What sort of lighting works well in the living room

by | Nov 22, 2018 | Design, Home

The living room is where we relax, socialise and enjoy the occasional TV dinner. This is where we like to show off our favourite art, photography and décor, and often spend a lot of time looking across the room, be it at a television or towards friends and family.

We put a lot of time into making our living rooms personal, comfortable and attractive through the furniture and decoration we choose, so it would be a great shame to ruin all of that effort with poor quality, or poorly positioned lighting. Lighting can bring a room to life, but it can also create the wrong atmosphere and feel.

Choosing the right colour temperature

You may have seen a K number written on the packaging of lightbulbs in shops. This number indicates the bulb colour temperature. Measured in Kelvins, the lower the colour temperature of the bulb, the warmer and more orangey in appearance the light is. Higher colour temperature bulbs look more like daylight, omitting a bluey/white shade of light.

Generally living rooms are for relaxing, so you’ll want to choose a fairly relaxing tone. Higher colour temperature light can make us feel more awake and alert, which is great for the bathroom in the morning, but not so good for chilling out on the sofa at home. Therefore, it’s better to go no higher than 3000K for the living room.

You could go even warmer, to a vintage style 1800K light bulb, but the only problem here is that you may not see quite as clearly due to the colour. One option is to go for a 3000K bulb in the ceiling fitting and a 1800K bulb in a floor lamp, so you can pick and choose depending on the activity and mood. A 1800K bulb can create an ambience and a relaxing feel throughout the room.

If you have a part of your living room for working or reading, you will benefit from a brighter light there, so you can see everything clearly. A 4100K bulb gives off a clean daylight glow, but without being too overpowering. A higher colour temperature (for example over 5000K) would be too blue and is more suited to security lights. A 4100K bulb in a desk or reading lamp will clearly show colours and text, without overpowering the other lighting in the room.

Accent Lighting

To add style and character to your room, use carefully placed accent lighting. Accent lighting focuses on one particular feature, so can be great for highlighting a piece of art, a book shelf or anything else of interest. Too much of it can make the room look crowded, so carefully choose what to light up.

Mix It Up

A mixture of different types of lighting can really add style to your living room, but it also gives you options. You may want to switch from all lights to just a floor lamp for a quiet evening. Try mixing the heights too, with high floor lamps, low table lamps and mixed height pendant lights on the ceiling.

Adding multiple light sources can also reduce shadows, so if you are planning on reading, knitting or carrying out any other tasks, you won’t have to point it at the nearest lamp to see clearly.

If You Have High Ceilings…

Consider long drop pendant lights, to bring the light source closer to you. High ceilings can make a room look beautiful, but if the light fixtures are too high up, they can make the room look cold and even dark.


To get the right tone for the right time, install a dimmer switch. It’s difficult to get the right brightness for every single function, time of day and mood, but by using dimmer switches you can dim the light for late, relaxing nights, and brighten it for other times.

Style Consistency

Make sure you keep the style of lighting consistent with the style of your room. A contemporary light fitting would look out of place alongside vintage décor, and vintage style lighting would look out of place with contemporary style furniture. A lot of your lighting choices will come down to personal preference, but whilst planning, make sure you step back and look at the room as a whole, so you don’t make any mistakes.

Read through our useful guide for more information

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