Skip to main content

How to Create Instant Atmosphere in your New House

By 01/22/2013January 28th, 201722 Comments


In my last townhouse, the living and dining room was wired so that lamps that were plugged into the bottom of each outlet could be turned on and off with one light switch.

I had 15 lights (including the 5 puck lights in the corner bookshelves) in this room and every time I walked into the living room, with one flick of a switch, the lights on each side of the mirror above the fireplace, the corner up-light in the opposite corner of the room beside the entertainment center and the lamp behind the sofa (in the middle of the room, below) all turned on just like magic.

Sunflower Yellow Sofa

Interior by Maria Killam

Since it was a north facing living room, I ALWAYS had those lights on when I was in that room so it was wonderful not to have to walk all around the room turning them on and off every five minutes.

In my current living room I have two outlets wired to a light switch that turn on two lamps in my living room. If I was building a house, I’d have an electrician wire the living, dining, family and master bedroom without question.

When I was in Oklahoma before Christmas and I was drawing out the floor plan for my clients living room, I noted there were no outlets installed in the hardwood floor to plug in ANY lamps at all. Since the living room was designed so that the furniture would be placed in the middle of the room, it would be very awkward to plug in lamps with extension cords running across where people would be walking. Luckily, she had a crawl space making this an easy fix.

So, if you are building or renovating, make sure you include this in your plans. You will be so glad you did.

What’s the best part of your house/renovation?

Related posts:

How to Create an Ethereal Colour Scheme?

The Enchanting World of Atmosphere

Atmosphere The One Thing You Cannot Buy

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, become a client

Download my eBook, How to Choose Paint Colours – It’s All in the Undertones to get my complete step-by-step system on how to get colour to do what you want.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert.

3 pins


  • Design & Decor says:

    Thank you Maria for this informative blog..We have to be reminded when designing or decorating a room function comes first..Most plan designs of new homes are open concept..Gone are the days of separation of dining room, living rooms and kithens..The open spaces need to have designed furniture placement prior to electrical or atleast an idea of possible furniture arrangement.
    I have added plug-ins in the floor to allow for lighting and even where I thought a Christmas tree would look fabulous..
    Planning ahead is the way to go..

  • Donna Frasca says:

    Atmosphere in a word … dimmers! They are in every room of my home.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Good one Donna, thanks for that contribution! Maria

    • Fran says:

      Agree. Especially love them in my master bath. So calming not to have screaming bright lights when you want to relax in the tub or shower.

    • Allison Harris says:

      We installed a dimmer switch in our dining room and loved it, but then they banned incandescent bulbs and the fluorescent bulbs don’t work with it. Are there any new bulbs on the market that work with dimmers?

  • I like using uplights wih natural elements like bamboo sticks or even tall branches cut from the yard. The play of light through the branches makes beautiful shadows on the wall and ceiling and the dim light lends wonderful atmosphere.

    I’m all about dimmers too 🙂 It was one of the first things we did in our current home. That’s such a great fix for any room’s atmosphere.

  • Lighting and power sources are such an important element in design… careful planning while remodeling or new construction makes a world of difference in the end results.

    A word of caution… be careful not to overload old or existing outlets… which could lead to electrical problems or fires.


  • Great tip Maria! I like to ask home builders to place bedroom outlets on each side of the bed, (by determining bed placement in advance and allowing space for a king or a queen). The home I live in was already built, so it’s very hard to plug in lamps, bedside clocks, cell phone chargers etc. I have to reach behind the mattresses or deal with extension cords and power strips – this can be avoided with some proper planning in advance – by placing outlets an inch or two outside the mattress on each side.

    Please check out my blog with before and after photos, remodeling and interior design tips:
    I appreciate any comments!

  • Oh yes…the lighting! Deborah’s coment above brings back a time while living in Texas. The builder for my friends home installed outlets on either side of where the bed would be placed. It was a good thing because a huge thunderstorm came through and lightening shot out the outlet starting a fire!
    I have never forgotten this lesson and design in electrical layout.

  • Gretchen Sleeth says:

    My husband has put energy saving bulbs in every light in our house. One of the ways I deal with this is to use cream or darker, softer shades. Works great with our antique furniture.

