You can pick up the coolest coffee table books, the sleekest mid-century sofa, or the most epic vintage accessories that money can buy — but if your living room doesn't have one basic interior design principle covered, you might not be creating the desired impact in your space. That might sound a bit dramatic, but the way you play with light in any room can be the thing that takes it from an ordinary space to an extraordinary one. And in some ways, this is even more important when you're short on space. That said, by knowing a few masterful lighting ideas for small living rooms, you'll not only be making yours look bigger, but you'll (quite literally) be highlighting all the other decor elements you want to show off.
Yes, it helps to know the latest lamp trends according to top interior designers, or to be aware of what retailers offer pieces that fit into your budget, but without the right lighting techniques, your room might not be living (pun intended) up to its full potential. By knowing where and how to use floor lamps, table tamps, and overhead lighting, or learning what shapes and styles are best to maximize space, you can create a chic, cozy, or dramatic room — depending on what you're trying to achieve — that guests won't stop gushing over.
To aid with any living room lighting woes you might have, Lamps Plus Brand Ambassador Lori Dennis and Modsy's interior design expert and Director of Style Alessandra Wood have come up with a few tips that will brighten things up in more ways than one. Ahead, find their best advice along with some options that will help you make the best of your space.
Layer Your Lighting
According to both design pros, layering lighting is key. This means not just relying on overhead lighting or table lamps alone — but knowing how to combine different types. "Using floor lamps that shine light on ceilings are my secret weapon for illuminating small spaces," explains Dennis. "When they include features like down lights for reading, it allows for lighting up two spaces, one task, and overall glow with one small fixture." And Wood cosigns on this concept of doubling, even tripling down on lighting. "In small spaces, having the ability to make room bright or lower the lights to set the mood can make your space feel much more versatile," she shares. "This means in addition to overhead lighting, add two or three lamps throughout the living space."
According to Wood, lighting your room this way allows you options for creating the ambience you desire. "A floor lamp in a corner or next to a side chair, and one or two table lamps means that you can create a very bright space, with all lights on, or have directed, task lighting, for reading," she elaborates. "Or, when watching a movie or having a romantic dinner, you can turn on just one light subtle feel."
Find A Piece That Can Multitask
When your space is limited, pieces that work double duty can make all the difference in the world. "In a small living room space I love using a combo table/floor lamp," offers Dennis. "Multiple purpose pieces are big on function without sacrificing style."
Create An Arc
"Arc lamps are amazing for small spaces," Wood says. "First, they provide visual interest and second, they allow for an overhead light without having that corporate office feel." This option is especially great for those who aren't big fans of their existing ceiling lighting — as well as those who don't have any at all, or renters who don't have the option of installing one.
If you're truly short on space, you might want to skip a clunky table lamp in favor of a modern, globe-style one — both for its aesthetic and its ability to offer ambient lighting without taking up much room. "They double as a small sculpture and add a soft glow for cozy nights," Wood adds.