According to a survey by the real estate website HomeGain, improving the lighting in your home is one of the top ways to improve the value and selling price of your home on a low budget. Spending just $200-$300 on upgraded lighting systems and adjustments to your window treatments increases your home's selling price by $1,000-$1,500, a return on investment of 500 percent. The survey also reports that 95 percent of Realtors advise lightening and brightening as a smart selling method.
When a potential buyer walks into a lighter, brighter home, an emotional response occurs. The space seems cheerier, larger and newer. It takes just a few easy steps to make an immediate improvement in your rooms' light factor, and some steps are free.
Lyric Turner, owner of Red House Staging & Interiors, says, "It costs nothing to remove the screens from each of your windows, which increases a room's brightness by 15 percent." Store the collection of screens in your basement or garage.
Next, Turner advises another free strategy: "Wash all of your windows inside and out to maximize the light stream into each room." The same goes for sliding glass doors; remove dirt and fingerprints. Though it is a challenging task, cleaning skylights is a smart addition to your light-maximizing efforts.
"Remove wooden blinds and roman shades, and you can also remove your window curtains and valances to allow more light into each room," Turner says. "Although, if you have really nice curtains, pull them all the way to the sides of the windows." Many sellers say they need the privacy afforded by their curtains during the weeks their homes are on the market. Turner says that light-colored curtains are advised; heavy, dark curtains can make a room seem smaller.
Paint is a huge factor in brightening a room. A light color will make a room seem brighter and larger, whereas dark-colored paints cause the opposite effect. "I recommend the color opaline by Sherwin-Williams, which a lot of real estate agents suggest," Turner says. "It's a white with undertones of grayish blue-green, and it provides an illuminating effect in the room." She goes on to recommend that you paint all of your trim, including crown molding and doorjambs, bright white.
If you have a room that lacks natural light and is painted a warmer, darker color, Turner says to eliminate the stress and struggle of trying to transform it into a light-filled room. "Just work with it in other ways," she says. "Warm it up with richer colors and accents, and turn it into a cozy space to curl up and read a book in."
To brighten the look of smaller rooms, Turner suggests featuring lighter-colored furniture and removing heavier, darker furniture. "If you're planning to buy new furniture for your next home, consider getting it now and using it to increase the selling price of your home," Turner says.
Another light-increasing strategy to be used in any room, no matter its natural or improved light sources, is featuring glass-topped cocktail or coffee tables. The glass provides a reflection of light and has an airier feel, according to Turner.
And look at your light fixtures and table lampshades to assess whether they are providing enough artificial light in a room. You might choose to invest some of your $200-$300 in newer, modern ceiling light covers or new lights. An electrician can install them, which is advised from a safety standpoint in older homes. Or you might take a free class on installing new lighting fixtures, such as pendant lights, to learn the skills needed to install new lights yourself safely.
Turner's staging expertise, featured recently on HGTV's "My First Place," is a testament to the type of room improvements (and resulting home value and pricing increases) that a professional stager can provide. "An expert stager is trained to understand the market and the buyer demographic in your area," she says. "We know who's going to be buying and what they're looking for, which is a very important element in selling your home."
Stagers enter your home with "fresh eyes," looking at every room as buyers would to make suggestions and take on the legwork with an interior decorating flair. For an estimated $300-$400 spent on home staging, your selling price can increase a reported $1,500-$2,000, a 500 percent return on your investment. Find a stager through the International Association of Home Staging Professionals. Its website, http://www.iahsp.com, has a full report on how much bang for your buck you would get by doing various home improvement tasks.