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Living Room Lighting

Living Room Lighting 

A good lighting plan for your living room is often one of the more difficult plans to make.  Why?  Your living room lighting plan must be flexible enough to serve multiple functions.  And some want their lighting plan to change as they decide to change the arrangement of furniture in their room.  As a result lots of thought should go into what type of lighting you use in each area. 

Ceiling and Recessed Lighting
You might be installing recessed or track lighting to provide light all over the room or to light a specific area in your room.  Regardless, you’ll need to use the same principles.  Placement of fixtures isn’t something we’ll get into here, but the type of light bulbs you’ll need is something I want to recommend.   

If you are using recessed lighting all over your room, you’ll want to use a light bulb that will give you all over lighting.  Using incandescent standard A19 style light bulbs or going to a compact fluorescent twister style or A shape will give you an all over light.   

If you need recessed lighting to light a specific area, you will then want to go to a flood or spot light type light bulb.  Over a fireplace is the most common place to use these.  Some also like to use wide flood light bulbs in recessed lighting.  They give a large section of light without a total bright room and provide some interesting contrast of light.  

Portable Lighting
What do I mean by portable lighting?  Anything you can pick up and move, mainly table lamps and floor lamps.  These need to be placed at the end of sofas or beside chairs and sometimes in corners or areas not well lit by other lighting options.  Use portable lighting not only to light a reading area but to give a different dimension to your lighting plan either when overhead lighting is on or not.  Mini Deco Twister CFL light bulbs are perfect for these as they are super energy efficient and you don’t see the bulb….or shouldn’t. 

Art or Photo Illumination
There are three ways to illuminate art work or photos on your walls:  sconces, recessed lighting or track lighting.  In this application you will definitely want to use a spot light bulb in your recessed or track lighting.  Depending on the fixture you use, there will be different specifications as to how far from the wall and the angle in which you have your can.  Sconces can use lots of light bulbs.  Sconces will give more of an indirect light effect where it’s not spot lighted but just brightened.  Which application depends on the desired effect you have for the piece of art or photo. 

Wet Bar or Game Table Areas
Areas off to the side where you plan to have a table or bar can take some low hanging lighting.  Pendants are nice hung over a bar area and are generally hung in odd numbers; 3 being the most common.  Pendants should be hung 72” from the floor.  This allows for folks to stand across the bar and talk to each other and the pendant to not be in the way of conversation.   

If you are installing a larger pendent or chandelier type fixture over a game or hobby table, these you’ll want to hang at about 60” from the floor.  The biggest concern here is getting the light down to the task area. 

Inner Cabinet Lighting
There is nothing more interesting that having room to put a very small portable lamp on a bookcase shelf.  If your shelves are adjustable this might be an option for you.  You generally don’t want anything taller than 18”.  It’s often hard to find those petit good looking lamps but they do exist.   

The more prominent way of lighting a book case or display case of sorts is to have puck or Cove Powercore lighting.  Puck lights are small round lights that are installed roughly 18” apart on the underside of the shelf.  Cove lighting is a longer fixture that provides more all over lighting.  The fixtures can be added on to each other to go the length of the shelf.   

The top 3 or 4 shelves are most often what you’ll want to illuminate.  Sometimes folks will want to light the entire case but you don’t need to do this as your most important items will be on the eye level shelves and higher. 

Using these guidelines should help you formulate your living room lighting plan.  With some thought about what your room will look like and the functions of the room, a plan will begin to evolve. 


writen by:  Holly H. Eddins


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