Whether it’s for reading or relaxing, the right lighting helps us do all our living better. Add instant style and function to your living spaces with these ideas for accent lighting, chandeliers, sconces, and more.
Create Layers of Light
Light layers should be placed to bounce illumination throughout a room and eliminate shadows from corners. In this, a burnished metal chandelier supplies overall light and visual interest. Twin sconces supply soft accent lighting and define the area around the fireplace and mirror. A scrolling floor lamp offers task lighting for the seating area.
The most classic of all living room lighting fixtures is the chandelier. Generally positioned in the center of the room directly over the main seating area, these elaborate lighting fixtures are at once the room’s main source of illumination and works of art. Their sculptural shapes fill the void between the ceiling and the living space, and their twinkling, often candle-shape bulbs provide a multipoint illumination that softens shadows and makes the room’s highlights sparkle.
Not all light fixtures are designed primarily for illumination. These chandelier-style sconces, for example, are accent lighting primarily designed to add shape, texture, and contrast to walls. Most sconces are symmetrically placed, flanking a focal point such as a fireplace or large mirror.
For lots of light from an unobtrusive source — such as the illumination needed in this living room — it’s hard to beat recessed lighting. With illumination provided by halogen, incandescent, or compact florescent bulbs, recessed can lights allow you to position a focused, downward-facing beam exactly where you need it. You can also overlap beams for overall lighting from a virtually invisible source. Dimmers and separate switches for various light banks allow you to change the character and emphasis of a room’s illumination.
There’s nothing like firelight to connote coziness and romance, and this living room makes the most of it; in addition to the blazing hearth, candles amassed on a tray suspended from the ceiling add a cheerful glow. The room’s rustic furnishings and exposed beams complement the firelight’s nostalgic feel.
Living Room Skylights
Skylights are a dramatic way to bring daylight into a living room, and they are especially effective at adding sunshine to areas that window light can’t reach. Because they face upward, skylights bring in a great deal of light for their size.
Consider a tubular skylight to bring light into a room in an area without much ceiling space. These fixtures pipe daylight in from a collector on the roof to a diffuser in the room’s ceiling, without the expense of building a finished skylight well.
Versatile track lighting has many virtues: It can act as a downlight, a flood light, a spotlight, and an accent light. Fitted with enough light fixtures, a track lighting system can also serve as a room’s overall illumination system. Track lighting is flexible, allowing you to change the location and direction of the individual fixtures to suit any room arrangement.
Small-Scale Track Beams
The lines of your lighting fixtures can provide sculpture as well as illumination. Use small-scale track beams to put the spotlight on bookshelves, artwork, and display items. Choose a lightbulb that will render colors more accurately than ordinary incandescent bulbs and lend an extra sparkle to fine-wood veneers and gilded picture frames.