Lighting is the home design trend that never goes out of style. You could add floor-to-ceiling windows, skylights, sun tubes, glass doors and more, and your home would only ever increase in value. The same is true of electrical lights; generally speaking, the more, the merrier.
However, when it comes to lights you install, style and functionality do matter. No one wants to visit the home that is shrouded in darkness, and you won’t be happy in a space that feels outdated and dim. Fortunately, updating your home’s lighting doesn’t have to be an exorbitantly expensive project — in fact, you can do many of the following valuable and useful upgrades yourself
Recessed lights are perhaps the ultimate lighting upgrade. Built into cans that are mounted flush with your ceiling, recessed lights provide ample illumination without much affecting style or décor. Instead, these lights offer clean and contemporary ambient light that suits every room in your home. Because these lights do not intrude on available space, they are equally appropriate for small spaces, like hallways and bathrooms, as they are for wide-open spaces, like kitchens and family rooms.
The key to installing recessed lights properly is having a plan. Generally, you don’t want to merely replace one existing overhead light fixture with one recessed light; your rooms should have a few recessed lights in a pattern overhead. This will require knowing where your ceiling joists are and installing new electrical boxes for the recessed lights to mount into, but you’ll only need simple tools, to include a hammer, screwdriver, hacksaw and pliers, to get the job done.
Ambient light isn’t the only type of lighting you need in your home. Also advantageous is task lighting, which takes the form of pendant lights or desk lamps. However, most recently, a new form of task lighting has emerged, and homeowners everywhere are envious of it: under-cabinet lighting. This lighting illuminates the dark corners of your kitchen countertops, where recessed lighting and other overhead lights often fail to reach.
There are dozens of ways to create under-cabinet lighting, which means there are varying difficulty levels for this lighting project. An easy solution is running an LED rope light around the underside of your cabinets. You can also install battery-operated lights, which are easy to mount and don’t require any wiring know-how. Of course, the most professional finish is hard-wired strips of lights that can be turned on and off from a central switch. You should choose the option that makes sense for your kitchen and your abilities.
While lighting is undeniably in style, most homeowners don’t want their electric lights to be blindingly bright. Instead, you should desire control over the intensity of the light in your home, so you can set the right illumination regardless of whether it’s movie night or whether you have guests over. For this, you’ll need to upgrade many of your light switches to dimmer switches. Not only does the ability to dim give you the power to create the perfect atmosphere in your home, but it can also save you money on your energy bill and prolong the lifespan of your lightbulbs.
If you have ever installed a new light switch, you have the ability to install a dimmer switch. The process includes removing your existing switch and reconnecting the electrical wires to your new dimmer. However, you should be aware that there are more than a few styles of dimmer switches, which vary in the method of control (i.e. rotary vs. slide vs. touchpad) as well as type (i.e. single vs. multi-location). You should review your options before buying and installing the first dimmer you see.
You probably don’t want motion sensors on all your lights, but in many areas in and around your home, motion sensors do function as an upgrade. Most often, motion sensors are placed on exterior lighting, especially around break-in prone areas like the garage or back patio. Large floodlights in these areas are effective at deterring unwanted intruders — but only if they are on. Motion sensors allow you to keep your home comfortably dark during the night, when you might be disturbed by bright artificial lights, but it will give you (and others) enough illumination to see should something occur outdoors.
Motion sensors aren’t difficult to install, especially if you buy an all-in-one fixture with a new light attached to a sensor. Then, you merely disconnect your existing light fixture and attach the new fixture with the same wiring pattern. The process is a bit more complex if you want to add a sensor to an existing fixture or place a motion sensing light where there isn’t a light fixture.
Another outdoor illumination upgrade is pathway lights, which illuminate areas where you and your home’s visitors will safely walk. Pathway lights are exceedingly functional, helping identify obstacles and steps, but they also add some drama to your landscape, making your home more inviting and more eye-catching. Pathway lights are the most common landscape lighting, and depending on the type you choose, they are also among the easiest and fastest to install.
It should come as little surprise that you have more than a few options for pathway lights. Some of the most affordable are solar lights, which you can merely stake into the ground around your pathways and begin enjoying enhanced illumination. Then again, for a more sophisticated look, you can embed lights into your pathway, like reverse recessed lighting, which requires professional work. Of course, you can find solar pathway lights in almost any style, from traditional to modern. You can look online, in design stores and even in home improvement stores for ideas.
Finally, few objects around the home are escaping the influence of advanced technology, and lighting succumbed to smart home networks years ago. Smart lights offer near limitless user control, meaning you can brighten or dim them, change their color and even turn them on and off from afar. Many smart lights connect to smart home hubs, like the Amazon Echo or the Google Nest Hub, so you can control them with voice commands. If smart tech is the future, you might want to think about upgrading your lights today.
Although the transition to a fully automated home can be expensive, you can install smart lights around your home for a couple hundred dollars in less than a day. Generally, smart lights are nothing more or less than high-tech bulbs, meaning installation is merely unscrewing your old, dumb bulbs and screwing in your new smart ones. Another option is buying smart outlets, into which you can plug table and floor lamps to make them smart.
Never will illumination go out of style, and if you take steps to install the right lights today, you can increase the value of your home dramatically. These upgrades don’t cost much money and won’t require much time, meaning even you can have a brighter, better home.