Bright Ideas — Lighting Your Media Room

With football season about to kick off and baseball winding down toward the playoffs, you want to make sure your viewing room is comfortable.

One thing you might want to consider while planning your perfect entertainment space (and that many overlook) is proper lighting.

According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), good lighting can significantly enhance movies and sports watching, while poor lighting can be a distraction.

“Lighting,” says Joe Rey-Barreau, education consultant for the ALA and an associate professor at the University of Kentucky’s School of Interior Design, “is especially important and tricky in media rooms.”

Rey-Barreau stresses that, more than any other room in the house, the media room has to be designed with multiple layers of light because the room will be used for different purposes. For example, you might need a certain type of lighting for watching a movie, different lighting if you’re watching TV, and a third level if you’re using the room to entertain.

To ensure your media room offers the ultimate in viewing pleasure for the Super Bowl or World Series, the ALA offers these easy-to-follow do’s and don’ts for outfitting your room:

•    Do focus on ambient light. Overhead light will cause more glare. Ambient light, on the other hand, or task light, such as side lights and sconces, will help diffuse the light from the ceiling to the walls.

•    Do consider reflection. The bigger the TV, the bigger the reflective surface. This equates to more bounce, especially from overhead light sources.

•    Don’t completely dim the lights. It would make sense to watch movies in total darkness, but a little lighting is needed and helpful. This will create a balance so the TV isn’t the only glowing source. It will also aid in keeping you from bumping your shin on an unseen coffee table if the room is dark.

•    Do cut down on glare. Use window treatments to reduce the amount of natural light that filters in, and supplement with artificial light sources as needed.

Whatever your style, lighting and fixtures should be just as important as your furniture.

For help with your lighting needs, visit your local ALA-member retail showroom  to see the newest products and to talk to an expert about what’s right for you and the space you want to create. To find your closest ALA-member lighting showroom, visit

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