, ArchiPro AU
19 September 2022
10 min read
When looking at living room lighting options in Australia, the sheer number of choices can certainly be overwhelming. You want to make sure you're choosing the right light fixture for the right space while embracing or enhancing the natural elements of the living room itself. Choosing the right lighting options and schemes is all about focusing on your specific needs and working with what's there. The best ideas, manage to do this and, as you’ll see, there are a number of approaches you can take for any given situation.
Task lighting is a style of lighting that literally does what it says on the tin. It provides temporary light so a specified task can be carried out. For a living room, this task lighting is usually for reading and/or working but can also include social activities like playing chess or board games. Excellent examples include adjustable floor lamps, swing-arm lamps, table lamps, and movable wall lights.
Related article: How to choose a lamp that’s perfect for you
A living room is a multipurpose space. It can be a place to entertain friends, watch TV, eat dinner, and work. Because of this, it's important to have multiple light sources so you can perform a variety of tasks with ease. Before planning out your living room lighting, think about what you do need.
Do you have a painting or piece of art that you want to highlight? Do you have a small space that doesn't need to be lit unless there are guests over? How much natural light does the room get? These answers will inform your lighting design which will more than likely require multiple sources. This will also create a nice effect of layered lighting, giving the space added dimension and depth.
The goal with accent lighting is to throw the spotlight on some of your favourite things (sometimes literally). These could be architectural features or important objects like wall art or sculptures. They also have the added benefit of drawing attention away from things that aren't as appealing.
Accent lights can include picture lights, cabinet lighting and niche lighting. You could also use subtle spotlights along shelves or under cabinets to cast a warm and appealing glow.
Related article: The secret to great cabinet lighting
It's important not to illuminate your living room too much, but this doesn't mean you have to be short on room lighting ideas. You can use warm-white bulbs or something that casts a more ambient moderate-light bulb for a cosy feel.
You also want to consider creating a more eco-friendly lighting solution, so invest in energy-saving LED bulbs where you can. While they're slightly more expensive in Australia right off the bat, they're better and cheaper in the long run. The great news is, in the modern age, energy-saving bulbs come in many fun and unusual shapes, so you don't need to sacrifice style for your wallet.
Simple designs can often be the ideal finishing touch for a room. Contemporary living room styles are all about clean lines, dramatic shapes, and unusual fixtures. Consider playing with materials and texture, but know that you should have matching pieces where possible if you're going for a clean, minimalist look.
Related article: The complete guide to contemporary home decor
If you have a room that gets no natural light and feels claustrophobic and tight, a warm, even glow around the room could soften those hard edges. Choose warm lights for a sense of ambient lighting, or a luxurious feel, and wall lights mainly help bounce light back into the room. This helps the space feel more comfortable and gives more depth than more traditional overhead lights.
Warm wall lights also have the added benefit of lighting up shady corners, which can make a small room feel even smaller. They're also great for rooms that don't get a huge amount of natural light, since you can easily illuminate the entire space without it feeling overwhelming.
You can use lighting to decorate, so don't feel you always need to shy away from older styles. For example, you can blend modern interior style with interesting, gothic style sconces. They don't have to blend into the background. In fact, they can become a decor element in themselves when done well.
This is especially important if you're trying to embrace the innate style of your property. Traditional materials like natural stone are excellent in a period property but work just as well in a modern space.
Related article: Effective ways to use interior wall lights
A statement piece is going to look different for everyone. It could be a single but ornate hanging pendant or a massive lamp that takes the place of a pot plant.
The great thing about statement pieces is that they can bring an architectural feeling to your living room. You especially want to look for pieces that use oversized round bulbs or have interesting structures like mid-century or industrial styles. You’re putting yourself out there when you choose a statement piece for lighting but the risk is nearly always worth the reward.
Speaking of industrial styles, there's something to be said for an aesthetic that embraces a pared-back look. Industrial-inspired interior design has been in fashion for some time, and it's because it looks great and is stylistically versatile.
The best thing you can do here is to use oversized metallic pendant lights, just keep in mind that they can be a bit harsh, so level them out with soft accents and spotlights.
