A modern living room is usually a multi-purpose space. Open plan homes incorporate living, dining and work areas into one large space. We may entertain friends and family, curl up with a good book, watch movies, work from home, or do homework. A good living room lighting plan includes table lamp sets, LED standing lamps and accent lamps so all these activities have the lighting they need.
Lighting designers use three layers to bring a room to life - ambient, task and accent lighting. Read on for expert tips on creating a multi-layered lighting plan to bring your living room to life.
Table Lamp Sets For Living Rooms
Table lamps are the most common source of living room lighting. Traditionally arranged living rooms (with a sofa and two chairs) typically use a table lamp set to light each end of the sofa. These pairs of lamps create ambient or general light for the main seating area. A matched table lamp set adds balance to a living room design.
Table lamp sets should be in proportion to the room, and the size of the table they're placed on. To measure for a table lamp, follow our expert tips:
How To Measure For A Table Lamp
- Sit on the sofa or chair where you'll be using the lamp, and measure up from the tabletop to your eye level.
- Deduct two inches - this is the height of your lamp base
- Before eating or preparing food
- Eye level should be a couple of inches above the bottom of the lampshade, so you don't see the light socket or bulb.
- For lamps on a console, the center of the shade should be eye-level to someone who's standing.
- After emptying trash cans
- Tall ceilings require taller lamps - but make sure the bulbs stay covered by the shade.
Use table lamp sets on a console against the wall to illuminate the edges of the room. Buffet lamps are ideal, since the taller design keeps the bulb hidden behind the shade.
Accent Lamps For Living Rooms
Accent lighting adds low-lights to a room's edges, illuminates artwork or highlights architectural features in the space.
Torchiere lamps add soft accent lighting by directing light upwards. They usually have a bowl or cone-shaped decorative shade.
Placing lamps against the walls creates a cozy glow that warms up the living room. Space your lamps evenly around the room to create inviting pools of light.
Dimmer switches and smart home outlets make it easy to adjust light levels for different times of day. Turn lights on and off automatically with Smart Home programming. The Caseta Plug-In Lamp Dimmer from Lutron works with dimmable LEDs, CFLs, incandescent and halogen bulbs, adding high-tech control to almost any lamp.
Accent Lamp Shopping Tips
- Table lamps for accent lighting should diffuse light.
- Three-way settings and dimmers make it easy to adjust light levels.
- The tops of all lamps in the same room should be as close in height as possible.
- Use torcheres for uplighting.
- Light bulbs, sockets and hardware should be hidden by the lampshade.
Floor Lamps For Your Living Room
The best floor lamps for general or ambient lighting diffuse the light so it softly illuminates the whole room. Traditional floor lamps with classic fabric shades can diffuse light both upwards and downwards.
Floor Lamp Shopping Tips:
Choose an angled shade or adjustable height lamp to avoid looking directly into the glare of the light bulbs. This 67' tall lamp makes a statement, and is tall enough for the shade to hide the bulb completely:
Look for floor lamps with unique features to customize your living room, such as space-saving lamp and table combinations:
Multiple lights on one lamp, with adjustable angles:
LED Standing Lamps:
LED standing lamps, or floor lamps, offer the newest, most versatile designs. Modern integrated LED bulbs create bright, warm light that's extremely energy-efficient. Use integrated LED standing lamps as a single light source for ambient, task and accent lighting. Their contemporary designs are perfect for minimalist spaces. Set one beside a chair for reading:
Or in a corner for ambient light; add a dimmer to use an integrated LED lamp as accent lighting:
Task Lamps For Your Living Room
Task lighting should be bright, and focused downward onto a desk or work area. The best lamps for task lighting have height and angle adjustments to control the direction of light, and solid shades to keep the light focused.
The Best Task Lamps For Tables and Desks:
If you do most of your work on a computer, soft lighting nearby helps to reduce eye strain. Glam up a table top with this stylish task lamp:
Is mid-century modern more your style? Brighten up a reading corner with our tripod lamp. Its white-lined shade helps reflect light outwards, and it's adjustable too.
Our versatile integrated LED lamps are the perfect solution for accent and task lighting. Set them on a console, and swing out over your chair when you need task lighting:
How To Measure For A Task Lamp:
- Measure the height of your eye-level from the desktop while sitting.
- Choose a lamp that's slightly taller than eye level.
- Adjust the lamp's angle to shade the bulb, keep glare out of your eyes and focus light onto your work.
Floor Lamps For Task Lighting:
The best floor lamps for task lighting are designed to direct light downwards onto your work. Task lamps come in a wide variety of designs - from traditional, to mid-century modern, to contemporary LED floor lamps.
A classic copper lamp fits beautifully in traditional and modern spaces:
Metal pharmacy lamps are timeless; we love the height-adjustable base, and shade that tilts and rotates:
Swing-arm lamps usually have traditional fabric lampshades, and an extension arm to swing the light towards you. They're a great choice when you need both ambient light and task light:
How To Choose A Task Floor Lamp
- Adjustable height settings
- An arm or flexible neck that can swivel and rotate
- A shade that directs light instead of diffusing it
- A two-way or dimmable bulb
- A weighted base to keep the lamp upright
- An LED bulb for crisp, quality light
Now that you know how to use different types of lighting, think about your own living room before you shop for lamps. Do you read, work, watch movies? Are kids doing homework or art projects? Do you want mood lighting for entertaining? Once you have your lighting goals in mind, it's easy to shop for the perfect lamps for your living room.
For more information about lighting your home, check out our online Lighting Buying Guide.