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Apartment lighting can be a challenge in NYC, where many units have back-facing windows. But adding a mirror will help maximize whatever sunlight a room does get. (Image from a StreetEasy listing.)

The renowned interior designer Albert Hadley once said, “Appropriate lighting is enormously important” — and it’s so true. While there are few things more inviting than a well-lit room, bad lighting can destroy even the most beautifully decorated home. So whether your space is plagued by a lack of sun, harsh fluorescents, outdated fixtures, or all of the above, fear not: brighter days are ahead. Here are 10 easy apartment lighting ideas that’ll brighten up your space.

Switch Out Your Lampshades

While default white lamp shades may seem like the obvious choice, they actually emit a colder, harsher light. To upgrade your apartment lighting, try a colored shade instead to cast a warmer glow, or ditch the shades altogether in favor of a bare Edison bulb or sconces.

Hang Mirrors

Light-reflecting mirrors are a great way to optimize natural light, especially when hung directly opposite a window. They’ll also make your space appear larger than it is.

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Clean Your Windows

Give your windows a once-over to get rid of any lingering streaks, dust and dirt. You’ll be amazed at what a difference squeaky-clean windows will make to the quality of sunlight streaming in.

The Very Best Apartment Lighting? Candles

Candles create a cozy glow that’s universally flattering. Try tea lights on the mantel, or tapers on the table. If you’re worried about starting a fire, LEDs are your friend.

Install a Dimmer

Dimmer switches give you the ability to control and adjust the brightness of the room you’re in, and will help you create instant ambience. Another perk? Dimmers save money due to reduced power usage.

Get the Right Bulbs

If your light bulbs make you feel more like you’re at the office than at home, it’s time to change them out. While the wattage will depend on the room (you’ll want brighter lights in the bathroom and dimmer ones in the bedroom, for example), always go for bulbs that emit a soft, yellow light, whether it’s an incandescent or a CFL.

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Did your rental come with ugly, outdated overhead light fixtures? There’s no reason you can’t replace them with something more elegant. (From a StreetEasy listing.)

Replace Your Overhead Lighting

Many rentals come with outdated overhead light fixtures. Don’t be afraid to replace that ugly frosted glass number from the 1970s with a fixture that better suits your style, and washes the room in a more welcoming light.

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Use Lacquer and Metallics

Just like mirrors, but with a more subtle effect, lacquer and metallic surfaces help bounce light around the room. So go ahead and sprinkle your space liberally with as many glossy surfaces as your heart desires.

Layer Your Lighting

You don’t want all the same kind of light sources in the same room, or it will feel flat. Make sure you incorporate multiple points of light for a more dynamic look, including a mix of floor lamps, table lamps, task lamps, and overhead lights in each room.

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Pale, warm tones on the walls can brighten a room without making it feel sterile. (From a StreetEasy listing.)

Paint the Room

Avoid dark or rich colors, and instead opt for pale shades that will help enhance the room’s light. White is a classic choice, but beware of going too stark, and instead choose a warmer, creamier tone, like ivory.

Inspired to find your next place in New York? Whether you’re looking to rent or to buy, search NYC apartments on StreetEasy.