Not sure what ceiling lights work best in a living room? Try these 18 bright ideas 

Don’t be in the dark when it comes to how best to light your living room…

Regardless of whether your living room style is formal or fun, it’s likely a place where you relax, entertain and spend time with loved ones. It’s also a room where lighting needs to adapt to changes in natural light, as well as taking you from day to night. 

If this list of requirements makes you feel like hiding in a dark room, fear not. In fact, dare we say it, prepare to be dazzled: here’s a selection of living room ceiling lighting ideas we’re sure will flick your switch.

living room with multi-shade ceiling light on a white ceilingCredit: Dunelm
We’re shining a light on living room ceiling lighting ideas

The most common types of ceiling light.

These sit flush with the ceiling and usually have a rounded shape with a cover. 

Lights with a top piece thatsitsflush to the ceilingto cover wiring,butthe fixture itself is suspendedslightly underneath. 

Usually include multiple sources of light and hanglowerfrom the ceiling.

These usually have a ceiling-mounted fitting from which extends a cable and bulb(s). They come in a variety of designs with an existing lampshade or fixed covering. They can also be purchased as a single unit, allowing you to pick the shade of your choice.  

This type of fixture has a long track and multiple lights that you can often adjust and point towards different areas of the room. 

Usually referred to as spotlights, thesesit completely flush with the ceiling,withmost of thefixtureinside the ceiling itself. 

1. Use organic-shaped pendants

Pick natural materials to complement your interior

Since the pandemic we’ve seen a continuing theme in interiors for a more natural aesthetic filled with rich, earthy tones and soft, textured fabrics. 

Helping us to feel safely cocooned in our homes, it’s a theme you can take from floor through to ceiling. This means your lights need to be considered an integral part of the scheme.  

“When styling the living room, it’s important to carefully consider the lighting, as this can help to pull together the whole look of the room,” says Helena Davies, head of buying at furniture retailer Barker and Stonehouse 

“The ceiling lighting in particular is key; it needs to not only look good to complement the decor, but also has to be functional in the space, providing good illumination.” 

Although this living room appears to have plenty of natural light (making us suspect the lights are more decorative than functional), we love how they have still been considered an important part of the overall design.  

Their organic shape and differing heights also draw attention to the stunning architectural beams during the day. The added bonus is that at night they will help to create a cosier feel by diverting your eye from the vast vaulted roof. 

Advertisement

2. Match ceiling lights to furniture

Use the same shapes and colours for a cohesive and luxurious interior

Nothing says quiet luxury more than a simple monochrome scheme where subtle links between your furniture, lighting and decor combine to create an overall finish that oozes with style. 

It’s clever finishing touches, such as matching the colour and shape of your living room ceiling light to your furniture, that will help separate the extra from the ordinary.  

And it seems the desire for more luxurious lighting is one we’re set to see more of, according to Helen Pett, design ambassador at lighting, furniture and accessories specialist Arteriors.  

We’ve seen a demand for luxurious lighting ‘jewellery’ pieces: those statement lighting designs that really add something special,” she says. 

This year, we’ve seen a notable growth in chandelier sales, particularly for living rooms. It’s a really nice touch to bring a sense of grandeur and luxury to a space.” 

And although rising mortgage rates may be slowing down the property market, Pett thinks this actually may be one of the reasons for the increasing interest in luxe.  

Perhaps rather than buying a new house, people are choosing to renovate and update their homes with luxury pieces,” she suggests. “This will ultimately add value (along with style) to existing decor schemes. 

Featured product

Arteriors Rondelle Chandelier In Blackened Iron

RRP: £4,720

Arteriors Rondelle Chandelier In Blackened Iron

3. Contrast a darker interior with lighter-colour shades

But vary the shape and size to add interest

If your living room interior design includes dark walls and furniture, choose a pendant light with cream or white shades for a contrasting effect.  

Take note from this scheme, which has also used a floor, ceiling and table lamp to cleverly frame the seating area, thus marking out a clear zone for relaxing or entertaining. Known as layering, it’s a technique favoured by interior designers. 

Connor Prestwood, interior design specialist at lighting firm Dowsing & Reynolds, explains: Layered lighting is about aiming for a combination of ambient, task and accent lighting to create a well-balanced and versatile scheme.  

Having more lighting options will give you more control, enabling you to set the perfect ambience any time of day.” 

