Illuminating ideas for the perfect living room ambience

Beth Cochrane Beth Cochrane
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The living room is probably the place where you will spend most of your time when at home. The lazy days, relaxing evenings, dinner parties and kids' parties—a lot of these hours will be spent in the living room. So take your time when designing this space; it's an important one. But furnishing your perfect living room is pointless if it's hidden in darkness. Lighting is the key to illuminating your fine design. 

There are so many different places to start when thinking about lighting. Sometimes a favourite way to begin is to optimise the amount of natural light allowed into the room, bringing in life and energy into the space. Obviously this is no good at all times—the sun doesn't rise and fall at the switch of a button. So focus on your indoor lighting or your design efforts will all be cast in gloomy vain. 

Sustainable sunshine

Here we see a prime example of well used natural lighting. This Scandinavian designed living room is awash with sunshine and streaming sunbeams, reflecting off the light and bright furniture. One wall is completely covered by window space with the blinds rolled up as far as they can go to allow in the optimum amount of light.

An entire wall of windows is especially lovely here as the room looks out over a beautiful cityscape view. Although the designer has mainly relied on natural light, they have been conscious to add extras. There's a lovely pendant light over in the dining space, elegantly dropping down above the table. In addition there's a lamp hovering over by the living room wall; extra protection against the dark when the sun sets in the evening. Overall this is a beautifully elegant way to light a luxurious space. 

Best of the bulbs

OK this is definitely more of a technical aspect of design but you really have to think about the best kind of bulb to suit your home. It has to be efficient, long lasting and priced well, preferably using the minimum amount of energy. LED bulbs, which you can see in this example, are excellent examples of a solid choice of bulb. They've become exceedingly popular in the past ten years for numerous reasons: they have high brightness and intensity, low current requirements, long life span and are very reliable. In short, they're effective, efficient and work well with the movement towards environmental conservation. Here they are being used in a track lighting, which evenly cast a glow over the room. Each bulb can be turned individually in order to highlight any part of the room you like. 

Lampshades, lampshades, lampshades

Provence Villa in İstanbul: country Living room by Orkun İndere Interiors
Orkun İndere Interiors

Provence Villa in İstanbul

Orkun İndere Interiors

This is probably the part of lighting design that you thought about first. Lighting a room = which lampshade should I buy? And rightly so; getting a suitable lampshade to fit in with the décor of your room is so important. It's one of the final touches in room design and not to be overlooked.

There are so many options to choose from; traditional lampshades to eclectic, modernist shapes. In this  example we see a chandelier lighting fixture. It drips with glass pendants and intricate design work: a fairly large statement of confident craftsmanship. A lighting fixture like this doesn't just accentuate the rest of the room, it becomes a focal point rather than a piece that simply highlights the rest of the room's décor. Be conscious of the space available in your room, though. If you don't have the space like this room does, it's probably best to stick to a smaller shade. Work with what you've got!

Fitting floor lamps

Sometimes strong overhead lighting can be a little too much: too harsh on the eyes or too illuminating for the atmosphere you'd like to create. In this instance, floor lamps are absolutely the way forward. A single floor lamp, possibly coupled with a table lamp and, if you're feeling fun, a few candles, can light a room with ambience and atmosphere.

Here, we see a lovely example of a floor lamp, which bends over itself and casts its light downwards. It's simple and effective with a clean, white shade covering the top of the bulb. A room like this definitely suits calmer lighting as, with its neutral décor, it's a very relaxing space. The choice of lighting has definitely accentuated this, bringing with it soothing tones for a place of complete relaxation. And who doesn't need a space like that to come home to at the end of the work day? 

Sultry side lamps

Side lamps work beautifully alongside a well placed floor lamp, helping to create that sultry yet cosy atmosphere, which the winter evenings call for. And sure, they look great for all the same reasons as floor lamps do but with an extra added bonus… there's no getting up to turn them on, simply reach across the arm of the sofa and flick the switch, and bam—it's on! Absolutely perfect for when you're snuggled under a blanket, not wanting to enter the cold air of the blanket-less room.

Here, we see the side lamp that's a classic example of its kind. A white shade shields the eyes from the full on glare of the bulb, while working effectively to fit in with the rest of the furnishings and décor. It's plain and simple, an extra feature that is both practical and fashionable. 

Reading light

classic Living room by Olga Kulikovskaia-Ashby
Olga Kulikovskaia-Ashby

The Flat in Historical Building on Tsvetnoy Boulevard in Moscow

Olga Kulikovskaia-Ashby

If you're like us and still enjoy curling up on the sofa with a good, old fashioned book, a reading lamp such as this one is the perfect way to light your living room. It stands on the floor and is adjustable to whatever angle you need; whether it's to light the rest of the room or simply the pages in front of you.

Reading lamps don't have to be confined to the living room, though. You can have them in any part of the home where you find yourself with a book, whether it be the living room, bedroom or, if you're really lucky, in the library. Reading lamps like the one above come highly recommended as you can adjust it to any direction you like and it can fit into almost any space you choose. The glare of the direct bulb doesn't have to be too strong either, just angle is away slightly from the pages. Easy to do and you'll be able to see the cup of tea in front of you without knocking it over!

What's your favourite way to light a room? Let us know in the comments, below.
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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