Living Room Lighting Scheme?

Category: Living Room

After a summer focused on other things, we're about to ramp up again on the living room work that we started almost a year ago.

Up next? Reworking all the electrical in the room, including the lighting.

This means we need to decide how a combination of wall sconces and recessed lighting can best create the same cozy feeling that we were lucky to pull off in our bedroom upstairs. The variety of lighting options creates a layered look and allows changes to the type and kind of light available for that room.

We've had a few looks in mind as we've collected fireplace ideas over the past four years. This photo is one of our favorites, and is taken from the collection of inspirational photos on the Rejuvenation website.

We're pretty certain that we like that placement over the fireplace. What we can't decide on is the style of the wall sconce to use. Pointing up? Pointing down? Both?

light-rejuvenation-capemears.gif light-rejuvenation-craterlake.gif light-rejuvenation-pacificcity.gif

The first one (the Detroit) is my personal favorite although it's the most expensive. Jeannie's also concerned it might be a bit much for the size of the space we have.

The second one (the Crater Lake) is actually the same one in the inspirational photo above. It's great but would another downward pointing light (in addition to the recessed lights) be too much?

The third one (the Pacific City) is also nice.

We're thinking we might go with four wall sconces, two over the fireplace and two on the opposite wall (to the right and left of the entrance foyer).

Here's the layout of the room (F.R.) along with the sunroom (S.R.) that bumps out off the front of the house.


We're expecting to install recessed lighting in the ceiling so that we have some layered lighting in the room. At this point we're considering very small 4" fixtures that throw light on the walls and corners to make the room seem larger, with a "wheat haze" inside of the cone so you don't get that shiny look around the bulb.

As we talked over the options yesterday, Jeannie suggested we might as well get some other opinions. Anyone out there have thoughts? Any budding lighting stylists want to weigh in?

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How are you going to deal with the wiring through that brick fireplace? I have almost exactly the same setup as the phot, just without the sconces - with brick walls and the solid brick fireplace chimney, not sure how I would run the wiring down from the you know something I don't?

Do you have the stained glass windows? If so, consider them in any lighting plans.. POPS --30--

my first instinct on seeing that light pointing both up and down is that you couldn't make up your mind ;) i vote for the crater lake. (p.s. the alt tag over what you say is the detroit says it's pacificcity.)

The consensus in the OP house is downward sconces! We just like the look of them better than upward or bothward

Thanks Leah! I fixed it.

Sinjin, the wall above the mantle has to be replaced and the ceiling is currently gone. So it won't be difficult to wire this. If everything was intact? I don't think that we'd try it.

Pops--good point! Yes, we're putting the windows on either side of the fireplace back.

I also vote for the Crater Lake. Aaaaaah Rejuvenation. We live nearby and I visit too often. Once I heard a little kid (like 7) in there run over to his parents yelling, "Hey guys, I found even MORE beauty over here!".

I vote for the pointing down light- but that's just my first impression as I hadn't even considered the pointing up option before. We didn't wire for sconces when we did our living room and dining room.
Are you considering using lights that you can dim at all? We have dimmer switches with our recessed lights and I use them all the time and didn't think I would use the dimmer feature that much. I don't notice the shiny part of the recessed lighting unless they are all turned on bright.
Do think about if you want any walls that may have art illuminated by the recessed lights. I get tired of the dark during winter, so I tend to go with more light than less and then only turn them on when I need them...

I have six wall sconces in my bungalow living room. When P. O.'s sold the house to us, they took the original light fixtures and replaced them with $10 specials from HomeDesperate. Needless to say, we took about 5 years to decide on what to buy to replace them. Its a long story, which I'd be happy to share, but we found them online after an extensive search. Actually a retail store in NYC that has a website. And I love them. They point up, because I hate it when you sit in a chair and you look up directly into a blaring light bulb. And they weren't expensive, only about $60 each. You can stop by any time to check 'em out.

on an unrelated note...since your wall has to be replaced above the fireplace, it's also great to include electrical outlets somewhere above a mantle for any Christmas decorations with lights that you may eventually want there. You could be spared a lifetime of taping an extension cord to the wall for your lighted I have to do every year.

Recessed can lights in the corners will make th room feel larger. They should be about 24 inches off of each wall, and 24 inches from the corner. If you are going to hang artwork above the fireplace then you should light that with directional recessed cans not scones. If you like the look of the scones they could be used instead of the recessed cans in the corners. The scones will achieve the same affect, that is to make the room feel bigger. Lighting should be considered in layers. The first is ambiant lights which could be the scones or the recessed cans in the corners. Second an effect lighting such as lighting an artwork. Third is task lighting, this can be achieved with lamps in a living room, ie:reading light. All three types should be controlled seperately and dimmable. This will allow for the most different looks. The other thing to consider is how will the room be used? Entertainment? TV watching? sunday paper reading? quiet retreat? Are ther other key elements in the room that should be accented?

Have you considered box beams for your living room ceiling? Not only are they pretty, but they give you an easy way to run wiring:

In our house, we have brass fitters (original to the house) with shades (reproduction from Rejuvenation) which hang from the box beams:

but I have also seen box beams (typically in newer construction) where small directional lights are recessed directly into the beams so that they are flush with the beams and the light can be pointed in any direction. I'm having a hard time finding a photo of what I'm talking about, but I will keep looking.

If you wanted to go the fitter/shade route and have lights which hang from the box beams, I'm pretty certain Rejuvenation or Hippo Hardware could hook you up with restored antique fitters:

Another thing you could consider is going ahead with the can lights as you'd mentioned, but frame them with box beams - along the lines of the ceiling in the center of this photo:

Honestly, I don't have a box beam fetish (OK, well, maybe I do a little) but I think can lights recessed in a flat unadorned ceiling can look a bit modern/contemporary. Adding box beams might yield a bit more period look, but still allow you to have the layered lighting plan you're after.

I still can't find a photo of box beams with recessed lighting, but as I was searching, I cam across this photo from your very own blog - the top fireplace photo has a pendant style light (vs. a short fitter which hugs the beam):


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Started years ago as a scrapbook, this collection of photos serves as inspiration as we restore our own bungalow. We hope you find it either useful or entertaining as well.

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