Interior of a hall with mirror and turquoise sofa

A mirror will reflect natural light around a room, making the space feel bigger and bright. (Getty Images)

When a home is on the market, it’s all about creating a light and bright feel throughout the space to welcome buyers. A home seller can do this in a number of ways by utilizing natural light, painting and adding more indoor lighting.

The more light bouncing around each room, the bigger the home will appear, and since buyers are purchasing square footage it’s important to make sure you’re showcasing the illusion of maximum space.

Natural light provides several benefits when showing off a property while keeping money in your wallet. Sunlight, rather than light from a fixture, can save on energy costs and boost a buyer’s mood when walking through the home. Start by assessing the natural light in each room of the house:

  • Does the room feel dark or light?
  • How many windows do you have?
  • How many doors?
  • Would it make sense to update either of these or add skylights?

[See: 8 Ways to Transform Unused Space in Your Home.]

Here are a few tips on how to intensify a natural light source to appeal to buyers touring your home.

Trim bushes and trees. Overgrown trees, bushes or shrubs in the yard can immediately put a dark cloud over a property. Trim hedges and prune branches away from the windows so the home gets ample sunlight. Be sure to clear the exterior and interior windowsills for optimal sunlight.

Consider new window treatments. Some window treatments can actually block sunlight from entering the home, like Roman shades, which are usually made of fabric that lies directly over the window. Heavy fabrics like velvet or tweed and dark colors can also weigh a room down. The best type of window treatment to use is a sheer, light cotton or linen curtain that can hang on either side of the window. Make sure to have the curtains open during every showing.

Replace solid doors. Try replacing the solid front door for one that has a window. It will instantly add light to the entryway. You can also add a screen door so you can leave the front door open during showings, providing the illusion that there is more light in the entryway than there really is.

Add more windows and doors. Consider adding a window, skylight, door or sliding door in a particular room that lacks natural light. The more windows and doors you have in a room, the brighter it will be. Before adding any of these, though, make sure to monitor how the sunlight reflects in the room to determine if and where additional light will be most helpful.

Use a mirror. Mirrors are a great way to reflect light around a room. Adding a mirror on a wall opposite to a window doubles the light streaming in and can make the space appear brighter. Try using a large mirror, a grouping of mirrors or mirrored furniture and accents to bounce the light around.

[See: 7 Things to Consider When Picking Out Paint Colors for Your Home.]

Another way to make a room look lighter and brighter is by choosing the right paint colors. Dark colors absorb light while light colors and whites bounce natural light around the room. Plan on lighting up the color palette before putting the property on the market.

Choose the color of the walls carefully by determining what direction the room is facing. A north- or south-facing window, morning versus afternoon light and the amount of natural light the space gets can play a big part in how you should paint it.

For example: If the room faces north, avoid cool colors with blue undertones. Instead, opt for colors that are warmer on the color wheel and have yellow undertones.

Wall color sets a room’s atmosphere. Use neutral earth tones rather than all white. Try choosing a darker color for an accent wall. When choosing a paint color for a room, take a cue from the items in the room such as the flooring, woodwork, tile or cabinets.

The fifth wall. Over time, a ceiling can look dull from dust, pollen, aging paint, nicotine and cooking oils in the air. Use paint sold as “ceiling white paint” because it is especially designed to be reflective. It’s a pure, bright white.

[See: 11 Popular Home Updates That Are Worth the Cost.]

Once the room’s natural light has been determined and the paint has dried, it’s time to add indoor fixtures. While this seems obvious, most homeowners have ample lighting in their home, they just neglect to change the burnt-out lightbulbs in their fixtures. So take a moment to check lighting. Make sure to use the appropriate wattage (use maximum wattage), and on a multi-bulb fixtures all lightbulbs should match.

There are different ways to utilize indoor lighting. Light can come from ceiling fixtures, fans, chandeliers, table lamps and floor lamps.

Ceiling fixtures. Overhead lighting is a must. Many homes have no overhead fixtures in some of the most important areas of the home, such as the entryway, living room and bedrooms. If you’re faced with this problem, the first thing to decide is whether you have money in the budget to add lighting. Add a fixture in the middle of the room or add hi-hat lighting so you have ample lighting throughout the space.

Ceiling fans. Fans are a great way to circulate air throughout the home, especially in bedrooms, living rooms and great rooms. Use fans with a lighting kit, but try to avoid fans with control chains – get fans with remote controls instead. Also, pay attention to the fan's finish, and match it to other finishes throughout the room.

Chandeliers and pendant lighting. This type of lighting is a great way to add bling to a room. Chandeliers are statement pieces, so be sure to choose one that matches the home’s aesthetic and style decor. Add a chandelier in an entryway, dining room or master bedroom using something big, bold and reflective. A pendant light is ideal over kitchen islands. Hang pendant lights approximately 30 to 36 inches above the countertops.

Table lamps. A table lamp is a great way to update a space – it’s budget friendly and can add a huge impact on the overall feel of the home. Table lamps come in different sizes, colors and shapes. Choose lamps that match the home’s decor and are proportionate to the other items in the room. Swap shades by using neutral, patterned or textured lampshades. A drum shade can instantly update a lamp. Be sure to avoid dark lampshades that absorb light. Don’t rely on your real estate agent to turn on all the lights when showing a home – put lamps on timers to make sure dark rooms are always well-lit.

Floor lamps. Like table lamps, floor lamps effectively add extra light in a space where a table won’t necessarily fit. Put a floor lamp next to a couch or chair. Be strategic about placement, though. Try to make cords invisible, rather than having an extension cord out for buyers to trip on. Also, look for a lamp that provides ample light and doesn’t take up a lot of square footage.

Tags: real estate, housing, home improvements, existing home sales, pending home sales


Tori Toth is a best-selling author, DIY and lifestyle expert, award-winning home stager and lifestyle authority. She can show anybody how to add more value to their home by giving the tools needed to prepare and showcase any home for sale. She works with consumers, real estate agents, or anybody else who wants to make their home look its best quickly and easily. Home staging is a strategic marketing tool for the biggest return on investment of a home, focusing on renovation and creative design. By creating a lifestyle that buyers will find aspirational, Tori Toth will demonstrate methods of rearranging, organizing and in many cases, adding or editing furniture and home décor. The best, clearest, most helpful information of how to stage a home with and be an immediate success can be found in Tori’ best-selling book "Feel at Home: Home Staging Secrets for a Quick and Easy Sell."

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