“A living room…confronts each visitor with a style, a secular faith; he compares its dogmas with his, and decides whether he would like to see more of us.”-W. H. Auden, “The Common Life,” a poem About the House.
Lighting the Living Room from “Meh” to Magnificent!
A well-planned lighting design is essential to creating the perfect living room. Although it may be a more formal area in your home, the right lighting will truly make you feel like “living” in this multi-functional space.
More than any area of the home, the living room allows for creative and dimensional variation. A great lighting plan is essential to cultivating a shared space for solitary relaxation, as well as entertaining company.
Top 10 Lighting Tips for Divine Living Room Design
# 1 Aim to provide flattering light around seating areas. Casting a flattering glow will make you and your guests feel and look their best.
# 2 Control indirect glare bouncing off tabletops, metallic surfaces, and shiny floors by incorporating strategically placed light sources equipped with the correct lamps (bulbs)*.
*If opting for fluorescent or LED lamps, make sure these lamps offer a CRI (color rendering index) of 70 or greater. 80 would be best.
# 3 Provide ample general lighting to facilitate easy navigation and serve as a unifying element that brings various sections of the room together. Most living rooms attach to entry foyers and dining rooms; the lighting—especially chandeliers, decorative ceiling fixtures and wall sconces should tie in a common element like a particular finish, crystal composition or matching shade to build upon a complementary design theme.
# 4 Task lighting which offers additional illumination for seeing small details—music at the piano, cards at the game table, titles of books and recordings– needs to be plentiful and focused.
# 5 If your living room is a place where television/videos are located, you will need low-level ambient lighting that does not wash out the screen’s image or reflect into the viewer’s eyes. Cove lighting is a perfect choice for ambient illumination.
# 6 Game tables need bright evenly distributed light. Island lights or shaded pendants equipped with the latest LED (light emitting diode) or compact fluorescent lamps are one solution. *Pendants should hang 36 inches above the tabletop so as not to obstruct play.
# 7 Highlight bar areas with decorative mini pendant lights or recessed spotlights.
# 8 Illuminate fireplaces with ceiling fixtures to create a grazing effect across the surface. Decorate with wall sconces for an additional dimension to attractively draw attention to the fireplace area, while providing evenly distributed illumination.
*Note: When installing wall sconces, The American With Disabilities Act (ADA) requires a 4 inch maximum extension within specified zones in selected circulation areas. Mount wall brackets at eye level (5’ 6”) in living rooms with standard ceilings.
# 9 Bring out textures and colors with wall washing or wall grazing to add depth and interest. Strategically placed track or rail lighting may “raise” the texture of a surface when placed close to the wall, so that the light strikes at a grazing angle. Illuminated wall surfaces make spaces seem larger, while achieving a comfortable level of balanced brightness.
# 10 Illuminate sculpture and artwork with side and overhead spotlight lighting. Highlight wall art with individual picture lights. For a group of smaller pictures, light the surface as a whole rather than lighting each picture individually.
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