1) Often people are not aware that their lighting preferences may be offensive to a prospective buyer. A kitchen let solely by a large troffer-type fluorescent fixture may diminish the size of the space, making the kitchen appear smaller than it is. If the fixture is dirty, it should be cleaned. If the diffusing plastic is discolored or cracked, it should be replaced. Painting the frame of fixture the same color as the ceiling will give it a lower profile and visually reduce its size. Bottom line is that you do not have to replace the fixture-just improve it.
2) If the stove light diffuser is greasy, dirty and discolored, clean it or replace it. Replace the bulb with the highest wattage recommended for that fixture.
3) Installing an under cabinet light improves the lighting for task areas such as counter tops. Under cabinet lights come in units of two and three halogen or xenon lights. There are also inexpensive low profile fluorescents made for under cabinet lighting. When a real estate agent shows your house, they will turn on all of the lights. If you have under cabinet lights, ask the real estate agent showing your house to turn them on as well. They are great task lighting and a buyer will be impressed!
4) Look critically at your window treatments. Those dark red, fully lined curtains that match the flowers in the dining room wall paper may shroud the room in darkness and shadows, even when they are open. Purchasing cheap, light-colored curtains will brighten a room considerably and make the room appear larger. And yes, clean the windows and discard discolored, torn window shades.
5) Replace any switchplates or outlets that are cracked or discolored. If they are dirty, remove them and clean them by hand or in the dishwasher.
6) If, in any room, the over head central ceiling fixture is discolored or cracked, replace it. Good looking ceiling flush mount and semi-flush mount fixtures need not be expensive. They are easy to replace and will definitely improve the appearance of the bedroom, hallway, foyer or living room. If the central fixture is in good condition, but is full of bugs or cobwebs, cleaning the glass shade and making sure the highest recommended wattage bulbs are in place.
7) I have heard real estate agents complain about taking prospective buyers to a house at night and, because the front exterior lights didn't function, the buyers had to enter the house in the dark and that gave the buyer a negative impression. It is a sign of neglect if the exterior fixtures don't work, are corroded, have broken parts or glass, or need replacement bulbs. Buyers entering a house and seeing neglected exterior fixtures will automatically question, “What else has been neglected in this house?" And even though everything else might be lovely, and well maintained, this first impression will color their judgments. Don't overlook the importance of any exterior fixtures. Make sure all of them work and have the highest recommended wattage bulbs in them. If they need to be replaced, inexpensive exterior fixtures, available at home improvement stores, will make that good first impression.
8) All the best lighting in a house will not be effective if the walls are paneled with dark wood or painted a dark color. You may like the den-like environment and the coziness of dark paneling, but understand that the effect of this darkness will make rooms look much smaller than they are and have a depressing, negative effect on the buyer. Covering those dark walls with a light, neutral color like off white or light beige, will increase the effectiveness of lighting and make the room appear larger. It will also give leverage to the effect of your lighting!
9) Some additional inexpensive decorative tips that will help sell your house are: Replace all discolored, darkened or dirty lampshades. Homeowners that have had lampshades for years don't realize that their shades are deterioration and darkening from exposure to electric light. It is a gradual process and many times, the homeowner keeps buying higher wattage bulbs to compensate for darkening lampshades that should have been replaced years ago. Ironically, the higher wattage bulbs only deteriorates the lamp shade faster. Most large chain and home improvement stores have inexpensive lampshades. Take your old lampshades with you when you shop, so that you can get the right size.
10) Little solar lights along the walk way to your front door add a welcoming touch. Packs of six or eight in amber or white lights are inexpensive and easy to install. Just stick them in the ground along your walk way or garden. They will not compensate for the exterior lighting you need to light a buyer's way into your house. The their welcoming little glow will send a positive message-this is a nice house, a cozy house that radiates the magic of light. . . . .
With not much expenditure and a little “elbow grease, " your home will shine!
Lois DeWitt is a certified lighting specialist, a cookbook author, “Pop It In The Toaster Oven, " an artist, a poet and a Standard Poodle admirer. She cooks gourmet meals for friends, walks along the shore with her dog, Charley, and tends her vegetable garden in Wilmington, NC. She works part time in the Electrical Department at The Home Depot. She has website offering all of her art teaching knowledge is there for the taking-absolutely free. And visit her light blog for information on lighting.