How to Choose the Proper Lighting for a Family Room

A family room is the space in a home where family and friends come together for a variety of activities. It is not uncommon for family rooms to be used for media, games, studying, relaxing, eating and more. Therefore, family room lighting can encompass an array of fixtures, placements and purposes, and it must have both aesthetic and functional value. In order to create a lighting plan that best suits your particular family room, follow these guidelines for how to choose the proper lighting for a family room.


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    Consider the decorative scheme of your family room. Your lighting fixtures should complement your existing d�cor. Look around you and determine if your style is ornate, rustic, modern, country, minimalist, colonial, whimsical or a combination of aesthetics.
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    Evaluate your lighting needs. For amply lighting a room that has such diverse uses as does the family room, you must account for the room's multiple purposes by integrating more than 1 type of fixture into your lighting plan. Customize your family room's lighting scheme to your specific needs by choosing lighting for the each of the following purposes:
    • Provide general lighting. Assess how much natural light your room gets during the day, as well as how dark the room gets at night. You will want to flood the room with enough light to make it "feel" comfortable.
    • Accentuate decorative elements. When lighting a room that has wall art and/or architectural features that you want to highlight, it is a good idea to incorporate lighting that draws attention to those decorative elements. For example, emphasize high ceilings by pointing accent lights at the ceiling, and play up paintings by hanging art lights over them.
    • Create ambiance. A common function of the family room is to serve as a gathering area, where people can come together to spend time enjoying each other's company. For this purpose, bright overhead lights can feel harsh and impersonal, and too much shadow can hinder intimate conversation. Ambient lighting is indirect lighting that creates a mood.
    • Highlight task areas. If you choose to play chess at the game table, read a book in the lounge chair or knit a blanket from your favorite spot on the couch, you will need fixtures that provide a flood of light exactly where you need it.
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    Familiarize yourself with different types of lighting fixtures.
    • Both floor lamps and table lamps are ideal for task lighting, as they provide a localized flood of light and can be turned on/off as needed.
    • Track lighting - a series of fixtures on a track - can be adjusted in location on the track, or can be rotated to shine light at different angles. This type of setup is great for accent lighting and/or for indirect/ambient lighting.
    • Pendants are singular, hanging light fixtures that provide good task lighting, as they provide a localized ring of light over a fixed work area. For family room lighting, you may choose to use pendants over a desk or a game table.
    • Recessed lighting is installed in the ceiling so that the housings cannot be seen, and can be used for any type of decorative style. These fixtures may be stationary, or may be set on a movable joint that allows you to adjust their angles, making them a great choice for general, ambient and/or accent lighting.
    • Wall sconces are decorative fixtures that direct a beam of light either upward, downward or both up and down. Therefore, they are most useful as accent lighting.


  • Look at the hardware throughout your house to find inspiration for your family room lighting. For example, if you have antique glass door handles, then you may want to find lamps with glass accents or, if you have pewter drawer pulls on the chest in your family room, then pewter lighting fixtures would be a good match for the area.
  • Be sure to consider installation when choosing your family room lighting. Some lighting may require the implementation of a complex network of electrical wiring. If you cannot install lighting yourself, then you will have to either choose lighting that does not require installation, or find someone who can install your fixtures for you.
  • Use white bulbs for clean, white light in a contemporary setting or, for a warm, homey feel, use yellow light bulbs.
  • Putting your lighting fixtures on dimmers allows for added control over the ambiance in your family room.
  • Create visual interest by using accent lighting fixtures to cast interesting shadows. For example, by placing a small accent light on the floor, in front of a houseplant, you can cast a large shadow on the wall behind the plant, adding depth and drama to the space.
  • Ceiling fans come in a variety of styles and can be a great source of general lighting.

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Categories: Home Improvements and Repairs