Tips for Updating Light Fixtures in an Older Home

Nov 01 2023
This post may include affiliate links Click here to read my Disclosure and Copyright or, for more information on how this website collects your data, click here to view my Privacy Policy. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

Just replacing the light fixtures in a home can massively improve a space both inexpensively and easily. Even if changing out the entire fixture seems daunting there are also lots of DIY tutorials out there on how to update current fixtures. Rustoleum has a whole line of paint to transform the old tacky “gold” light fixtures of the past to everything from chrome or hammered bronze. Checking out a local salvage center can score new glass shades for just about any type of chandelier too!

Basement lighting - moody. Creating a basement speak easy with edison bulbs and an edison bulb chandelier. Moody and warm and cozy
(This is a collaborative post, for more information about our compensation please read our disclosure policy)

You finally found the fixer-upper of your dreams, and it is time to start renovating. Whether you have walls to rip down or popcorn ceilings to scrape, from the very beginning of your renovation process, you should be thinking about lighting.

Lights can make or break a space, and most older homes have poor illumination to start. Because you don’t want to live the rest of your life with boob lights in the center of every room, here are a few must-know tips for updating the lights around your fixer-upper.

Understand Illumination Layers

Bringing your home’s lighting into the 21st century isn’t as easy as pushing some recessed lights into the ceiling and calling it a day. While overhead lighting like recessed lights can be useful, they can also be quite harsh for everyday use. In addition to the ambient light created from recessed lights, your home should have at least two other layers of light: task lighting and accent lighting.

The better you understand the purpose of different light layers, the more effectively you can use them to set the correct tone within your home. Here’s a quick review of ambient, task and accent lighting to help you plan out your home’s updated lighting strategy:

Ambient lighting provides general illumination in a large space. Examples of ambient light include natural light, flush-mount lighting and upward-facing fixtures on the floor and walls.

Task lighting provides bright illumination in a focused space. Examples of task lights include pendant lights, desk and table lamps and undercabinet lighting.

Accent lighting highlights certain details within the home with extremely bright illumination. Examples of accent lights include track lights, picture lights and some wall sconces.

Different areas of your home will require a different combination of these light layers. For example, some spaces will require bright illumination to prevent safety hazards, like entryways and stairways.

Rooms where you are more likely to complete projects, like kitchens and offices, should have a greater emphasis on task lighting. You should try to include accent lights whenever you have features of your home you want to draw attention to, like unique architectural characteristics or expensive art, which are most likely located in your living or dining rooms.

To accommodate the necessary layers of light in each space, you may need to add lighting fixtures to your ceiling and reconfigure your furniture to ensure that lights can be placed in functional locations.

Don’t Get Rid of Ceiling Fans

Many design-focused homeowners are tempted to tear down and throw out the ceiling fans hung in the living spaces of their homes, but the truth is that getting rid of ceiling fans is a bad idea. Fans are extremely functional fixtures, reducing the perceived temperature of a space by up to 4 degrees Fahrenheit — which could save you tens of thousands of dollars on your energy bill.

If you aren’t particularly pleased by the style of the ceiling fans currently in place, you can absolutely replace them with more modern fans. Of course, if your older home has low ceilings, you will want to stick with hugger ceiling fans, which will maximize headspace while maximizing airflow.

Always Include Dimmer Switches

There was a time when it was difficult and novel to wire dimmer switches into a home, but that time has long passed. Now, swapping an old toggle switch with a dimmer switch is so straightforward that anyone with the most basic electrical know-how can do it.

Installing dimmers ensures that you have full control over the level of illumination of every layer of light in your home, which means you can set the exact right tone with your lighting for any occasion. It also means that you can do away with the dingy old switches that came with your home and enjoy your preferred type of switch in your home.

You deserve to live in a well-lit home, regardless of its age. By making a few small changes to the light fixtures around your home, you can shave decades off your home’s apparent age and create the illumination ambiance of your dreams.

Lodi's Room Reveal complete with New Light Fixtures! There were quite a few steps to finally getting here from building a wall and lots of
(This is a collaborative post, for more information about our compensation please read our disclosure policy)

Leave a Comment