Light Your Living Room for Your Life

Deciding on for your living room isn't only a matter of taste. Functionality, lighting needs and the space itself are important factors to consider when choosing what types of pieces to include. Once you look at your space objectively, it'll help you decide what you need and give you a jumping-off point for your lighting design.

Let the Light Be the Design

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Wall lighting can make a huge impact on your living room design. Whether uplight, downlight or featured focused light, the light from wall sconces themselves can create a design statement. Use matching fixtures for a uniform look or or mix and match different sizes to make the variation a visual feature.

Featured Focus

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Add a little bling and a lot of drama to your modern living room with an . Lighting fixtures with dimmable LED bulbs provide a functional amount of ambient light. Look for unusual geometric or constellation-like shapes with open areas and sculptural style to play off the modern aesthetic.

Simplify the Classics

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When picking lighting fixtures for a modern farmhouse design, look for fixtures that evoke the charm of a traditional rustic farmhouse design, but are more streamlined. Think strong dark metals with minimal detailing or light shades reminiscent of glass jars, but with a straight-sided cylindrical edge.

Add Drama to Tradition

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To add a touch of modern, even ultramodern to a traditionally styled room, look for statement lighting fixtures. Large asymmetrical chandeliers, especially those that work with negative space, create a dramatic focal point and juxtapose the traditional elements in the room. Particularly in a room with high ceilings, the open space around the fixture emphasizes the design.

Stick with the Classics

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Mid-century modern design is wildly popular, but too much of a good thing winds up looking like a shrine. Choose a couple of classic elements from the design style that are instantly identified with the period, like a or a star mirror. Coordinate the metal tones with other elements in the room to give everything a sense of cohesion.

Keep a Low Profile

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Recessed lighting is a simple solution for the challenges of low-ceilinged living rooms, but don't stop there. Look for other ways to add additional lighting depending on your needs. Whether it's shelf lights or wall sconces over a reading area, you'll want to layer the light in small, inobtrusive ways to add functionality without taking up visual space.

Too High, Too Low, Just Right

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When hanging lighting fixtures in a living room, consider what kind of activity is going to take place there. In a cozier space, you might want to hang the light lower to make it feel more intimate, whereas in a large, open living space, hanging fixtures are better kept higher for better traffic flow.

Light a Match

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Complement a modern fireplace with a lighting fixture meant to look like candles. Look for a fixture with clean metal or wood framing—especially angled, geometric shapes—and smart LED lights to keep within an modern aesthetic.

Make Old Modern

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Along with being lovely to look at, alabaster lampshades give light a warm, diffuse glow. While a traditional material, you can incorporate the warmth of alabaster with fixtures that incorporate it into a modern streamlined design. Contrasting metals like bright chrome and a simple bowl-cut shade balance the old-world feel.

Circles and Squares

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While a modern design aesthetic is often about simple lines with minimal ornamentation, playing with fun shapes and quirky designs in your ceiling lighting is a great way to add a ton of personality to your living room. You can use single pendants or hang multiples together to increase the visual effect.

Make a Unifying Statement

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Exposed Edison bulbs and black metal are hallmarks of a modern industrial design. Selecting an for your living room that incorporates those elements will emphasize all the other modern industrial features to immediately give the area a unified sense of style.

Utilize Floor Space

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Floor lighting is a great way to add task-specific lighting to your living room design. Whether it's a chair-side reading light or a large arching floor lamp to illuminate a conversational seating area, they not only provide light, but also help define the areas of the room.

Hidden in Plain Sight

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If you have a room with a lower ceiling or a view that you don't want to block, look for flushmount ceiling fixtures to give you overall ambient light. If you want the fixture to blend in and not draw the eye, choose one that is the same color as the ceiling with minimal detailing so that it fades into the background.

Brighten Up From Below

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Floor lamps add both design style and bright illumination to a small living room space. Whether tucked behind a couch or next to a chair, they can provide both ambient light or direct lighting, depending on how they're focused. To make the most of the space, look for fixtures with a lot of output, like a theatre-style tripod lamp, a LED torchiere or a bright disk light.

Duplicate and Define

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In an open plan living-dining room, make sure to define which space is which. While furniture placement and rugs are important, another way to clearly designate the spaces is by installing overhead chandeliers in each area. Using the same fixture in both "rooms" keeps everything cohesive, but the placement over each area helps define the sections.

Big Impact, Small Space

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Small spaces can still pack in plenty of drama. A proportionally sized chandelier with lots of character can have a big impact in a smaller living room. Choose smaller fixtures that are big on design, like a vintage-styled . Hang it high enough so it doesn't interfere with traffic, but low enough that it still defines the area.

A Fan, Some Cans, A Plan

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Modern ceiling fan lights have come a long way from the four-bulbs-in-glass-shade days, and they can make a beautiful design statement with smooth, integrated LED downlights. But sometimes the ambient light they provide just isn't enough to illuminate the entire room. Add a handful of recessed lights to provide direct light to the areas the fan's light can't quite reach.

Simplified Farmhouse

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If your home has a farmhouse style, but you want to add a touch of modern, look for traditional-style fixtures that are pared down to the bare bones. A that's stripped back to just the frame and outfitted with Edison bulbs instead of faux candles evokes the essence of farmhouse without the fussiness.

Mix in the Modern

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Classically designed homes are often expected to have similarly elegant wall fixtures, but they can make the room feel overwhelmed with design details. A great option for light without too much drama is to use clean-lined, modern wall sconces that blend into the background. Light will wash over the walls and glow into the room, but the fixtures themselves won't draw too much attention.

A Nook for a Book

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Many readers have romantic visions of sitting inside on rainy days, tucked into a comfortable lounge chair next to a fireplace with a good book. Help make that dream a reality by installing a good reading light. A pin-up wall light can be installed fast, too—pin-up means the fixture has a cord you can just plug into any outlet—no electrician required.

Choosing lighting fixtures for your living room is easier when you approach the room from a functional perspective. Your specific needs will dictate your living room lighting scheme, be it reading areas, overhead lighting, sconces, seating areas, and more. Beyond the basic general lighting, your lifestyle will give you a clear idea of which fixtures to you need to complete your design.