Selling a home can be difficult. This is especially true if it cannot be seen. I am not referring to a preview or showing. I am talking about lighting. It’s important that your home is illuminated in the best possible way to attract prospective buyers.
During a home showing it is important to have all the interior and exterior lights on (Yes…Even in the daytime). It is a proven fact that abundant home lighting helps with mood. It is important that a prospective buyer is in a good mood when previewing your home.
Besides setting the mood and accentuating your house’s best features, good lighting not only brightens a room, but can also make it appear larger. Remember, the buyer is in a foreign space. Lighting helps them find their way around and increases visual acuity. As the seller, you will score big points if your home is properly illuminated.
There are three lighting types used to enhance a home: natural, task and accent. All of the types serve a distinct purpose and should be addressed as you prepare to stage your home. The lighting should not only be practical but also create a symphony for the eyes.
Achieving the best natural light is done by opening the blinds and shades. Staging the home should include pulling back curtains and sheers. Remember to remove screens in the winter and clean windows year round so the greatest amount of “clean” light shines through. The same is true for skylights.
Task lighting is pleasing and practical in places like the kitchen, reading areas and office. Ample illumination above kitchen counter tops ranks high on the checklist of important lighting.
Accent lighting is used to highlight architectural features or artwork. Key areas such as the foyer should have lighting installed that will add impact. Lighting accents in the living and dining rooms should create a warm feeling that can make one think of family gatherings.
I have been selling Berks County homes for almost 20 years and have extensive new home construction experience. In the mid 1990’s, Better Homes & Gardens advised that when building a new home 3% of the overall cost should be spent on lighting. Wow, this would be $9,000 for a $300,000 home. The builder lighting allowances at that time were closer to $900 than $9,000. This left many homes in our area grossly under illuminated. It was considered an extra just to get a light fixture on a bedroom ceiling.
When I photograph a home I often use strobe flash units to achieve a satisfactory level of luminescence. The process greatly enhances the look of a home. This is obviously important when 90% of home shoppers use the web and look at the home photos first. It has become the new first impression.
Make sure light fixtures are clean and free of dust and cob webs. Replace all the bulbs with new clear incandescent bulbs of the same or greater wattage. I am a big fan of GE® REVEAL light bulbs. They make the wall colors look very natural. Do NOT use CFL twist bulbs. They take too long to warm up.
Before investing in any costs associated with adding lighting to your Berks County home, find out what your home market value is. A qualified Realtor® can help you properly value your home.
It is important to understand what you may get out of your efforts before you pay for them. My general rule is as follows: For every $1 you spend on enhancements get $2 back. This is for enhancements not repairing something that is broken or worn out. That is another rule for another article.
There are many ways to light a Berks County home. Here a few:
- Track Lighting: Track lighting is one of the best lighting alternatives out there; it is a good solution for areas that are hard to illuminate or add lighting to. The system comes with individual lamps or lighting heads that fit into tracks which can be secured to the ceiling. Track lights can be installed to suit your space; and with different choices and colors to choose from, you would end up with a custom configuration that is tailored to your needs. Once you put the tracks in place you can reposition the lamps to vary the lighting effect. The power comes from an existing ceiling junction box which allows for an easier installation compared to adding multiple recessed lights that may require remodeling. There are different choices in shapes and lamp sizes; they can be good for modern contemporary and transitional designs.
- Wall Sconces: Wall sconces are also accessory lighting, it can be used on walls in rooms that are not getting enough light. It can also be considered as mood lighting and can be used to light small narrow hallways and bathrooms.
- Pendants/Drop Lights: Dropped or pendant lights are good choices for the kitchen. They come in different finishes and styles. The most popular ones are those made with glass shades that come in different shapes and colors. They can add function and elegance to an otherwise busy area. Adding three pendant lights above the bar or peninsula can add brightness and elegance that can reflect beautifully on granite counters, showcasing the beauty of the design. They are very functional allowing people to see clearly what they are doing.
- Chandeliers: A chandelier is commonly used in dining rooms. It becomes the focal point taking center stage, enhancing the beauty of your fine furnishings. Use a dimmer to control the brightness of the glow. When the light is dimmed, a soft, glowing atmosphere similar to candlelight is created, giving intimacy and fine dining experience. Chandeliers can also be added to a formal living room adding grandness and beauty to the room.
- Table Lamps: Used for mood lighting, the table lamps are best used in bedrooms and in the corner of the living or family room.
- Buffet Lamps: Usually taller and slimmer than an regular table lamp, buffet lamps are used on top of console table to showcase design elements as well as foods displayed on the buffet table.
- Desk/Task Lamps: Desk lamps otherwise known as task lamps. They are so called because they function for you to see closely what you’re doing. Whether it is reading, writing, or working on a computer. Mostly seen in offices and libraries, desk lamps are very useful and work oriented.
- Torchiere and Floor Lamps: Usually used in dark corners of certain rooms, this adds mood and brightness to the space. This is a common choice of lighting in bedrooms and family rooms. Torchieres are so named because they are like torches with the light going upward. Some floor lamps are like table lamps that make use of lampshades, with the light focusing downwards.
- Ceiling Lights: These are usually single light fixtures that are placed closely to the ceiling, without a drop. They come with glass covers of different shapes, sizes, and colors. Used along hallways, bathrooms, and foyers.
- Recessed Lights: These lights are usually used in kitchens and hallways. Newer homes come with recessed lights instead of ceiling light fixtures. The recessed lights are installed by cutting holes through the ceilings and inserting canister lights that come in different diameters and styles. Recessed light installations are best left with professionals, by hiring a licensed electrician to add electrical connections for those canister lights.
- Under the Cabinet Lighting: Seen in kitchens, mounted under the cabinets, this type of lighting can brighten up the lower areas close to your countertops that are otherwise overshadowed by the cabinets. Some of these lights are low voltage halogens or fluorescent lights that do not emit too much heat since they are too close to the cabinets.
- Picture or Display Lighting: If you are an art collector, you may want to use picture lighting to highlight your collection of paintings, printed arts, and photographs. Display lighting can be used inside curio or China cabinets so that your display items are seen even in the dark.
- Spotlights and Up Lights: Spotlights can be used to highlight an art piece like a piece of sculpture. Up lights can be used behind a tall plant to give a glowing shadow, adding ambiance and beauty at night.
- Utility Lights: Lights used in the laundry, garage, work areas, and storage closets are called utility lights. They are oftentimes just a lamp with a single bulb that is clamped on to tubing or sometimes suspended on a chain from the ceiling. They are oftentimes unattractive because they are mostly used just for their utilitarian purposes.
- Mirror or Vanity Lighting: Vanity or mirror lighting are oftentimes a long strips of lighting, consisting of two or more bulbs. They are used to show clearly the person’s appearance against the mirror. Mirror lighting needs to be bright but not glaring. The best mirror lighting surrounds the face with light. This provides light from all sides that minimizes shadows under the chin, eyes, cheeks, and forehead. Some bathroom vanities are equipped with ‘Hollywood’ style lights (those strips that use the round light bulbs), however, a wall sconce on either side of the mirror can work nicely without being too overbearing.
If you are considering putting your home on the market or simply want to know what its present value may be, call me. It is an honor to be invited into someone’s home. The visit will definitely be enlightening
Jeffrey C. Hogue