No Big Light Allowed: How to Brighten Up Your Space Without Overhead Lighting


If you’re on the home decorating side of TikTok, you’ve probably heard that trending sound that affirms you should “never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever use the big light.” Since that audio started circulating, the internet has come together to share its collective distaste for overhead lighting. In particular, those basic ceiling lights that your apartment or house probably came equipped with have been getting a lot of flack online for being harsh, unflattering, and a total vibe-killer. Thankfully, there are tons of alternatives to overhead lighting that offer a much cozier ambience. Whether you’re renting or just not keen on attempting electrical work on your own, here are some easy, no-wiring-required solutions that’ll ensure you never have to use “the big light” again.

overhead lighting
Source: Pretty Real Blog

1. Table Lamps

Table lamps are a no-brainer when you want to distribute more lighting around a room. It’s so easy to set one on a side table, nightstand, countertop, or console table and instantly upgrade your lighting situation. Keep in mind that lampshades made from solid materials like metal will mostly direct light downward, while those made from translucent fabric or glass will give off a more ambient glow. Choose whatever style you prefer, then style it next to a few items of varying heights, such as a vase of greenery, a stack of books, or a pretty candle.

2. Plug-In Sconces

Plug-in sconces are one of the best renter-friendly hacks out there, but they’re also a great option for homeowners who don’t want to deal with the hassle and expense of hiring an electrician. All you have to do is mount the fixture on the wall and plug it in—it’s as simple as that! Sconces are perfect for adding light on either side of wall art or mirrors, above nightstands, along hallways, and more. If you want to minimize the look of the cord running down the wall, simply tuck the cord inside a cable cover that’s painted to match the wall. It’ll basically disappear!

3. Battery-Operated Lighting

overhead lighting
Source: @mycityapartment

When there’s no outlet in sight and hiring an electrician is not an option, battery-operated lights are the solution you never knew existed. There are tons of options out there these days that require zero electricity but can still give you the lighting boost and high-end look you want. Wall sconces, picture lights, and pendants now come in battery-operated versions that look like they’re hard-wired in but turn on and off via a remote control. You can even find cordless table lamps that allow you to brighten up unexpected spots like a bookshelf or coffee table without the hassle (and tripping hazard) of having to plug it in.

4. Floor Lamps

Floor lamps are a great way to add a big dose of brightness without relying on overhead lighting. Find a floor lamp with a sculptural shape or a fun shade to easily add style to an empty corner of your living room. Or place one right off the arm of a sofa or chair to add some height to your furniture arrangement and instantly create a cozy reading nook. To take it up a notch, choose a lamp with an adjustable arm so you can direct light exactly where you need it.

5. Other Mood Lighting

overhead lighting
Source: @reserve_home

There’s lighting that serves a specific purpose, such as providing light for reading or brightening a dark hallway, and then there’s mood lighting, which is truly just there for the vibes. Candles, string lights, neon signs, salt lamps, lanterns, and color-changing lights all fall under this category and can add a fun finishing touch to your existing lighting. Find something that fits your personality, and pop it on whenever you need a little pick-me-up.





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