Your living space should ideally be an extension of yourself, a place where you can truly relax; and in order to do that most effectively, it should be a place where you feel most comfortable.
The lighting in your living room will play a significant part in the way that the space feels, and in daylight hours people will typically tend towards an area that can draw in significant sun light, and create a more natural ambience, without the need for an artificial presence. However, when the sun goes down and that space is filled with darkness, artificial light becomes the only option!
There are several considerations that need to be carefully factored into your choice of lighting. In my opinion first and foremost you must understand what the main requirements of your space are.
It’s not uncommon to find that the living room doubles up as a dining room, and in some cases it can also be the kitchen and even the bedroom. Divide out the areas of the room where possible so that through the use of lighting, you can create a different feel in keeping with the function of each area of the overall space. If you can maintain a separate space for eating and for relaxing, then you can afford to light the dining area more actively when in use, with a separate hanging light above the table, or a high level floor lamp positioned locally.
For relaxing, the living space will lend itself more towards a softer amount of light and coming from a lower level source, such as a corner lamp or table lamp, producing just enough light to alleviate the darkness whilst maintain a relaxing environment. The use of more than one lamp within a single space is a cost effective method of creating these lighting transitions in rooms that perform more than one function, as typically configured ceiling array’s will not operate independently from one another.
In a modern uncluttered living space, it can be beneficial to make a feature out of the light source itself. A well designed floor lamp can add balance, and complement the existing furniture, as well as filling the room with an interesting style of illumination. Unless its main function is a centre piece it should be in proportion with the other furniture and in keeping with the overall styling of the room. A dimming function can add excellent control over the creation of the appropriate mood.
Finally, the colour, or warmth of the light is a very important factor which should be carefully considered, fortunately often easily adjusted through the replacement of the bulb providing the light source.
The temperature (colour) of the light is typically specified in Kelvin, and therefore denoted with the symbol K on most conventional bulbs. Modern, neutral spaces can support a whiter light much more than those which are decorated around a richer palette of colour, and then need a warmer, more yellow glow to complement the decor. These warmer fluorescents have a temperature of around 2700 K, while the whiter light can be up to and around 6500 K. At these high white levels the light is practically simulating daylight and therefore more commonly found in office spaces or the more modern, plain living environment. Unless your living space can support it, go for a warmer light which will provide a comforting and relaxing glow.
Don’t forget to consider the green credentials of the light source, not only whether the bulb is energy-efficient but also if the lamp is manufactured from recycled or recyclable material. Simply switching bulbs to the efficient fluorescent type can save money and help towards having a smaller carbon footprint; they provide the same result, and last considerably longer, so it’s a real win-win situation.
Ultimately it must come down to style and taste, making a connection with a piece of design that resonates and depicts certain positive emotions from inside, and can express your style on the outside. Unless it can do that then it’s just performing a function, which is fine but certainly a less engaging and personal possession to own. On the flip side it must also be producing the lighting requirement, instead of being just a piece of radical art or design, otherwise it’s not suitable for any job other than being aesthetically pleasing. Finding a perfect blend between style and substance will always be the most productive approach, and if you can find that in a lamp, buy it.