4. Hang futuristic LED lights

Choose contemporary pendants and add a halo effect to your living room

Prefer something more sculptural? LED lights offer a wealth of options to switch up your living room ceiling lighting. 

During the day, lights – such as those featured in this scheme – will serve to illuminate the area as a whole. At night, they’ll become glowing halos to highlight zones, furniture and features of your interior design scheme. 

Picking the same design for your ceiling, floor and table lights will also bring a sense of unity to the room. Hang them in clusters or as groups for an even more dramatic effect. 

5. Hang your lighting from a painted ceiling panel

Add an intricate and luxurious chandelier to a handpainted work of art

We’re a fan of painted ceilings. They’re the fifth wall in our world, and while painting them a block colour or wallpapering works well, this living room ceiling lighting idea shows you can do even more. 

It’s the ultimate luxurious look, with a ceiling mural and a glittering double-layer glass and gold pendant.  

And yes, while we accept that the overall room design is probably more ornate and luxurious than your average family home, there’s no harm in adapting the feel to suit your own individual space.  

Advertisement

Create your own version by adding a frame around your existing ceiling light using wooden moulding from your local DIY store. If you feel your painting skills arent up to the task, simply inset a section of self-adhesive wallpaper in a design that you love into the panel.  

Ensure you consult an electrician before moving any ceiling lights or you could risk invalidating your home insurance

6. Go low

Create a cosy corner with a low-hanging ceiling light

“If you’re thinking of using pendant lighting in a living room, consider the ceiling height, as this will dictate how low your light can hang,” advises Pett. 

“Avoid longer pendant chains where these may interfere with head space – no one wants to bump their head on a chandelier! 

Of course, it’s common sense to make sure you avoid injury, but if you just can’t resist the charms of that long pendant light in your favourite home store, there’s a solution. 

Instead of installing it in the centre of the room, hang it closer to a wall. As well as avoiding the risk of an accident, you’ll create a cosy corner and ambient light that’s perfect for relaxing. 

Featured product

Dutchbone Tangan Pendant Light

RRP: Reduced to £164.25

Dutchbone Tangan Pendant Light

It’s an idea that works for any type of light with extra length. If you don’t want to relocate your ceiling fitting, choose a light with a longer flex that can be trailed over a hook in the ceiling.

Featured product

Brass Pendant Ceiling Light by Houseof

RRP: £179

Brass Pendant Ceiling Light by Houseof

7. Bare all with an exposed bulb

But make it large and frame it in gold for a more striking effect

Although high living room ceilings can seem like a hindrance when it comes to decorating or repair, they’re the dream of most lighting and interior designers. 

Why? It’s a chance to make a statement. And what better way to do this than by opting for an oversized staple item such as a lightbulb showcased in an angular gold frame. 

Davies agrees: “If ceilings are high, an oversized light works well. For the design-conscious, opt for a shade with a more sculptural style for a unique look.”  

It’s an idea that would work well with any colour scheme – although we love how the gold and white light in this room is strikingly prominent against the rich red walls. 

If your walls are painted in a darker shade, choose glossy surfaces for furniture such as coffee tables. The shinier finish will reflect and bounce the light from ceiling lamps back into the room.  

8. Use floating glass bubbles

And add decorative accessories to match

You can always identify a well-considered interior when there’s a silent conversation within the room. You’ll notice items that “talk” to each other because they share a connection. In the case of this living room, it’s the floating glass ceiling lights that acts as big brothers to the smaller glass vase on the side table below. 

And while it may have been tempting to choose a darker light fitting for a monochrome scheme, there’s another reason why the glass works well in this design.  

As Jo Plant, head of design at lighting company Pooky explains: If you have low ceilings, it’s best to avoid large, low-hanging fixtures. They have the effect of bringing the ceiling down into the space and making the room look smaller.” 

So even though the ceiling in this living room isn’t particularly high, choosing a clear glass finish doesn’t compromise the sense of space as the transparency ensures light filters through when it’s not switched on.  

9. Paper shades are still a “thing”

But go large to make them more style conscious

If you set up home during the Nineties, it’s likely you’ll remember paper lampshades. Cheap, cheerful and usually sold in white, they felt like a step away from the more traditional fabric lampshades that had graced many of our childhood homes. 

Fast forward 30 years and they’ve never really gone out of fashion. They’re still a staple ceiling light – working especially well when the rest of your interior is filled with vibrancy and colour.  

