The Property Brothers' Lighting Tip That Transforms Built-Ins Into An Art Gallery

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

If you have a large collection of artwork or other decorative pieces that you'd like to display in your home, consider adding built-in shelving, which could cover an empty wall or surround a fireplace. Drew and Jonathan Scott are huge advocates for this design element, as it allows you to easily personalize your space. However, unless your home is extremely bright, your artwork may appear darkened by the shadow of the shelves, which could take away from its beauty. If so, the Property Brothers have the perfect solution: install lighting directly above your shelving.

Drew and Jonathan have done this countless times on their show, "Property Brothers: Forever Home." For instance, in Season 7, Episode 10, they include shelves to display the family's most prized possessions and install black and glass wall sconces above them. They love this look because it draws attention to the artwork and allows it to become a potential focal point. It also provides the opportunity to use light fixtures that add another decorative element to the space.

How to illuminate your built-in shelves

In order to include proper lighting above your shelves, you'll need to begin by finding the right design. Throughout Season 7 of "Property Brothers: Forever Home," Drew and Jonathan Scott used countless different light fixtures above floating shelves and built-ins, all purchased from Visual Comfort and Co. While some lighting options extend outward and face down toward the floor, others point upward at the ceiling. Another option the HGTV hosts sometimes use is picture lights, which are long and skinny and made specifically for illuminating artwork. There are also decorative light fixtures like globes that will give your space a one-of-a-kind appearance.

Once you've chosen the right wall lighting, you'll need to install them into your built-in shelves. To begin, determine where they should be placed. Drew and Jonathan typically position them directly above the top shelf, but they could be installed on the back wall of the shelving as well. In order to install them into your walls or shelves, it may be best to hire a professional. However, if you're going to try your hand at DIY-ing, always remember to turn off the power before you begin.

The best option for renters

However, perhaps you're renting and can't just drill large holes into the walls above your shelves. If so, there's an easy way to get the same benefits of a well-lit art gallery without damaging your built-ins: use battery-operated light fixtures. This will eliminate the need to create large holes in your shelving, as they're installed with just a few small screws. For example, a two-pack of this type of light fixture that has black and brass details is available on Amazon for under $40.

Another solution is to place LED puck lights on the bottom of each of the shelves, which can be attached with adhesive tape. A six-pack of dimmable, color-changing options that are controlled by a remote is available on Amazon for around $23. As Drew and Jonathan Scott explained about these types of lights, "They're far more practical than pretty, so put them to work as a night light or to brighten a dim workspace" (via The Scott Brothers). The only downside to this lighting option is that it won't provide the same decorative element that a wall sconce would.