The Best Living Room Lighting Tricks, According to Professional Home Stagers

published Oct 28, 2019
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Credit: Sylvie Li

Strategic lighting can transform a ho-hum living room into an airy and bright entertaining haven or mellow it out into an inviting, cozy hideaway. If there’s one line of work where this knowledge pays off, it’s in home staging. Stagers know how a few well-placed lamps can really show off a space and even make it feel bigger. While you may not be trying to get top dollar for your home any time soon, these tricks of the trade are definitely something to steal for your own decorating arsenal. Here, two professional stagers share their essential tips on how to zhuzh up your living room’s lighting:

Move your mirrors

The first step in creating a stunning lighting set-up: Use what you already have. According to Kathie Emhof of Transitions Interior Design & Staging in Buffalo, New York, a strategically-placed mirror (e.g. opposite a window, over a fireplace, or near a lamp) can reflect the ambient light in the room and have a multiplying effect.

That’s not all those reflective surfaces are good for, though: Check out these six other design tricks you can do with mirrors.

Switch out your bulbs

One timeless staging tip is to make sure all of the lightbulbs in the room are all of the same kind. But, did you know it goes beyond just brightness? Light bulbs have their own color temperatures, ranging from soft white (warm yellow) to daylight (cooler blue). To evoke a warm and cozy vibe, Emhof recommends sticking to “warm” bulbs. (Pro tip: If you’re taking photos, just remember to turn ’em off to prevent any unnatural-looking yellowing.)

Display some flameless pillar candles

To increase the coziness, Emhof suggests placing some battery-operated pillar candles as part of a well-styled coffee table (she recommends the type with a remote control). Not only will the height of the candles add some visual interest, the glow will also add to the warm ambiance.

Top off dark areas with interesting fixtures

Of course you should place lights in particularly dark areas, but take that idea to the next level by having those strategically-placed lights pull double duty as a decor moment, says Marissa Eleccion of Interior Marketing Group in New York City. For example, if you have beautiful high ceilings that aren’t otherwise visually interesting, a bold hanging fixture with a long drop will draw the eye up and emphasize the vertical space.

If you don’t have space for a ceiling fixture, Eleccion suggests using decorative floor and table lamps in the same manner and grounding them with furniture pieces to highlight.

Hang up some airy window treatments

Staging windows can sometimes be a double bind. You want to hang floor-to-ceiling length drapes to help elongate the room, but you don’t want to block any of the natural light stream. Thankfully, Eleccion has solution: Hang light and airy fabrics (such as linen) in shades of white or cream to get the best of both worlds.

Lighting’s not the only thing professional stagers know all about. Here, more of their insider tricks for improving your living room.

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