You can’t start a conversation about upgrading the lighting in your home without first talking about LED lighting. Light-emitting diodes were developed in the early 1960s by General Electric. In recent years, the technology has advanced, prices have dropped, and LED technology is being used as a lighting source for homes and offices.
LED lighting has become one of the most environmentally and economically friendly technologies. Although LED light bulbs are more expensive than compact fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs, they can last for up to 25 years. They are very energy-efficient, and they contain no mercury. In addition to lowering your energy bill from the cost of running the bulbs, they produce very little heat and reduce the load on your air conditioner in hot weather.
As far as aesthetics are concerned, LED lighting comes in several temperatures, from cool to warm and full spectrum to soft white, and has begun to mimic incandescent lighting. You can even buy LED light bulbs that are dimmable. Our recommendation is that when you start your conversion to LED lighting in your home, you purchase several different bulbs in varying temperatures and wattages and experiment. Decide which bulbs you like best and go for it!
5 Great Upgrades
When upgrading the lighting in your home, the cardinal rule is that no corner should be dark. This doesn’t mean that your home should look like a scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but you don’t want to feel like you’re living in a Dickensian novel, either.
- Under-cabinet lighting – There’s nothing worse than trying to work in a dark kitchen. Under-cabinet lighting is just the thing. You can often install it yourself. The last generation of undercabinet lighting was halogen “pucks” or miniature track lighting. These included a bulky transformer and often needed to be hard-wired. The new generation of lighting consists of very slim LED rails that require no hard wiring. Many models include settings for low and bright light and can often be linked together. You simply mount the rails in the recess under your upper cabinets, tack the cord around the edge, plug them in, and you’re all set to go!
- Recessed lighting fixtures – Also known as “cans” or “high hats,” these handy fixtures are perfect for wherever you need more light but don’t want a decorative (or bland) light fixture. Hallways, stairways, the perimeter of your kitchen, and showers are great candidates for these fixtures. You can even replace builder’s stock inverted dome fixtures in your home with them. The new generation of LED recessed lighting looks like large hockey pucks and requires less mounting depth than traditional recessed lighting. Unless you are an expert, this project does require an electrician.
- Install dimmer switches – One of the easiest ways to make a significant impact with lighting in your home is to be able to control the lighting Nothing says “romantic dinner” like dim lights. Bedrooms, dining rooms, and living rooms are prime candidates for light dimmers. They’re ideal for lamps, as well as for overhead lighting.
- Add sconces to a bedroom or living room – Sconces are perceived as a very traditional lighting style. They evolved from wall-mounted candle holders, to gas-light, to electrified fixtures. The styles vary, from antique brass to sleek and modern styles, often executed in brushed nickel and frosted glass. Sconces are best along walls that have furniture. Bedrooms and living rooms are the best locations to hang sconces.
In the bedroom, sconces can be a big boon if you have small nightstands. Consider swing arm models if you like to read in bed. Lighting should be attractive, but it needs to be practical as well. In the living room, flank the sofa with a pair of fixtures that capture the mood of the room. Make sure they are on a dimmer switch!
- Small, decorative lamps have many uses – From being decorative to providing light in a dark corner, these come in handy. A small lamp on a bathroom or kitchen counter can illuminate a dark space and can also serve as a night light. On a bookshelf, a lamp can break up the monotony of a line of books, as well as allow you to read the titles.
One thing is certain. Light sells houses. If your home is on the market, attractive lighting can go a long way toward making the sale. It makes for better photos for the MLS (which brings in perspective buyers), and it makes the house warmer and more appealing. If you have a showing, make sure all the window shades are open, and that every light in the house is on.
If you’ve just moved into your new house, lighting will make it feel like home. Nothing is warmer and more comforting than coming into a properly lit room.