130 – Use The Magic Of Lighting To Boost Renovation Profits

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home renovation lighting

Discover how to use the magic of lighting in your renovations to add value, get the best results and stay on budget. Bernadette Janson’s inspirational advice and practical experience support you to stay on track with your home lighting.

Listen to Episode 130 : Use The Magic Of Lighting To Boost Renovation Profits


Podcast: Download (Duration 24:06 — 22.05MB)

Use The Magic Of Lighting To Boost Renovation Profits

  • [02:17] The lighting brings magic to a project
  • [03:04] Halogen lights are the blowflies of the lighting industry
  • (03:43] CRI (Color Rendering Index) tells you how true to color the light is
  • [04:40] Brightgreen lights have an excellent CRI level
  • [06:26] Look at what the lumen level when you’re buying an LED globe
  • [7:32] Have a cool light globe in the kitchen and bathroom
  • [9:01] Choose a color for your home renovation lighting and be consistent as possible
  • [12:25] Downlights and directional downlights are a really good way of providing really focused task lighting.
  • [15:04] Consider the angle of the beam when choosing your home renovation lighting
  • [15:59] Pendants are a great way of adding some character to your renovation
  • [21:05] Make sure that you’ve got trade accounts with your light suppliers to save money
The School of Renovating and She Renovates Podcast with Bernadette Janson

Use The Magic Of Lighting To Boost Renovation Profits

“I always think lighting brings magic to a project – carefully consider the lights you choose and how you will create the magic.”

– Bernadette Janson

If you’re planning a renovation for profit or renovation on your own home, or a renovation on an investment property, follow this practical advice. What I’m going to be doing is demystifying all those measures or numbers you see when choosing lighting and you’re not sure what they mean.

Whilst I am not a lighting specialist, I have specified and installed a lot of lighting over the years. So here is your real world guide to lighting.

Get to Know Lighting Numbers and Letters for Your Home Renovation Lighting

There are four key lighting numbers to know: 

  • Colour Rendering Index (CRI)
  • Lumens
  • Wattage
  • Kelvin temperature

In the past, we mainly had incandescent lights and halogens. I hate halogen lights with a passion. I think they’re the blowflies of the lighting industry. They are thankfully being phased out as we move closer to a much lower energy option. 

Lighting Types and Energy Use

In broad terms for low energy consumption we have the LED lights, which are the most energy-efficient. Then there are compact fluorescent lights, which are very good, but not the best. Then the next one down is halogen. So where you might normally have  selected a one-hundred watt globe and known that was right for your room, now there’s a few more things that you need to consider. 

  • The Colour Rendering Index (CRI)

What this tells you is how true to color the light is. 

If you were to put a bowl of fruit under your light, how true to color would that fruit be? We didn’t have to worry about that in days gone by because we had mainly incandescent light. Incandescent light is around one hundred CRI, which is the absolute best that you can get.

Something we need to consider now is a good CRI level is 80 or above. The range goes from zero to a hundred and a good one is around 80, but if you can get it over 90, that’s much better. 

“Ideally you want the CRI to be over 90, and a hundred is perfect”

-Bernadette Janson

It’s important to consider when replacing the lights in your home to use a quality brand which provides a consistent and true CRI. I recommend the brand called Brightgreen lights, mainly because they have an excellent CRI level. They’re great lights as well. 

We’re also using Brightgreen’s downlights, and we’ll be doing surface mounted downlights in the Darlinghurst project. 

  • Wattage and Lumens

Since we have moved away from incandescent bulbs, I wouldn’t worry about the term ‘wattage’ because this only refers to how much energy it takes to use for the light to glow.

For example, the old 100 Watts, 75 watt and 60 watt just give you an idea of the level of light that you’re going to have. Now we don’t talk so much about wattage, we want to refer to lumens which are a measure of the brightness of the light. 

In the past if you used a 100 watt bulb in a room, then the equivalent is about 1600 lumens.

100 watt bulb – 1600 lumen

75 watts bulb – 1100 lumen 

60 watts bulb – 800 lumen 

40 watts bulb – 450 lumen

“When you’re buying an LED light, look at what the lumen level is.” 

