Stage Your House in the Right Light

If you’re about to put your home on the market, you know about the staging, the paint touch-ups and the fixes you’ve kept putting off until now.

Stage Your House in the Right Light

Let’s add one more to the list—strategic lighting.

The right light can make any room look bigger, airier and more desirable. It can create a dramatic mood, draw attention to focal points in your décor and make a big difference in how you—and potential buyers—feel about your home.

Plus it’s a pretty inexpensive staging boost compared to reflooring your kitchen.

Real estate sales expert and author Robert Irwin says a dark house turns off potential buyers.

“Not only will they keep you from getting a quick sale, but they will also cut down on the amount of money you’ll get in offers,” notes Irwin, who has written more than 50 real estate-related books. “On the other hand, if you lighten up these dark spots, you can very quickly improve the value of your property.”

Types of open house lighting

  • General, lighting your home so you can function
  • Accent, highlighting and drawing special attention to details
  • Task, helping illuminate specific things around your home
  • Ambient, hiding the source of light to wash a room with a glow
  • Aesthetic, emphasizing space through artistic lighting
  • Natural, focusing through sunlight, candlelight and firelight

Lighting can play tricks on the mind and enhance or minimize the physical size of the room.

For example, Rosemary Sadez Friedmann—a member of the American Society of Interior Designers—says that if a room is too tall, lighting placed low won’t reach the ceiling. Thus, it will make the area look smaller than it really is.

For a too-small room, you can visually push one wall open by washing it with light. For a wide room, illuminate the narrow ends. Conversely, if a room is too narrow, illuminate the wide sides of the room.

Chris Casson Madden, an author and host of HGTV’s “Interiors by Design,” offers these room-by-room suggestions:

  • For any room, use high-hats or recessed down-lights installed in ceilings with a dimmer control
  • In the bedrooms, add a floor lamp or table lamp and bedside lights
  • For the bathrooms, angle recessed lighting to bounce light off the walls and ceiling to help reduce glare and shadow
    • Use wall-mounted sconces or over-vanity lights beside the mirror
    • Light your shower’s interior with uniform brightness
  • In the kitchen, focus on task lighting, like grouping down-lights to shed light where it’s needed most

If you’re looking for a quick fix, Irwin suggests replacing all the old fixtures—they typically run about $35 to $50 apiece. Be sure to get fixtures that produce 200 to 300 watts each, however.

“Now, no matter which room a prospective buyer walks into, it will be lit brightly,” he emphasizes. “And the lighting fixture itself will be modern and attractive.”

Irwin also recommends at least one halogen bulb per room.

“Yes, they use a lot of electricity, but the extra light often makes the difference when a buyer is on the fence and can’t decide whether or not to make an offer on the home,” he adds.

This article was originally published by Anne Miller on and based on an earlier version by Michele Dawson. See the original here.


2 thoughts on “Stage Your House in the Right Light

  1. This is such a great article, giving such great advice on how to properly set your home up for putting it on the market! All the secrets that not many homeowners have thought of!

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