How to Light a Living Room With No Overhead Lighting

No overhead lighting? No problem. Check out these sparkling ideas on how to light a living room with no overhead lighting, curated to make your space more interesting and functional.

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

How To Light A Living Room With No Overhead Lighting Ecomm Via Wayfair.comVIA MERCHANT

If you’re searching for ideas on how to light a living room with no overhead lighting, here are a few bright ideas to inspire you.

Adding lamps and task lighting is certainly important for functionality, while twinkle lights or art lights can create a focal point. Opening up the corners of a room with lighting creates depth and coziness. When choosing lighting for your living room, think about the color temperature and brightness of the bulbs, as well as how the shade diffuses light for a softer glow.

As an Interior Designer, I always encourage my clients to consider lighting as the jewelry of their space. With so many unique lighting options available, it makes sense to add style to their function. Think of lighting as art. A sculptural piece that adds texture, form and a potential focal point to a room. Like art, designer lighting can be a hefty investment, but if you fall in love, it’s worth it! Luckily you don’t have to spend a million dollars to add dimension, interest and functionality to your room since there are many affordable options to brighten up your world and artfully design your space. 

When looking for ways to light up your life, without overhead lighting, think of your room as a painting, photograph or a scene on the stage. Light up those dark corners and create pools and puddles of light to make the scene more interesting. Eliminate the shadows or bounce some sparkles off of the ceiling or walls. Lighting creates a mood and the good news is that you can switch it up. With the push of a button, you are the magic behind the curtain, controlling what the audience sees and where their focus is directed. Add a floor lamp to that dark corner to illuminate the action, give your artwork the attention it deserves or set the stage with a magical reading corner.  

Furthermore, light bends and bounces. If you need more light in your space, a lamp or pendant that is open at the top will send its beams to the ceiling where it will bounce and create more illumination in the space. Whereas a hooded shade will only direct the light downward, essentially cutting the output of the bulb in half.

And when you need task lighting in a room without overhead lighting, look for enough output (or lumens) that the fixture is capable of emitting. Light bulbs have traditionally been measured in lumens and color temperature. In filmmaking, a 5000 Kelvin fixture is used to simulate sunlight. In residential lighting, a 3000K bulb is a cooler bright white, whereas a 2700 bulb gives off a warmer glow. Since light is measured on a color spectrum 5000K is on the cool blue side and 2700K is closer to the red side, making the light appear warmer. It’s like editing a picture on your smartphone—warm it up or cool it down. You have the same control over the live shot of your house. But be aware, the color temperature of the light may make your wall color or furnishings appear different.

Since the advent of light-emitting diodes, more commonly known as LED lights, reading the label on a bulb has become a little more confusing. The lumens is the amount of light that the source emits. A light bulb that specifies 820 lumens is approximately equivalent to an old-school incandescent 60-watt lamp (even if the LED only uses 9 watts of power). For instance, in the kitchen, a 100-watt bulb with 1600 lumens output may not be enough light to light the entire room (or see the dirt on the floor). But it will certainly give you enough light to do the task at hand. You might need five times that amount of light in the kitchen. In that case, look for a multi-light fixture that can pump out more brightness to illuminate the entire space. Overhead lighting won’t help those dark corners, like under the cabinet, though. This is where you need to add a pool of task lighting. But be sure to check that color temperature and please, try to avoid fluorescent lighting.

 Floor Lamps Sheri Kaz/Family Handyman

Floor Lamps

Bevers 5 Light Large Silver Statement Chandelier With Cascading Crystals Via Merchant

Plug-in Chandelier

Dimmable Led Wall Mounted Picture Light With Remote Via Merchant

Art Sconces

Shine Decor Dual Row Plus Led Strip Lights Bright 510lm M, Ac 120v Dimmable Rope Light Via Merchant

Cove Lighting

Ditmars Indoor 300 Bulb 118'' Plug In Led Fairy String Light Via Merchant

String Lights

Custom Neon Sign For Wall Via Merchant

Novelty Art Lights

Sheri Kaz
As Associate Shopping Editor, Sheri helps Family Handyman readers find well-designed products to enjoy their time spent at home. Her expertise lies in interior design and gardening. When she’s not searching for the next inspired home or garden solution, she enjoys dancing, painting and the great outdoors.