Wide, white lampshade, check!
 Pale walls, check!  Big lamp, check!  
When your home is for sale, the more light your rooms get, the bigger and cleaner it feels to people touring it.

Here are some tips to use indoor lighting and natural that gets those results.  

Up the Wattage

Kinda obvious, but often overlooked: Make sure all your fixtures and lamps have all bulbs with the correct wattage.

The emphasis is on “all bulbs.” How many of us have replaced a bulb in a multi-bulb fixture with whatever we had on hand? Or neglected to notice that, in fact, one bulb was burned out. Double check all your lights.

Replace those boob, ceiling light fixtures with something big and bold and reflective. Don't be shy about installing a chandelier style. 

When it comes to task lighting, you may personally like the moody look of subdued illumination, and cozy pools of light spaced around a room. But this is the kind of lighting that makes a room look small and cramped.

Whether you or your Realtor shows your property, it’s sometimes awkward to circle the room and turn on all the task and accent lights. That’s why it’s important that general, overhead lighting be sufficient.  

Other tricks for boosting the brightness: double up on lamps. Yes, I mean pairs of lamps in close proximity. Or, place a large mirror on the wall behind a table or desk that sports a lamp.

Best Table Lamps

If you are absent before a showing, you can’t count on your Realtor to arrive at your house before her clients do, and turn on all lamps.

In one property I had on the market, I put timers on a couple of table lamps, just to make sure that darker rooms were always well-lighted when I was away.

To me, the cost of electricity was worth it. No one said it wouldn’t cost any money to sell a house.    
Most home stagers prefer white lampshades, and for good reason. Darker lampshades will absorb light so that you’re not getting all the wattage you want.

Also, ditch the ditzy table lamps. They take up too much tabletop real estate for the little bit of charm they bring to a space.

Nothing beats a pair. Of  lamps, that is. I changed the way the cord exited the base 
on one of these elephant lamps so they could face each other.

Best Floor Lamps

When choosing a floor lamp, look for lamps that provide ample light and take up little floor space. A floor lamp that bounces light off the ceiling will go a long way towards increasing the size of the room.

An extension cord snaking across the floor to a lamp is a red flag to home buyers. It gives the impression that there’s a problem with the home’s wiring, even if there isn’t. Try to arrange lamps so the cord isn’t visible.

Uplights, Downlights

One clever way to add some drama to a room is with hidden lights that wash a wall with light. Make sure your walls are blemish-free and expertly painted when you aim a light at them at a sharp angle.

Dark corners in a room are no friend to the spacious look you want. Solve the problem with low wattage uplights that can be left on. Or place in the corner a table with a large table lamp. Wall sconces are another possibility. Some are battery operated so there's no cord dangling below if they aren't hard-wired.   

An unseen light behind a sofa or under kitchen cabinets give a room a certain glow. Lighting like this can often create a focal point or emphasize one such as a fireplace or some built-in cabinetry.

Proving the Rule

Every rule has an exception. If your home is large, make one of your rooms stand out as a dimly lighted retreat. It could be a romantic bedroom, a media room, a man cave, or a library. It shouldn’t be a kitchen, bath, closet, hallway, or children’s room.

This approach could solve the problem of a room that is already dark because it’s on the north side of the home, has poor natural lighting, or is so small that you’re not going to fool anyone into thinking it’s large.

What a cool way to hide a less-than-perfect view, but still
let in the light.  And there's always room for a creative lighting solution
like this sunny pendant fixture. Photo: Meredith 

Daylight Rocks

Are your rooms getting enough sunlight? Even if your windows are small – especially if your windows are small – there are ways to increase the amount of perceived light entering the room.

Keep window treatments away from the actual framed window opening. My window treatments ebook shows you how to make 15 different styles of no-sew curtains and draperies especially designed for home staging.    

Also, remove or prune outdoor shrubbery that blocks light entering through windows. Watch the way sunlight moves across a room over the course of a day, and observe what’s shading the room. It could be the lower branches of a tree that’s overgrown or too close to the house. People like open views. 

Work with your Realtor to encourage her to show your home when it looks best. Perhaps the morning sun floods your kitchen, but leaves bedrooms dim. Since many people don’t care about bright morning sun in bedrooms, mornings would be the best time to show the property. Dark and rainy days are not ideal for showings.

Of course, it’s not always possible to control the schedule, but it’s worth mentioning to your Realtor. 
You can't beat a white ceiling for bringing a room to life. Don't listen to people
telling you that the wall color on the ceiling will heighten a room.
Light reflection matters more.  Designer: Nate Berkus for Katie Lee.

Brighten Ceiling and Walls

I’ve given many ceilings a coat of fresh paint, and the client is always amazed at the difference one coat of bright white paint makes. Over time a ceiling can take on a dull grey or brown tone from dust, pollen, aging paint, nicotine or cooking oils in the air.

Paint sold as “ceiling white paint” is specially designed to be reflective because it’s a pure, bright white. It doesn’t have the durability or washability of wall and trim paints, so it’s usually less expensive.

If you think your ceiling can benefit from some brightening (most can) it’s not that difficult to paint a ceiling if you do half a room at a time. Remove the small furniture to another room. Scoot all the big stuff to one side of the room, and cover the floor. Then, working on a step ladder, use a brush to cut in around the edge of the ceiling, and roll the reminder from the floor, using a roller screwed onto a long handle (like a mop handle).

Make your walls feel clean and bright with wall colors that reflect rather than soak up light. Muddy colors with dark undertones will close in the walls of a room more than clear, pale colors. Use a flat finish rather than a finish with sheen. Flat finish tends to blur the boundaries of the room, making it feel larger. 

Light Your Way to a Purchase Offer

“Plenty of light” is high on the wish list of most buyers. Even if you don’t have an abundance of natural light, you can still go a long way towards pleasing buyers by putting to work my tricks to create the sense of light-filled spaces in your home.

Want more tips and encouragement to help you sell your home? That’s what you get when you have my handy eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar. It’s just $4.99 and is an instantly downloadable pdf. You can start today to make your home the one that real estate buyers want.  

Top photo: Room design by Melanie Coddington, via Cococozy.