Oct 312013
 

This post is part of a series for newlyweds, which has included a post on wedding lighting and on honeymoon destinations for lovers of light.

New life stages can be exhilarating, but they can also be intimidating. If you’ve just gotten married and moved into your first home together (or even just moved to a new place by yourself), chances are you’re about to discover all kinds of things that need updating or fixing. This will be especially true for lighting, since so much in the lighting industry has changed in the past few years. Here are some important things to keep in mind when planning the lighting updates for your new home.

bigstock New happy property owners 44454670 1 Lighting Your First Home

Energy Efficiency

If you’re thinking about home lighting options for the first time, you may not be aware of the impact the kind of bulbs you use can have on your wallet. Incandescent lamps – the kind we all grew up using, which produce a warm yellow light – use only about 5% of the energy they expend to produce light; the other 95% produces heat. Since heat is not usually the purpose of a light bulb, you can see why these lamps are considered “inefficient” – they waste the majority of the energy they use.

CFLs in Bulk Lighting Your First HomeSo if you aren’t sentimental, ditch the incandescents for energy-saving light bulbs. Even if conservation isn’t your thing, you can win with energy efficient lighting because it will save you a LOT out of pocket on each electric bill. With some fixtures it’s as easy as replacing the bulb – household light bulbs, or A-lamps, are exchangable regardless of light source. You can try out an affordable CFL bulb if you don’t need to be able to dim, or go all in with a longer-lasting, cool-to-touch, dimmable LED bulb. Even LEDs have become very affordable recently, with some models as low as $5 each. And even if you love the color of incandescents, never fear! You can find fluorescents and LEDs that look (and sometimes even act) the same as old-fashioned lamps.

If the bulbs in your fixtures aren’t easily replacable, you may need to buy new ones if you want to upgrade to more energy efficient lighting. Ultimately it will be worth the up-front investment either way, since you can save so much both in your energy bill and in replacement costs when you use LEDs or other similarly long-lasting solutions. Continue reading »

Oct 212013
 

Puck Lights PALPX e1382361477703 Why Do My Lights Dim When I Use The Microwave? You go to the fridge, grab a slice of cold pizza, pop it in the microwave, and suddenly the lights in your kitchen go slightly darker than normal. It’s not a big deal – you can still see everything in your kitchen, your pizza is still going to heat up properly, and after a minute, the lights will brighten back up. But it sure is annoying.

If you’re like me, you might start to wonder if this is indicative of a larger issue. Could there be a bigger electrical problem, lying in wait like a sleeping beast, until the day you’re minding your own business, enjoying your pizza, and you start to smell smoke?

Well, let me assure you that this alone isn’t going to burn your house down. Having lights that dim when you turn on the microwave, coffeemaker, or vacuum cleaner is a common problem in older homes, but it doesn’t cause any major damage to your system. Continue reading »

Oct 042013
 

Halloween is less than one month away! If you’re thinking of decorating your home for the holiday, nothing can help turn your house into a festive sight like lighting. In minutes, you can turn your quaint cottage a ghoulish green, make your bungalow glow orange, or paint your front lawn an eerie yellow. Suddenly, your charming home becomes mysterious and thrilling to trick-or-treaters and passersby.

An impressive Halloween lighting design doesn’t take much time or effort to execute. It can even incorporate the outdoor lights you already use like up lights, outdoor recessed lights, spotlights, or floodlights. You just have to change the color by adding colored light filters in green, yellow, orange, and even blue – iconic Halloween colors. The colored light will work well on its own or as a backdrop for a more elaborate design:

  • Green light can turn your home into an over-the-top laboratory, bringing to mind bubbling viles and fluorescent beakers – you’ll half expect a mad scientist to pop out from behind the bushes with a monster of his own creation trailing close behind.  Continue reading »
Sep 132013
 

Stock Photo Lamp 271x300 5 Questions To Ask Before Your Next Lighting ProjectWhether your room is bright or moody, big or small, top-of-the-line or thrift-store-chic, the wrong lighting will make it look bad. Your lighting scheme has the power to accent your favorite colors and shapes, to make your room functional and lovely. But the wrong lighting can ruin an otherwise beautiful room – distorting colors and creating unflattering shadows.

You can avoid these problems with a little extra planning and some know-how. You just have to understand what questions to ask.

