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Lighting Upgrades: 36 Ways to Brighten Up a Rental


It’s a fact that at some point or another we have all had to deal with the standard lighting that comes installed in most rental apartments and homes. It’s often fluorescent, sometimes boob shaped, typically dated, and not exactly ideal. Most renters put their heads down and ignore it, but we say it’s time for a solution… and there is.

Luckily, it’s nothing that a little clever lighting swap can’t fix! It’s easier than you think to go from something very average to totally chic.

Plus lighting is such an important aspect of your home, it’s worth taking the time to swap out unsightly fixtures for something you love. It can change the look and feel of a room, save space, and improve the functionality of every room with the right type of lighting. And as the days get shorter (and colder), the right lighting can even help boost your mood.

So are you ready to lighten things up?  We’ve pulled together 36 options for flush mounts, pendants, chandeliers and wall sconces that will give your lighting a real upgrade. (And they’re all under $150!) Because bright ideas don’t have to cost a lot.

Looking for more lighting inspiration? Check out our posts on Mid-Century Modern: Lighting and Swing Arm Wall Sconces.


Photo: Jonas Berg
Design: Grey Deco


Swapping in a new pendant or chandelier can make a big difference in your space, and adds some visual interest. Not only does it draw the eye up which visually increases the height of your ceilings (designer trick) but it also adds a decorative feature to your room. Chandeliers work best in dining rooms and living rooms, while pendants can go in just about any space with enough ceiling height.


Bobby’s Tip

Measure the diameter of the canopy (The piece that mounts to the ceiling) on your existing light fixture and make sure the lighting you replace it with is the same size. That way you’ll be sure the new lighting covers the junction box.

Ready to swap out your lighting but have no idea how to actually do that?

Check out this tutorial for how to properly (and safely) remove a ceiling fixture and replace it. And if you aren’t feeling ready to DIY it then you can call an electrician that can swap out a fixture which will cost anywhere between $100-250 depending on where you live and the electrician.


Most rentals come with some version of a flush mount (a ceiling light that sits flush, or even, with the ceiling), and it’s the easiest way to update the lighting in your space. There’s also a great variety of good looking flush mounts and semi-flush mounts available, so you’re sure to find one that fits your style.

Bobby’s Tip

A flush mount is a good option for areas with low ceiling heights, or in an entryway, kitchen or bathroom.

Design: Studio DB
Design: Studio DB


Replacing existing wall lighting with a more stylish sconce is a simple upgrade that will brighten your day (no pun intended). They’re also a great solution for adding light where you need it, whether it’s above your nightstand, by a chair for reading or in the bathroom, and are ideal for when space is tight and you don’t have room for a table with a lamp.


Bobby’s Tip

Don’t have a junction box for a hardwired sconce? No problem! There are lots of great plug in sconce options that can work just as well. We’ve linked up a few of our favorites below.