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6 Ways to Get the Best Lighting On a Budget

One of my favorite things about our new home is the unique assortment of lighting, including custom-made pieces and luxury designer fixtures. We even have an Arteriors light. 

If you added everything up at retail price, we'd easily be looking at thousands of dollars just in lights. But, of course, we would never pay the retail price. (And you shouldn't either!)

Everyone who knows me knows I love a bargain. Here are my tips for scoring the best deals on light fixtures for your home.

string lights over a yellow door
Money-saving tip #1:
Use Amazon Move, Wayfair, and Lowes coupons to save 10%, then save even more.

When you move into a new place, be sure to fill out a USPS change of address form online, not at the post office. As we have a new construction home, we were required to go to the post office either way and, while there, we were encouraged not to fill out a change of address request online because it would cost us a dollar.

(I've always thought this was dishonest of the post office, by the way. They say they have to charge a dollar to verify the address listed on your credit card, but couldn't they verify the address by charging a penny? Or refund the dollar afterward?) 

What wasn't mentioned at the post office is that online the online Change of Address form includes money-saving coupons. You'll receive some instantly and more through the mail later, which more than covers the $1 address verification fee.

The change of address coupons used to include Home Depot, which we prefer to Lowes, but they're no longer participating. It's not a problem though - Home Depot honors Lowes coupons.

The most valuable discount, at least for big Amazon shoppers like us, is the 10% Amazon Move coupon, which provides a discount on multiple Amazon purchases for several months. We purchased the string lights shown here, along with a million other things for our new home, using the Amazon promotion.

On top of the coupons, we went through eBates (now known as Rakuten - yuck, I hate the new name) whenever we made an online purchase and received an extra discount. They're currently offering a $10 sign up bonus in addition to rebates. 

The savings can really add up - I've received more than $600 back over the few years I've had an eBates account!

patio lights with a dog
Money-saving tip #2:
Invest a little extra so you won't have to replace it.

(Also, I think one of the reasons Biscuit enjoys our new patio so much is its camouflage factor. She's like a furry chameleon.)

Before we even broke ground, Sexy Nerd and I knew we wanted to string lights across our back patio. There are many cheap options for these and the reviews are about what you would expect - pay $25, enjoy the lights for the summer, and replace them next year. 

Although it cost a little more up front, we saved overall by going with commercial-grade outdoor string lights (and using our 10% Amazon Move coupon and eBates, of course). To further extend the longevity of our patio lights, we attached them to heavy-duty wire to minimize blowing in the wind. Even in the New Mexico sun (and snow and ice and wind so fierce it shakes the house), our lights are like-new.

yellow light fixtures
Money-saving tip #3:
Spray paint is cheap.

Can you tell I have a thing for yellow? I found yellow outdoor lights like these in a magazine and had to have them for our new home. Unfortunately, the lights were a bit (a lot) over my budget at $250 each. And I needed 9 of them! 

I found these outdoor farmhouse lights on Amazon and they were perfect, other than the oil-rubbed bronze finish. Two cans of spray paint later, my lights looked exactly like the more expensive ones I'd seen featured.

In case anyone is dreaming of yellow lights of their own, the spray paint we used was Rust-Oleum Sun Yellow, which went well with our Sherwin Williams Lemon Twist doors. 

Come on, you know you want a yellow front door. Everyone loves ours! Well, except for my Nana, but I think she would come around if she could see our doors in person.

crystal wall sconce
Money-saving tip #4:
People return expensive light fixtures.

For our custom home, we saved thousands of dollars by signing with a great builder who allowed us to supply our own fixtures. (The builder was John Lowe with Panorama Homes, just in case anyone reading this is looking for a builder near Albuquerque.) 

Every day, I scoured sites like Overstock, Amazon, and Wayfair for open-box items. The majority of light fixtures in our new home are ones that someone else had purchased and returned, which I scooped up for a substantial discount.

The crystal wall sconce above? I paid $100 for a returned pair - much better than the $225 each they were listed for new. It was a bit of a risk, as the reason for their return was listed as being scratched, but they were both perfectly fine. I've found that most open-box items turn out to be like-new and the few that aren't can usually be easily repaired or returned.

Want to hear something funny? The wall sconce above should be illuminated at the bottom, not just the top, but we were hit by the weirdest burglar ever while building our home - four lightbulbs and a few door hinge pins were stolen and nothing else. We haven't gotten around to replacing the bulbs yet.

task lighting in a kitchen
Like our kitchen accent lights? All three of these were returned, open-box items from Wayfair.

brushed gold quatrefoil light
This previously purchased quatrefoil wall sconce was only $20!

silver Baya light
Our dining room Baya chandelier looked like a mess of wire inside the box (admittedly, it looks a bit like that in this photo too - we call it our scribble), which is probably why it was returned to begin with. 

Illuminated in an otherwise dark room? It's stunning!

light pendants made from leaves
I've seen these paper lanterns (made with real leaves!) in boutiques in California for $125 each. I bought 6 of them as open-box items for just $25 each. The ones in my master bathroom are multicolored (with matching cabinets) and the ones in Sexy Nerd's master bathroom are solid green.

arteriors glass cluster light
We ordered a discounted sputnik-style light for our foyer (you know, the round ones with all the spikes sticking out) and this Arteriors one was delivered by mistake. I guess that was why it had been returned to begin with. 

Unknowingly, we brought the boxed, unassembled fixture to the electrician. We were extremely confused the first time we saw it installed!

After months of daily hunting for the best lighting deals, I've had the hardest time passing on bargains, even now that our lighting needs have been fully met. I never did get my sputnik-style light and I keep finding them for 90% off.

I promise the deals are out there, just waiting for you. Go get them.

DIY moravian star
Money-saving tip #5:
Build your own light fixtures.

If you're handy, you can save a lot by DIYing your lights. Sexy Nerd created 9 of the rustic Moravian star lights above. He struggled a little with the initial one, but once he had it figured out, the other 8 came together easily.

how to make a chandelier
Sexy Nerd also built the 3 oversized statement chandeliers in our kitchen and living room. Each has 18 bulbs and three rings of hammered copper. There's no way we could have afforded these if he hadn't welded them from scratch.

how to make a wall sconce
Not very handy? Anyone (well, anyone but me - I'm not even 1% handy) can make the three light fixtures that line the back wall of our theater room. The metal houses are from Pier 1. The wine bottles have each had their bottom removed using fire and a string (Google "how to cut a glass bottle with a string") and the bulb is just a light kit like you would use to build a lamp. 

You can score extra points by using a wine bottle with sentimental value, such as one you enjoyed during a special occasion. Just be sure to practice cutting a few test bottles first - even Sexy Nerd broke a few!

how to upcycle a light fixture
Money-saving tip #6:
Reuse Lights You Already Love

Do the hand-painted glass sconces in our new ceiling fan look familiar? They used to hang on the wall in our old master bathroom. Before we listed our previous home for sale, we swapped many of our nice fixtures with generic ones. It seemed unlikely anyone would walk away from buying our house based on something as trivial as a light fixture. 

Better to take them with us, especially as the new homeowners may have replaced the fixtures we loved after moving in.

lights with sentimental value
Sexy Nerd and I purchased this funky pendant on our first trip to Seattle together, about 11 years ago. It created lovely patterns on the walls and ceiling of our previous master bedroom. Now it does the same in our new home.

how to get the statement lighting you love on a budget
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