Lighting is probably the most powerful decorating tool in any house. It has the power to affect mood, to highlight and enhance and to affect how colors are perceived. When a house is being presented for sale, even during the day, every light is turned on in order to present all rooms in the best way possible. That is why the brightest and most consistent lighting should be used throughout the house.
Things to Consider:
Levels: Are there lights at every eye level in the house? This includes:
- Low: on end tables at eye level when seated
- Medium: through windows or standing lamps at eye level when standing
- High: on ceilings above eye level.
Proportion: Are the light fixtures in proportion with the size of the room or the size of the furniture? If standing on the floor or on end tables, are the lights high enough to cast an adequate glow on the furniture or flooring beneath? Can the heights of the light fixtures be adjusted?
Purpose: What are the lights being used for?
- Mood Lighting (living room or bedroom)
- Task Lighting (cooking, reading, applying makeup)
- Safety (staircase and hallways)
- Highlighting (artwork or architectural features)
Balanced: Are lights distributed evenly throughout every room or is one side brighter or darker?
Shadows: Are too many shadows being cast on walls or are there patterns being cast because of the type of light fixture that is being used?
Intensity/Wattage: When you walk into a room, do you feel like you are in a clinical setting or interrogation room? You may need to consider dimmers. Conversely, do you feel like you are in a nightclub/bar? Then it’s time to ramp up the wattage to the maximum suggested for the fixture by the manufacturer.
Shade Color, Pattern & Shape: Are dark or colored shades being used on light fixtures and how does this affect the intensity and colors in the room? Does the shade have a pattern that matches other decorative elements in a room? Does the room need to be softened by matching end tables with oval or round shades or would square or rectangular shades tie in better with other decorative elements?
Base Color & Shape: Does the style of the base match other decorative elements in the room in terms of color, finish (e.g. gold, silver, white, black etc.) and shape or does it clash with the rest of the room? Does it also match the decorating style of the room?
Reflection and Refraction: Are there lights that shine directly on glass or mirror surfaces? If so, do they detract from seeing artwork underneath (glass) or cause annoying glare? Are lights shining through crystals that can refract the light into different colors on walls?
Bulb Color: Are all the light bulbs used throughout the house consistent in color? The white light that is emitted from a bulb is classified in Kelvin (K) units – the lower the number, the warmer (more yellow or red) a white light appears. A warm white light bulb has a slightly yellow or amber tone to it, whereas a cool white light bulb appears slightly bluer. Lights come in a range of colors from warm white (yellowest) to cool white to daylight (bluest). In general, cool or daylights cast a less inviting glow in a room and typically are avoided when showing a house.
Bulb Glass Type and Shape: Are light bulbs sticking out from fixtures or contained within fixtures and covered? Clear bulbs can often cast too much light if exposed making it hard to look directly at the fixture. Also CFL bulbs, while highly energy efficient, are not the most attractive to look at. Round, translucent bulbs are typically best to use.
Time of Day and Year to House Orientation: No matter when someone enters a house, is the light consistent? Natural lighting is typical brightest mid-day but depending how the house is oriented, the most light coming into the house could vary from this time. Natural light is typically more warm/yellow in the summer and more cold/white in the winter. Houses that face southwest tend to have more warm/yellow natural light vs. houses that face northeast.
When used properly, lighting has the power to make a huge impression on any house and is a great investment.