Selling? Let there be light! #738

#738 in a series of true experiences in real estate

Once we met a seller who had blanked off most windows in his house to keep out the sunlight. He liked the dark, I guess; that’s what he said. He’s the only one we’ve known. Everyone else starts their want list with the number of bedrooms they need and “lots of light”.

We do whatever we can to provide light in our listings. We remove opaque curtains and shades and replace them with sheer curtains – or nothing. If a window looks out onto something unfortunate, our stager pastes rice paper onto part or all of the window glass.

We increase the wattage in fixtures wherever possible and safe, and when that still isn’t enough light, we change out the fixture. In one kitchen and breakfast room there were 4 ceiling fixtures but the largest was rated for a 60-watt bulb. We changed 2 of the fixtures in the main part of the kitchen to ones that take 2 bulbs, and these made a big difference in the room.

Those particular kitchen fixtures, which we often use, are inexpensive, classic “circle glass” fixtures from the hardware store. They look good in many old houses. We also keep a collection of light fixtures and glass and sometimes are able to use them in one of our listings. Once we removed our own dining room fixture and had it installed in a listing. We thought it matched our client’s dining room better than our own.

A number of times we’ve bought light fixtures from The Bright Spot, an online lighting company a friend told us about. Very helpful and friendly people, they sell unusual reproduction fixtures and more modern ones. Rejuvenation, also online, stocks beautiful reproductions from many different eras. Locally, we’ve purchased fixtures from Omega Too, on San Pablo in Berkeley. We love going to their store. They have all sorts of lighting, new and original, handmade and unusual; they make repairs, and they’ve even built new old-look lights for us.

Except where the light switch for a room is immediately obvious just inside the door, we keep at least one lamp in the room on a timer. Or in a small room, we plug in a night light that turns on automatically in the dark.

Once we were working on a house with a long L-shape bedroom hallway. We had it painted Linen White with Super White trim and we changed out the central light fixture. The new light was bowl-shaped, thin profile, 3 bulbs. We also had a wireless wall switch installed (this was a first for us) so that the light could be turned on and off without walking the length of the hall.

We count it as a big plus when original light fixtures are still in houses because they look right, whereas more updated fixtures from a different era may not. Sometimes, especially in an old house of distinctive style, and in a show-off spot such as a large entry or dining room, it’s worthwhile to spend the money for the right fixture, usually a reproduction. Other times, we have reconditioned existing but broken or marred fixtures by having them repaired or painting the fixture and adding a shade and, perhaps, candle bulbs.

We try to provide light on the front steps and the front door of houses so that agents and their clients going there after dark can easily get inside. In some cases we’ve had to add wiring for a porch and path lights. At one house where there was already an outdoor electrical outlet, Anet had a great idea. She bought a task light at the hardware store, the type with a clamp attachment and a metal shade. Cost about $10. She spray painted the metal a dark bronze so it would blend into the shingle exterior, put it on a timer and aimed it toward the front door. Worked great.

It’s also important, we feel, to adequately light basements, garages and under-house access areas, whenever we can. We use task lights and label the switches prominently so that all of these areas are easily seen by agents and buyers.

This entry was posted in Seller Information. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

  • Sign up to receive our newspaper columns: