Using Light to Set the Stage

Published February 24, 2012 by Julie Provenzano

When prepping your home for sale do not underestimate the importance of strategic lighting.  Think of entering a theater before the show.  The curtain is drawn, yet the stage is illuminated with just the right amount of light and shadow, creating the perfect atmosphere of expectation and anticipation.  Small bulbs embedded in the floor direct you to your seat while soft filtered light from above helps you settle in.  As the show begins, the house lights are darkened and the stage spots take over, focusing your attention and drawing you into the magic.  

Using this metaphor can assist sellers who may be looking to create ambience in their homes.  As potential buyers approach your house, what do they see?  More important, how do they feel?  Is your front entry warmly lit and inviting from the curb or driveway?  Are your porch lights buzzing with fluorescence or emitting a soft glow, enticing visitors to discover what lies within? 

In dark winter months it is wise to have a strategically well-lit foyer or entryway so buyers have adequate light in which to form their first impression.  If possible, use lamps or accent lighting to focus a potential buyer’s attention on a desirable aspect of your home immediately upon entering.  It may help to pretend you are seeing your home for the first time.  Where do your eyes naturally settle upon entering?  What catches your attention?  Using lighting to enhance architectural or design elements of your home from the get-go will have your buyers anticipating what else they may discover.

First impressions speak volumes, but when you’re looking to sell your home a lasting impression is more important. You want that lasting impression to be a good one.  Use lighting to play up those spaces that may otherwise be overlooked.  Have a large walk in closet?  Install solar tubes for a natural source of light and use puck lights within your fixtures or to turn dark inaccessible corners into more usable space.  Updating the lighting fixtures in dining areas and bathrooms may be what sets your home apart and causes potential buyers, who sometimes see dozens of homes in just a few days, remember it.  Use fixtures that blend in with the overall décor of your home and have just enough defining details to make them interesting.     

The kitchen has perhaps become the most important room in the modern family’s home.  In the last twenty years kitchens have gone from being closed off, food preparation areas to the hub of the household; at once an eating spot, work space, entertainment venue and intimate place for families and friends to gather.  Contemplating the multiple roles your kitchen plays, while using light to delineate each activity can be a determining factor in selling your home.  If you have a study area, use task lighting to show it off.  A functional center island is enhanced with can lights, while a breakfast bar with a few tasteful pendants can add definition to an otherwise average feature.  Installing under cabinet lighting in food prep areas and turning them on for showings lets buyers know you’ve gone that extra mile in making sure your home is a cut above the rest. 

Sometimes, when it comes to lighting, less is more.  Dimmers allow you to adjust the amount of light based on the usage of the room.  A beautiful formal dining room is made even more elegant when bathed in warm ambient light.  However, these rooms often become landing pads for school projects, ironing boards, laptop computers, unread catalogues and junk mail.  Having your dining room lighting fixture on a dimmer allows you to control the light: brighter for those late night domestic projects and softer for a dinner gathering.  Dimmers can also be useful in the kitchen, either late at night or early in the morning when only a soft light is desired.

Showing off your home’s best assets is easy when you have the right tools.  Updating and refining your lighting sources allows you to accent key features of your home with little effort.  If you’re planning to sell, take some time to consider the mood created by your choice of lighting and adjust it as necessary to create an appealing atmosphere.  The right lighting allows your home to shine while your potential buyers sit back and enjoy the show.

Using light to highlight a room