Hand holding lightbulb against pink and blue sky with the words Homebuyers love light - help for home sellers with a dark homeDark homes, or those which feel dark to potential homebuyers, are much more difficult to sell, and virtually always sell for less money than those which are perceived as “light, bright and airy”.

While a property’s owner might love the cozy feeling of dark paneling, deep overhangs and low lighting, it’s not what most buyers want today.  To maximize the amount a house, condo or townhouse in Silicon Valley will sell for, it’s imperative to make it as attractive to the widest audience of buyers as possible.

In many cases, that means the dark home needs to be transformed into a light one.

How to make a dark home a little more light: start with the windows

How can a home owner make a house or home be – or seem – more bright?  One of the biggest “offenders” in this area involves windows! Here are a few window-related problems that can make a home feel significantly darker than necessary, together with some potential solutions:

  • Tinted windows, such as yellow or other colored glass at the front door or entry way:  replace with clear or translucent, colorless glass. If there’s a darkening film (for instance, for privacy), remove it and replace with a clear or translucent but uncolored film instead.
  • Curtains/blinds which obstruct part of the window: get tie backs to pull them further back and let more light in (goal is to not obscure windows at all). Easiest of all are those which use magnetic clasps and do not require any hardware be attached to the wall.
  • Furniture blocking windows should be moved or swapped out for lower items that do not cover up any of the windows. I see tall headboards often situated right in front of the glass panes – they are counter productive. Perhaps remove the headboard, or place the bed in another location?
  • Shrubs and trees covering some of the window: trim back so the window’s glass panes are 100% visible, if at all possible, to let maximum light in.
  • And of course, do make sure your windows and tracks are sparkling clean!

Once you’ve done as much as possible to allow the maximum amount of natural light into the home through the windows, it’s time to tackle other areas where light is either absent, minimal, or otherwise obstructed.

Other ways to take a dark home and brighten it up:

  • Deep roof overhang which prevents sunlight from directly entering the home for much of the day: look into adding skylights over the porch – keep the overhang but allow more light in!
  • Dark hallways, walk in closets, and dark bathrooms should get additional lights, or if possible, a sun tunnel or skylight. We have several in our home. They are energy efficient and you may be able to get a tax rebate or credit by installing them (do some research, ask your tax professional). I recently heard of someone putting a solar light inside of the bathroom sun tunnel so that lights in that room will not be needed at all.
  • Heavily landscaped yards, especially with many thick, deep trees and/or hillside adjacent: being close to a hill will cut down on light and can’t be mitigated, but a heavy canopy of shade from thick, tall trees can be addressed with trimming and thinning (possibly topping) the trees. Don’t remove or severely trim – many areas have laws against damaging trees or removing larger ones so check before you do anything. You also don’t want to hurt or kill the trees, so approach this carefully, in conjunction with your area’s ordinances and the help of a good arborist.
  • Lack of ceiling lights inside: many houses lack high lighting and instead rely upon lamps at the coffee table level.  These will not be able to make a room as bright as lights on the ceiling or high on the wall (sconces). Adding recessed or other lighting up high can make a huge difference in the amount of light there
  • Dark floor coverings and wall coverings – these don’t make a room darker per se, but they make buyers feel that the room is heavy and oppressive. It is best to remove dark paneling, wallpaper and carpet and substitute lighter colors instead to create the “light, bright and airy” feeling that buyers strongly prefer. And perhaps add large mirrors to reflect some of the natural light into the space.

Every home is unique, so hire a great Realtor who can assist you in making your Silicon Valley home as appealing as possible to the largest numbers of buyers so that you can get the best deal when selling your home.

More home selling tips & information

Home sellers: beware over improving your property when preparing to sell

Selling your home in rainy weather

Home selling tips (ValleyOfHeartsDelight.com site)

Free reports about selling (popehandy.com site)