The Perfect Lighting for Watching TV and Movies

By on Sep 23, 2014

We recently published an article on lighting media rooms for the sports fans among us, but we do definitely understand that many folks are not sports fans. However, they still deserve great lighting in their media rooms too–because everyone does! So today, we’re going to spotlight some strategies for the perfect lighting for watching TV and movies, even if you couldn’t care less about sportsball.

Layering your lighting is still crucial for the media rooms of non-sports fans. Having lots of options is great because you can easily alter the mood of the room just by deciding which fixtures to have on in which configuration and how bright they should be. You can also see better, so you won’t feel eyestrain or discomfort when you’re 6 hours deep in a marathon of How the States Got Their Shapes. (A personal favorite.)

There are three main lighting layers to consider:

1. Ambient lighting. Ceiling flush and semi-flush mounts, chandeliers, large pendants, track lighting and ceiling fans with light kits are some of the main ways to get ambient lighting. Recessed cans are also an option.

2. Task lighting. Table lamps are the most common source of task lighting for the living or media room. They’re stylish and helpful for tasks like reading, crafting or doublescreening it while watching shows that demand to be talked about in the moment (Scandal, anyone?). Floor lamps can provide task lighting as well as ambient lighting.

3. Accent lighting. These fixtures bring small, often adjustable, bursts of light to little areas that need it. Wall sconces and smaller pendants are popularly used, but specially-focused recessed cans and track lighting can serve as accent fixtures too.

You should also consider using dimmers on your light fixtures. Dimmers are especially easy to add to lamps, but are available for wall sconces and overhead ambient lights as well. Do like at a movie theater and dim the lights before the show starts to let people know it’s time for the main event. Or keep just one light on and turned down low if the movie is scary and you need to know that a monster won’t get you.

Let’s take a look at some media rooms, completely devoid of sports decor, that would make a perfect place for watching TV or movies. We can also help you get the lighting looks from each photo.

Light your media room with Hudson Valley Sheffield! Photo credit: Mediterranean Home Theater by Dallas Interior Designers & Decorators CDA Interior Design
The wall sconces here spotlight the structures of the walls. (For a similar look, try the Hudson Valley Sheffield.) There’s a showbiz-style spotlight in the corner that might be a fun, if bright and narrowly-concentrated, way to add more light. A great variety of color comes from the one large sectional couch and the two ottomans, while the two tables are a great place to stash drinks and snacks.

An outdoor wall lantern can be used to bring some rustic charm to a media room. Photo credit: Traditional Home Theater by Salt Lake City Interior Designers & Decorators Harman Wilde
This media room is just stunning. Fun, colorful, cozy, featuring lots of soft surfaces and multiple tiers of seating so everyone can see–there’s a lantern-style wall sconce (an outdoor wall light would work super well here) over on the wall and recessed downlighting in the ceiling.

Use wall sconces that shine light up and down to create this moody media room look. Photo credit: Contemporary Home Theater by Other Metro Photographers Elad Gonen
Big, comfy red couches provide a spot of light in this otherwise black and grayscale room. Wall sconces that shine light both up and down bring more illumination but can easily be dimmed or turned off to make the TV the focus of things.

Use torchiere-style wall sconces like Kalco Santa Barbara to get this media room look. Photo credit: Mediterranean Home Theater by Scottsdale Interior Designers & Decorators VM Concept Interior Design Studio
Those who love Mediterranean style will love this beautiful, rich and warm media room’s style. I love the torchiere-like sconces and the couches look so cozy. The Kalco Santa Barbara is a good sconce idea for a room like this.

Not all media rooms are big! But they can all be lit well with smart elements like a ceiling-mount light. Photo credit: Contemporary Home Theater by Chicago Interior Designers & Decorators Rebekkah Davies Interiors + Design
Media rooms don’t need to be big! This one is still oh so stylish, though, thanks to the comfy chairs, helpful side tables, plus zebra stripe rug, mini gallery wall and lots of lighting: a floor lamp, a statement ceiling semi-flush mount and a few downlights too.

Use simple, stylish flush mount lights to get this media room look. Photo credit: Contemporary Home Theater by Westerville Home Builders Romanelli & Hughes Custom Home Builders
This media room features a lunar motif and round brass side tables, along with a super tufted couch and large ottoman. The flush light even keeps the circle theme going! I like the industrial look of the sconce, too. Get the look of the flush mount with the Minka Lavery Harvard Court and the sconce with the Troy Lighting Brooklyn.

Use sleek saber sconces to get this sci-fi loving media room look. Photo credit: Contemporary Home Theater by Baltimore Home Media Design & Installation Gramophone
This room also incorporates some stunning light, such as a starry ceiling and colorful LEDs. The futuristic purple spotlights shine on the large mural, which appears to be of the USS Enterprise flying over Earth and therefore earns my approval. Also earning my approval is the picture on the TV: it’s from the David Tennant era of Doctor Who (my favorite). The sconces add to the out-of-this-world appeal. Get the look with the George Kovacs Saber.

Uttermost Alita pendants help you get this warm, stylish media room look! Photo credit: Traditional Home Theater by Minneapolis Interior Designers & Decorators Baker Court Interiors
A warm, welcoming, stylish home theater adorned with four Uttermost Alita pendants. They have up and down lighting, so you can see the coves are lit as well as the rest of the room. I love the flower-shaped ottoman pair! For some reason, this warm scheme makes me think of a coffeehouse.

If you need any help lighting your media room, feel free to ask us–we’re on social media or you can call 1-866-688-3562! You can also sign up for our email newsletters, which are sure to brighten up your inbox.


Photos from Houzz. Photo credits in alt tags.


  1. There’s always that problem that comes up while watching TV in most living rooms: the glare and the lighting making it difficult to watch the movie. For movie lovers, the ideas in this blog are a must have for the home.

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