How To Light A Room That Has No Overhead Lighting [7 Alternatives]

If you have a room that has no overhead lighting, you may be wondering what options you have to get your room out of the dark. Well, you've come to the right place. We've taken the time to research the topic in depth so you don't have to, and we have a list of some of the best overhead lighting alternatives. 

Here are some ways to light a room without overhead lighting:

  1. Floor lamps
  2. Table lamps
  3. Plug-in pendant lights
  4. Wall sconces
  5. String lights 
  6. LED light strips
  7. Reflect light with mirrors

We've given you several options in lieu of overhead lighting, but keep reading as we elaborate on each one and discuss why they are a good substitute. We'll also answer some other questions you might have regarding overhead lighting including why some houses do not have it in the first place. Without further ado, let's get into it!

Modern bright living room in a luxury house. Interior design, How To Light A Room That Has No Overhead Lighting [7 Alternatives]

Overhead Lighting Alternatives

1. Floor Lamps

Floor lamps are a great way to add lighting to a room and are one of the best alternatives to direct overhead lighting.

They are available in a variety of heights and sizes, so you can opt for taller lamps to simulate overhead lighting if you wish. When placing your floor lamps, you should consider what the room is most likely to be used for. 

Living Room

Beautiful modern living room with grey sofa and floor lamp

In a living room, floor lamps are typically placed in the corner of the room or near seating where reading might take place.

If you are not likely to spend some time reading or doing intricate tasks that require a lot of lighting in your living room, then the corners should suffice. Placing the lamps in the corners will provide enough ambient lighting to light the room adequately for most tasks. 

Read more: How Many Floor Lamps Can Be Placed In A Living Room?


Interior of cozy bedroom in modern design with craft floor lamp

As with the living room, floor lamps do well in the corners of the bedroom to provide ambient lighting. However, you may also consider placing a floor lamp near an armchair in your room where you might spend time reading or next to your bed. Floor lamps are ideal for those with small spaces, as they do not require a table to be placed on. 

Regardless of the room you are adding a floor lamp to, you can also choose to invest in an arc floor lamp. This style will simulate overhead lighting the most. 

Click here to see this arc floor lamp on Amazon.

2. Table Lamps

The lamp against the background of the bed. night time

Table lamps are also another way to add lighting to a room. The light of table lamps is often less dispersed than that of a floor lamp.

However, the amount of light emitted will also depend on the lamp itself and its shade. You also have fewer placement options with a table lamp since, well, they need a table to go on. This can be a problem if you are limited in space. 

Whether you opt for table lamps or floor lamps, it's important to consider the style of the light and its shade. Lamps with a more translucent shade will provide more light to the room than one with a heavy, darker shade. For the best of both worlds, opt for a dimmable lamp that you can adjust the brightness with. 

Read more: 25 Types Of Lampshades

Click here to see this set of table lamps on Amazon.

3. Plug-in Pendant Lights

black steel wire hanging lamps. decoration ceiling lamps.

If you really want overhead lighting but you don't want to go through the hassle of calling an electrician, you can choose a plug-in pendant light.

Pendant lights, along with chandeliers, are light fixtures often used for overhead lighting. Fortunately, they are now available to buy with a plug, so you can plug the light into an outlet and not have to worry about installing wiring throughout your home. 

One drawback to consider with plug-in overhead lighting is the cables. You will need to find a way to attach the light to the ceiling and then a way to connect the cables to the outlet. This can be done with hooks, but this will obviously require more installation than a floor or table lamp.


Click here to see this pendant light on Amazon.

4. Wall Sconces

Wall lamp with yellow shade

Just as you can get plug-in pendant lights, you can also get plug-in wall sconces. If you don't like the idea of cables across your ceiling, these will look a little neater.

Sconces do not emit a huge radius of light, so they might not be a good option if you need to illuminate the entire room. They can be a good option for smaller rooms or bedrooms. 

That being said, there are all kinds of wall sconces on the market. The radius of the radiance will ultimately depend on the style you choose. If you need to be able to adjust the area you are lighting with your wall sconce, consider purchasing one with an arm that is adjustable. 

Click here to see this wall sconce on Amazon.

5. String Lights

cushioned sofa, coffee table, garland string and candles on window sill in living room of cozy home

For something less conventional, you could opt for some string lights. These can be a great way to add some character and warmth to your space. String lights come in a variety of colors and come with the added bonus of being able to cover a large area.

The downside to string lights is that they are not often bright enough to work in and are better suited for spaces such as bedrooms where they can create a cozy ambiance.

6. LED Light Strips

Living room lounge area in luxury apartment show home showing interior design decor furnishing with large sofa

These are similar to fairy lights but can offer more customization. Many types will allow you to adjust the color of lights which is great if you're trying to achieve a specific mood. They can be placed almost anywhere, but like fairy lights, it's unlikely they will provide enough light to work in. 

7. Reflect Light Using Mirrors

Contemporary bedroom with double bed and mirrored wardrobe

Adding more mirrors to your room can help reflect the light around. A large mirror will automatically make a room feel bigger and brighter. However, a mirror of any size placed near a light source can do the trick. 

Why do some houses not have overhead lighting?

So now you've got some alternatives to overhead lighting, but why doesn't your home have any in the first place?

First, there was no requirement for certain rooms in a home to have overhead lighting. If a room wasn't required to have lighting, sometimes builders would not install them. Instead, many homes had an outlet that could be controlled by a switch near the doorway.

However, there is also another more prominent reason living rooms do not have overhead lighting. It all comes down to how a room should feel.

Many people prefer the light source in a living room to be less static and more ambient. Ceiling lights can be considered harsh, whereas an assortment of lamps can provide a certain feel to a space. 

Is overhead lighting necessary?

By now you've probably realized overhead lighting isn't necessary for every room. If it was, there wouldn't be homes without overhead lighting in some of their rooms.

However, there are rooms where overhead lighting is necessary. Bathrooms and kitchens typically fall into the category where overhead lighting is a must-have.

For other rooms, most interior designers will agree that you should have a variety of different light types to create a more dynamic space. 

Do bedrooms have to have a ceiling light?

Bedrooms do not have to have a ceiling light. Of course, you can install one if you wish, and many homes do now have ceiling lights in their bedrooms. However, they are not required. Bedroom lighting typically consists of an assortment of lamps and is also a great place to put the string lights we mentioned earlier. 

How can you add light to a room without wiring?

If you mean wiring in the sense that you will need an electrician, then all of the previous alternatives we mentioned are possible options for you. However, if you mean free from cables completely, then you may need some more alternatives. 

In a world of technology, there are now lights that do not require wiring at all. If none of the previous options will work for you, there are also USB-charged lights and battery-operated options.

You can use flameless candles or USB-charged strips that have a variety of uses. Or, for a more traditional option, you can use regular candles to add light to a room. 

Click here to see these motion-activated lights on Amazon.

Final Thoughts

Don't worry if your room doesn't have overhead lighting. There are so many alternatives that vary in brightness and style, so you are sure to find something that will work for you. Hopefully, our article has helped give you an idea of what might be a good choice for you.

Not having overhead lighting gives you the creative freedom to experiment with an assortment of styles and levels of lighting. Enjoy it!

For more reading on the topic of lighting, take a look at some of our other blog posts:

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