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How to Update your Lighting on a Budget

How to Update your Lighting on a Budget

Thanks to the popularity of Pinterest and resale stores, it’s easier than ever to find creative and inexpensive solutions for a variety of design dilemmas, including changing your lighting. Since navigating through a sea of images and products without knowing what to look for can be unnecessarily stressful, we've done the work for you. Here are a few simple tips for touching up your household lighting without draining your bank account.

Evaluate Your Lighting Needs

Start by figuring out what fixtures need updating, and what rooms or places could use more lighting. This will help you use your resources more efficiently. Make sure that each room has the three layers of lighting design (task, ambient, and accent) where they are needed, and browse decorating sites for design ideas. We also have a wealth of resources right here on our site. How To Light Your Home like a Designer and The Dos and Don’ts of Choosing Light Fixtures are great reads for making sure you have your bases covered.

Replace Incandescents with CFLs

LEDs can cost a lot up front, but sticking with incandescents will be much more expensive in the long run. For a happy medium, go with compact fluorescent (CFL) lights. CFLs offer a price range and quality in-between that of incandescent and LED lights. Here’s a comparison of the average life hours, energy usage, and cost for warm white, 60W equal incandescent, CFL, and LED bulbs.


 Life Hours

 Energy Usage


 60W Incandescent 

 1,000—3,000 hours

 60 Watt


 60W Equal CFL

 6,000—20,000 hours

 13 Watt


 60W Equal LED

 15,000—50,000 hours

 8 Watt

 $7 and up


Use Christmas Lights in the Bedroom


Christmas lights aren’t for every room or home outside of the holidays. However, many people welcome them in their bedrooms year-round. Christmas lights aren't as expensive as other light fixtures and use only a fraction of the energy as regular household light sources. They also take up little space and emit a comfortable, warm glow, making them most enjoyable at night while watching your  favorite TV show or surfing the web before bed.

Buy Fixtures at Local Resale Stores


New fixtures can be pretty pricey, but if “vintage” describes your style, you’re in luck. Shopping for secondhand fixtures at a local resale store can save you tons of money. If there aren’t many in your area, you could also try checking out Craigslist, area garage sales, or flea markets. Even if you don’t find the ideal fixture for your style, you could always break out some of those dormant DIY skills and make one of your own. Take a look at the fixtures section on our site for ideas on what kind of fixtures you need.

Get New Shades, not New Lamps

New lampshades can go a long way for improving the look and feel of old fixtures. If you’ve ever been to a garage sale or perused the electronics section on Craigslist, chances are you’ve seen an old forgotten table or standing lamp topped with a dusty shade. As long as the lamp is working and the base is generic enough to fit your home’s design, purchasing a new lampshade – or even personalizing an old one to your liking – is one of the cheaper and more unique alternatives to purchasing an entirely new lamp. You could even buy (or create) several new shades for old lamps to tie your room together around a central color or theme.

Install your own Fixtures

If you feel comfortable working with wiring, try your hand at installing your own light fixtures. We’ve got a ton of helpful tutorials regarding how to safely install fixtures such as downlights, hanging lights, and antique pendant lights on the DIY section of this blog as well as on our YouTube channel. If you've got the general know-how, we've got the specific how-to.

On top of all of these ways to save on lighting costs, we also have a great post on saving energy around the home to keep costs low down the road as well. Do you have anything else to add to this list? We'd love to hear about it! Share your ideas below or hit us up on FacebookTwitterGoogle PlusLinkedIn, or Pinterest!

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