Why Do So Many Living Rooms Not Have Lights?

Living rooms are often the center of our homes — we use them to gather with family, entertain guests or just relax after a long day. But many living rooms don’t have any lights, leaving us in the dark when finding a place to read or watch T.V. Why is this the case?

Many living rooms, especially in older homes, don’t have lights because installing hardwired lights can be pricey. It’s generally not a building code requirement to include overhead lighting in a living room, so builders sometimes opt to skip it.

Living rooms are often filled with natural light from windows, which can be enough to brighten up the room during the day. But what about when the sun sets?

Let’s dive into why so many living rooms don’t have lights.

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7 Reasons Most Living Rooms in the U.S. Don’t Have Lights

So many living rooms don’t have lights for several reasons. Some of the most common causes include the expenses involved, an inability to design, the effort of maintenance, and the presence of natural light. 


Installing lights in a living room that isn’t already wired for lighting is expensive. The cost of the lights, materials, and labor are all factors that make this process more pricey than it may seem. In older homes, the electrical wiring might need to be updated, which can also add to the cost.

Lack of Design Ideas

When designing a living room, the choices can seem overwhelming. Good lighting can highlight certain features in the room while providing enough illumination for activities like reading and relaxing. A living room can be transformed if planned properly by just adding lights. 

It’s worth investing a bit of time in selecting the right lighting fixtures and bulbs, as they can help to create the perfect ambiance for your home. Many people don’t know how to choose lighting that complements their furniture and decor, so they often opt for none. 


Lights require regular cleaning and replacement of bulbs to remain in good working condition. This routine maintenance requirement means that even if you install lights, you must dedicate time and resources to keep them up to date. 

While maintenance may not be an issue for some people, it might seem like too much effort for others. You have to consider the potential costs of buying replacement bulbs regularly. The cost of regular bulb replacements may be a deterrent for some living rooms that lack lights. 

If your bulbs are hard to reach, this can make regular maintenance a real challenge. Not everyone is comfortable standing on a ladder, making changing bulbs in high ceilings difficult and significantly more dangerous. 

Some light fixtures, like chandeliers, may even require the help of a trained electrician for installation and maintenance, which can be costly and time-consuming.

Not a Building Code Requirement

In many states, it’s not a requirement for builders to provide lighting in living rooms. Bedrooms typically require one switch-controlled light, but living rooms often fall outside this requirement. 

Lighting in a living room will most likely be part of the decor, or a lamp plugged into an outlet. This precedent is why many people must bring in their own lamps and fixtures when moving into a new home or apartment.

Tradition Also Plays a Role

In the U.S., especially in older homes, finding a living room without overhead lighting is still quite common. This type of design is often seen because it was traditional not to include overhead lighting. 

People would use lamps and other light sources, like candles, lanterns, and fireplaces, to illuminate the space. The tradition is still carried out to this day in many homes. It’s become so ingrained that it’s seen as a sign of respect for the past. 

Natural Light

Some people don’t bother with lights in the living room because they prefer to rely on natural light instead. Daylight brings a certain amount of joy, ease, and comfort to a room.

Relying solely on natural light might make even more sense if you tend to leave the living room during evening hours when it gets dark. Natural light will also provide a more comfortable atmosphere, as regular artificial lighting can sometimes be too bright or harsh. 

Benefits of Installing Lighting in Living Rooms

Although it’s not a requirement in all states, there are many benefits to adding lighting to your living room. 

Lightning contributes significantly to the ambiance of a space, and using the right kind of lighting can help enhance your room design. Lights are also a safety consideration to prevent trips and falls. 


Lighting can create a cozy and inviting atmosphere in your living room. You can choose from a wide range of light sources, such as pendant lights, chandeliers, and wall sconces, to create a unique ambiance. 

You can even add dimmers to control the intensity of the light, giving you further control over the atmosphere. The lighting in your living room can also help set the mood for entertaining guests or simply enjoying a quiet evening at home.

You can use other solutions to accentuate your living room lighting. Some people add mirrors to make rooms brighter. Check out my blog post to see if it’s a good idea.

Enhance the Design

Having a light in the living room creates an opportunity to enhance the design of the space. You can choose from various lamps and fixtures that reflect your style to create a custom look. 

Layering multiple light sources , such as lamps, wall sconces, and overhead lighting, will dramatically increase the coziness of a room and allow you to adjust the light to suit different moods or times of the day.


Having a light in the living room can also be beneficial for safety.

A bright light can help make your entire space more visible, allowing you to detect possible intruders quickly.

Lighting can also help to reduce the risk of accidents and falls, as it’s much easier to see where you’re going in a well-lit room.

Final Thoughts

Living rooms don’t necessarily need lights because it ultimately depends on your lifestyle, preferences, and priorities. 

So many living rooms don’t have lights because the installation and maintenance are expensive and might seem unnecessary if you rely on natural lights. However, taking the time to add thoughtful lighting to a space will greatly improve the design of your home.