A guide to choosing the perfect lighting for your living room

Words by Saj AzamFive Minute Read

Floor Lamp by Santa & Cole

How To Choose Lighting For Your Living Room

Welcome to the first instalment of Bombinate's Guides for Lighting your Home. This series will be an all inclusive guide to help you find the perfect lighting for every room in your house. Lighting can often be a tricky element of your interior to nail as it creates the ambience and feel of your space. We'd go as far as to say it's essential, as it enhances your living experience and complements your interior decor, think craftsmanship grade pieces with a timeless aesthetic.

Let's start with the most loved room of the house, the one where we all spend the majority of our time — the living room. It's a place of relaxation, comfort, reading and entertaining, which all require different forms of lighting. In this case, layered lighting would work best for this space so you can create the ultimate mood, whatever the occasion.

What's layered lighting? Layered lighting simply refers to using different types of lighting in conjunction to create a particular aesthetic or feel.

Pendant Bulb by Vitamin Living

Nest24 Pendant by Greypants

Type of Lighting

When it comes to lighting, there's four main types to mix and match and they all serve a different purpose:

Ambient Lighting

This helps to create the feel and tone of your space and will be your most used lighting. Perfect for relaxing and watching television – it's the main light source and can be anything from a chandelier or pendant to a couple of well placed lamps.

Style tip: create a focal point with a trio of pendant lamps like these ones from German artisan brand Dreizehngard.

Accent Lighting

Simple or extravagant, accent lighting is used to bring attention to or accentuate a particular feature, this could be a bookshelf, a poster, a painting or a fireplace. This type of lighting can come in any shape or form, from pendant lighting to wall sconces, spotlights and standing lamps.

Style tip: shine a light on your favourite artwork with wall sconces or a tactfully placed spotlight, take a look at this one from Spotlight.

Task Lighting

Ideal for reading, doing your makeup, working or any activity that requires focus, concentration and... good lighting. These lights also come in different forms and styles, mainly lamps – standing and table that can be angled to help keep your eyes from straining.

Style tip: this multifunctional desk lamp from Galula has a modern style and makes the perfect work buddy.

Decorative Lighting

This form of lighting's only function is to look nice. Think crystal chandeliers, vintage lights, fairy lights, neon signs and lanterns. This even includes candles!

Style tip: pillar candles and tea lights help to create a soothing environment for evening entertaining and unwinding, we love this tea light trio from British brand Concrete & Wax.

Oak Eikon Lamp by Schneid

Founders of lighting brand Schneid

What Form Should You Choose?

Now that you've developed a better understanding of the types of lighting, let's go through the different forms and what'll work best for your living room.

Ceiling Lights

Start with your ambient lighting, this will most likely be a pendent or chandelier that'll distribute light equally throughout your space and be your main source of lighting. Ceiling lights with dimmers are great for instantly adjusting light levels for your needs. Recessed lighting is also a great option for large spaces – we'd recommend to install one light per four square metres for the ideal ambient effect. For a particularly big space or open plan dining and living room, it would be best to incorporate recessed lighting with pendant lights for a balanced experience, and to help section off each area.

Style tip: looking to make a simple statement? We've got you covered with this utterly sophisticated light from Gobo Lights, while this one from Graypants' Scraplights collection looks sophisticated when layered with others in larger spaces.

What is recessed lighting? Typically installed directly into the ceiling like spotlights. This form of lighting helps to make a space look and feel bigger and is a minimalist way to illuminate.

Table Lamps

Lamps are extremely versatile and come in a range of styles and designs. They're great for illuminating dark corners, reading nooks, placing on a console or bringing symmetry to a room by adding on either side of a sofa.

Style tip: check out this one from Santa & Cole, it'll complement any minimal interior with its neutral tones. Or for something a little more modern, this one from Penta is perfect for highlighting your favourite artwork.

Floor Lamps

Standing lamps can be put anywhere – as long as they're not in the middle of the space or causing an obstruction. They're especially ideal placed next to a reading chair or behind a television to reduce glare.

Style tip: this one from Santa & Cole is ideal for larger spaces, while Contain's brass and terrazzo double lamp allows you to direct the light in whichever direction you need.

Wall Lamps

The perfect solution for smaller spaces, wall lamps and sconces allow you to add more light without taking up precious floor space. Plus, they add a sense of intimacy and warmth to your room. Whether you opt for downlights or uplights, they also provide a softer accent or ambient light.

Style tip: for wall lights that add a touch of elegance, discover these marble ones from Mor Design. However, if you're looking for something slightly more contemporary, we recommend these from premium brand Swedish Ninja.

Galula create striking cork pendants for any space

Find The Right Size

Sizing is pretty important when it comes to picking lighting for your living space. No glares, eye-strain or blinding lights while you're trying to catch up on Downton Abbey or settle into a good book.

The Lamp

If your lamp is going on a side table, your lamp should be 1.5x the height of the table and it shouldn't be wider than the table it's on. For a living room floor lamp, use a similar rule and measure from the floor to your eye level when sitting on a sofa or chair. When sitting down on the chair or sofa, the bottom of the lampshade should be roughly in level with or below your eyes.

The Lampshade

The general rule of thumb for picking a table lamp is the width of the lampshade should be the height of the lamp base and the height of the lampshade should be two thirds of the lamp's height. For a floor lamp, we recommend opting for a shade that's 30-50% of the height of your lamp.

What are uplight and downlights? Uplights are wall lights that cast light upwards on a wall. Downlights are designed to project light downwards on a wall

Greypants never fail to make a statement

Picking The Right Bulb

As well as the type and form of lighting, choosing the right bulb is an important element of the process. Here are some of the things you should take into consideration:

Colour Temperature

This will also depend on where the bulb is going. Warm/yellow bulbs create a cozy feeling in the bedroom or living, while white or cooler bulbs are better for rooms like the kitchen and bathroom that require brighter lights.

Voltage

The voltage on the light bulb should match the voltage of your lighting fixture. This will ensure your light bulb lasts longer.

Watts

This is all about the amount of energy that's required, while the lumens of a lightbulb tell you how much light energy is being produced from the bulb. The higher the lumens, the brighter the bulb.

Shape

Light bulbs come in all different shapes and sizes and the kind of bulb you need will depend on the light fixture. A round bulb is the most classic and ensures balanced illumination.

Base

When it comes to bases, this is another factor that depends on your lighting fixture. Screw and pin are the two main types of bases you'll come across – this will also impact the size and shape of the bulb you choose.

FAD Table Lamp by Santa & Cole

@southsidehome makes the case for pendant lights

How To Layer Lighting

So now that we've been through the basics, let's talk about how you can begin to layer the lighting in your living room for a perfectly balanced space.

Step 1: figure out what your ambient or main source of light will be, typically this would be a pendant or chandelier – ideally one that illuminates the whole room.

Style tip: for a small space opt for something like this minimalist one from Puik. And for a larger room, we love this one from Tolhuijs.

Step 2: it's time to bring in the accent and task lighting. Unless you have a reading nook or a desk in your living room, task lighting isn't required here.

Style tip: for accent lighting choose some fun and playful table lamps that are in keeping with your interior. Check out this one from Humble with an exposed lightbulb or this one from Santa & Cole for a soft, warm touch.

Step 3: the last step is to pick out your decorative lighting and fill out the gaps. This could be a small lamp, fairy lights or candles. Take the time to think about the mood you want to create.

Style tip: this brushed brass Fig table lamp from Contain adds a soft warm glow, while these giant flood candle holders from Woodendot set the perfect mood and look great in any corner.

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