Family Room Lighting Dilemma (Help!)

Last week we had some really beautiful bookshelves installed on both sides of our fireplace! They have totally transformed the room and I can’t wait to share the progress soon! However, in the meantime I need some help from those of you who are way better at decorating than me (which is most likely ALL of you) with a lighting dilemma!

Our family room gets the most incredible natural light during the day. Sunshine literally floods the room thanks to our ginormous windows and I love it. However, we don’t have any other light sources in this room so once the sun sets it is nearly pitch dark!

So here’s the dilemma: How do I add light to this room?
  1. My first preference is recessed lights but I think the ceilings are too high (20-25 feet) for recessed lighting to make a difference, right?
  2. I dream about beautiful chandeliers but those are out of the budget and the Florida girl in me wants to keep the ceiling fans (side note: I also do not want to add light kits because I think the lighting would be too harsh, will draw attention to the fans and be a huge maintenance pain).
  3. We have floor plugs and are leaning towards floor lamps…but toddlers. Or maybe you can help me figure out a way to get my kids to stop throwing toys and balls over the stair railings and into the living room so they don’t destroy my future lighting. Ay yay yay. Also, do affordable and durable floor lamps exist? If so, where?!
  4. To the left of the room, leaning against the stairs wall is a foyer table that can easily accommodate two lamps, but I can’t find a set of pretty neutral lamps that I love and don’t break the bank (and I’m a frequent HomeGoods shopper!).
  5. Eventually we will get upgrade to a larger TV so maybe wall sconces at some point?

 Wingchairs | Ottoman | Sofa | Rug | Pillow | Foyer Table

 Help me find some lamps? Pretty please!


  1. Jessica
    June 6, 2017 / 10:58 am

    I love this question! I'm obsessed with decorating so this is definitely my jam. I would recommend 4 or more wall sconces. You could do 2 above the mantle (or wait on these ones if you are considering switching the TV) and 2 flanking the large windows and maybe a doorway or wall on another side of the room. Also, if you have the built-in bookcases, you could install under cab lighting there for a light source.I always prefer table lamps over floor lamps and think that it might look really good to have a long console table behind the couch and then add 2 table lamps at either end. Of course, I totally get the worry – I wonder if there are anchoring kits for lamps or something? I'm excited to see what you end up doing in here!

  2. Amanda
    June 6, 2017 / 12:06 pm

    Have you checked Hobby Lobby for a set of lamps? They run their 50% off special almost every other week on lighting and they have some gorgeous choices!

  3. Kate
    June 6, 2017 / 12:31 pm

    Our old home had 25 foot ceilings in the family room. We had recessed lighting and it totally lit up the room at night… BUT. It is a PITA to change those bulbs. Not to mention, ANY work you do on that ceiling will require a contractor to build scaffolding = $$$$$. I would do scones and table lamps first and see if that gives you enough light before trying floor lamps. Have you scoped out Target for table lamps? I have had really good luck with lamps there before!

  4. Brandy
    June 6, 2017 / 1:08 pm

    We have a similar living room setup with 20 foot ceilings, and we have two recessed lights above the fireplace, they definitely put off a good bit of light in our room. We put in 20 year bulbs when we moved in, so hopefully we don't ever have to climb up there! I agree with Target for lamps, they have a huge selection online and sometimes they have really good clearance prices.

  5. Maggie
    June 6, 2017 / 2:05 pm

    Recessed lighting is the way to go! We just updated several rooms in our house and it makes the biggest difference.

  6. Anna Kurzanski
    June 6, 2017 / 2:13 pm

    Not sure if it's online, but check At Home. It's like a Garden Ridge for home decor, and they have a LOT of lamps and lighting options.

  7. furmangirl08
    June 6, 2017 / 2:21 pm

    A random place that I found some neat lamps for my parents was Kirklands! It's not normally my place to go shopping but I found some neat lamps for them from there and they were really affordable. People also often forget that Home Depot/Lowes often have pretty nice lamps as well!

