Lighting Problems Renters Can Relate To (And What To Do About Them)

published Jan 29, 2016
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(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Rental apartments aren’t known for crystal chandeliers and beautiful statement lighting. Instead you get (almost always) awful and (frequently) unflattering light with shadows that turn even the prettiest people into Bela Lugosi — not to mention dated fixtures desperately in need of an aesthetic upgrade. Learn how to improve your lighting situation with one of these solutions.

1. Weird Shadow Pockets

(Image credit: Lucy Hewett)

Use Swing Arm Lamps: Architectural lamps are super flexible give off a focused, bright light without any harsh shadows. You can install a task lamp right on the wall, or clip one to the edge of a shelf or countertop, and the swing arm enables you to position it exactly how you want. Face them downwards for reading or romantic lighting, or flip them up to bounce light off of the ceiling and illuminate the entire room.

2. No Ceiling Lights

(Image credit: Vintage House Daylesford)

Hang Swag Lights: If your living room lacks a ceiling light, you can easily hang a temporary one. You can go for a retro-style one, or totally deconstructed industrial look like the bedroom above from Vintage House Daylesford. The draped cord is almost sculptural and adds a lot of movement to the room…in addition to the extra light.

3. Ugly Light Fixtures

(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

Cover, Change, or Upgrade Temporarily: Lighting fixtures are super easy to swap out, and the original can be returned to its original state when you move out. Or you can DIY a solution to camouflage the original and make it more to your liking. You’ll sigh with relief each time you look up at the ceiling, and you won’t anger your landlord.

4. Cold Artificial Light

(Image credit: Samara Vise)

Change the Bulbs: Different bulbs have different personalities, so if the one that’s currently in a light fixture isn’t working for you, swap it out for something else. You can get something that looks warmer and/or feels more natural. But you’ll be amazed at the difference with that one simple change.

5. No Lights in Cabinets or Closets

(Image credit: Christina Mella)

Add LED Plug-In or Tap Lights: You can seriously brighten closets, pantries, under cabinets, and other tight spaces with strategically placed battery-operated or plug-in lights (as in this room from Christina Mella). They don’t need to be hard-wired, and are often cheap so you can put a few anywhere you’d like a little more light.

6. Too Bright Overhead Lights

(Image credit: Kim Lucian)

Turn Off Overheads: If your existing lighting is sterile and makes you feel like you’re living in an office complex, don’t turn it on. Use a variety of other lighting instead, including floor and table lamps. Lighting experts recommend at least three different sources in every room. Or you can ask the landlord to install a dimmer and go from there.