When you’re thinking about selling your home, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the details. Should you paint the front door? How about changing out that fixture in the dining room? Do you need to redo the floors or will a good deep cleaning be enough? So many questions, so many tasks that you suddenly feel are each the most important thing that must be done right away.
Anyone who has ever staged a home for sale, however, will tell you that the number one thing that you should do to get your home ready — before you start tearing out carpet or painting doors — is to make it feel light, bright and airy.
Buyers Are Always Looking for More Light
We’re creatures of the woods and savannahs, there’s an animal part of every person that wants more light, more light. It’s the same reason that people suffer from things like seasonal affective disorder: we need more light in our lives. Light also makes your home feel bigger when compared to other houses with the same basic square footage, so it’s sort of a win-win here.
Too many sellers overlook this simple notion, instead opting to choose trendy colors to try to appeal to buyers. They paint their dining rooms a dark scarlet, or choose lighting that isn’t nearly bright enough, creating a home that’s more cave-like than house-like. These same sellers wonder why they can’t find a buyer for their enclave, as potential after potential comes in for a look and immediately runs for the door.
But you’re not one of these sellers. You’ve come to the right place for some tips to make your home more appealing by bringing in more light, both real and artificial. These simple tricks can make a huge difference to your home’s first impression.
Let’s Let in the Light!
There are three kinds of light you need to be aware of when you’re looking to brighten your home: the natural light that comes from windows, doors and skylights, the artificial light that comes from your light fixtures and that light that’s bouncing off the walls and around the room.
Natural light is simple to harness, just:
* Clean your windows until they sparkle. Even those fine layers of dust and dirt can block light transmission, making your home feel dark and dreary.
* Remove heavy drapes. If you must have curtains, opt for sheers or lace panels. Sheers will still set off the windows like a heavy drape, but let most of the light from outside come inside.
* Leave every window blind open once your house is on the market. This is a huge mistake a lot of sellers make. Instead of leaving their windows open so that the first thing a potential buyer sees when they walk through the door is a bright and beautiful home, they close the blinds for fear that people will look into their home since it’s for sale.
Artificial light isn’t too tough to get a handle on when you:
* Clean the globes on all your light fixtures. The glass globes on ceiling lights and those glass shades on your ceiling fans can be run through the dishwasher on the top rack. They’ll come out clean as a whistle and able to let more light pass through.
* Replace dim bulbs with much brighter ones. You’ll be surprised how much different your living room looks when you replace the four 40 watt bulbs in your ceiling fan with four 75 watt bulbs. You can certainly overdo this, but it’s hard in rooms of any substantial size.
* Choose blue. Replacing those orange-tinted light bulbs with full spectrum bulbs may seem like a pointless hassle, but this small modification will make your interior feel like it’s full of more of the natural light that’s coming in through the windows. More natural light is almost always better.
* Consider the room size. There are times that choosing the brightest bulb in the box is the wrong way to go. Rooms that are small or narrow, like bathrooms, may be better served with slightly less lighting. You’ll have to use your judgement on that, but keep in mind that no one wants to walk into a small space and be blinded by the artificial light inside.
Light that’s bouncing around the room needs to keep bouncing, so:
* Choose brighter colors to reflect more of the ultraviolet spectrum. The more white involved, the more light it reflects, which then bounces off the other light colored walls, making the room seem big and airy. Stark white is not a great choice, it often makes a home feel too institutional, but a buttercream, barely gray or other almost-not-tinted color can really brighten up a room and get that light moving.
* Minimize dark design elements. It’s not just the walls that can absorb too much of the light in your home, making it feel like an underground bunker. The floors, ceilings and even the furniture in the room all affect how much light is moving around. Again, you don’t want to go totally white, but if you have a dark floor or your ceiling could stand to be painted, definitely make an effort there. Ceilings should be flat white for best results.
* Use mirrors strategically. Mirrors were way overdone in the 1980s and have kind of fallen out of favor since. It’s unfortunate, since they’re a great way to help direct light exactly where it’s needed. When you’re confronted with a dark room that seems to have no good solutions for light, try adding a mirror. For example, a mirrored closet door in a small bedroom with a single window can have a huge impact on the room, plus it’s a handy accessory.
The Devil’s in Those Details
Before you panic about all this lighting stuff, you may want to talk to your Realtor about doing a quick walkthrough of your home so they can point out places where you should be focusing your efforts. Don’t worry if you don’t have the mad skills just yet, you can find a talented home pro among your HomeKeepr community. They even come recommended by your Realtor, so you know they’re good!
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Hi, I'm John Thomas, and I am a full-time/full-service Realtor® at eXp Realty in Atlanta Georgia. I was born in Chicago, grew up in Elmhurst. I attended York High School and Loras College. I have a B....