Are you missing the wiring for ceiling lights in some rooms in your house? Our friends just bought a new house and they don’t have any central lights in the living room or their bedroom. They’ve been using table lamps as a temporary solution and the small pools of light do make it feel cozy, but sometimes when you’re busy, you just want to flick a switch and have a brighter light.
I did some research and discovered that this is pretty common in homes that were built starting in the 1980s and 1990s when design thinking and cost saving ideas started to come together. Interior designers were suggesting layered lighting schemes, rather than a single overhead light for living rooms and bedrooms. Meanwhile, builders realized that a ‘half-hot’ wall socket was a cheaper way to provide a switched light in every room than a ceiling light.
Improvenet.com advises that an electrician would charge between $177 and $328 to put a new light in, but if you’re looking for more creative solutions for how to light a living room with no overhead lighting, read on to find out what alternative options I suggest, and a step-by-step guide to follow in your own home.
What you will need
In Step 1 below, you can choose from three different options to solve the problem of how to light a room with no overhead lighting. Once you’ve chosen which option is right for you, this handy list will help you to check that you have everything you need to follow the step-by-step tutorial.
Materials and Instruments
Pencil and paper
Before I start with my suggestions, here are three ideas I’ve researched which I think you might want to avoid.
What not to do
Battery-powered lights may initially seem like a good idea to solve the problem of how to light a room with no overhead lighting.
In certain situations, for a temporary light, or one that isn’t used very often, they might be a reasonable choice, but for a permanent solution, they are not a practical option. The drain on the batteries will mean that you’ll be up a ladder, reaching up over your head to change those fiddly batteries, much too frequently.
Choose the LEDs
Inexpensive LED strips, in the right setting, can look hip and fun.
They work well for awkward places such as under cabinets and inside drawers. In an ultra-modern kitchen or bathroom, or a child’s bedroom with a future-forward theme, LED strips could be an option.
However, if you’re aiming at comfortable, casual elegance in your grown-up living space, LED strips are unlikely to look high-end and they can also be tricky to attach.
If your solution to how to light a room with no overhead lighting is to continue to add a variety of different lamps, keeping your cables hidden and your switches straight will be a challenge.
Chances are, you’re going to end up with haphazard pools of light, and a look that is more cluttered than chic.
So, let’s get onto the good stuff. Here’s three great solutions to the problem of how to light a living room with no overhead lighting and a helpful step-by-step guide to each.
Step 1 – Choose your look
Start by picking out the type of light fitting you prefer. Whether you fall in love with a modern-retro Edison chandelier or a sleek floor lamp, simply follow the steps below for that type of fitting.
Option A – reinvent a traditional look with a modern swag light fixture
Decide where to hang the light. Go for a traditional central placement, or consider highlighting a seating area. Ensure there is a socket handy.
- Measure up.
Go right up the wall from the socket to the ceiling and from the top of the wall to where you want the light to hang. Add a few inches for the distance from the ceiling to the top of the new light fitting plus you’ll need a little extra length to allow for the swag to drape. Add all your measurements together to find out what size swag light kit you need to get.
There is no right or wrong amount of drape, it all depends what looks good to you.
Buy your swag kit and light fitting.
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4. Find a stud.
Lighting fixtures must be attached to one of the wooden studs that run through walls and ceilings.
- To find the nearest stud, try tapping around where you want to place your light.
- When you think you’ve found a stud, insert a straight pin as Brittany from prettyhandygirl.com suggests in her post about how to swag a light fixture. If it goes all the way in, there is no stud there. If it goes in a little distance and then stops, you’ve found a stud.
Ceiling joists are usually (but not always) 16 inches apart
Screw your main hook into the ceiling where your pin was. Add another ceiling hook close to the wall, directly above the socket.
6. Join the light to the swag kit.
Thread the wire through the chain. If necessary, join the wires together using the wire nuts.
Don’t be put off if you need to use the wire nuts, they’re really easy to use. Check out this video tutorial from Mommymilestones for a great demonstration of threading the chain and how to use the wire nuts. Cover the wire nuts with electrical tape when you’re done.
Secure the middle of the chain/cable to your second hook by the wall. Take the chain/cable across the ceiling and attach to your main hook so the light fitting hangs down. You can add additional hooks if you wish. Plug in at the socket.
Option B – For An Up-To-Date Look, Use A Large Arc Floor Lamp
Plan. Decide where to place your floor lamp, ensuring that there is a handy electrical outlet and that there is sufficient space for the arc.
Shop. Buy your lamp.
Relax and enjoy!
Option C – drape your ceiling with twinkle lights
Measure your ceiling and draw a scale plan of how you want to hang your lights. Use this to work out what length of lights and how many hooks you need to buy. Allow a few extra inches to drape each swag. You’ll need one hook for every five feet of lights.
Buy your lights and hooks.
Lights that plug into each other will give you the neatest finish.
3. Mark up.
Use your measuring tape and pencil on the ceiling to mark where you want hooks. Place your first mark at the top of the wall directly above the socket.
4. Attach hooks.
Screw or stick your hooks where you marked.
5. Drape lights.
Connect your lights together and lay them on the floor. Plug in and take the string up the wall to the first hook. Move around the room attaching and draping the lights.
For a romantic look, intersperse the lights with fabric swags.
Step 2 – choose your bulbs
1. Work out your wattage.
HuffPost.com suggests multiplying the square footage of your living room by 1.5 to work out how many watts you need. Do remember not to exceed the maximum wattage of your fixture, as this can be dangerous.
You have a choice of LED or CFL bulbs. Check out this video from Illustra Lighting which explains the key differences.
Overall, LEDs cost more to buy than CFLs, but last longer. CFLs create a warmer glow that is closer to the effect of incandescent bulbs. Forbes.com suggests that CFLs might be the better choice for how to light a room with no overhead lighting.
Step 3 – Dial up the convenience with a remote switch
1. Buy a remote switch.
For an optional finishing touch, you can buy a remote switch that will enable you to control your lights without getting up from your chair.
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2. Plug and play.
Just plug the receiver into any outlet, plug your light into the receiver, and use the remote control to turn your lights on and off.
How To Light A Room With No Overhead Lighting: Final words
It’s easy to feel frustrated when you want to change an aspect of your home and it seems it might need special skills you don’t have.
So, I hope you found this step-by-step guide to how to light a living room with no overhead lighting useful and inspirational. It would be great if you could let me know what you think in the comments below and please share this article if you found it helpful.
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Last update on 2020-09-22 at 12:29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API