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Apartment Lighting: 28 Ways to Brighten Your Space

November 2, 2023
Discover 28 innovative apartment lighting ideas to enhance your space. Get expert tips for a bright, stylish home in our detailed guide.

Is your apartment lighting feeling dark and unwelcoming? Are you struggling with how to add light to a room? Fret not. With the right lighting solutions, you can easily brighten up your space and make it feel cozy and inviting without the high utility bills. This guide offers 28 innovative apartment lighting ideas that are perfect for transforming even the gloomiest of spaces into a radiant retreat.

Dive in as we journey from contrasting hues to renter-friendly overhead lighting, turning your once-dreary apartment into a bright and breathtaking haven.

1. Harness Natural Light

natural light apartment

The best way to light a room without overhead lighting is to leverage the windows you already have in your apartment. Switch out thick drapes for light, breezy curtains that allow light to pour in. Opening your windows and balcony door can also draw in the sunlight and fresh air. Either way, give all your glass panes a good scrubbing to maximize your access to that unmatched light!

2. Drape String Lights

string lights in apartment

String lights are trendy right now and make for great renter-friendly lights and decor. Even better, you can find them on the cheap to keep your apartment budget in check.

Pick and choose different colors to liven up any room in your apartment and set the mood — perhaps a bohemian, dreamy aesthetic for your bedroom and a livelier theme for your living room.

3. Install Plug-in Wall Sconces

lit wall sconces

Wall sconces are simple lighting solutions for apartments. It's also easy to recreate the look of ornate wall sconces without the need for electrical work. Plug-in wall sconces are an affordable and easy-to-install ceiling light alternative.

Add your favorite sconces on either side of your bed’s headboard or in entryways to upgrade your apartment. With tons of different styles to choose from, your apartment can look luxurious and decorative or sleek and modern, depending on your signature style.

4. Position Floor Lamps

floor lamps in apartment

Who needs a chandelier for their apartment when oversized arc floor lamps work beautifully as statement pieces? Any floor lamp will enhance your apartment lighting — you can go big and bold or opt for a petite and elegant option that blends into the background.

Pro tip: Place your favorite overhead floor lamp over an accent chair to create a cozy yet sophisticated reading nook.

5. Strategically Place Mirrors

mirrors in apartment

Sometimes apartment lighting solutions aren’t about lamps or ceiling fixtures. For example, if your floor lamps aren’t providing enough light, try pointing the light toward a decorative mirror. This way, the mirror will also be adding light to a room — or at least it will seem like it is!

This trick also works if you hang a mirror across from a window. It’ll mimic the look of additional windows and natural light. Scatter your favorite vintage, ornate, or decorative mirrors throughout your apartment to turn your home into a dazzling dance of natural light.

6. Set Up Table Lamps

table lights in apartment

Lamps are some of the best lights for an apartment when you put those side tables and odd surfaces to work. Add lamps to your end tables to light up your living room. If you don’t have convenient outlets, choose battery-powered options.

7. Hang Plug-in Pendant Lights

pendant lights in apartment

Longing for those hanging pendant lights you spotted in your friend’s swanky apartment? If your landlord allows a simple hook in your ceiling, you can hang your own trendsetting pendant light. Plug the cord into the wall to recreate the look for yourself.

If you’re struggling to figure out how to light a bedroom without overhead lighting, choose a chandelier for a romantic touch. It can also create a bright and trendy option for your living room to set a party scene. Just do your best to hide the cord!

8. Display Flameless Candles

flameless candles in apartment

Although flame candles might be discouraged in your apartment complex, you can recreate the vibe with electric flameless candles. Scattering electrical candles around a mantle, faux fireplace, or dresser will create a dreamy lighting landscape once the sun sets. They won't illuminate your whole room, but the added moody lighting will be a lovely touch.

9. Switch to Smart Bulbs

smart bulbs in apartment

Smart bulbs are a fun way to transform your apartment lighting tech without spending a fortune. A smart bulb or lighting hub can create the aesthetic you want, from an oceanfront sunset to a dazzling city vibe. Consider taking it to the next step by adding smart LED strips to create a futuristic illuminated border around your desk or TV stand.

10. Mount Ceiling Fixtures

install ceiling mount

Need some living room ceiling lighting ideas? Choose a standard ceiling fixture for immediate overhead light or opt for some flair with fixtures that resemble modern art. Just make sure that the change won’t violate your lease agreement.

11. Choose Lampshades Wisely

lamp shades in apartment

Lampshades can actually make your apartment seem dim and dark. Choose light colors or smaller shades that let out as much light as possible. Make sure to periodically dust and clean your lampshades to keep them looking fresh and your apartment as bright as possible.

12. Opt for Incandescent Light

Incandescent Light

Although LED light bulbs are usually brighter than incandescent options, they don't come in high wattages. Instead, you can use incandescent bulbs to make your apartment as bright as possible. Another option is to add more LED lights to fully illuminate the room.

13. Prioritize Task Lighting

Task Lighting

Sometimes you need extra light for specific tasks without having to use more apartment lamps and fixtures. Try task lighting, which is lighting geared toward specific activities like reading or cooking. Get creative with task lighting — try adding it to your bathroom for when you do your hair or to your bed frame for reading.

