These 5 lighting tricks make a big difference

October 10, 2017

We are on the countdown! Now we can say we move in "next week" -- how exciting is that? The house is pretty close to done inside, just the island countertop to install and a few minor things to address. We have a couple bigger projects outside that need completed too. Our walk through is this step closer! 

It probably sounds funny, but some of the projects I want to complete first are not decor-related. Well, at least not in the traditional sense. I want to tackle some lighting projects first, but not just installing lights. I added so many little lighting "tricks" in our old house that made a HUGE difference in the way we lived in it. I plan to repeat every single one of these. 

Here's a recap of my favorite lighting changes! 

The daylight bulb:

First up...most of the bathrooms in the new house have windows, but I'll still be adding the amazing daylight bulbs to them anyway. They make a HUGE difference at night and during the day. I mean...big. You can see them in my son's bathroom here
Bathroom with cement tile wall

I discovered them a couple years ago and ended up changing out all of our bathroom bulbs to daylight. They change not only how YOU look, but they completely transform how the room looks too, even during the day. Incandescent bulbs give off a yellow tint and daylight makes everything it's true color. 

You can see the drastic before and after of the daylight bulb in this post. Our new basement has some windows, but not a ton, so eventually I'll trade those out too. The old basement had zero windows and I couldn't believe how much better it looked with them! 

A few things to consider -- they are bright! Get the dimmable ones (more about that in a minute) if you think that will bother you. Also, I don't like them in most living spaces or bedrooms -- I tried them in our kitchen and hated it. I still enjoy the incandescent look for those rooms. But if you want to see how your makeup really looks, go for daylight in the bathrooms. :)

Dimmers, dimmers everywhere:

That brings me to the next change I'll be making -- GIVE ME ALL THE DIMMERS. Yes, we could have had our builder install them, but we'd pay more. You can get them for around $15 at the hardware store and if you know what you're doing it only takes about ten minutes to change them out. 

I shared a dimmer switch tutorial years ago that will show you how to install one yourself. If you have any electrical experience at all, you can do this (even if you don't!). There are single pole versions (where you only have one switch that operates one light) or a three way (one light operates from more than one switch). I already have plans to add them to all of the bathrooms, our family room lights and the kitchen lights. Oh, and the basement. Basically our whole house. :) 

Our friends who bought our old home laugh at how many we had...but they are the bomb. Especially on a dark winter morning when you want to wake up slowly. Or a midnight run to the bathroom when you only need a little light. Or when you want it cozy at night. OH and they use less energy (when dimmed) and I hardly ever changed out bulbs I had on dimmers...they rarely went out. I adore these and will be adding them everywhere. 

Landscape lighting: 

I joke about this but it's true -- drive around a "fancy" neighborhood at dusk (my favorite time of day) and there will be a common detail that most of the houses have. At first it's hard to put your finger on it but they all look so expensive, and yet cozy because of landscape lighting: 
How to install landscape lighting

It's just something that makes a house feel fancier, but also super approachable because...well, so much pretty light. I wanted to copy the look at our house and the first time I did it, I was totally hooked. I used directional lights that lit up the front of the house as well as smaller lights in the landscaping. 

You DO not know how to to change a light fixture, a plug, or install a dimmer to be able to do your own landscape lighting. I promise. It is WAY easier than you think it would be. You plug in a box and then connect the lights to the wire -- but it's just a matter of snapping them on. I shared a step-by-step tutorial for landscape lighting here

One of the first things I did at the new house was make sure we had outlets in specific spots so I could add them to the front of the house right away. Our exterior is going to look even more beautiful when I get those installed. I hope to do it before the cold temps hit, so I'll be sure to share it with you. 

DIY landscape lighting

Upper and lower cabinet lighting: 

This is another update that was one of my favorites in the house. I've done this myself a couple times over the years -- the first time I installed them (without any new outlets or wiring) I used actual fixtures you plug in and switch on. 

