How to light a room with no overhead lights

Is your room lacking in overhead lighting? Make it bright and beautiful with our expert tips...

No overhead lights? That’s no reason not to have a beautifully lit space. Whether it's a sitting room, dining room, bedroom or study, there are plenty of other ways of creating attractive and effective lighting that will also set the right tone and mood. With a bit of planning, there's really is no ceiling on what you can achieve...

What's the best kind of lighting for a room with no overhead lights?

The most effective way to light a room with no overhead lights is by using a range of different types of lighting. From wall lights and sconces, to floor lamps and table lamps, by combining multiple light sources you can provide plenty of practical light while also creating depth and atmosphere.

How do you create enough light in a room with no overhead lights?

There are three main types of lighting: ambient lighting, task lighting and accent lighting. Ambient lighting is the overall amount of light in a room, including the light from any pendants, wall lights and lamps. Task lighting refers to more targeted light, useful for reading, studying, preparing food etc. Finally, accent lighting is used to highlight a particular feature or area within a space, adding visual interest and building atmosphere. When lighting a room without any overhead lights, you need to think about how you want the room to work for you, and what you’re hoping to achieve from your lighting. By using a combination of these three different types of light - known as layering light - you can create a lighting scheme that perfectly suits your needs, even in the absence of any overhead illumination.

Layering light in a room with no overhead lights

When you’re lighting a room without any overhead lights, first you need to provide enough quality ambient lighting. While ceiling lights are good for illuminating a wide area, you can create a similar effect by using some well-placed wall lights, complemented by a selection of floor lamps. Aim for a broad, balanced spread of light across the space. (You can find out about how much light you need in a room, in our guide.) Next, you need to consider your task lighting. Think about where you’ll need to include some more targeted lighting - this might be a seating area in the living room, a dining room table, a desk or reading nook in the study or snug, or perhaps by a bedside cupboard or dresser. Wall lights, floor lamps and table lamps are all great at providing effective task lighting with an added touch of style. Finally, decide on the kind of atmosphere you want to create. This is where your accent lighting comes in. Use wall sconces and torchiere style lamps to highlight architectural features such as decorative coving, or a favourite piece of artwork. Meanwhile, a beautiful table lamp will look fabulous in an alcove and will diffuse a lovely warm, intimate glow. As well as ensuring that you have enough practical light, creating different layers of lighting will give you the flexibility to set the right mood at different times of the day. (Read all about layering light here.)

Belmond La Residencia, Mallorca (Image: Matthew Williamson)

Using wall lights in a room with no overhead lights

Wall lights offer a hugely versatile alternative to overhead lighting, and will bring lots of ambient light into a room. They come in an impressively large variety of colours, shapes, sizes and materials, and you can choose from an uplighter or pointy-uppy style, which will wash light upwards along the wall and towards the ceiling, and a downlighter or pointy-downy style, which will send the light down and outwards. To get a nice even spread of ambient light, place a series of matching wall lights at evenly spaced intervals around the room. Choosing a translucent shade will help to cast the light further. Meanwhile, for some attractive task lighting, try putting a pair of matching wall lights either side of the sofa; or for a bit of drama place a single feature wall light above a table. And for a classic, balanced look, you can’t go wrong with a pair of wall lights on either side of the fireplace for generating a feeling of warmth and ambience. See our range of designer wall lights.

Photos: JH Designs

Using lamps in a room with no overhead lights

Floor lamps are another brilliant way of lighting a room with no overhead lights. With their tall, upright structure, they can actually create the illusion and feeling of overhead lighting. What’s more, they also make a fabulous feature in their own right! As well as supplying plenty of practical ambient and task lighting, floor lamps can help to even out the spread of light in a room by banishing any dark or gloomy spots. An arc style floor lamp can mimic the effect of overhead lighting, and an oversized floor lamp will provide oodles of light - although this style is best avoided in a smaller space. For an even supply of ambient light, place a number of floor lamps at regular intervals, such as in the corners of the room. Or to illuminate a seating area in atmospheric style, pop a pair of matching floor lamps at either end of a sofa. Meanwhile, an articulated floor lamp placed by a favourite armchair will pinpoint the light exactly where you need it, while also making a smart style statement. Table lamps and desk lights can also contribute a significant amount of light to a room with no overhead lights, while also adding a lovely decorative element to your space. They look naturally beautiful placed singly in an alcove, or in pairs on a bookcase or a side table - in fact they look good anywhere, really. To help diffuse some extra light around the room, try a table lamp with a lighter shade, or alternatively a stunning standalone designer lightbulb. View Pooky's range of designer floor lamps.

Image: Lucy Barlow

Using mirrors in a room with no overhead lights

Once you have the right lighting scheme, you can really make the most of it with a few strategically placed mirrors. Mirrors are a fabulous way of maximising the light in a space, especially where a room has no overhead lighting, and there are plenty of tips and tricks you can use to help compensate for a lack of ceiling lights while adding a bit of extra sparkle. For example, let nature lend a hand by hanging a large wall mirror opposite the window, to reflect in the natural light. Meanwhile, place some mirrors behind a series of wall lights in a living room or dining room to help to bounce the light around the space and add extra depth and ambience. And in the bedroom, stand a full-length mirror behind a stylish floor lamp to extend the light further into the space. See Pooky's range of exceedingly stylish mirrors.

At Pooky, we provide beautiful, affordable designer lighting for gorgeous spaces.

Image top: Rita Konig