If you’re worried a paper shade may look like a poor relative next to your sumptuous sofas and jewel-coloured tones, simply opt for an extra-large version. What it lacks in colour it’ll make up for in size. 

10. Pick plug-in-ceiling lights

Perfect for when electrics are tricky

Although you may love the architectural features of your home, they can become problematic if they prevent you from hanging ceiling lights.  

I recently encountered this problem when I moved into a new apartment. It’s a listed building and has a long wooden beam above the space where I wanted to place my dining table. The solution? A plug-in pendant light. 

While I’ve opted to cover my bulb with a shade, the rise in LED bulbs has led to the humble light bulb taking centre stage. No longer a utilitarian item that needs hiding with a more decorative shade, they now boast unusual-shaped filaments, come in a variety of sizes and are an ideal solution if a plug-in cable is your only option. 

If you’re concerned these lights may make your room look more like an unfinished building site, follow the advice of Davies and add extra lights such as a floor lamp or wall lights: They can help set the overall mood in the room, and work especially well during the evenings, or while entertaining guests, creating a cosy and inviting atmosphere.” 

11. Choose flush-mounted fittings for lower ceiling heights

They also work well with dark ceilings

If you’ve braved a darker ceiling colour, shine a light on your success by choosing a living room ceiling light that hugs the space, rather than hangs away from it, especially if your ceiling isn’t even that high. 

Flush or semi-flush fixtures work better with lower ceilings,” says Prestwood. “There are so many beautiful designs to choose from that will still make an impressive statement.”  

The linear, offset angled style of this light contrasts well with the uniform lines of the panelling and glass dividing wall. All elements follow the theme of lines across the living room, but are executed in a slightly different manner. 

12. Pick pretty pleated shades

Match your cosy and colourful interior with a clever take on a country cottage staple

If your look leans towards contemporary cottage, then it’s important to ensure your lighting complements that. It’s done exceptionally well in this scheme, which includes a variety of pretty pleated shades in different colours and fabrics. 

And while a single pleated shade could have worked on the ceiling, there’s a reason why bigger is better in this room. 

As the space above the picture rail is painted white – a sharp contrast to the colours and patterns below – it’s important to pick a light that doesn’t simply fade into the background.  

Here’s why: 

  1. It adds extra light to the room.
  2. It helps fill what could have otherwise felt like a white void. 
  3. It draws the eye upwards so that the room feels taller than the height of the picture rail.  

13. Add symmetry with spotlights

But add wall and table lights to ensure the look isn’t too sparse

The rule of three is something you’ll often see invoked in interiors. It’s used to great effect here where a spotlight, wall light and table lamp line up each side of the sitting area to make a set of three. 

Choosing spots is always a good idea when you want the focus to remain on architectural features – in this case the exposed oak beams and supports.  

Add extra symmetry to the design with matching cushions, side tables and a picture frame above the sofa and you have a simple but extremely effective interior. 

14. Install smart lighting

Great for tech and ambience lovers 

If you prefer a home more automated, or like the idea of being able to change the colour tone to suit the mood or the occasion, smart lighting may be the living room ceiling lighting solution you need. 

We asked Giuliano Ghidini, UKI consumer commercial leader atSignify (formerly Philips Lighting) to explain how smart lighting works. 

Traditional home lighting, using incandescent light bulbs, works by flipping a switch on and off,” he says. “Sometimes it’s connected to a dimmer switch, but this is generally the extent of its functionality.  

Smart lighting, using LEDs, allows you to have more control over your lights. Using your smartphone you can tweak the colour, brighten or dim the bulb or switch it on or off, to create the perfect ambience for you.” 

Aside from the aesthetic benefits, it’s also believed that the right lighting can boost your overall wellbeing. A study published by the Building and Environment Journal in 2022 showed how natural light in the home is beneficial to our mood, but if your home is naturally darker, can smart lighting be a solution? Ghidini believes so.

We are all aware of the effect lighting has on health and wellness,” he says.For example, think about how much better you sleep in a pitch-black room or the way your energy dips during the darkest days of winter.  

These human responses are linked to the cycle of the sun, also known as circadian rhythms. Smart lights can mimic these natural rhythms, improving your alertness, mood and productivity.” 

Featured product

Centris 2-spot ceiling light

RRP: £264.99

Centris 2-spot ceiling light

How much light do you need? 

