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Lighting a staged home

Whether we’re staging an owner-occupied property or an empty one, the art of lighting a staged home is one of those pro-level details that often get missed.

And that’s too bad, because believe me, the right lighting makes a big difference to the finished look in both your listing photos and showings!

Lighting helps you achieve a few important goals:

  • Your rooms will look larger, and happier;
  • You can draw attention toward areas you want people to notice (and away from other areas);
  • You can set the mood to match the story your staged home is telling: from sophisticated to homey and anything in between.

Factors that influence your lighting choices

While strategies will vary based on the home’s style, size, layout, and natural lighting, these tips will help you understand many of the factors we’re taking into account, and how to work with your staging pro and photographer to achieve the best results possible for your sale!

Exterior Lighting: Outdoor lighting not only adds visual interest, but can help your home feel safer. (You’d be surprised at home many prospective buyers cruise neighborhoods in the evening to check out the area!)

  • Install or clean path lighting that shines down, as well as upward-shining floodlights that highlight the beautiful shape of trees and/or the front of your home.

Natural light levels, room-by-room: Meaning, how much natural light is available from windows, doors, and/or skylights.

  • You’ll want to take into account their direction (south-facing windows tend to let in the most light), whether the home is heavily shaded by tree cover, and what the space will look like on rainy days, or in the evening.

Ensure overall brightness fits each room’s purpose: kitchens, bathrooms, and basements need the most light; living, dining and work rooms next; bedrooms least.

  • Balancing overall amount of light with task-specific lighting. Under cabinet lights in the kitchen or workbenches, or reading lamps positioned near chairs.
  • If there are dark spots in the room, whether created by furniture or architectural details, add a small lamp that brightens it up.

Strategically accentuate high ceilings: Some beautiful trim or other ceiling details beg for attention; but other times high ceilings are just… high.

  • When that’s the case, an attractive fixture hanging down may perfectly accentuate the long drop.

Build light using layers: whenever possible, we suggest using different types of lights, in roughly similar hues.

  • First create an overall level of brightness appropriate to each room, and then select highlight specific areas with task or localized lighting. This can make the room look larger, while still subtly suggesting a level of coziness that tells a homey story to prospective buyers.
First look, before staging
Lighting a staged home
The “after” photo (see how color, decor, and lighting work together?)

What bulbs and how many?

  • We recommend classic incandescent light bulbs, if you can, or any “soft white” bulbs (2700-3000k, or “kelvin” if you want to be precise).
  • Halogen bulbs are the closest to natural daylight. You can’t put them in just any old lamp, of course, but if you have fixtures or lamps that take them, they’ll help brighten a space without looking harsh.
  • Aim for 100 watts of light total for every 50 square feet of space. So, in a typical bedroom you can expect to use at least two lamps with a minimum of 60-to-75 watts each.
  • If you happen to have Philips Hue lights, or a similar “smart” bulb set up, you’ll be able to adjust the color as needed for photos.

When it comes time to plan out lighting a staged home, it’s generally better to err on the side of “more,” avoiding any positioning that leads to dark gaps (particularly in your photos, where they’ll stick out like a sore thumb!). And if you’d like a pro on your side to ensure you’re making smart investments that will help you get the best possible offers, just give us a call!

Sherrie was seriously amazing! Our house looks so awesome after our FaceTime staging call (quarantine probs) She was personable, patient and very knowledgeable! Would 100% use her again and definitely recommend!

Gina C

First Impression Home Staging provided a virtual consultation so we could stage our home! They were professional and patient as we did the walk through. It was a pleasure working with Sherrie Medeiros. She helped us successfully stage our home…read more

Cheri K

Sherrie helped me remotely stage my rental property that is up for sale, using FaceTime (I’m in CA and Sherrie is in NC). I initially sent her photos of the house staged with a bare minimum of furniture, which she…read more

Rena W

My husband and I are realtors in Raleigh, and we’ve been using Sherrie’s staging consultant services for our clients, and can I just say, “WOW”?! First Impression Home Staging definitely makes a HUGE difference. . . even in this current…read more

Lisa F

We used First Impressions Home Staging to help us with a completely new interior design of a vacation rental we bought in the mountains of Virginia. Sherrie and Roslyn were both amazing to work with. They were conscientious of our…read more

Josee M

Sherrie has an amazing eye for color and a talent on how to bring out the best in a space. She spent time getting to know what items in my home meant the most to me and created a paint…read more

Shannon H

We recently placed our home for sale and hired Sherrie and First Impression Home Staging to stage it. They did a fabulous job and the house looks beautiful. Sherrie is wonderful to work with. After an initial walk through of…read more

Joan K

Sherrie did a fabulous job staging our home for sale! I would HIGHLY recommend her if you are preparing your home to sale. We had never used staging before to sell a house, but now we are certainly believers indeed!…read more

Rachel M

Sherrie came in to stage our home to sell & she did just that. She made terrific suggestions & simply put, she made our home more marketable. I highly recommend her & if given the opportunity, I would choose to…read more

Sheila C.

The home that you staged went under contract in 3 days with 2 offers. I am certain that your staging was instrumental. The sellers are thrilled. They are so excited. They are convinced it was the best investment!

Mindy O.

Thanks very much Sherrie! You did an amazing job helping us get their home beautiful and ready to list.

Heather Piper, KW Realtor

Hey Sherrie I wanted to share some good news… that townhouse in Brier Creek went live on Saturday morning, held it open both days, and we have an offer on the way today. The exact unit around the corner, not…read more

Hugh Grist, Grist Realty

We’d just like to offer a sincere thanks for the work you did staging our house. We believe that the advice you and Amy gave us along with your staging made a huge difference in both the price and the…read more

Sincerely, Roger & Carla Wilson

Are you selling your house soon? Let me tell you… I didn’t believe it… But our listing didn’t go as fast as we wanted and I decided to stage my empty home… We got multiple offers over asking in 48…read more

K Mitchell
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First Impression Home Staging bedroom decorating photo.

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