14. Utilize Wall Space Effectively

wall lights in apartment

Finding the right lights for small spaces can be a frustrating task. But you can still make the most of your lighting, even if it feels like there’s not enough room for lamps. Utilize your wall space and add lamp fixtures, sconces, and task lights that attach to your wall. If you have bookshelves, you can also add solar-powered lamps to the shelves, which is a nonelectrical lighting option that will allow you to save limited outlets for other devices.

15. Install Dimmers

dimmer lights in apartment

Many of us desire bright, energizing lighting during the day to boost productivity and focus, but as evening falls, our preferences often shift towards a calmer, more soothing ambiance. This is where the versatility of lighting comes into play. By installing dimmer switches in your apartment, you can seamlessly transition from vibrant daylight brightness to a more relaxed, softer glow in the evenings.

16. Discover Flush Mounts

flush mounts

Like ceiling light fixtures, flush mounts are installed directly onto the ceiling. However, they don't have a visible stem and sit flush against the ceiling. They come in a variety of shapes and can add some artistic variety to your room.

17. Balance Decor for Daytime and Nighttime

daytime to nightime decor

You can also brighten up your apartment with decor that can balance night light as well as it can daylight. Dark-colored decor will absorb light, potentially leaving your space more somber than you might have intended. Consider adding feature lighting to illuminate your decor.

18. Combine Multiple Light Sources

There are more ways to light your apartment than with built-in ceiling lights or lamps. You can use multiple light sources, including maximizing the natural light with lightweight window treatments. Add a combination of floor and desk lamps, electric candles, flush mounts, and task lighting to give your apartment the brightness you’re looking for.

19. Experiment With Focal Lighting

focal light in apartment

Focal lighting gives your room some focus and direction. For example, museums use focal lighting to direct your attention to different portraits and exhibits. You can do the same by focusing on a bookshelf or wall of art to give your lighting more depth and dimension.

20. Dangle Low Pendants in Bathrooms

pendant lights in apartment

Apartment bathrooms are notoriously dim. Instead of just replacing your bulbs with something brighter, try dangling low pendant lights. Depending on the pendants you choose, you can plug them into an outlet and use a hook to hang them for overhead lighting without wiring.

21. Mount Picture Lights

picture light

Picture lights offer easy lighting solutions for small touches around your apartment. You can use them above your favorite artwork or pictures — or get innovative. Try adding them above your bed or favorite chair for an evening reading light.

22. Showcase a Lamp on a Bookcase

bookshelf lamp in apartment

Turn your bookcase into a multifunctional tool that holds books _and _adds light to your apartment. Try placing lamps, displaying illuminated artwork, or arranging electric candles around your books. Bookshelf lamps are among the best lighting for apartments with no ceiling lights.

23. Illuminate With Globe Lights

globe lightbulb in apartment

As the name implies, globe lights are large, round light bulbs that are often used in decorative fixtures. They're common in restaurants and hospitality settings but still make for a great statement look in an apartment. Pair globe lights with a globe-shaped hanging pendant to add a modern touch to your kitchen.

24. Infuse Different Lighting Styles

multiple lights in apartment

Lighting is about more than making your place brighter — it also brings more style to your apartment. Infuse different lighting styles, from flush mounts to floor lamps and wall sconces, with decorative and detailed fixtures. This is an eye-catching way to make your apartment feel bright and airy.

25. Contrast Hues on Bathroom Walls

colorful bathroom in apartment

Back to the notoriously dimly lit apartment bathrooms, which are often the smallest space in an apartment and can feel dark even if it has a window. Brighten things up by using contrasting hues on bathroom walls. Go with a light hue on a wall that receives less light and slightly darker around a window to imitate the sensation of getting more light.

26. Harmonize With Blended Colors

red and blue room in Apartment

Get creative with your paint colors and blend your way to a brighter room. For example, placing red against blue or a similar cool color makes them appear brighter than if they're both the same type of hue. Of course, you’ll need to make sure that painting in color is OK with your landlord or property ​​manager.

27. Think Outside the Box

colorful apartment lights

There’s no rule that says you have to use standard apartment light fixtures or lamps. Dig out your old lava lamps, stylish LED signs, faux fireplaces, and decor. Add mirrors and crystals around your apartment to scatter the light and make it feel positively illuminated.

28. Find Multifunctional Pieces

Unless you live in a spacious penthouse, just about every apartment renter wants to maximize their space. Free up room by using multifunctional pieces, like glass coffee tables that light up or LED light-up cubes that double as seating. Your apartment lights will become conversation-starters that display your unique style.

Embrace Comfort: Find Your Dream Apartment With Apartment List

There’s always a way to enhance your apartment lighting without having to invest huge amounts of time and resources. Pick and choose your favorite methods, and don’t be afraid to get creative and mix things up! You’ll end up with an illuminated apartment that suits your lifestyle, whether you’re throwing a dinner party or curling up with a good book.

Ready to find your dream apartment or list your property? Start by taking our quiz. With us, you’ll spend 5 minutes and save 50 hours searching.

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Tristian Brown
Tristian Brown is a Senior Content Marketing Associate at Apartment List, where he manages high-quality content that helps modern renters find the perfect home. He brings an immense wealth of knowledge to the team, having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and European Management from the University of San Diego and EM Strasbourg Business School. Read More
Susan Finch
Susan is an accomplished freelance writer whose passion for rental real estate, travel, and digital marketing has been the driving force behind her nearly 15-year career. Throughout her professional journey, Susan has become a seasoned veteran in creating compelling and informative content focused on the tenant/landlord relationship. Read More

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