Light the Way

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One of the things that make staged homes look so warm and welcoming is great lighting design. As it turns out, many of our own homes are improperly lit. We either have too few fixtures, or our lighting is too dim, or it’s as harsh as a spotlight. To remedy bad lighting and make your home more inviting, increase the wattage in your lamps and fixtures. Aim for a total of 100 watts for every 50 square feet. Then install dimmers so you can vary light levels according to your mood and the time of day. This is a relatively simple project for a do-it-your-selfer, or you can hire an electrician for a couple of hours to do several at once. And while you’re at it, be sure to replace those dingy, almond-colored light-switch covers with crisp white ones. New covers cost less than a buck apiece and are a quick, easy update.

“Don’t depend on just one or two fixtures per room, either. It’s just as important to layer lighting as it is to have sufficient wattage,” Breining points says. So go for ambient (general or overhead), task (pendant, under–cabinet, or reading), and accent (table and wall) lighting. “A combination of overhead, floor, table, and accent lighting creates great ambiance,” the San Francisco stager says. “Having lights on different planes provides good illumination and makes the room interesting.”

One thing that’s always in Breining’s bag of tricks: up–lights. “You can buy one for as little as $5 at home–improvement stores and hide it behind a potted plant — it creates incredible drama.” Another hint: Place mirrors, silver or glass bowls, or other reflective objects near lamps to bounce light around the room and make it glow even more.

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