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9 Best Living Room Lighting Ideas

What’s the point of having a beautifully designed space if you’re sitting in the dark? Lighting is one of the essential elements of a room and can impact how everything else—from the wall color to the art to the rug—looks. That’s why it’s important to plan your lighting design early and consider all the sources of light you’ll need, whether it’s wall lights over the sofa for reading or an eye-catching chandelier that illuminates the whole room. “A lot of people just think lighting should be done once you know what you need to light up,” David Gray, sales manager of the Professional Division for Lamps Plus told AD. “It’s actually the opposite: You should design the room with lighting in mind. Having your architect draw the lighting in is a great method. If you think of lighting last, you’ve already damaged your possibility to be right. It should be part and parcel of the room, because lighting is an integral part of the room’s look.” If you’re ready to take your lighting to the next level, discover these genius living room lighting ideas that are sure to make your space brighter and more beautiful.

Focus on the Mix

A successful lighting design combines a number of light sources at different levels of the room. Add layers of light from a number of types of fixtures that can be used together or separately for a flexible space.

9 Best Living Room Lighting Ideas
© Condé Nast

Find the Perfect Pair

Table lamps are perfect when you need a little extra light once the sun goes down. And they’re even better in pairs. Set matching table lamps on side tables or on either end of a console to give the space a sense of balance and symmetry.

gray living room with yellow desk

Try Sculptural Sconces

Wall lights or sconces are a great way to add interest to an empty wall or frame the sofa or a work of art. They’re also ideal for small spaces and help free up floor or table space. Try a pair of colorful or sculptural sconces that will draw the eye and illuminate the space, or go for a solo light for a minimalist look.

Contemporary Living Room by Toshiko Mori Architect in Hudson Valley New York
In a Hudson Valley, New York, living room, the suspended sofa by Poul Kjærholm and the Antony sconce by Serge Mouille are both from the 1950s; beneath the framed work, Void by Antony Gormley, is a circa-1940 Penguin Donkey bookshelf by Ernest Race and an African sculpture.William Waldron

Add a Centerpiece

Whether you go for a romantic chandelier or a modern pendant, a striking light fixture can complete a living room. Use the piece to brighten the seating area and create a focal point. Install a dimmer switch to be able to switch up the atmosphere and set the mood.

Brazilinspired living room
Noting her Upper East Side townhouse’s good bones, Barneys New York fashion director Marina Larroudé enlisted friend and designer Giancarlo Valle of Studio Giancarlo Valle to help push her toward an aesthetic that’s both bold and approachable. “Marina and her family are from Brazil, and I wanted to have that cultural influence set the vibe of the space,” says Valle. “We looked at some of the Brazilian modernists and their designs and materials, which are very grounded, but then tried to blend that with a more Pop Art, colorful sensibility.” In the living room, Valle paired a marble coffee table by Mario Bellini with a classic-lined RH sofa, blush velvet Jindrich Halabala chairs, and artwork by Salvador Dalí and Richard Serra for an interesting look that’s not intimidating in the least.Photo: Brooke Holm

Create an Overall Glow

If your room is large or lacking in natural light, a single ceiling fixture may not be enough. Consider using multiple overhead sources, such as recessed lighting paired with a pendant.

Modern Living Room by Emily Summers Design Associates and o2 Architecture in Indian Wells California
A living room in the California desert features a Warren Platner settee, lounge chair, and ottoman, all upholstered in a fabric from Cowtan & Tout, and a wicker chair by Marc Newson; the panels over the fireplace, clad in a hand-painted Porter Teleo wallpaper, conceal a television. Between the glass doors is an Eric Schmitt console, surmounted by a Jim Dine lithograph. The rug is by Madeline Weinrib, and the walls are painted in a Benjamin Moore white.Nikolas Koenig

Brighten the Mantel

If you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace in your living room, don’t leave it in the dark! Highlight the architectural feature by installing sconces or adding a pair of small lamps to your mantel display.

9 Best Living Room Lighting Ideas
© Condé Nast

Let Your Art Shine

Your art collection deserves to be displayed with pride. There are a number of options for lighting art, including picture lights, track lighting, wall washers, and ceiling-mounted accent lights. You can also install picture lights on bookcases to highlight framed pieces, objects, and collections.

Contemporary Living Room by Christine Markatos Design and Leroy Street Studio in New York New York
A Veere Grenney Assoc. goatskin ottoman anchors the living room of an 1840s Manhattan townhouse renovated by the architecture firm Leroy Street Studio and decorated by Christine Markatos Design. Behind the sofa, which is covered in a Donghia fabric, hangs a Jesse Pasca abstract landscape; an R&Y Augousti stool is flanked by Paul McCobb armchairs clad in a Claremont fabric.William Waldron

Choose a Lamp with Reach

If you don’t have a ceiling fixture, consider floor lamp that curves over the space. The piece will add light from above without the need to call an electrician.

9 Best Living Room Lighting Ideas

Illuminate a Corner

A lonely armchair instantly becomes a cozy reading nook when you add a floor lamp. Take advantage of an empty corner and create a calm spot that’s the perfect for curling up with a bestseller.

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