  8. David Johnson
    June 6, 2017 / 2:28 pm

    Add lighting to the bookshelves! that would help brighten things up 🙂 love the sconces idea as well!

  9. Simply LKJ
    June 6, 2017 / 2:45 pm

    We too have 20+ foot ceilings and recessed light do work. But as mentioned PITA to change (we now have two cans that have to be replaced! UGH) A room should have 5 light sources.

  10. Sarah
    June 6, 2017 / 3:07 pm

    Recessed lighting would be your best bet, but is going to be $$$$. Some friends of ours bought an OLD historic home that has ZERO overhead lighting. They bought THE coolest floor lamps from West Elm- just search "tripod floor lamp west elm", and several varieties pop up. They seem slightly more stable for small kiddos. Also, I am pretty sure World Market has a much cheaper dupe if you like the look. I have great success with their stuff.

  11. Emily
    June 6, 2017 / 3:25 pm

    You need options. LED recessed lighting will be bright enough for the whole room, but figure in $1k for each cut (seriously). Plus then you'll have to have the ceiling fixed and painted. I don't think you're going to want it that bright right now. I wouldn't take down the ceiling fans until you live through a summer in the house. Plus, there are really pretty ceiling fans out there in the future. For now, can your electrician put some of your plugs on a switch? Can he pull power from your TV for sconces and put them on the same switch? I'd put two lamps on the console, two sconces (from, I like these in silver for your space: next to the TV and I'd put a really sturdy floor lamp somewhere, but I'm not sure where (is there a plug in the floor at all?). You can also put small lamps on your new book shelves (think pottery Vietri lamps in white with linen or burlap shades). I would do the lamps and sconces now and the recessed lighting in a few years when your kids are older and staying up later. Because let's face it, right now when your kids go to bed, you're probably not far behind them and if you're doing anything, it's watching TV and you don't need a whole lot of light. Just get Ikea lamps for $5 now or do an ISO on a resell site on Facebook (ours in Raleigh was Micit and now it's micITBit) and wait until you luck up at Home Goods. If you want something cheap and good now, these are pretty:

  12. Traci Hutton
    June 6, 2017 / 3:51 pm

    I loaded my home with Safavieh gourd lamps from Overstock. They are well made, look sharp and come in a wide variety of colors. They're sometimes sold in sets too. I have the blood orange, pearl whites and may pull the trigger on the purple for a guest room.These would look great on a foyer table

  13. E
    June 6, 2017 / 3:56 pm

    Our old house used to have 20 foot ceilings and a pitched wood beamed roof that we couldn't put recessed lighting into. We ended up with floor lamps and I hated them! It wasn't our forever home though. I think the wall sconces would be great and some cheap table lamps (maybe look for something with a wood base that won't shatter should something knock it over). Our house now has 15 foot ceilings but came with recessed lights that we control with a dimmer. I'm still ok the hunt for some table lamps too!

  14. Tara Radake
    June 6, 2017 / 4:03 pm

    Love following your new home updates! Your living space reminds me of Katie Bower's and they have a few light sources. This post of hers shows many angles, and although she has a chandelier, she also has sconces flanking her doors and recessed lights (over your bookcases!) with numerous lamps. Oh, and she has a few of toddlers, too!'t wait to see the bookcases!!

  15. Leslie
    June 6, 2017 / 5:50 pm

    I have no advice, but man, your space is beautiful! I also love that ottoman!

