10 Apartment Lighting Tips to Brighten Your Rental

You finally snag the perfect apartment, complete with large windows that allow for plenty of natural light. However, when the sun begins to set even the largest bay windows can't keep your rental bright. To help decorate your apartment and keep it shining all year long, it’s important to invest in beautiful light fixtures.

Whether you add a few additional lamps or get creative with hanging lights, there are plenty of options for upgrading your apartment lighting. Below, we've gathered 10 expert tips for brightening up your rental space.

1. Choose light-colored lampshades

Since you probably want to avoid drilling into the ceiling, much of your supplemental lighting will be floor or end table lamps. The good news is that lampshades offer an opportunity to really show off your style, and they help to soften brighter light bulbs for a more comforting glow.

To keep your apartment as bright as possible, stick to light-colored lampshades. Think white, cream, light gray or similar hues when selecting a lampshade. Darker lampshades will filter out a considerable amount of light and may make your room feel gloomy.

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2. String extra lighting

If you still need more light once you have lamps set up, consider buying fairy lights. While you may associate this type of lighting with the twinkle lights around a Christmas tree, there are other options available that feel much chicer.

Designers now offer string lights with large bulbs, black or silver string and a sleek modern look. Buy a decorative wooden ladder and string lights around it, set up your pyramid shelves in the corner and adorn the piece with string lights or simply string them around a window.

3. Accessorize with wireless lights

Some rentals have a limited number of electrical outlets, and rewiring your home is not an option as a renter. Turn to wireless lighting that operates on battery power and is extremely mobile. Wireless LED candles, for instance, offer ambiance and turn on with the flip of a switch.

Best of all, faux candles don't pose the same fire hazard as an actual candle. Tap lights are also wireless and a good way to illuminate shelves or other small spaces. These lights are typically activated when you apply a small amount of pressure to the top of the light.

4. Use mirrors to maximize lighting

Add a few mirrors to your rental space if you don't have a lot of room or money for new lighting. Mirrors propped up against your walls won't damage the drywall and can reflect light from your lamps and other home lighting.

Mirrors create the illusion of more lighting sources and double the amount of light that bounces around your apartment. Place larger mirrors next to a floor lamp and small wall mirrors adjacent to end tables with a light fixture.

5. Space out your light sources

Now that your space is outfitted with several floor lamps, a few strands of fairy lights and a handful of large mirrors, take a moment to consider the placement of each piece. Don't put all the lighting in your living room, for instance, while neglecting to consider your dining nook. Instead, space out your lighting fixtures. Put at least one light source near each corner of larger rooms.

6. Hang lightweight fixtures

Having a rental doesn’t mean you can’t make some changes to make your space feel homey. While you may not want to hang up a chandelier in a place you’ll only be in for a year or two, there are lightweight lighting options that you can hang from the ceiling to help transform a dining room or bedroom.

Look for some artsy bulbs with black or metal hardware to hang from the ceiling. Battery-powered options make it easy to install anywhere, meaning you don’t have to deal with any wiring issues to get this look. Plus, your guests will love this unique and romantic lighting at your next dinner party.

7. Make lighting useful

When deciding where to place your lights, consider what areas of your new apartment will be used the most (and could use some brightening). A lamp on your desk or near your favorite reading chair can make work and play a breeze while brightening up your entire home at the same time.

The type of light also makes a difference. While desks and kitchens need bright and direct light, bathrooms and hallways only require soft lighting.

8. Soften harsh, natural light

Those floor-to-ceiling windows that made you love your current apartment can sometimes be overwhelming, especially if you don’t have any blinds or curtains to control the amount of light that enters your home at any given time.

White, wooden blinds allow control over the amount of light seeping through your windows without darkening up your walls. While see-through or lightly-colored curtains can help to soften the sun’s rays. And as a bonus, these items can often be packed up and used again in your next home, making the investment well worth it.

9. Highlight what’s important

If there are pieces of art, furniture or tech that you want to call attention to in your home, consider highlighting those items with light. Angled from above or below, spotlights on the most beautiful items in your home can help your apartment look polished without much work.

Backlighting is another great way to call attention to important pieces of art (or even an entertainment system). By installing smaller light fixtures behind the item you want to see, the light then illuminates the outline from behind, drawing in the eye in a pleasant way. And with backlighting, you don’t have to shell out for the most beautiful hardware since no one will see it anyways.

10. Brighten up corners

Add some depth to each room by lighting up dark corners. This will help draw the eye across the room and help it feel larger. Make sure that the fixture fits well in the space to avoid throwing off the flow of your other decor.

Light placed in corners should be soft and warm. Harsher light, while great for busier areas, has no utility in a corner and can draw too much attention to a section of the home that isn’t meant to be highlighted.

Embrace lighting in your apartment

Lighting your new apartment should be at the top of your move-in to-do list. If you neglect to properly light your apartment, you will soon realize that it's not possible to enjoy all of your lovely decor in the dark.

Want to show off your ingenious apartment lighting solutions? We always love to see how renters solve their lighting issues. Comment your ideas for home lighting below.