  • Debbiecz says:

    PVC Pipe! I can hear everyone now, “We’re talking electrical, not plumbing” but I’m serious. When we renovated our 100 yr old four square we installed all new wiring. In the tv room the flat screen is on one wall but the components are on the opposite wall. We ran a PVC pipe that designates the tv wiring. As we’ve updated systems we can easily fish the wires thru. The installers love it because the wires don’t get hung up on supports, etc. I did a similar thing in the garden with the pond wiring…I won’t accidentally slice a wire while digging.
    It would be nice if someone could design a better looking switch. I feel as if I have walls filled with lights, dimmers, exhaust fans….next project is to remove all the old phone/computer outlets we installed 12 years ago.

  • SandyCGC says:

    Perfect post for me, Maria, since I’ve just moved into my new 26-year-old home. Lighting and electrical are at the top of the list as soon as I replenish my cash reserves. Terri’s comment about not overloading old and existing outlets is significant for me – I’m looking for a well-qualified electrician who is experienced with old homes and will steer me in the right direction to be safe but also happy. The two humongous fluorescents in the kitchen will have to stay until whatever future year I redo the kitchen but I can at least replace the tubes so they’re all the same “color”. I have a lovely foyer leading on one side to a T-hallway but not a plug in sight except around the corner in the living room on the other side. Interestingly, however, Del Webb, the builder, back in 1986 did put plugs on either side of the bed in both bedrooms ; in fact the usual 2-outlet on one side and a 4-outlet on the other, and that is very helpful. I love the idea of the PVC pipe to hold the wires; kinda like what I’ve done for computer wires that have to run from behind my desk to somewhere. Would love to rewire the whole house but don’t have any idea what that entails cost-wise or when I could afford to do it or HOA-wise since mine is an attached single-family home with one common wall. Luckily I do have a lot of light coming in through a lot of windows including two 8′-wides, one 6′-wide, two patio doors, a side-by-side in the dining room with a side panel by the front door and corner windows over the sink in the kitchen plus a solar tube – one of the big reasons why I bought the house – and it all looks out on a greenbelt – very rare in Arizona and not sure how many more years we’ll have it . At least I have the pleasure of filling the house with sunlight every morning while I study and plan how to make sure it’s filled with safe and happy light every night when the sun goes down. Very good post, Maria, and very helpful comments from eveyone.

  • teresa says:

    Maybe along with better outlet placement builders could include a lightning rod, as well. Geez. Benjamin Franklin invented that over 200 yrs ago. Defintely something to think about.
    I always paint my switches the wall cover to avoid having them grab all the attention. . I paper them is I have a papered wall.I never understood fancy wall plates, as I don’t consider that an element I want to focus on.
    My 100 yr old house does have floor outlets, but I still have to arrange the furniture to avoid tripping on the wires. when are these things going to go wireless!?
    Another great post, Maria. I have to go check my outlets now to see if any are operated by the switch? If not, I may have to do a bit of rewiring on my dark LR. I didn’t even know about this. The PVC idea is great also. CTD

    • teresa says:

      I really wish I could edit my published posts!. Honestly, I hope someone can make out what I thought I’d typed! CTD

  • Joy Schumann says:

    Maria: I have been reading (and enjoying) your posts for many months now and have learned so much from you! Thank you!
    On today’s post, though, I would suggest that even one half of the outlets at the sides of the bed NOT be wired to the wall switch at the door. I learned that the hard way…had to get up to turn off the light as the clock and electric blanket used up the upper “unwired” outlet! Thanks for all of your great information…wish I lived closer. Joy

  • concerned says:

    Your health is more important than some of these aesthetic details. Please get informed and protect your family before installing lights, bulbs, phones, WIFI, outlets, dimmers, monitors, microwaves, etc. etc. etc. and have a beautiful space too.

  • BillP says:

    I find that picture lights are also a good source of light, and really make the artwork stand out.

  • Alex says:

    Love the yellow sofa – who is it made by?

  • Megeranski says:

    1. Do not use pvc pipes!!! Use conduit! !!!
    Looks same but is not same.

    And always ensure your work is to code. Electricity is not the place to get creative nor cute. 🙂

    2. You can get new replacement dimmers to work with fluorescent and halogen and other light bulbs.

    Lighting is always fun!!

  • Dot says:

    When building new construction…have some input as to the electrical ! Ideal= have 4 outlets BESIDE each side of proposed bed/ night stand! 1970’s homes are still partial to where “Bob, the builder “thinks” you “might” place your bed,,, ugh- the realities of living I an older home!

  • Janice says:

    Wish I would have known you were in OK!

Leave a Reply