This last time I used an outlet to run them on a switch and it was SO EASY: 
upper and lower cabinet lighting

I shared exactly how I did it and all the materials I used (all from Amazon) in this cabinet lighting post. These little lighting strips pack a big punch!: 
DIY cabinets lighting tutorial

Our new house already included the under cabinet lighting so we paid to have them add some to the uppers as well. I plan to add them to our future basement kitchenette as well. They are SO lovely at night! We absolutely love them -- this lighting is another detail that isn't expensive but makes your kitchen feel custom. 

Sensor switch: 

OK...this one is the bomb. It rocks, especially if you/your kids/your love/your mom/anyone tends to leave the lights on in your house. I changed our our master closet light years back and then moved this one to our mud room: 
DIY closet makeover using kitchen cabinets

The new light was perfect in there (I don't think I ever shared it with you all) because it was a lot shorter. But man, it was BRIGHT. I tried something different in here instead of the traditional dimmer -- a sensor switch

sensor switch for closet

They do just that -- sense when you walk in the room and they turn on the light. You don't touch it! The best part about ours was it also had a dimming function, so you could set it to the amount of light you wanted each time it turned on.

When we walked in the room, it turned on. No reaching for a switch. It's GREAT for closets. And within a set amount of time, it goes off. If you are still in the room and it senses your movement, it will stay on.

The only bad thing about these lights is that if you are sitting on the floor folding clothes or organizing, the light will turn off. Many times I'd have to wave my arms wildly to turn in back on. 😂 But those were few and far between. Totally worth it and I plan to add them in our closets again.

I love every single one of these lighting tricks and will be adding each one again. They are easy fixes that make your home feel warm and cozy, but are also super functional as well.

Here's a recap of the posts I mentioned above as well as links to some of the items I talked about. (Affiliate links included for your convenience.) If you have any questions please let me know!

Get the daylight bulb here

Dimmers (for incandescent bulbs only

Get the sensor switch here

How to install landscape lighting (with list of supplies)

How to install cabinet lighting (with full supply list)
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  1. I vouch for the sensor lights! We added to our basement laundry room and it's so nice to walk in and have the light turn on itself (and off when you leave), especially when your hands are full.

  2. You always think of things I've never thought of before! Love the look of the cabinet lighting!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  3. So, isn't tomorrow the big day? The grand opening of the Indianapolis IKEA?

    1. Yep it opened yesterday! I haven't attempted a visit just yet. ;)

  4. What wattage of daylight bulb do you use for the bathrooms? I would like to order some. Thanks.

  5. Be sure to add the sensor to your kitchen pantry - we love ours!

  6. I have to agree with all of your tips, although we haven't added the outside lights (our neighborhood doesn't allow them). We love our light sensor; we have one in our storage room and it is great. If we had a walk-in pantry, I would definitely have one in there. We also have dimmers on every light switch in our home (including all bathroom lights). The only light we don't have a dimmer on is the fluorescent light in our master the dimmers!

  7. I LOVE daylight bulbs. After seeing your original daylight bulb post I actually changed out all the bulbs in my house. I live in a back to back townhouse and ALL of my windows are north facing. The daylight bulbs make my cozy little home feel SO MUCH happier. Those bulbs are the BEST change I have made in my house.

  8. We are experimenting with smart tech lights. I bought them when we were away for 2 weeks and I could coordinate a random schedule so it looked like we were home. Alexa is now not responding to them however they still work on their app and on a schedule so I do like it! I need that sensor for our bathrooms! We have the sensor lights at work and they annoy me when I am not with students. My students are all under age 6 so movement is not an issue but when I am sitting and just typing they go out.

  9. I've used the sensor switches in my closets, walk in pantry, laundry room, and mud room. Love them!!

  10. When we built our house 4 years ago my husband had the light in the pantry wired to a door hinge switch. Door opens, light goes on, door closes, light goes off. Kind of like in the fridge. It's wonderful. And the next best lighting trick was putting plugs in our eaves for Christmas lights. No need to run extension cords! There's a switch by the front door, and boom they're on.


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