New Lighting–the Basement Staircase Is Transformed! Lots of Updates!

Yesterday was another busy day with the basement renovation. I managed to get a final coat of paint on the wall in the unfinished area and got the shelves fully primed in the smaller storage area. I need to buy paint for those and will do that today or tomorrow.

The electrician was here for most of the day doing all kinds of good stuff! At my request, he installed dimmer switches for all the recessed lighting in the semi-finished side of the basement.


Here’s how those switches look now. I really like this style of dimmer, very easy to operate by just sliding the little side toggle up and down. Since I envision this terrace-level room being a family/TV room one day for the next family who lives here, I thought it would be nice to have the ability to adjust the lighting when watching a movie or TV.


The electrician also added a whole-house surge protector to the main electrical box. I’ve been wanting to have that done for ages.


Sooo, remember how that basement staircase looked on Monday? I still can’t believe when my home was built in 1982 that they didn’t require more than just a single light at the foot of the stairway! So how does it look now?


Much improved! The electrician installed two recessed lights in the slanted ceiling above the staircase, as well as the step lighting I purchased recently. Notice the top recessed light in the ceiling over the staircase. That one was a bit of a pain. Due to the slant of the ceiling, when you opened the door to the basement, the light shone right into your face as you started down the staircase. Even moving it down a bit didn’t fix that issue.

Recessed Lighting Basement Stairs


The electrician didn’t have a light on his truck for this slanted-ceiling situation so he left to go locate one that would work. It took two stops but he located a light that was perfect for my staircase. This light below can rotate and tilt in the wildest positions.

Directional Light, Great for Basement Stairs


Here’s a closer photo showing how it looks pointing down the staircase. It completely solved the light-in-the-face issue when you open the door to head down to the basement.

Directional Recessed Lighting, Basement Stairs


The recessed lighting in the ceiling is great, but by far my favorite way to light the stairs is with the little step lights along the right side of the staircase. We ended up using 5 of the 6 lights that came in the package/box I purchased. That worked out best for the spacing of the lights due to the location of the studs in the wall. Here’s how the staircase and the step lighting look with the overhead recessed lighting turned off and the basement lighting downstairs turned on.

Stairway Lights, Step Lighting for Basement Steps


And here’s how the staircase looks with all the lights off except for the step lighting along the side of the staircase. I’ll probably rarely turn on the overhead lighting, the step lighting is plenty of light for navigating the stairs. Despite the fact, my walls aren’t painted yet and the wood staircase is currently unfinished, this area feels wonderful in person. I’ve known for many years the importance lighting plays in creating a warm, welcoming home, but seeing this staircase lit up under the soft glow of the step lighting really brought that home to me once again. Amazing how soft lighting can even add beauty and a touch of romance to a humble, unfinished, basement staircase. I like this step lighting so much, I’m tempted to add it to my main staircase, too. (Step lighting is available here: Step Lighting.)

Step Lighting, Stairway Lights


A friend of mine once replaced the door to her basement with a pretty glass-paned, French door. I doubt I’ll do that, but it did cross my mind last night when I stood at the top of the staircase looking down on that beautiful glow emanating up from the basement stairs! It would be so pretty to pass by this doorway at night and look over to see that pretty glowing staircase beckoning me down.

Framed Bird Prints for Paneled Hall


I’m off to paint the small storage room in the basement–gotta get everything moved over to that area from the semi-finished side of the basement so the painters can get started with the painting in a few weeks. See you tomorrow for Tablescape Thursday.

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  1. Margo Kuhn says

    Susan, I love your new lighting. What a difference. You are fixing up your home so lovely, why would you want to move?

  2. Susan!! Too funny, but THE FIRST thing I thought about when you said you were finishing the stairway and basement (and adding lighting) was ” I wonder if she will replace the existing door with a French door!!??!” We did that with our basement door, and it was a game changer. Our door is in the main downstairs hallway, and ‘opening it up’ added a glimpse into the stairway and landing. That made such a difference about how open the hallway felt. (The stairway light is always on too, when we are home.) I added antique architectural trim pieces that have coat hooks on them, for practicality’s sake, but also, because they are beautiful. It just looks so much more finished now, and much more appealing than the solid closed door! Although, your existing wood door is beautiful too!! WAY better looking than the cheapie hollow core one we replaced. 🙂 Anyway, if you are taking votes, I vote to change it out! Can’t wait to see all of your progress!

    • That sounds beautiful, Rosie, especially with a landing! It is so tempting to do that. I had to go through a lot of work to replace that door a few years back. It was actually replaced twice because the installer initially cut it too short and had to do it again. Then the painter couldn’t get the stain correct to match the surrounding paneling. A year later a new product came out and he was able to fix his previous work. So I sorta hate to remove it just because of how much work it was to get it installed. But I love the idea of a French door there, too.

      • Oh boy, that would be a hard thing to do….changing that door out after all the work that went into it, and it IS a beautiful door. If you could reuse it in the basement for a room entrance, and save it, that would be ideal if you wanted to pursue the French door. Looking forward to seeing your finished project, for sure!!

  3. Love it!!!

  4. I really like the side lighting for the steps. In my house, its really hard to change the light bulbs over the stairs to the basement, and of course when the house was built 20+ years ago, they didn’t put LED lights in. The next time I have any work done, I’ll probably get some of those lights and have them installed – thanks for the inspiration!

    • Thanks, Joy! It should be pretty easy to have that light fixture changed out for an LED one the next time you need any electrical work done. It really is hard to change the bulbs in those really high up lights. That’s one thing I love about LEDs I just had installed in my garage…no more having to pull a ladder out to change the bulbs periodially.

  5. We installed a glass door going to our finished basement den. It has grooves cut into glass instead of wood. I had two sconces hung in stair area with step lights also. All on dimmers. You would love that glass door just for the lights glowing. It’s beautiful at night with the lights on.

  6. Wow! What a difference the lighting makes. I love the step lighting. We really need that in our stairway. I did not even know you can get a whole house surge protector. Good to know. Thank you!

    • Thanks, Lynda! One thing that really cinched me wanting to add the surge protector is also protects appliances like the refrigerator…and even the furnace. I never thought about a surge taking those out before.

      • Yes, lightning struck my friends kitchen and went down the length of the counter getting her dishwasher and Fridge! One never knows when it can happen either.

  7. SharonFromMichigan says

    Susan – what a wise decision to add the extra lighting for the steps. The safety factor is so much better (plus your choices of lighting is perfect!)

    • Thanks so much, Sharon! I just may have to add them to my main staircase in the future. They really add so much cozy appeal to a stairway!

  8. Great idea and so clever to have lighting options…overhead and steps. Do the stair steps light operate with the same wall switch as the overheads?

    • Thanks! No, they are on two different switches. The step lights and overhead recessed lighting can each be turned on separately at the top of the steps. From the bottom of the steps, just the overhead lighting and the previously existing light at the foot of the steps can be turned on. For the next family who lives here, if they are using the basement a lot, they can turn on the step lights from the top of the staircase and leave them on full-time, if they wish. The electrician said it wouldn’t hurt to do that and they use very little electricity.

  9. Susan, I think you need to change the name of your column. I don’t think you ever nap! You are a ball of energy. Kudos to you. I love the lighting in the stairway. I have those dimmer switches in my new home. The builder put them in without being asked. I eagerly await your basement renovation.

    • Thanks, Lin! That’s awesome! Dimmers are so nice to have for media rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, etc…
      Looking forward to sharing it with you as it moves forward!

  10. It’s already awesome. I bet you’re scratching your head, wondering why you didn’t do this sooner!

  11. Susan, Wow! What a difference the lighting makes. Don’t you love progress! I look forward to seeing all the changes. Sherry B

  12. Perhaps you could keep the beautiful door that goes to the basement but remove the six panels and replace them with glass to let some light in.

  13. Linda Page Gurganus says

    Oh, wow! What a difference! Much better. The stair look so much safer. I love the little lights by the steps. I like that you had a power surge protector installed. We need to look into that. Now that you are moving right along with the basement renovations and upgrades, you will be ready to tackle the baseball bathroom soon! Sorry! Couldn’t resist.

  14. The right lighting really does make all the difference! I love the lights going down the steps, those is what I would use too as that is what you only need when just going down the steps to make them safer. I do love the overhead lighting as well, but you won’t need that as much, but nice to have for when you do need it. Looking better already just with lights! Hugs, Brenda

  15. Just amazing, Susan. If you ever plan to sell, having your basement finished will be such a plus. I know when we lived in Marietta we bought a house in the process of being built and then we finished the basement. Having that space to finish was a must have when our girls were young. I love seeing the process you’re going through. The stairway lighting is wonderful!

  16. Susan, I generally love french doors or really any glass door. But that door to your basement is gorgeous! I love the warmth of that wood and the judge’s paneling so much. A glass door would certainly integrate that basement area into the home more, but it would be such a shame to lose that door! You’d have to find another place to put it, lol.

    I remember being in third grade and hating our classroom overhead lighting. Even then I knew lighting was a big deal! Lol. So I totally understand your infatuation with your new, stairway lighting. It all looks (and functions) great! What a nice guy your contractor was to go find another ceiling light. Despite the occasional mishaps, you seem to find good workers.

    The price for those stairstep lights is great! Especially with the 15% off coupon. Gosh, what an improvement. Can’t wait to see what else happens in that basement of yours. Your projects are so inspiring!

  17. Michele M. says

    WOW!! That is pretty amazing! Oh and who doesn’t love stair lights going down? Love love love. Be nice if you could add to your stairs going up. I can’t b/c mine are all open but at the top of the stairs we put in those wee lights inside a plug that make the tiny lights go down and not up. Not explaining it well, sorry.

    I kinda hope you keep that door – your doors are fabulous and super high quality – why change when it’s just perfect as is?

  18. Jack Parker says

    Forgive me for going off-topic but I just found your website and spent the last 2 hours (at 3am) engrossed in it. It’s been the next best thing to a vacation for me because each article pulls you into every moment. I can’t tell you anything you haven’t already heard a hundred times, so I’ll just say that everything is stunning, and your taste and style are so far above most designers on TV. I enjoy living simply and owning very little so your website helps fulfill that bit of longing to have a fully stocked home for every occasion.

    I’m 56 and will be retiring and relocating, Lord willing, in a month or two. I found your website while looking for the exterior of the stone cottage from the movie The Holiday. (LOVED that article and pictures!) I plan to build a small stone cottage in that style with all the nooks, crannies, alcoves and built-ins, so finding your website has been beyond inspirational because, as a major homebody, I’ve learned so much from this site. And there are so many products I had no idea existed! (Not surprising since I haven’t had a TV since the 90’s or ever owned a microwave.) All that’s left before I can start building is to retire, pack my little RV and drive around the country to find the small, rural town that I want to spend the rest of my life in! I’ve bookmarked this site, so I’ll be back to see how you’re getting on!

    • Jack, thanks so much for your wonderful comment, appreciate your kind words so much! I love, love, love that adorable cottage in The Holiday! I would love to know where you decide to retire. I’ve been toying with the idea of buying or building a home in the North GA mountains one day.
      Cottage homes are my favorite, so I can’t wait to hear more about the home you end up building. By the way, I’m with you on the TV thing. I don’t have cable (except for internet) and only have one TV in my home that I never even turn on. It’s not even connected to anything, I just kept it so my grandsons can watch movies when they visit.

    • Hi Jack,

      So nice to have a man visit. I just wanted to say hi and welcome. I hope you hang around. Some of us have been following Susan’s adventures for years now, and it’s like we’ve become old friends. And you’re right, her home is so warm and welcoming and she always has the best recommendations. Her posts are very inspiring.

      I hope you’re able to find the perfect little town to settle down in and build your dream cottage. Maybe when you do, you could create a blog and post about your progress! Good luck. 🙂

  19. We did several lighting upgrades in the past few years. Our bathrooms only had lights above the sink which made the showers dark. Don’t know why they didn’t put in an overhead light but we did. And our hallway had no lights at all=had to open bedroom doors to see. Installed 2 new overhead lights there . Did some other things in the kitchen like recessed lights over the peninsula…life changing results!!! Made me so happy. It’s sometimes the little things like lighting that changes the whole look of a room or area. I love the stair lighting you did–so smart!

  20. franki Parde says

    Just DO it, Susan…it even makes me smile thinking of a glass door! We just removed two solid wood doors my husband made…we’ll save them…but, my how it lightens up!! franki

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