– Bernadette Janson

  • Kelvin Temperature

Kelvin temperature  refers to the warmth or coolness of the bulb or the light. The colour temperature. If you want to have a warm, cozy environment, go for a low Kelvin Temperature of around  2,700. If you want it to be really cold and clinical, you’ll go for around 6,500. That’s very chilly so the range is between those two numbers. 

Cool Kelvin colour temperature lighting – best in kitchen and the bathroom

Warm Kelvin colour temperature lighting – ideal for bedrooms and living areas

Tips On What Type Of Lights To Choose

1. Try and be consistent in your type of lights

We choose paint colours and keep it consistent throughout the property. Choose a colour for your home renovation lighting and keep this consistent as well. It’s fine to have a feature light that contrasts but in all your general lighting, be as consistent as possible. If you are using a metal in your light, then make sure you’re using the same metal throughout. Don’t have chrome in one room and brass in another. 

2. Think about the 3 main types of lighting 

In terms of your renovation project, consider three main types of home renovation lighting:

  • General or ambient light
  • Task lighting 
  • Accent lighting

These  three types of lighting are very important. You need to have a well lit room where the ambient light is used. You need the task lighting to really make living for the inhabitants much easier. Then the accent lighting gives you the ‘wow’.

“Think about layering your lighting. Start with your general, then bringing in sharper focused task lighting, and then add accent lighting to highlight different areas. “

-Bernadette Janson

3. If possible, consider not using downlights all through the property 

The natural tendency for most builders and renovators is to go down the downlight path. Personally, I’m not in love with downlights. The main reason is that if you replace, say, a pendant light with a downlight, the downlights will  be expensive. You’re actually installing four lights in place of one. So it does have the potential to put unnecessary stress on your budget. I certainly wouldn’t be considering downlights all through unless I had a good reason to do that. 

4. For apartments, use track lighting 

Often you can use a pendant light in a bedroom and also use that to add some wow to the design. The other thing is that in apartments you’re often challenged by the fact that the ceiling is concrete and so chasing the ceiling is usually not possible.

In that scenario, we often use track lighting. And thankfully most styles of lighting come in ranges. So where you might use track lighting in one area, surface mounted downlights in another, you’re able to keep it consistent with the same style. 

I really liked the surface-mounted downlights you can get at the moment, the drum style downlights are really nice.

Make Sure You Have Adequate Lighting To Light Up The Right Areas

Choose a paint colour to complement your lights.

5. Task lighting is best for general background lighting

If you want a really general background, ambient light, the next type of lighting to consider is your task lighting. This will be in areas where specific tasks are being performed, such as over the kitchen bench, over the kitchen sink, near the cooktop and in the bathroom at the vanity.

 You might have a reading corner that needs some specific task lighting so this is where you can get a little bit creative. Downlights and directional downlights are good ways of providing focused task lighting.

Choosing The Angle Of The Beam 

How focused is a narrow-angle or is it a wide-angle you need? Determine whether it’s going to achieve the outcome you want.  Do you want a narrow-angle beam where you’re going to get a sharp beam of light in a specific spot? Do you want something that’s broader and softer?

Personally, something that I often do is do a series of downlights -track lights. I did a five-track light set over the kitchen bench so we had adequate lighting in the area where we work. 

Make sure that the lighting is actually positioned over the bench and not over your head when you’re working there because what happens is you actually block out the light.

In the bathroom, something that I really love is having lights around the mirror that shine back on the face of the person using the vanity. 

Fun Begins With Accent Lighting 

With your ambient lighting, you only notice it when it’s not done well. Accent lighting is where you add some ‘wow’ to your renovation. Some of it is may be more subtle than others. Things like when we renovated a studio that had an ornate ceiling, we actually put up lights on the top of the cabinets onto the ceiling to really highlight the beautiful plasterwork in the ceiling.

I absolutely love LED strip lighting, and that’s a great way of adding both accent and task lighting. Running it under cabinets in the bathroom, in the kitchen, under kickers in the kitchen, under stair treads, there are lots of places where you can bring some accent lighting.

Use Accent Lighting for Wall-Washes

To take your home renovation up a notch you can do wall washes. That is the light that is directed over the wall. It might be to feature a piece of art or plant or whatever thing you’re trying to highlight, it adds a layer to your lighting.

