Fireplace lighting ideas: Clever ways to create a cosy living room

grey living room with lit fireplace
(Image credit: John Cullen Lighting)

Planning fireplace lighting ideas alongside a wider rewire, a new stove installation, or simply a room update, is a smart way to boost the cosy levels in any style of living room. Fireplace lighting can help illuminate large fireplaces or simply bring a relaxing glow in the evening.

When it comes to fireplace ideas, it is always best to check with your electrician exactly how close wired lights can be positioned to the chimney and fire, and for plug-in choices, confirm with the manufacturer if the material has a certain temperature limit. 

Below, we explore the different ways to illuminate a fireplace or stove to create different effects and ambiances. 

Fireplace lighting ideas: How do you illuminate a fireplace? 

"When it comes to making a fireplace a real feature in your space, layering lighting on multiple levels is key to creating a cosy atmosphere," says Sam Baldry, head of design at Swoon. "A combination of wall lighting, table lamps, and a nearby floor lamp blends together gorgeously to create a stratified lighting scheme around your fireplace." 

The key to illuminating a fireplace is to be careful about the placement distance of the fixtures from the fire or to specify high heat temperature resistant LEDs and materials. 

Stoves emit a huge amount of heat so it is generally not advised to have lighting too close (discuss with your electrician during your lighting design brief) but gas or inset fires are generally fine to illuminate. 

1. Position ceiling fixtures to cast light on a fireplace

brick fireplace with interesting ceiling lighting

(Image credit: Simon Maxwell)

Situate statement ceiling living room lighting ideas near a fireplace to draw the eye towards the feature, even when it is not in use. 

Dangling pendants or modern chandeliers with warm bulbs cast a comforting glow that can produce that 'cosy' living room feel, even in the summer (and without the heat of a fire!). 

This stylish design uses brick fireplace ideas with clever ceiling lighting to create a unique and interesting focal point for the room. 

2. Light up the inside of an inglenook

stone inglenook fireplace in stone cottage

(Image credit: Simon Burt)

Inglenooks were once used for people to sit around for warmth but today are a striking and desirable feature in their own right. There's nothing quite like opening up a fireplace during a renovation project to reveal this incredible structure. 

To provide a renewed sense of purpose and to maximise on this glimpse into past architecture, consider lighting the inside of an inglenook with warm spotlights, or LED strips. Indeed, without it, large inglenooks can feel a little cavernous.

The generous space surrounding the fire inside an inglenook means that it will probably be safe to install downlights at a safe distance — but check with your electrician before melting any fixtures! 

3. Use natural light and ambient lighting around a fireplace

long window above woodburing stove fireplace

(Image credit: Simon Maxwell)

Artificial light isn't the only way to light up a fireplace and let's face it — is there anything cosier than being sat beside a fire while the world outside is cold or even snowy? 

If you're creating a new spot in a self build or extension for a fire or stove, consider positioning it beside a striking view through a window. 

This stylish home allows the long, narrow window to slightly overlap with the stove and heath space. The result is a naturally lit fireplace which is ever-so inviting. 

4. Play with lighting levels around a fireplace

dark living room with soft lighting around a gas fireplace

(Image credit: Lime Lace)

"Blending high, medium, and low-level lighting around your fireplace is a great way to implement a stand-out display in any space," says Sam Baldry from Swoon. 

Here, a hidden light provides a dramatic upwards wash of illumination behind the television while a stylish yet understated floor lamp provides a warming glow. 

Table lamps and dimmable downlights could also be used to a similar effect, as can high-level LED strips outlining and highlighting special features. 

5. Use the mantel to create a feature

cottage style living room with beams and inglenook fireplace

(Image credit: Simon Maxwell)

If you can (and if it is safe to do so), installing lights within the timber beam mantelpiece is a stylish and elegant solution to the wall space fireplace often take up. 

Contrasting old features with new mantelpiece ideas and fixtures is a great way to blend the two styles — as this cosy sitting room shows. 

The brass and exposed bulb wall lights wonderfully match the contemporary pendant in the centre of the room, while still looking appropriate against the traditional brick and timber inglenook. 

6. Place wall lights above the chimney breast

grey living room with inglenook stove fireplace

(Image credit: Simon Maxwell)

"Alongside the glow of your roaring fire, placing additional wall lighting above the mantelpiece creates another layer to your signature design," suggests Swoon's Sam Baldry. 

"Consider adding evenly spaced, twin wall lights above your fireplace, continuing the homely radiance upwards towards the ceiling. This generates a soft, glamorous glow, gracefully diffusing the fireplaces' light upwards and around the room."

Cleverly inconspicuous using subtle chimney breast ideas, the wall light shades have been matched to the blue-grey on the walls so they can provide the extra layer of lighting when required, but otherwise can blend in with the background. 

7. Be flexible with fireplace lighting

white living room with fireplace and black statement wall light

(Image credit: Carpetright)

If you don't want to go about rewiring your living room and are just looking for a quick update, try to find light fixtures that can be used flexibly around the room. 

There are all kinds of solutions like this, including long-hanging pendant lights with hooks at various points around the room for the ultimate flexibility, or use statement swing wall lights that can be adjusted and repositioned as and when. 

Amy Reeves

Assistant Editor Amy began working for Homebuilding & Renovating in 2018. She has an interest in sustainable building methods and always has her eye on the latest design ideas. Amy has interviewed countless self builders, renovators and extenders about their experiences for Homebuilding & Renovating magazine. She is currently renovating a mid-century home, together with her partner, on a DIY basis, and has recently fitted her own kitchen.