You’ve found the right real estate agent.
You’ve repaired or replaced everything that needed fixing.
You’ve covered the three D’s of home staging—Decluttering, Depersonalization and Deep cleaning.
Finally, it’s time to put your home on the market. But, wait! There’s one often-overlooked detail that could sabotage all your hard work: the lighting.
In the game of First Impressions, a poorly lit home is at an automatic disadvantage. Darkness can make a home feel small, uninviting and dirty, even when it isn’t. Worse, a potential buyer may wonder what flaws are lurking in the shadows.
Now, lighting design is a topic that could fill its own blog, but here are some basic tips to help you make a bright, energizing impression at your next home showing.
Do a room-by-room light audit.
Open all the curtains and blinds, turn on all the lights and look at each space through the eyes of a buyer. Use your camera if it helps you make note of any areas that need help. Keep in mind that showings may happen at different times of day, so it’s good to repeat the exercise in the evening, when there’s less natural light.
Address non-lighting light problems.
Sometimes “lighting problems” are actually décor problems. Dark furnishings, wall colors, flooring and even ceiling colors can make a room seem dark no matter how much light you pour into them. If you don’t have the time/budget/desire to paint or replace these things, here are some lower-commitment options:
- Use light colored bedding, throws, slip covers, drapes, area rugs and other room-appropriate accessories to brighten the space.
- Mirrors can reflect available light and make a room feel larger and more open. Try adding them to rooms with inadequate windows.
- Add light sources that can wash across dark walls. The diffused light can add to the ambient illumination and give the eye a little help when assessing the room’s true dimensions.
Update or upgrade your light fixtures and bulbs.
Dated fixtures may not be a deal-breaker, but they probably won’t show up in a buyer’s “pros” column. Replace or refurbish what you’re willing to, then install the brightest bulbs you (safely) can. If you choose LED lights, you can get many more lumens than incandescent bulbs, all while using less energy and generating less heat.
Add more lamps and fixtures as needed.
If your existing lights still aren’t getting the job done, you may need to call for some reinforcements.
- Bedside lamps, desk lamps and under-cabinet lighting can all add to your overall light profile while also highlighting attractive details, like your backsplash or countertops.
- Vanity lighting in the bathrooms should be bright and consistent, with no drastic shadows and glare. Adding sconces beside the mirrors may help you achieve this.
- Attractive table lamps may offer visual interest, as well as much-needed light in a living room, den or game room. No surfaces for lamps? Consider torchieres or other floor lamps.
- Accent lighting can draw attention to a room’s focal points, such as the mantle or built-in shelving.
- Tread lighting can help brighten a staircase—and provide added safety benefits!
- Tall ceilings shrouded in shadows? Your lighting may be placed too low. Consider adding a ceiling fixture, track lighting or pendants, depending on your space.
Don’t forget exterior lighting!
Curb appeal is just as important at night as it is during the day. Potential buyers may drive by at any hour to check out your home and neighborhood.
- A well-lit exterior not only invites buyers, it also discourages burglars. Your buyers may not be consciously thinking about it, but they will probably feel safer in your neighborhood, the more light they see.
- Path lighting creates a welcoming impression and, like tread lighting, helps decrease tripping hazards.
More lighting resources for home sellers: