5 Easy Ways to Light Up a Rental Kitchen

A wall-mounted swing arm task lamp offers great spot lighting.
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Poor lighting is a common problem in rental kitchens. Maybe it's a sad overhead fixture that barely gives off enough light to tie your shoes, let alone cook a meal, or dim corners that swallow up whatever gets shoved into them. So what's a renter to do? With little option (and motivation, likely) to make any permanent changes, many renters just learn to live with a dark kitchen. But there's a better way — in fact, there are five. Here are a few ideas to help you light up your rental kitchen:

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1. Get a brighter bulb for your overhead light: This is the most obvious solution, but you'd be surprised at how overlooked it is. Experts say overhead kitchen lights should have an 80-100 watt bulb. You need a bright bulb to be able to see, so if you're using anything less than that, switch it out right away and see how much that improves things.

In my kitchen: the RANARP clamp spotlights from IKEA
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2. Hang a swing arm task lamp: If you still need more light, particularly around your primary kitchen workspace, consider a swing arm task lamp. I hung two RANARP clamp spotlights from IKEA in my own rental kitchen. Installed at varying heights on either side of my kitchen island, they give off a focused, bright light without any harsh shadows (that's why you hang them at different heights). You can install a task lamp right on the wall, or clip one to the edge of a shelf or countertop, and the swing arm enables you to position it exactly how you want.

Victor uses a task lamp to light his stovetop area!
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3. Buy a few battery operated stick-on lights: Last Fall Anne bought a pack of Stick 'N Click lights for her pantry, which she says was "one of the best things [she] did." Battery-operated puck lights like these are often cheap and don't require any hardwiring. Put a few in a dim cupboard or pantry, or any place where you'd like a little more light.

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4. Put in under-cabinet lights: Adequately lighting the countertop is crucial if that's where you usually prep food. The most popular and most affordable under-cabinet lighting choices are fluorescent, halogen, or xenon bulbs, but if you have a bigger budget, LEDs are smaller, last longer, and emit less heat. For more on specific under-cabinet lighting recommendations, see the posts below:

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5. Place a table lamp on the counter: If all else fails, consider the humble table lamp. It's an untraditional choice for the kitchen, yes, but a small, cheap table lamp with a bright bulb can solve a myriad of lighting problems, especially in the interim.

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Do you have any suggestions for lighting a rental kitchen?

(Image credits: Via I Am Shoe Shopping; Lucy Hewett; Cambria Bold; Anne Wolfe Postic; Faith Durand; Juan Enriquez for Apartment Therapy)

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