Think You Know Everything There Is to Know About Living Room Lighting? Think Again

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Good things come to those who layer, and lighting is no exception. Often overlooked, a good living room lighting idea can be the difference between a space that's warm, welcoming, and eye-catching and a room that seems to fade into the distance. An effective lighting plan involves layering distinct types of light sources: ambient or general, task, and accent. It might seem like overkill, but each performs a specific function that results in a room with plenty of character and an overall finished look. Because living rooms are one of the largest rooms in the house, they usually have multiple seating areas and require thoughtful lighting consideration with multiple sources. Read on to learn how to use lighting to bring out the best in your living room.

Types of Living Room Light Fixtures

Ambient lighting is also known as overhead lighting and gives off general illumination. This is usually accomplished in the form of recessed or canned lights, but can also be performed with large chandeliers and pendant lights. Canned lighting is best relegated to the permitters or walkways of a room. If you've ever been seated under a recessed light fixture beaming down on you, then you know just what we're talking about. The goal with ambient lighting is to create an overall glow from above, mimicking natural light as much as possible. Pro tip: If you watch TV in the living room, consider your light placement carefully to avoid television glare, and be sure to implement dimmers to control glare and light output.


No tricks here: Task lighting is just as it sounds. It's simply concentrated lighting used to highlight areas where specific tasks take place. Some examples include reading on a sofa or writing at a desk. Task lighting found in a living room could be in the form of an articulating wall sconce or a floor lamp placed between two chairs.

Accent lighting is used in measured doses, infusing style, contrast, and atmosphere into a room, particularly at night when the absence of natural light necessitates a well thought-out living room lighting idea. Low-level table and floor lamps, picture lights, and fixtures along a bookcase that highlight specific items fall into this category. Space these throughout the room to create an even, warm glow. Pro tip: Groups of candles and fairy lights are affordable options.

Living Room Light Fixture Styles

It won't come as a surprise that there are many different styles of lighting to complement your interior design preferences including midcentury, bohemian, farmhouse, modern, and industrial. Don't be afraid to mix and match your styles. For example, a vintage pendant in a tailored living room will look edgy and unique, while a modern floor lamp can temper a rustic space and bring sophistication. Read on for a brief primer on lighting styles.

The modern movement is characterized by the perfect marriage of form and function, and modern lighting follows these same basic principles. Think sleek lines, geometric shapes, and soft curves. Nothing too distracting or ornate here. Color is usually limited to basics of black, white, and chrome. Modern fixtures work in a variety of interiors and are a timeless addition.

Image Credit: Alex Reyto

You're not alone if you're enamored by the farmhouse frenzy sweeping the nation. It's an accessible style that brings warmth and charm to interiors. Farmhouse living room lighting ideas have a country bent that incorporate natural elements like wood and metals and simple, timeless silhouettes. If you don't want your home to read straight out of ​Fixer Upper​, but you are into the look, adding farmhouse fixtures is a great way to bring some of the flavor into your home. Lighting is a subtle way to embrace a certain style because it can be easily replaced down the road if you tire of a certain look (hey, it happens).


Bohemian, or boho, living room lighting ideas are full of texture and often a hand-made quality that infuse the space with a laid-back, earthy quality that invites people to hang out. Boho lighting might include fringe, wicker, or bamboo. Enhance your free-spirited interior with plenty of textural and natural elements like thick hand-knit blankets and exposed ceiling beams.

Image Credit: Hunker in Partnership With Acme Real Estate

Similar to farmhouse is industrial lighting. Think of these two as cousins. While both bring a rustic look to a space, industrial decor tends to be all about function. With simple designs using raw materials, these fixtures make a statement without distracting from the rest of the space. They're distressed in appearance, with thick rough-hewn beams, beat up floors with a pronounced wood-grain, and emphasized grout lines. Rustic style lighting often includes oil-rubbed bronze finishes, cage fixtures, and rugged elements like antlers.

If you're looking for living room lighting ideas to match your picturesque craftsman, midcentury fixtures are the answer to your design prayers. From orb-shaped pendants to Sputnik chandeliers, this oh-so-dreamy style is impossible to ignore.

1. Lights for glamorous results.

A wreath-inspired chandelier is a feminine choice that adds elegance, without a lot of visual weight, to this traditional living room. Jean Stoffer installs it in conjunction with a set of black and brass floor lamps to ensure plenty of light is available. A pair of timeless hunter green velvet-covered sofas punctuate the room and stand out among neutral elements.

2. Coordinate your fixtures with the ceiling color.

You don't always have to draw attention to your lighting. A contemporary multi-arm ceiling fixture in white makes an architectural statement without distracting from the muted color palette of this soothing living room, while a simple set of sconces on a fireplace surround add contrast. Chango & Co. infused additional warmth and texture with woven leather lounge chairs and a reclaimed wood mantle.


3. Perhaps a dab will do.

A room surrounded by windows basks in natural light, so it requires less artificial lighting. In this elevated-bohemian space, Amber Lewis uses just a pair of traditional sconces above a fireplace for a measured dose of illumination and to draw the eye toward a set of layered artwork.

4. A bit of this and a bit of that.

This rustic living space by Lauren Leiss illustrates how to implement multiple light sources of various styles without overwhelming a room. An oversize pendant light, ceramic table lamp, and floor lamp work together to create a unique lighting plan with plenty of character. Cozy club chairs, patterned drapery, and salvaged wood beams add plenty of warmth.

5. Combine styles.

If you need further proof supporting the adage "opposites attract," just peep this room by House Seven Design in which a masculine modern sconce looks perfectly at home with a crystal-embellished art deco pendant light. Both bring equal doses of character and depth, while plenty of warmth and texture is added with woven blinds, a tufted area rug, and wood furniture.

Where to Shop for Living Room Light Fixtures:

Now that you're well-versed in putting together a living room lighting idea that works, check out a few of our favorite sources for great fixtures:


CB2 has a great selection of art deco, modern, and bohemian lighting at great price points.



Anthro's comprehensive lighting options never disappoint. They lean toward feminine shapes and bohemian style.

McGee & Co.

McGee & Co. offers an edited collection of timeless fixtures from many designers, all with high-style.

Circa Lighting

There's no shortage of lighting options by renowned designers at Circa Lighting. There's a good filter that makes browsing their huge selection more manageable.


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