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14 July 2014
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Light panels and suspended globes

Lighting living rooms

Our living rooms are now multi-purpose spaces used for everything from watching television and reading to dining, entertaining and hobbies. With a flexible lighting scheme, you can create the illusion of different spaces for different activities, all within one room.


The lounge is where accent lighting really comes into its own: use it to highlight collections of books, glass, pictures, plants, ornaments or just one cherished piece to make a real statement.

Choose tungsten bulbs for a rosy, welcoming glow. Don't restrict yourself by making your lighting plan too fixed. For example, don't position recessed downlighters at either end of the sofa or above other items of furniture, as you may want to move it all around at a later date.

With so many products on the market, you can choose your fittings to blend in with your overall scheme, whether you go for the period look, such asTiffany-style lamps, or minimalist hi-tech chrome track.

  • Use table lamps dotted around the outside edges of the room on shelves and tables. They'll radiate light inwards, making the room feel spacious yet cosy.
  • Adapt your central overhead light so that it doesn't cast unflattering shadows. Either extend its flex - a simple job - and screw a cup hook into the ceiling so you can clip it out of the way, or put in low-voltage light to detract attention from it.
  • If your house already has a ceiling rose, it might look a bit strange without a light. Make a feature of it by hanging a spectacular decorative light and boost light levels elsewhere.
  • Use wall washers to give a good level of illumination, but remember that the light reflected back will be tinted by whatever shade your walls are - you don't want a sickly green pallor.
  • Position a freestanding uplighter or standard lamp behind the sofa.
  • Mount wall lights beside features that won't be moving - in alcoves, for example, or on either side of a fireplace.
  • For romance or entertaining, use a real fire and candlelight supplemented by wall lights dimmed to their lowest setting.
  • Commission a lighting designer to install a digital lighting display, which changes colour in timed sequences or in response to music.
  • Install a voice-activated system so you can command your lights to switch on and off.

Reading and watching television

  • If you want to read in an armchair, place the light to one side, behind and above your chair.
  • Fit a floor plug to make your lighting more flexible.
  • Watching television in total darkness is not a good idea - your eye constantly has to shift focus to follow the images, and the contrast between the bright screen and the dark room may cause eye strain.
  • If too much natural daylight is coming in, you'll barely see the screen at all. Place the light either behind or beside the television.


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