How to plan the lighting in the living room: 6 rules and 100 photo examples

From general to local — we tell in detail what lighting should be in a modern living room, and analyze scenarios for different layouts.

A lot depends on the right light: how comfortable you will be in the room, how the furniture, decoration and decor will look, and whether you will ruin your eyesight while sitting with a book under a dim lamp. In this article, we’ll show you how to plan your living room lighting so that it meets all the needs of the occupants and looks beautiful.

Table of Contents

    Basic Rules

    Let’s start with the general rules that will help you  plan your living room lighting design :

    • Think over the light during the renovation phase. The placement of functional zones depends on this. For ceiling and wall lights, you will need outlets, and you also need to immediately plan the location of the outlets.
    • Regardless of the size and function of the room, there must be at least two types of lighting: main and local. Often decorative lighting is added to them.
    • The number of light points and lamp power depends on the area of ​​​​the room, the location, and the size of the windows.
    • Each functional area should have its own light sources. For example, if you have a large kitchen-living room, the lamps should not only be on the ceiling in the center of the room but also in the cooking area, above the dining room, and the soft sofa group. 
    • Don’t forget accessories. If the room is dark, a beautiful picture will simply merge with a gray or beige wall. The figured floor vase – will become a nondescript shadow in the corner. So that accent details are not lost against the general background, dotted high light large decor. This can be either museum-type lighting (for example, small lamps above paintings) or hidden. For decorative lighting in the living room in a modern style, LED strips are well suited.
    • Find the right light temperature. It should not be too yellow (the eyes will get tired, and the colors in the room will be distorted), nor too white – you will get the effect of hospital lamps, and the space will become uncomfortable.

    Luminaire types

    Modern lighting in the living room is not limited to a chandelier and floor lamp. There are many models of lamps that fit different scenarios and interior styles.


    For overhead light use:

    • Chandeliers – a classic option for which it is important to choose the right height and decor. The smaller the room, the closer to the ceiling the chandelier should hang, so as not to clutter up the space and not visually reduce the height of the walls. The large format and many decorative details are suitable for spacious rooms and matching styles. For example, in Art Deco, Neoclassicism, and Classics, a luxurious accent chandelier is indispensable.
    • Plafonds- there may be one large or a group of shades on the same base. In the second case, consider their number: the more modest the area of ​​the living room, the less they should be so as not to overload the interior.
    • Spots – a miniature version of spotlights. Small in size, they are mounted on the base, and the body itself can be rotated at any angle, directing the stream of light where it is needed.
    • Points –  are built into the canvas and are almost invisible. For maximum effect, choose models without contours – so they completely dissolve into the ceiling.
    • Pendant lamps are well suited for local lighting. And in the united space, they also zone it. So, most often, hanging models are placed above the dining group in the kitchen-living room. Hangers differ not only in design but also in the type of fastening: they can be point (on a cord), linear (on a rectangular base), and circular (for a group of lamps). As well as the design: there are linear models and those that are mounted on various cables.


    In addition to ceiling and pendant, any other types of lamps are suitable for the living room.

    These include:

    • floor standing – various types of floor lamps, which are selected taking into account the style of the room, the height of the ceiling, and the necessary functionality. For example, if you love to read in your living room, check out a hinged floor lamp that can be tilted to make the light more directional.
    • Desktop – small lamps are suitable for illuminating the desktop and bed, but they can also be used as decorative light. This includes nightlights and electric candles.
    • wall – any sconces that are mounted on the wall. They are convenient to highlight a dining group, a reading nook, highlight corners or emphasize decor.

    living room lighting options

    Let’s analyze the best lighting design options in the living room for different scenarios.

    Kitchen-living room

    Now it is one of the most popular layouts, as open combined spaces are in trend.

    Main features:

    • It is necessary to illuminate a sufficiently large area, which at the same time is not blocked by walls and blind partitions.
    • There are at least three functional areas: the kitchen itself, the dining room, and the hall.
    • Light in this case plays not only a technical role but also acts as a zoning tool.

    If the room is small in area (10-15 sq. m. ), For a general overhead light, one ceiling light in the center or spots around the perimeter of the ceiling will be enough. For a spacious room, it is better to make two or even three main lamps in different parts of the room.

    Local illumination is located in each zone. In the kitchen, this is usually the illumination of the work surface and cabinets. In the dining room, hanging lamps or wall sconces next to the dining table. In the recreation area – soft diffused light from a floor lamp or lamps.

    If the living room has a stretch ceiling, lighting, and different height levels will help zone the space without overloading it with heavy structures. For example, the canvas may be slightly lower in the cooking area and slightly higher in the living part of the room. Above the sofa group, you can organize hidden lighting around the perimeter, which will give a soft, subdued light.

    Separate room

    Ceiling lighting in the living room is represented by a beautiful chandelier, a system of LEDs (they can be hidden or accent), or a powerful lamp with a large shade.

    The rest of the illumination depends on the footage, shape, and content of the room. If you have a home library, organize micro-illumination of the shelves, and also make sure that it is convenient to read books. For example, place a floor lamp or hang a sconce with a sufficiently powerful light on the wall near the sofa or armchair.

    It is important that in the recreation area, you can quickly change the light mode from bright to subdued. So you can change the mood and create a relaxed atmosphere for a romantic evening, watching a movie, etc. And dim warm lighting will not glare from the screen.

    Living room-bedroom

    If the hall is combined with the bedroom, it is important to think over the lighting scenarios so that you can both relax and actively spend time with family or friends.

    Use the following schema:

    • The main overhead light is 1-2 ceiling lamps (depending on the area of ​​the room).
    • Sufficiently bright local sources in the hall – a floor lamp, pendant lamps, sconces.
    • Subdued lighting in the sleeping area.
    • Brighter point sources near the bed (e.g. nightstand lamp). If you have a dressing table or wardrobe, light them up as well.

    Office combination

    The apartment does not always have space for a separate office, so the workplace is often arranged in a common room.

    The lighting system here will be the same as in a regular separate living room, only the illumination of the workplace is added. And it should be not only a small table lamp next to the computer. To make it comfortable to work at the computer and with papers, add another light source in this area. Let it be a soft LED backlight, a small floor lamp, or a pendant lamp.

    If the ceiling is low

    A completely separate category is a small room with low ceilings. Often living rooms in standard apartments, especially in secondary housing, are just that.

    What is important to know:

    • Light visually corrects the proportions and expands the space no worse than traditional tools like a light palette and mirrors. And in combination with them gives an even greater effect.
    • Minimize the number of pendant lights, especially long and massive ones. Use predominantly wall, table, and floor models. From the ceiling, pay attention to built-in spots and track systems.
    • A win-win option is LED lighting around the perimeter, which creates the effect of a floating ceiling. The canvas visually deepens and rises up. This type of lighting is easy to equip on a tension structure.
    • To visually stretch the walls up, choose sconces and chandeliers with a vertical shape with light directed upwards.
    • Highlighting the corners will also visually expand the space.

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