A Helpful Guide to Living Room Lighting

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By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo
Even if your living area is endowed with ample natural daylight, it's imperative to think carefully about lighting to make sure your space is illuminated the way you want during all parts of the day.

Here, we've broken down three ways to successfully light up your space. Follow along and make sure to shop our lighting selection to put these tips into action.

1. Overhead Pendant Lighting

Overhead lighting solutions can provide a functional boost where natural light doesn't solve all your needs. Plus, it can add a serious dose of style. 

Tip: If you have an overhead fixture, put it on a dimmer.

Usage Case #1: Signature Pendant Lighting

The core of this Southern Californian prefab home was kept open to maximize natural light. Clerestory windows, walnut cabinetry, and concrete floors define the living room, while additional lighting is provided by a signature accent piece, the Moooi Random Light

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Moooi Random Light
Moooi Random Light
The Moooi Random Light is hugely dramatic and light as a feather. It began as a modernist craft project. Pot at first attempted knitting the fiberglass and then turned to wrapping the epoxy-dipped fiberglass around an inflatable mold. Once the mold was popped, the wonderful fiberglass globe remained. The exposed bulb in the center creates an allover glow when lit.

Usage Case #2: Cluster Chandelier

The Clear Ice Chandelier was designed to resemble a floating cluster of ice.

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ABC Carpet & Home Clear Ice Chandelier
ABC Carpet & Home Clear Ice Chandelier
Available through ABC Carpet & Home, the Clear Ice Chandelier was designed to resemble a floating cluster of ice. It’s made up of nine mouth-blown glass globes and anodized aluminum stems that carefully hold them in place. Made in the USA, it was inspired by lighting designs of the past and takes cues from reflective, sculptural forms. Though it’s shown here in clear glass, you can also opt for smoke bulbs—all of which are five inches in diameter. You’ll find G4 halogen 10W bulbs included. Photo: Stephen Kent Johnson

Usage Case #3: Natural Materials
A hanging pendant light made with natural materials can bring some texture and warmth to a modern living room. 

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Moon  Scraplight Natural Pendant Light
Moon Scraplight Natural Pendant Light
Upcycling is currently going through a renaissance which was triggered, at least in part, by the green revolution. But Seattle-based studio Graypants takes things up a notch or two with the popular Scraplights series. Handmade from recycled corrugated cardboard, the Moon pendant proves that even a humble material has the potential to shine. When the light is in use, the undulating lines of the cardboard combine with the warm brown color to bring a rustic-chic accent into your home. You can install it on its own or paired with a couple of other pendants to create a focal point in any room. All of the pendant lights from the collection have a non-toxic, eco-friendly fire retardant coating, for more peace of mind.
Habi Pendant Light
Habi Pendant Light
Texture, form, and movement come together in this dramatic, spherical light fixture, designed with impeccable attention to detail by Hawkins New York. The natural rattan construction transports us to a bungalow along the jungle-lined shores of some faraway place. When lit, it casts a wide, patterned glow over your living room or bedroom. Photography by Linda Xiao/Food52.

Usage Case #4: Never Too Many Pendants
This house features one-of-a-kind glass pendants from Bocci that accent nearly every room.

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Bocci 28 Series
Bocci 28 Series
As much a meditation on process as it is a collection of functional forms, the 28 Series by Vancouver-based designer Omer Arbel is fabricated by manipulating the temperature and direction of air flow into blown glass. As a result, each pendant in the 28 series is unique, comprised of a subtly distorted sphere punctuated by inner shapes. The outer glass orb also encloses an opaque milk glass diffuser that holds a low-voltage xenon or LED lamp, creating an ambient effect. Each light can be installed as one sculptural element or grouped in a celestial arrangement. Photo: Jason Schmidt


2. Task Lighting 

This is the type of lighting that helps you accomplish everyday tasks like reading on your sofa. A mix of light sources at different levels can help create a cozy ambiance and ensure that you have adequate light. 

Tip: Living rooms should be lit in three of four corners with a combination of table and floor lamps. 

Usage Case #1: Matching Materials
This wooden standing lamp blends in with the rest of the home's material palette.

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Usage Case #2: Modern Sculptural Piece
This graphic floor lamp from FLOS stands out like a work of art. 

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FLOS IC Floor Lamp
FLOS IC Floor Lamp
Perched on a slender metal arm, the spherical diffuser of the Flos IC Floor Lamp relies on careful engineering to balance easily on its minimalistic frame. The opal shade diffuses the light warmly, playing off the metallic finish of the bracket shaped stem. Seeming to defy normal laws of physics, the unusual form and balancing act invites curiosity even when not lit. Photo courtesy of Design Within Reach

Usage Case #3: Functional and Stylish
Sometimes, the right call is to choose a floor lamp that looks like a blown-up desk light. They're bound to get the job done. 