Here are 5 things to think about before you create a new lighting scheme for your space:

1. Will these lights compliment my lifestyle?

If a space is uncomfortable, you’re not going to want to stick around there for long. One of the biggest mistakes people make when installing lights is not having a clear idea of how they’ll use the space.

If you plan on taking daily soaks in your bathtub, you don’t want recessed lights shining directly down into your eyes. If you like to cook elaborate meals in the kitchen, you don’t want your work space engulfed in shadow. If you want your living room to be a game room, a romantic hideout, and a place to read all in one, you don’t want lights that operate at only one brightness level.

How are you planning to use your space? Let’s work from there…

2. Will these lights match my color scheme? 

You can put a ton of time and effort into decorating your room just right, but when you add the wrong lights, all that isn’t worth a hill of beans.

Always pay special attention to the color temperature of your lights. It should flatter your color scheme, and you shouldn’t use lights with contrasting color temperatures in the same space. That can be jarring.

As a general rule, use lights with a warm color temperature (below 3,200K) with warm colors (reds, pinks, yellows), and lights with a cool color temperature (above 4,000K) with cool colors (blues, greens, whites). Using a cool light with a warm color can make it look washed out, while using a warm light with a cool color can make it look a little…wilted.

3. Will I have layers of light?

Ask any lighting designer what they think the first rule of lighting design is and they’ll tell you this: layer your lights. A single ceiling can never provide enough light for an entire room, not to mention it’s visually lame.

You should have at least 3 different light layers in your room: ambient lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting. In a living room, this might include recessed lights for overhead lighting, table lights or reading lights for task lighting, and tape lights lining certain architectural features for accent lighting. In a kitchen, this might mean you use track lighting on the ceiling for ambient light, under cabinet lights for task lighting, and a few picture lights to accent some artwork.

The key is to create points of visual interest, and diminish shadows. After all, this isn’t an old dungeon we’re talking about – it’s your house!    Continue reading »

 Posted by on September 13, 2013 at 3:51 pm
Sep 062013
 

Thunder. Lightning. Though it’s the middle of the day, the dark clouds block out the sun and make it look almost night. Raindrops pound your windows. Trees stretch this way and that. Then your lights go out.

What do you do?

We’re right in the middle of hurricane season, and if you’re affected by these storms, the right preparation is essential. If you lose power, the last thing you need to do is stumble around willy-nilly looking for a flashlight. It’s time to make a plan.

bigstock summer storm beginning with li 26900168 How To Prepare For A Power Outage

Our lighting experts have taken some time to select the best products and devise the best strategies to use during any power outage this season. Check them out:

1. Start simple.

Designate a spot for your go-to flashlight, and keep it there. You may want to use one with a glowing guide light or sticker so you can grab it in a split second. Make sure to test the batteries every so often, or invest in a light that charges on a crank.

2. Stay organized.

When your lights go out, finding essentials like your keys is infinitely more challenging. Think about the smaller items you need to access at a moment’s notice, and attach glowing objects to (or near) them – an LED keychain fob, a mini guide light, etc.

3. Plan ahead.

If the power stays off for more than a few hours, what tasks will you have to do in the dark? If you’re preparing a meal, cleaning up a mess, or even playing a board game, dim candlelight or a single flashlight beam just won’t cut it. Think about how you might need battery operated task lights, hands-free work lights, or bright lanterns around your home. Continue reading »

 Posted by on September 6, 2013 at 2:58 pm
Aug 122013
 

As much as some good task lighting and a ceiling full of recessed cans will make a room come alive, there’s nothing like airy, natural light. You can change your home’s color, its style, and even its structure, but when it comes to the amount of sun you get, you can rarely change much. How much natural light you home receives depends on so many different factors both in and outside of your house – the direction your home faces, the topography and structures around, the number of windows you have – these can be costly or just impossible to fix.

So, when you’re on the market for a new house, be sure to consider the lighting potential of any dwelling – lest you end up with a dungeon, or an oven.

Here are some questions to keep in mind when scoping out a new property:

1. Which way does the house face?

Normally, south-facing homes get sun at the front of the house, and for most of the day. They tend to be brighter and warmer. A house that faces north gets light at the back and is cooler and darker. This may be especially important to note depending on your climate. When it’s cool most of the year, you may want a house that’s naturally a little warmer, if it’s warm for most of the year, you may prefer a house that doesn’t make you cook.