  16. Elizabeth Wheaton
    June 6, 2017 / 7:13 pm

    Love that space. My parent's house has the 20 foot ceiling issue too. They ultimately went with ceiling fans without lighting kits and have done lamps. I have these for sale in my shop and I think they'd look great in your space. I'm thinking the marble would be good with your neutral color scheme, but also give it a grown up feel…even if toys are on the floor! :)

  17. Professional Window Shopper
    June 6, 2017 / 8:50 pm

    Hey Christina! Love your blog :)Have you thought about flush mount/low profile instead of recessed? I'm not sure the cost of install, but they may be cheaper. We opted for these on our tall ceilings and love the light output. Just make sure you check the diameter. You may want to go with 4 (centering the room). I highly suggest a dimmer for the living room as well.Low Profile Options:'m personally really into the beachy home look. Here are some cute lamps I found: – Our two year old doesn't pay any mind to our floor lamp. Good luck!Sarah

  18. Sarah Shaneyfelt
    June 6, 2017 / 9:48 pm

    Yes to LED recessed lights and have them put on a dimmer. Home Goods has the best lamps and that's where all of my lamps have come from!Sarah at MeetTheShaneyfelts

  19. Laura Darling
    June 7, 2017 / 2:10 am

    I'm no decor expert, but we got some really nice, pretty, but durable floor lamps from Lowe's!

  20. Ashley Jones
    June 7, 2017 / 11:54 am

    If you go the recessed lighting option – my parents have 20+ ceilings with recessed lighting and they have a tool to change the lightbulb so my Dad doesn't have to climb up a ladder. I believe they got it at Lowe's.

  21. Lindsey Fabel
    June 7, 2017 / 12:24 pm

    If you are able to financially, I would go with recessed lighting, although I love the idea of adding sconces, so maybe you can do a combination of both. We had 20+ foot ceilings in our old house and my dad also had a tool someone mentioned to change the bulbs. It was a very, very long pole with a contraption at the end that would go around the light bulb. Sure, it was annoying, but he had to change them so infrequently that it wasn't a nuisance. Hope that helps!

  22. Carrie C
    June 7, 2017 / 1:56 pm

    We have recessed lighting in a ceiling that height. My only wish is that our recessed lights were on a dimmer-so if you get them get that option at the switch. We don't have any lamps because of the toddler factor.

  23. Jen Edwards
    June 7, 2017 / 2:07 pm

    I also love the recessed lighting idea, but with dimmers. And I have lucked out time and time again with Kirklands for very affordable lamps of all shapes and sizes! I also am obsessed with HomeGoods/Marshalls/TJ's!

  24. Sara
    June 7, 2017 / 2:54 pm

    We have 20' ceilings and have recessed lighting in our main room. It works great! We use the soft white LED lights so that they last a LONG time and you don't have to get a ladder out every 6 months to change a lightbulb. Target has some great lamps right now. And Lamps Plus has a variety of styles and price ranges. Joss and Main also has several sets of lamps that are well priced. I think sconces above the fireplace would be fabulous as well!

    • Sara
      June 7, 2017 / 2:58 pm

      I would also do a floor lamp over in the corner to the right of the fireplace (looking at the picture). That way, it's out of the kiddos line of vision for the most part. And an end table on one side of the couch with a table lamp. You can do a small lamp (inexpensive) and set it on a stack of books or magazines to give it a little more height.

  25. Somethin' Southern
    June 8, 2017 / 11:02 pm

    Target has some pretty cute floor lamps right now! I'm actually eyeing a few for a client. Definitely worth looking into! Loving the new space!!!xx, McKenzie //

  26. mmn
    June 9, 2017 / 12:44 am

    Beautiful space! If you do decide to go with table lamps try earth quake putty. It keeps them in place for the most part in our house (even if they get hit by the occasional ball or toy!).

  27. Tonya Wilson
    June 9, 2017 / 3:14 am

    Kirkland's for lamps

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    June 10, 2017 / 6:38 am

    I was reading your article and wondered if you had considered creating an ebook on this subject. Your writing would sell it fast. You have a lot of writing talent. hampton bay lighting company

  29. sara [at] journey of doing
    June 11, 2017 / 3:48 pm

    We have this same issue… but we've got recessed lights (PITA but worth it for light). My husband drags a floor lamp in when he needs/wants it. It makes me slightly crazy, but it works. I'm on team recessed lights because it's a long term solution… I'll be adding lamps to our family room once I find the perfect coffee/end table combination. 😉

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