t have to cost the earth. Light up your home for less with budget lighting that doesn’t compromise on style, from simple paper lantern shades to on-trend copper ceiling lights and contemporary metal desk lights.

cheap living room lights

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If that hasn’t convinced you about the importance of lighting on living room ambience, we don’t know what will!

Be inspired further by our Lighting Buying Guide and our blog post on Lighting Your Home.

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All images from Habitat’s photography archive. Some products may not be available. Please visit habitat.co.uk to view our current, uniquely designed, range.

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