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  • Writer's pictureAgi

My guide to successful layered living room lighting

How to choose lighting for living room - expert advise from Agnes Agocs, interior designer in London, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire

Lighting in your home is very important and has direct effect on our mood. Yet, it is so often overlooked. In new build city apartments developers hardly ever think about lighting, they install a few (or sometimes an excessive amount) led downlights into the ceiling and let you deal with the consequences.

But why is this wrong? I will introduce you to the four pillars of lighting that should be applied to EVERY room, and then we focus a bit more on the living room lighting in today's post.

The 4 pillars of lighting

  1. General lighting or - otherwise known - ambient lighting

  2. Mood lighting

  3. Task lighting

  4. Decorative or feature lighting

1. General lighting or ambient lighting

General light is the light that you switch on when you enter a room, to give you enough light to see. This is typically - but not always - ceiling light and this is where the above mentioned developers stop. Sometimes these developers simply give you a pendant light in the middle of the room, again, on the ceiling.

The problem with the large number of spot light is that you cannot control the brightness and it is is just too much for a homely feeling.

The problem with the single pendant is that usually it doesn't give you enough light. Now, if you opt for a multi arm pendant and a dimmer switch, that will be a pretty good solution. But the problem is, that the middle of the room is more likely the wrong place to have a pendant.

Even the general lighting needs to consider furniture placement to be successful! Do not miss this step! Sort out the furniture layout first and then get the lighting designed.

2. Mood lighting

Mood lighting - as the name suggests - is there to give you a certain mood depending on the room or the part of your day or the activity you do.

I have to tell you, in my home, this is the lighting we use the most. (The reason is, perhaps, that we spend most time at home in the evening hours and a bright general lighting just doesn't support winding down after a stressful day and getting ready for the night.

This can be created with table lamps, wall lights or floor lamps. Mood lighting allows you to put some depth and meaning into your interior.

It is advisable that you use a few different types of mood light sources in different part of the room for the best result. A table lamp in a reading corner, wall lights along a beautiful side board, a floor lamp near the sofa are a few perfect examples to play with mood lighting.

3. Task lighting

Task lighting is typically functional lighting that is mostly used in bathrooms, kitchens, offices and it's there to provide you with the appropriate lighting for certain things you do. (Chopping onions, shaving or doing makeup, etc)

This is a very overlooked type of lighting, in my opinion, but when it isn't right you just kind of live in frustration on a daily basis. You just cannot see what you need to see. Simple as that. How many times have you struggled by the lack of proper mirror lighting in a bathroom? Do you have the appropriate bathroom lighting? That is the trickiest of all!

Task lighting on desk

But back to the living room. It isn't typically where you need task lighting, but if you like reading or your office corner is located here, than you most certainly need task lighting here, too. Or you love knitting or needle works? Yes, well, then you need task lighting.

4. Decorative or feature lighting

This is where you can get really creative! Decorative lighting adds interest and highlight objects or architectural features within the room and can be very effective.

It is easier to show than explain, so here are some examples in the gallery below:


Let's see what you have learnt:

  1. What is layering lighting and why is it important

  2. What are the different layers of lighting

One thing I would like to add to the end though! Lighting fixtures and lamps come in every shapes and forms these days, product designers are absolutely go out of their ways to create truly unique pieces and so these objects are not only functional but one of the most important decorative items in our homes!

Also, almost everything can be made a lamp! :D

While this provides an infinite amount of potential it can be a bit overwhelming (or confusing) as choosing the right lighting needs to fulfil both function and beauty. With a little bit of experimenting with pieces you can easily relocate you can get this right, but with more expensive, built in lighting, or complex needs it is highly recommended that you ask for professional advise when you have the chance to change existing lighting or building a new from scratch. Make sure you introduce all for layers of lighting in every room!

Relax and plan ahead,

Until later, Agi

If you have an upcoming project, send me the basics to receive my Welcome Pack and a link to my calendar to book in your free "Discovery Call"

PS. specifying every details in your home can be overwhelming. If you have a list of questions you are going around circles with, book a call with me and let's answer them together.

If you need the the most recent prices of build cost, furniture, accessories, or advice on how to manage your renovation project by yourself, download your free guide here.


About Me


I am Agnes, a structural engineer, economist and qualified interior designer.

My friends just call me Agi. :)

If you are planning a renovation or remodel of your home or looking to buy a new one I am your go to person!


After spending over 15 years in the construction industry, first as an engineer and later as quantity surveyor / commercial manager on multi ten million GBP projects, I decided to set up my own business and help people, like you, to live in their dream home.


Your space should be designed around you and your lifestyle and not the other way around, so I strongly believe in designing your home from the "inside out".


Get in touch with me early in the process to start your project the right way.

My Signature Service includes full service interior design and renovation management.

I basically take on your project as it was my own home, from the first step to the last, saving you time, money and frustration.

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