Skip to Content

Where Should Recessed Lighting Go in a Living Room?

Close up photo of a single recessed LED light in the ceiling.

I always used to associate recessed lighting with a modern, sleek look in a room. That’s not only the case, though. Recessed lighting can be used anywhere. It is an unobtrusive style of lighting. It can also go with anything and perform any function.

Where you position recessed lighting in your living room depends on why you need the lights. This style of lighting can be used to introduce a particular aesthetic into the living room. It can also be used for functionality. 

What are recessed lights?

Recessed lights are those where the globe is mounted in a metal housing that is in the ceiling, as opposed to protruding down from it. The surface of the ceiling remains smooth. This gives a sleeker look to the room.

Recessed lights can also be installed on a wall. The light mountings sit flush with the surface of the wall.

When lights are recessed, it seems as though there is a hidden indentation from which a light glows.

The beauty of recessed lighting is that it can go with any décor and any other type of lighting

A nice view of a kitchen with an overhead lighting and recessed lights.

The aesthetic of recessed lighting is discreet and stylish. The bulbs themselves are hidden in their casing. They also don’t physically intrude beyond the ceiling or wall. Because of this, recessed lights can be installed into an existing room. The style and look go with almost any other form of lighting.

You can also add to the lighting in your living room by installing recessed lights. You won’t need to change anything else in the room. If you are building or adding a living room, choose recessed lighting, which can be very versatile.

What is recessed lighting used for?

Recessed writing can be used for different functions. It can supply general lighting in your living room. It can also be used to highlight certain areas or features.

General lighting

The first function of any lighting in your living room has to be so that you can see. A few recessed lights can be used to create general lighting. You’ll need a series of recessed lights to do this because they are quite focused.

What works well is to use recessed lights with a relatively broad beam. These will overlap slightly, creating an overall soft light.

The advantage of using recessed lights to create a general overall light in the room is that they are relatively hidden. The focus isn’t on the individual lights, but on the overall effect, they have.

Creating a mood

A spacious family living room with recessed lights to set up the mood.

The living room is usually the one room in a house that is used for different purposes. You may gather as a family, which means you will prefer general, good lighting. On other occasions, you may wish to set a mood or create an atmosphere, in the room.

In this case, I suggest having two circuits of recessed lighting in the room. One can be the general lighting you use most of the time. A second circuit should have fewer lights that are yellow, rather than white. Mount them on the ceiling, or even the wall, to provide a soft light around the edges of the room.

Make sure you use lights that have a relatively wide pool and are quite soft. You can even put these mood lights on a dimmer.

Accentuating a feature

A spacious living room with wooden floor, art pieces on the wall being highlighted with recessed lights.

Your living room is one of the most public spaces in your home. This makes it a great place to display a work of art, or to create a feature wall with photographs of the family. You can use lighting effectively to focus attention on that part of the room.

Track lighting may be the obvious choice for highlighting a feature. This style of lighting draws attention to itself. Recessed lights are more discreet and can do the same thing less obtrusively.

Some recessed lights can be angled in their casing. You can adjust them so that a feature is highlighted. You will usually need a few lights to do this effectively.

When you install recessed lighting to accentuate a feature, use enough lights to make it stand out.

Performing a task

There may be an area in your living room that you want to light functionally. You may use that area to do something specific. There could be a sewing nook in the room. A reading corner is also a possibility. This is where task lighting comes in.

A task light is a light that is mounted in a specific part of a room. It will provide focused illumination on a spot. It should not shine directly into your eyes.

Using recessed lighting can be effective for task light. The casing gives the light a narrow focus. It also hides the bulb to a degree. However, you’ll need to take care where you position the light.

Keep it off to one side, or at an angle to the specific spot. This will mean you cannot get in between the light and the task. You won’t cast a shadow over where you need to work.


A photo of a living room with gray interior concept paired with recessed lightings.

Can I use recessed lighting to create a mood in my living room?

Recessed lights are set into the ceiling or walls. This makes them quite unobtrusive. You can position the lights carefully and use different colors of lights. This can create pools of gentle light, which will set a mood in your living room. 

Should I use recessed lighting in a reading nook?

When you are reading, you need enough light to read by. If the nook is in your living room, the light shouldn’t be too bright. It shouldn’t intrude on the room. Recessed lighting can be used to light a reading nook that does both of these. The lights will need to be set at an angle.

Do all the recessed lights have to be in the ceiling of my living room?

Recessed light can be set into the ceiling or wall. When you are lighting a living room, you can mount the lights in the ceiling for overall lighting. However, you can also set them on the walls. This creates a more muted feeling of light in the whole room. You can also mount the lights under a feature, such as a windowsill or a desk.

They may be partially hidden, but the recessed lighting still shines bright

The nature of recessed lighting is that it is quite discreet and even hidden. This makes it the perfect style of lighting to create a mood in your living room. You can also install multiple recessed lights to give general lighting. Recessed light is also perfect for highlighting a feature in your living room.