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May 10, 2021

The Nuances of Closet Lighting

The other day, I walked into my dark closet and hit the light switch. Nothing changed. No, the light wasn’t burnt out. There wasn’t an electrical problem either. My closet was simply too dark for my 55+ eyes.

As many of you in the 55+ business know, the lens of our eyes thickens as we age. It starts when we’re in our thirties. As the lens thickens, it lets in less light. A sixty-year-old needs six times as much light as a twenty-year-old. This is a gradual process, and before you know it, you’re in a “romantically” dim restaurant and can’t read the menu without blinding other guests with your iPhone flashlight. In addition to emitting less light, the thickened lens can’t bend and flex like it used to, making it harder to focus on items up close.

But back to my closet. We thought we had made a smart lighting decision when we moved in. We didn’t want one of those ugly fluorescent lights because we knew they weren’t full spectrum light. Full spectrum allows you to more accurately see color, helping you avoid walking out with mismatched colors. We also didn’t elect to hang a pretty pendant fixture in our closets, deciding to stay utilitarian with our lighting and save the decorative lighting for other rooms. Based upon its size, we installed two fixtures in my closet, each with two sixty-watt incandescent lights.

During the walkthrough of our home, my closet with white walls, white shelves, and lightly colored carpet was brightly lit. What could possibly go wrong! Five years older and a lot of shopping – that’s what. I happen to wear a lot of dark colors – especially black. These dark colors consume precious light to the point that my bright and airy closet was beginning to feel like a cave. I also have double hanging on one side of the closet. The top row of clothes was blocking the light to the bottom row of clothes. Then, to make matters worse, the bottom row was full of all my black tops. Once again, I would find myself bringing out flashlight feature on my phone just to be able to select a garment from the bottom row – always a humbling experience.

Of course, the best option for closet lighting is the LED rope light above each row of hanging. Our friends selected that option when they built their new home, and it came with their closet system. This should be the standard going forward.


I knew adding a higher wattage incandescent bulb would produce more heat than the fixture was designed for, creating a possible fire hazard. Fortunately, it isn’t difficult to find an LED fixture that fits the same size. It was easy for my husband to swap the fixtures out and voila! There was light in my closet. A sixty-watt incandescent bulb gives off 800 lumens of light and is very amber in color. My new LED fixture emits 2000 lumens and is more full spectrum. In my husband’s closet, we switched out his incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs for a similar result – more light, fuller spectrum, less heat and energy consumption. Sounds like a win-win-win.


Proper lighting isn’t simply a niche selling point reserved for 55+ buyers and social media influencers, but for the entire housing industry. You may think you’ve provided enough light in your customers closets when they are empty – just wait until they move in. Because, unless your buyer only wears wedding dresses, chances are their closet will get darker when they fill it. They may think you’re trying to up sell them – until they move in. Then they will thank you!

And thank you for including me in your day!

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This post was written by Housing Design Matters