How To Decorate A Rental: Update Your Light Fixtures!

The very first thing we did when we moved into this apartment was switch out our light fixtures. It was a quick and simple project that made  our living space so much more livable! Whether you have wall sconces, overhead lighting, or something else entirely, updating your light fixtures is an easy way to make a huge difference!

How To Decorate A Rental: Update Your Light Fixtures!

I see a ton of awesome projects on the internet every day, and a lot of them make me say “Oh man, I can’t WAIT until we own our own home!” I definitely want to be able to knock a hole in a wall and make a breakfast nook, or build in a custom pantry, or even just paint a wall! But we can’t because we live in an apartment right now.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make your apartment a home, and it doesn’t mean there aren’t projects out there that you can do right now! Changing out these light fixtures was a simple project, required very little time or skill, and it made a HUGE difference in the appearance and feel of the apartment!

How To Decorate A Rental: Update Your Light Fixtures!

The first thing I noticed about the lighting when we walked into this apartment was that the lights were all on the walls. There is no overhead lighting in the main room of our apartment!!! The next thing I noticed is that the light bulbs were naked. There was no covering or diffuser on the bulbs; they were just bare bulbs in grimy old brass settings! Blech!

How To Decorate A Rental: Update Your Light Fixtures!

So we made a quick trip to Home Depot and found some “rustic” looking wall sconces (with actual glass diffusers this time!) and brought them home. About an hour later they were installed and we had brand new lighting in our apartment!

I don’t have a full tutorial for you guys on how to install and wire new light fixtures because I could talk for DAYS about how to do it! I know there are tutorials out there if you want an exact step by step guide to doing your own wiring, but here are a few tips and tricks:

  1. Turn off the lights before you start! Even better, if you have access to the fuses for your apartment, turn off the electricity to the entire circuit! Don’t electrocute yourself!
  2. Pay attention as you remove the old light fixtures because chances are, the new ones go on in pretty much the exact same way!
  3. If your new light fixtures don’t come with instructions, Google it! Someone somewhere has had the same problem, and somebody else has at least attempted to help them out!
  4. After you get the new light fixture wired, but before you go through all of the work to attach it to the wall or ceiling again, flip the fuse back on and test that you wired it correctly! We skipped this step and got all four wall sconces fully installed only to realize we had messed something up on one of them! At least the other three worked. 🙂
  5. If you have wall sconces like we do, make sure you know how to level them out before you finish installing them! Sometimes you have to do the leveling before you actually put the fixture on the wall, and if you wait until it’s fully installed, you’re just going to break it when you try to rotate it so that it’s straight! There is nothing worse than a wonky wall sconce tilted off to the side after all the work you did to switch them out! (Unless you break it…that’s worse!) So just be mindful as you’re installing them.
  6. Keep your old light fixtures somewhere safe! That way whenever you move out you can just reverse the process, re-install the old lights, and take your new fixtures with you!

I just stuck the old wall sconces in a cardboard box and shoved them up in a closet somewhere. 🙂

How To Decorate A Rental: Update Your Light Fixtures!

And now we have pretty wall sconces! I love the dark color and the slightly faded and antiqued look that the metal has. Much better than that scuffed up brass!

And the light is a lot softer now that there are actual diffusers on our lights! It was pretty crazy turning on the lights when they were just bare bulbs, and having the frosted glass around them doesn’t actually lessen the amount of light in the room very much, it just makes it gentler on your eyes.

How To Decorate A Rental: Update Your Light Fixtures!

The entire thing took us about an hour and made a HUGE difference! That’s my kind of project! Plus, as long as you keep the old light fixtures and re-install them before you leave, it’s totally renter-friendly!

How is the lighting in your home? Have you made any changes to it, or did you like it the way it was when you moved in?


I link up at these awesome parties!

Jessi Wohlwend

I believe that anyone can do crafts and DIY projects, regardless of skill or experience. I love sharing simple craft ideas, step by step DIY project tutorials, cleaning hacks, and other tips and tricks all with one goal in mind: giving you the tools you need to “do it yourself”, complete fun projects, and make awesome things!

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Reader Interactions

  1. Gina says

    11 years ago

    It’s those little things that make the biggest impact sometimes!

  2. Heather says

    11 years ago

    I agree – updating your lighting makes all the difference to your rooms – an instant facelift! pinned!

  3. Christy @ Creating a Beautiful Life says

    11 years ago

    Great tip! I so want to spray paint what in the place now…wonder if the landlord would notice?! I’m visiting from the Pinworthy Projects Party at Just Us Four.

  4. Vanessa says

    11 years ago

    Oh man, you just reminded me that I’ve been putting off changing the wall fixtures in our living room since we bought this house…5 years ago! Thanks for the inspiration and the swift kick!

  5. Shannah Coe says

    11 years ago

    The lighting fixtures that come with new homes are always gold or silver it’s nice to add some new color! Really does make a difference! Thanks for sharing some new ideas!

  6. Alli says

    11 years ago

    We’ve been in our rental for just over a year now, and all I’ve done is take down some of the window treatments. The light fixtures were some of the first things I wanted to switch out but I’ve been holding off doing it because I wasn’t sure if I could, with it being a rental and all. Maybe I’ll add that to my list for the fall.

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      11 years ago

      You definitely can switch them out, just make sure to hold onto the old ones! You can switch out things like your shower head or even kitchen or bathroom faucets too as long as you can put it all back the way it was when you move out. 🙂

  7. Gwen says

    11 years ago

    That’s a great idea, Jessi! The lights in a rental are always kinda sucky…

  8. Jacque says

    11 years ago

    Great idea changing out the lighting and holding onto the old lights! Total win win!

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