How to Get the Most Out of Your Lighting Budget

Home Updates for Seniors: Kitchens and Baths

Congratulations on your home purchase! Whether you bought a brand new or existing home, it’s an exciting chapter in your life to have a new residence. Making each living space look its best is the goal, but often those lighting allowances from the builder are significantly smaller when compared to those for appliances, countertops, and other amenities.

To make the most out of your lighting budget, change your mindset. Lighting fixtures are not only important from a functionality perspective, but they are also one of the most noticeable elements in the room. As such, their appearance can enhance – or detract – from the rest of the furnishings you’ve selected.

“You don’t have to do a global replacement of all the lighting fixtures at once,” advises lighting and design expert Jeff Dross, principal at Lighting by Jeffrey in Cleveland. It’s not a matter of thinking, “I only have $3,000 to spend on the lighting for the entire home.”

Dross suggests evaluating the lighting on a room by room basis, concentrating on the areas where you or your family spend a lot of time – such as the living room, kitchen, or main bath – or where guests’ first impressions are made, such as the foyer, dining area, or guest bath. Bedrooms, hallways, laundry rooms, and mud rooms are spaces that can be upgraded months later down the road.   

How to Get the Most Out of Your Lighting Budget - LightsOnline Blog

Doing upgrades by room makes the most sense to Dross. “If you’re not rehabbing the kitchen, then don’t just cherry pick the lighting,” he states. Instead, upgrade the lighting when you are changing out the other aesthetic elements such as countertops and cabinets.

Perhaps you’ve bought a home where the previous owner had a more contemporary feel to the décor, but your style preference is traditional. While you are updating those spaces, Dross recommends assessing the lighting. “Ask yourself, ‘Does the lighting look dated?’ ‘Does it reflect the changes I want for this room?”   

He is also a firm believer in consulting with experts. “One of the pitfalls many face when renovating their homes is not taking advantage of all of the knowledge that’s out there,” he remarks. “The staff at your local lighting showroom can help you weed through all of the lighting choices. Lately in my consultations with clients, I’ve been giving them a curated list of lighting options.” 

“You don’t have to stick to the norm,” he adds. “Who says you have to have one large dining fixture? It could be more economical to have two smaller fixtures hung over a long dining table, plus you’d get more [light] coverage on both ends of the table with less shadows.”

How to Get the Most Out of Your Lighting Budget - LightsOnline Blog

When it comes to bedroom lighting, Dross thinks beyond the typical nightstand lamp. For example, he’ll install a small chandelier close to the ceiling for a decorative touch. “You can connect the chandelier right up to the canopy,” he notes. “Or you can have a really interesting lighting technique with cove lighting in the room by using tape light. It’s a subtle way to illuminate the bedroom. Indirect lighting is perceived to be relaxing,” Dross says. “You don’t have to wrap the cove lighting around the room; you can also use it as an accent along two walls or along the area above the headboard.” Softening the lighting with a dimmer is another method for creating a restful mood.

“In the kitchen, I always look to mini pendants as an easy swap out for over a kitchen island or over a work surface,” Dross notes. “Not only are they affordable, but they come in all kinds of colors and materials that can make a huge change to the room.”

How to Get the Most Out of Your Lighting Budget - LightsOnline Blog

Following his advice for indoor upgrades, when it comes to outdoor lights, Dross says to wait until you are ready to refresh your patio, pool, deck, or outdoor living area. “Before you select the lighting, think about how you will be using that space. I had a client who likes to play cards outdoors, so we made sure there was a pendant light over the table. If you will be grilling at night, you’ll need good light for checking the temperature of the meat or chicken.  Maybe you only want to dine outside in the evenings by candlelight or soft lighting.  Think about the function of the space,” he advises.

What the outdoor lighting fixture is made of, and how it is made, figures into the selection as well. “You’ll get more bang for your buck with aluminum — unless you are in a coastal environment,” Dross comments. If you want to save a few more dollars, go for a “stamped” product versus “cast,” which is a more expensive process. Both will last a long time if there is a powder-coated finish.

Inside or out, Dross’ advice is to approach your lighting upgrades thoughtfully. Lighting fixtures offer a lot of visual impact in aesthetics, plus the quality of illumination they provide can make the rest of each room look its best. Make a statement with your lighting — has the widest variety of chandeliers, pendants, flush ceiling lights, wall sconces, bath lights, and outdoor fixtures to bring lasting beauty to your home for years to come.

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