Related article: 7 modern pendant lighting options for your home
Lanterns are great because you can hang them, stand them on a table, or use them around a room to add layers of light. Experiment with mixing and matching sizes and patterns, and throw down some floor cushions to add a textural and bohemian vibe to the room.
This leans a bit into multi-functional lighting, but the goal is to give yourself a space where you can cut yourself off from the rest of the world. For this, you want a light that's easy on your eyes, so nothing too fluorescent or yellow. And, to give the space some extra warmth, choose lighting fixtures with copper, brass or wooden structures or accents.
Fairy lights are the secret tool of any novice decorator, but that doesn’t mean they’ll look amateurish. Whether you've decorated countless homes or just one, fairy lights are a quick and easy way to add some ambience to your lounge lighting.
You can wrap them around windows or picture frames or even a living room mirror if you have one. Fairy lights around a mirror will bounce the light further through the room, making your space look bigger while making it feel cosy.
A big floor lamp may not be the best thing for illuminating a room, but they're great for adding a touch of drama, especially if you choose an oversized lamp. It would be ample light for a movie night or drinks with friends, acting as a great source of mood lighting at the same time.
Choose a large lampshade to match the scale for the biggest impact and create a focal point for the room.
Related article: 6 tips for creating great mood lighting in your home
This is a great example of highlighting a piece of furniture with light. Coffee tables can be incredibly stylish and a low-hanging light will create some focus for them. It’ll also further illuminate the central space of the room, opening it up for socialising with friends and more.
Like a moth to the flame, your guests will be drawn to the direction of the ceiling light, meaning you can place snacks on the table and create a central point for conversation. If you can find a lighting fixture that stylistically matches the coffee table, even better.
There are plenty of ceiling lights to choose for a living room but a chandelier is always a bold choice. A chandelier can suit any space, whether it’s traditional or modern. If you have a modern space, leaning towards a more traditional and detailed chandelier can actually create a beautiful juxtaposition. Likewise, a modern chandelier placed as an overhead light can breathe new life into a traditionally styled space, that might otherwise feel a bit stale and dated.
Related article: 9 extraordinary chandeliers for 2022
Swapping a ceiling light out for an arc light might seem a bit extreme but is definitely a feasible option to consider as a living room lighting idea. Its dramatic curved arm creates a more focused light and can also make a space feel cosier too. They're also ideal for creating zones in your living space without having to rewire your lounge since you can move them around like a floor lamp.
If you have an open-plan kitchen and living room space, an arc light could blend the two spaces together while creating a softer and more welcoming environment.
If you're lacking in natural light, then recessed downlights in your living room ceiling can really bring in a good overall glow. If you can make these dimmable, then even better, but focus on having minimalist, sunken lights to take the attention away from the lights.
This deviates from what we've been talking about in the rest of this article, but sometimes you want your lights to fade into the background. Recessed lighting in general, particularly downlights can also make your room feel more spacious, with no light fixture bearing down from above. Combine these recessed downlights with cosy wall or floor lights and you'll be good to go.
Related article: Downlights - the essentials
Table lamps are like the secret sauce for your living room. They're not just for reading anymore. Pop a lamp on your side table or maybe a couple on a console, and you've got instant mood lighting or a warm glow. Plus, they're a great way to show off your style. Go for something bold and colourful, or maybe sleek and modern, depending on what your room feels like. It's an easy update that makes a big difference. And the best part? You can move them around whenever you want a change.
Ambient light is your living room's base layer of illumination. It's not about bright lights or spotlights, but a soft glow that blankets the entire room. Think ceiling fixtures with dimmer controls, allowing you to dial up or down the light intensity. Wall-mounted fixtures can also contribute to this gentle illumination. The key with ambient light is to avoid any harsh shadows or bright spots, creating a calm, even light that's easy on the eyes and perfect for everyday living. This foundational living room lighting scheme layer sets the tone, ensuring your living room is a welcoming space at any time of day.
As you can see, there are plenty of bright ideas for your living room lighting. There's a solution to meet every space and need, and your only limitation is your imagination. Whether you're looking to enhance some unique architecture in your home or illuminate an underutilised space, you’ll be able to achieve your goals through thoughtful and precise lighting.