Ghidini says living rooms generally need about 20 lumens* per 0.09 sq m (1 sq ft). For example, if your living room measures 28 sq m (300 sq ft), you’d need about 6,000 lumens of light in the room (including the ceiling light and any other lamps or fixtures in the room).  

*A lumen is a measure of the amount of brightness of a lightbulb – the higher the number of lumens, the brighter the lightbulb. As a guide, an incandescent 60 watt bulb which is the equivalent of a 45 watt halogen bulb or a 9 watt LED bulb gives off 800 lumens. 

15. Use the same ceiling light in adjoining rooms

Create a sense of unity and flow throughout your home

If you’ve chosen to use the same simple colour palette and style in adjoining rooms, then there’s no reason why you need to use different light fittings. Find a light you love and hang it with pride not once, but twice. 

In this design, the simple white shade hung from a black cable perfectly suits the black, brown and off-white interior. The astute among you will also notice how the floor lamp follows the same aesthetic with the black stand and white shade. 

Simple, stylish and soothing, the cone-shaped living room ceiling light will cast a lovely glow over the seating area, while the one in the adjoining room is placed directly in line with it to create a natural pathway. 

Worried that brown is a tricky colour to include in your interior scheme? We disagree, and its becoming a colour were seeing more of in the world of interior design. Find out how to make brown interiors work.  

16. Classic candelabras are an elegant option

Pair with floral wallpaper and velvet covered sofas

Nowadays, candelabras are less about channelling Liberace and more about loving luxury. They’re a great option when you want something that nods to tradition but doesn’t overpower the room. 

When paired with soft velvet sofas and floral wallpaper they can ooze a quiet sense of glamour, and provide a lovely light at night with the candle-like glow from the exposed bulbs. For a touch of extra grandeur, add a decorative ceiling rose, but paint it to match your ceiling colour so that it’s a subtle, rather than standout, detail. 

17. Use mirrors to magnify

Line up your living room ceiling light with a mirror for an extra glow

In a room that’s slightly smaller, or requires more window coverings for privacy, adding a mirror opposite your ceiling pendant will help to add more overall light.  

To ensure the widest lighting spread, opt for a light on the larger side so that its glow casts far and wide. But, to avoid the mirror reflecting nothing more than a bright, glaring light, pick a pendant with a shade that allows soft light to diffuse through.  

We love this light not only for its looks, but also for its functionality. As well as spreading light above and below, the gaps between the panels allow small slivers of light to escape – turning a simple cream light into an object of beauty by night. 

18. Pick pink for a soft rosy glow

It’s a colour that will continue to feature in 2024 interior design

If you fell in love with Viva Magenta, Pantone’s colour pick for 2023, there’s no need to change your lights or interior colour scheme in 2024: pink is set to stay. 

In fact, there’s no better colour for living room ceiling lighting – it will cover you and your guests in a warm, cosy glow.  

Worried it’s too Barbiecore? Here are some tips on decorating with pink. Or why not take the lead from the styling here, where the addition of large green houseplants makes for a living room that’s more cultured than candyfloss. 

Featured product

Charlotte Chandelier in Antique Brass for Six Shades

RRP: £647

Charlotte Chandelier in Antique Brass for Six Shades
Advertisement
Sarah Harley

Written by Sarah Harley she/her

Published:

Since first picking up a paintbrush and experiencing the joy of re-decorating her bedroom in a questionable red, white and grey scheme as a young teenager, Sarah Harley was hooked on the world of interior design. This obsession even led to a real life ‘Grand Designs’ project in 2005 when she donned a pink hard hat and appeared on TV screens, project managing the renovation and extension of a Grade II listed 17th century Folly in South Wales.

Throughout her career, Sarah has gained an array of experience in several different roles, ranging from copywriting, PR, events management and photography to interior design and home staging. With her two passions being the written word and the joys of a beautifully designed home, Sarah’s mission is to open the door on the world of interiors, inviting readers in to help them work their way through the vast choice of products, ideas and trends so that their own homes can reach their full potential.

Away from work, Sarah fills her Pinterest boards with more ideas, dreams of where to travel, takes photographs and loves being by the sea. She has two sons and if she absorbed everything they said would also be a football expert. The fact is she is often more interested in the colour and design of the kit – but don’t tell them that.

  • linkedin