Pendants Are A Great Way Of Adding Characters To Your Renovation 

One of the things that I really love to do is use a pendant for an area I think lacks style or lacks wow. In our Arncliffe project, the kitchen was pretty ordinary and we needed to take it up a notch because it was the first thing you saw when you step in the door.

We did a bit of back and forth with the lights we chose, and in the end, we ended up with a 600mm diameter LED ring light. That did the trick. So the minute you step in the door, that’s what you see and it basically says this is a really stylish home.

“If you want to get drama with pendant lighting, you’ve got to lower it. At least two meters off the floor. And over a bench or an island, I would hang it much lower or over a table.”

-Bernadette Janson

I love pendants in the bedroom and I love pendants in the hallway. Actually, I love pendants everywhere. But if  I was putting a statement piece in an open plan kitchen-living room, I would have that statement piece and all the other lights to be very invisible.

Get Creative With Your Home Renovation Lighting

This is something that I’ve done a few times.  Our family for a few years had this tradition of doing DIY at Christmas time. So we all had to make something like a competition.

One year I was gifting for my son-in-law and I made him a pair of pendant lights made out of the glass insulators you get off power lines. They were really beautiful. They were green glass and they had those old Edison style light bulbs in them. They coordinated with the cabling and they were remarkable.

The other DIY project we did was we had dinner at the Ovolo restaurant at Woolloomooloo and they had these magnificent, huge,  industrial chandeliers that Stephen and I both loved and couldn’t find them anywhere. So we decided to make them. 

One of our students and her husband, Maria and Ed Berwyn have a light importing business. And so they found me the basis of it. It was one of those spider lights at a lighting show.

What I did was got a 1.2-metre circular hoop, fabricated by a metal fabricator with the holes punched into it. For the cables to go through. So Stephen and I assembled it and then we took it over the road to our neighbour, an electrician who wired it up.

It still hangs today and I still love it as much as I did the day I first put it in. The minute people walk into our house, they look at that light and say, “wow! That’s really what a statement pendant is about.”

How we made DIY Industrial Chandelier

Lighting On A Tight Budget

Now if you’re on a really tight budget with your home renovation lighting, you have to get creative. Make sure that you’ve got trade accounts with your light suppliers because that will save you a significant amount of money, at least 25% of the retail price.

Another thing I’ve done is gone to Gumtree and Facebook marketplace and bought lights that people have decided they don’t like anymore. 

When we were doing the Rennie Street project, I bought an absolutely gorgeous natural shell,  chandelier, western brand, which if I bought it new would have cost me probably about $800, but I paid $150 for it and just got my electrician to check it, wire it in and it looked beautiful. 

Home renovation lighting

Make Sure You Get The Wow With Your Home Renovation Lighting 

I could go on about smart lighting and Cebus systems but what I’m going to talk to you about is something that James, our marketing guru, gave me and it just blew me away. Phillips produces some smart lights, the Phillips Hue range.

When you install them, you can connect them to your WiFi network and operate them from an app on your phone. You can dim them and change the colour and they’re all operated from the app on your phone. 

So this newer brand of lighting system is called Connect Smart Home, and it’s very cost-effective – they’re about $15 a bulb. Comes with clear set-up instructions and works with Google and Alexa and has Australian and New Zealand fittings. This has now become a low-cost solution to have infinitely varied lighting colour, style and brightness.

Wonder Women Renovators Program

You may like to consider The School of Renovating Wonder Women Renovators program which provides training, mentoring, community, and joint venture opportunities for creative women, wanting to replace their income with renovating and Airbnb either now or at retirement.

If you want to know more about our Wonder Women program, you can download our Wonder Women magazine at www.theschoolofrenovating.com/wonderwomen 

She Renovates Free Membership 

If you’re not a member it’s very easy to sign up and it gives you access to all the resources and the notes from every episode we have ever created. You may sign up here

Apple Podcast 

If you’ve got a minute, I’d really love you to come over to the Apple Podcasts platform or and leave us a review.

She Renovates Free Facebook Group

If you want to meet up with a group of savvy renovators. I would say come over and join She Renovates Facebook Group. It’s a completely FREE Facebook group and it is growing at the rate of knots. We hit over a thousand members just recently, and now it seems to have picked up momentum. They are all savvy renovating women and men working their little hearts out to live a better life through renovating.

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Bernadette Janson

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