Also be sure to take a look around your property and note what could potentially affect your light. Does your house face an open field, or another row of houses? Are you at the base of a hill that will cast a shadow for most of the day, or at the top, almost always exposed to sunlight? These factors will influence the brightness in your home, and also the temperature.

bigstock modern house in the night 15661763 Seeing the Light: How Much Sun Will Your New House Get?

2. How and when will you use the rooms? Continue reading »

Aug 072013
 

How many times have you left a room and forgotten to turn out the lights? How many times have your kids done it? Your partner? Your roommate?

According to a new survey from Lutron Electronics, about 90% of Americans admit that someone in their household has left the lights on by accident. Interestingly enough, this happens most often in the kitchen.

Check out this infographic to learn a little more about this bad habit:

WhoLeftTheLights Who Left The Lights On? (An Infographic)

Thanks to Lutron for creating this infographic! Continue reading »

Aug 052013
 

So, your living space isn’t exactly Versailles. Even if the ceilings are low, windows are few and far between, and architecture leaves much to be desired, you can still transform your home into a bright, artful, and interesting space.

Just look to the light.

No matter how boring or boxy a room might be, lighting can always give it color, texture, and form. Here are some ways you can use lighting to turn a drab space into something really special:

1. Wash a wall with light.

Wall washing is a lighting technique that can add beauty and visual interest almost anywhere – it uses recessed cans with wall wash trims to evenly illuminate walls. This technique will call attention to texture on your walls, and will perfectly highlight wall hangings. Wall washing is especially helpful for smaller rooms – by emphasizing the vertical surfaces, your space will appear to expand. Check out this article to learn the details.

Stock Photo Wall Washing How To Save A Boring Room (With Light!)

2. Get creative with accent lighting.

If your room is literally just a box, accent lighting will save you from the design doldrums. First, make sure you have light coming from different angles throughout your room – downlights, floor lamps, cabinet lights, desk lamps – this will give a boring, flat room more depth and dimension. Next, use accent lights to play up interesting objects in your room. For instance, a puck light used to highlight a small sculpture on your shelf can really play up the angles. Finally, consider colored accent lights for a surprising, unconventional impact.

Blue Indirect Lighting in a Kitchen 646 How To Save A Boring Room (With Light!)

Continue reading »

Jul 222013
 

Comfort and convenience – these should be your two main goals when creating a nursery lighting scheme. Babies are extra-sensitive to harsh lighting, so you should use lights that are gentle and calming to their young eyes. However, you still need enough light to perform necessary tasks quickly and easily.

Just follow these 5 lighting rules, and your nursery will be in ship-shape and ready for baby in no time:

1. Choose soft ceiling lights.

HGTV nursery 5 Tips For Great Nursery Lighting

Image via HGTV.com

You never want bright, severe ceiling lights shining down into your baby’s eyes. Ideally, your overhead lighting should be shielded or diffused with a shade or cover. Hanging lights like pendants or chandeliers are probably your best choice for ambient lighting. If you have recessed lights or track lighting in your nursery, make sure none shine directly on the crib. Continue reading »

Jul 122013
 

LED Mini Guide Lights 300x195 Practical Magic: How To Have Great Lighting In The Kids RoomLighting is perhaps the only design element that lets you change the look and mood of a room instantly. When that room belongs to your child, variation is even more important. The right lighting can be warm and comforting, creative and energetic, and above all – able to keep up with your children’s many needs. It can help soothe them to sleep, wake them up in the morning, and encourage critical thinking and self expression during the day.

Here are a few elements that add a little practical magic to the kids’ bedroom:

1. Night Lights

I’d say safety and sleep are the first two things to address when lighting a child’s bedroom. How to help your child sleep through the night, and how to help him navigate in the dark without mishaps. A night light can solve both these issues. (No wonder it’s a bedroom classic!) Of course, you can go with the standard plug-in variety, or you can use battery operated guide lights to add light where your child needs it most.

Night Light and Child Practical Magic: How To Have Great Lighting In The Kids Room

I love the idea of a halo of soft mini guide lights around a headboard to comfort a child at night, or a bedside guide light she can use to reach the bathroom safely in the dark. Continue reading »