Lighting is a key factor to consider in any room scheme, but planning small living room lighting ideas is essential if you want to maximise light when space is limited.

Bad lighting will make any room feel dark and cheerless, but in a small living room idea the effect will be magnified, making the space feel darker, gloomier and smaller than it actually is. However, get the lighting right and it’s a win, win situation. Good lighting can make a small living room feel warm, cosy and inviting, and will open up the space so that the room feels brighter and bigger too.

Small living room lighting ideas

‘Often small rooms feel small because of inadequate lighting,’ say the experts at Philips Hue. ‘Brighter bulbs in your light fixtures is a quick way to increase the amount of light in a room – just be careful not to go over the manufacturer’s recommended highest wattage. And if your room lacks natural sunlight, swap standard bulbs for smart bulbs that can easily mimic natural daylight.’

So if your living room has no sparkle and could use a bit of a lift, scroll on and be inspired by these clever lighting tricks and easy tips that will make any small living room feel lighter and brighter.

1. Layer lighting to stretch living room space

Grey living room with panelled walls and coffee tableView colours

Dark corners and poorly-lit areas will make a small room feel even more enclosed and poky. But get the lighting right in a small living room and it can have the effect of visually stretching the space and making the room appear larger than it is.

Teaming pale walls with a layered lighting scheme is one of the easiest ways of making a small living room feel bigger. Pale, light-reflective colours will bounce incoming light around the room, banishing dark areas and making the space feel light, bright and airy.

Position lamps at different levels to spread light coverage throughout the room. Lamp tables are the perfect height to illuminate living room seating, but positioning lamps on higher shelves and surfaces will boost light levels and help create a more balanced scheme.

2. Include lighting from different sources

Purple living room with wooden framed armchair with wooden sideboard with table lampView colours

While a ceiling pendant is a great way of giving a living room a focal point and creating general background lighting, it’s always a good idea to include plenty of additional lighting sources too. By layering light and creating areas of light and shade, you can create cosier smaller spots within one larger space.

‘Different rooms require different kinds of lighting,’ says Peter Legg, lead designer at Där Lighting. ‘While kitchens and bathrooms need to be bright, living rooms reflect your mood, so the lighting should be flexible so it can change with the mood you want to create, from bright and clear to warm and cosy.’

‘These effects can be achieved by layering your lighting, using ceiling lights, wall lights, table or floor lamps and using technology from simple things like dimmer switches and smart lamps all the way to lighting control systems.’

3. Put the focus on living room seating

Overhead shot of large L-shaped sofa filled with cushionsView colours

In small living areas, use overhead lighting to focus on key areas, rather than purely for general background lighting. Consider doubling up on pendants above your living room seating so that the whole area is well illuminated. Put lights on dimmer switches if you can, so that you can adjust the light levels to make the space feel cosier when you’re relaxing in the evenings.

Hanging pendants at a lower height will make them more of a focal point, but make sure that they are not too low so there’s a danger of bumping into them. Aim for pendants to be hung roughly 7ft above floor level, the lower a pendant is, the larger it will look.

4. Make a stand with a stylish floor lamp

white living room with white sofa and floor lamp with yellow and green accessoriesView colours

Too many random pieces of furniture can make a small living room feel crowded. Save on floor space by opting for a floor standing lamp in a tight corner, which will take up less space than a separate side table and lamp.

If you’re positioning a floor lamp beside a sofa or armchair to provide light for reading by, then choose an adjustable head if you can so you can make sure light is directed on to the page. Aim for the light fitting or shade to be just above eye level when sitting down, a height of roughly 50-60 inches from the floor.

5. Add wow with clustered lighting

black living room lighting ideas with glass pendant lights suspended over the side tableView colours

Save on surface space with small living room lighting ideas by opting for hanging pendants instead of a bulky table lamp beside a sofa or armchair. Cluster two or three lights together for visual impact and to create a focal point feature in a small area.

‘Cluster lights do more than add a little extra illumination,’ says Peter Legg at Där Lighting. ‘They act as a statement and create a warm and welcoming focal point.’

‘Spiralling silhouettes will cast illumination beautifully vertically. If you’re hoping to throw the light wider, consider a spider-style suspension which will allow you to stretch the individual flexes across the ceiling. Another option is a fitting that has a bunched effect, where all the shades are hung at the same level to give an increased glow.’