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Vipp Floor Reading Lamp
Vipp Floor Reading Lamp
The Vipp floor reading lamp is a reading light for the living room. Equipped with details such as an adjustable arm for focused lighting, the floor reading lamp also features a perforated shade and matte glass for a pleasant diffusion of light.

Usage Case #4: Conversation Pieces
This iconic floor lamp by Serge Mouille, alongside the Flow S4 Pendant designed by Nao Tamura, work together to create a standout space that's inspired by the reflections of the Venetian cityscape.

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Serge Mouille Three-Arm Floor Lamp
Serge Mouille Three-Arm Floor Lamp
French designer Serge Mouille originally created his Three-Arm Floor Lamp in 1952 for a customer who requested a large light for his clients with large rooms in South America. He believed that the Italian models of the day had become too complicated, and he aimed to design something that was refined and unobtrusive. The result is an angular, almost insect-like design that includes three arms that can be rotated in various directions for well-directed light. Today, the shades are still produced with the original molds, proportions, materials, and techniques as what was used in the 1950s. Made in France, the light’s arms are joined to the diffusers while the lacquered aluminum and steel frame features brass ball joints. Mouille’s design is also available in ceiling, wall, and desk versions. Photo courtesy of Design Within Reach
Wonderglass Flow S4 Pendant
Wonderglass Flow S4 Pendant
The Flow S4 Pendant, designed by Nao Tamura, is inspired by the reflections of the Venetian cityscape glistening on the evening water that hints at an imaginary city below the moving surface. In Venice, where the real world and fantasy coexists, this pendant embodies the beauty of dual worlds. Available in hand blown Green glass with a Black stem. LED module totaling 12 watts is included.

3. Accent Lighting

Accent lighting can be used to enhance architectural details, artwork, or a favorite piece of furniture.

Tip: Use your lighting to create a spotlight on something special you want to highlight. 

Usage Case #1: Highlighting the Decor
Simple black ceiling lights are sprinkled throughout this house in areas that need extra illumination. Plus, some of them can be pointed in different directions in order to highlight certain areas of the space.

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Crisp Wall/Ceiling Light from Rich Brilliant Willing
Crisp Wall/Ceiling Light from Rich Brilliant Willing
The Crisp Wall/Ceiling Light is simple, modern, and a touch playful. Molded from solid glass, the diffuser of this modern light features a grooved front face that is reminiscent of the ruffles of a potato crisp. Using an integral LED light source, this flush mount light fixture provides diffused, accent light that is perfect for bathrooms, bedrooms, hallways, dining rooms, offices, and living room spaces.

Usage Case #2: Track Lighting
Track lighting serves a functional purpose, and can be integrated into your space in a more subtle way than you may have imagined. 

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Summit ACLED Beamshift Line Voltage Cylinder Track Head from WAC Lighting
Summit ACLED Beamshift Line Voltage Cylinder Track Head from WAC Lighting
The Summit ACLED Beamshift Line Voltage Cylinder Track Head is the perfect replacement for halogen MR16's as they offer lower wattage with superior lumen output, over 10 times the rated life span, less maintenance, no projected heat, and BeamShift technology in-field changeable beam angle. All Summit series track luminaires are equipped with BeamShift technology, allowing in-field modification of beam angle simply by changing the location of the lens.

Usage Case #3: Angular Ceiling That's Covered With Lights

The entertainment and dining spaces sit below the angular roof in this penthouse. A combination of two different types of ceiling lights illuminate the various angles of the ceiling.

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Fabbian Mochi Wall or Ceiling Light
Fabbian Mochi Wall or Ceiling Light
Mochi wall or ceiling light, from the Lumi collection, features a satin-finish, white, blown glass diffuser to evenly diffuse the light. The soft-shape allows this light to be used in various applications. Photo courtesy of Nostraforma
Atelier Areti Cone and Sphere Wall Light
Atelier Areti Cone and Sphere Wall Light
Cone And Sphere, a wall lamp proposed by Atelier Areti, is characterized by a powder coated metal structure and glass shade. It can be used either as a wall light or ceiling light. Photo courtesy of Milia Shop 

Usage Case #4: Accent Lighting That's Part of the Design

Discretely tucked away into an architecturally interesting ceiling, the lighting in this retreat is actually part of the space's design. 

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