Lighting Design at the White House

We frequently blog about home lighting tips, but rarely do we share photos of homes with professionally designed lighting. It’s fun to see the style in a celebrity’s kitchen or to read about the projects an architect might take on in his own home, but the best homes to peek into are the ones that showcase room after room of professional lighting. What better place to see that than in the home and office of our nation’s president?

Although 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has housed every U.S. president except George Washington, there have been a few decorative changes over the years. Congress allocates money every four years for maintenance and redecoration of the 132 rooms. The Committee for the Preservation of the White House must approve changes to historic rooms and public spaces, but the living quarters on the upper floors may be updated without consultation.

George W. and Laura Bush added CFL light bulbs during their time in the White House (along with low-flow faucets and solar heating). It’s impossible to catalog each lighting change the building has seen, but photos speak to how beautifully each room is lit. (more…)

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Under Cabinet Lighting Install: From Start to Finish

Update (7/28): I added my installation video at the bottom of this post!

This was my first time with a “do it yourself” lighting project, so I wanted to share my experiences from the very beginning.  I absolutely love the finished results!  This project was surprisingly easy to tackle.   I completed the install in less than two hours, and the total cost was right around $100.

I highly recommend making this update to your kitchen!
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How to Create an Outdoor Living Space

When the summer months roll around, you want to be sure you can take advantage of your outdoor living space as much as possible.  Whether your backyard is a pristine oasis complete with a pool and garden or you are limited to a small balcony overlooking nothing but your neighbor’s place, there’s always room for improvement.

Enhancing your outdoor lighting will give your area so much more versatility: Host a cookout and have guests linger after dusk.  Enjoy a late dinner on the patio.  Bring a book out after the sun goes down and listen to the crickets.

Chances are if your current outdoor lighting situation is lackluster, you’re not using the space as much as you could.  Customize your lighting to enhance your space by following the tips below: (more…)

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Before “Aging in Place” Ever Happens

There’s a lot of talk about “aging in place” in the remodeling industry.  Homeowners are increasingly asking designers to help them envision home modifications that will serve future needs.

While the term “aging in place” fosters some negative connotations, it essentially means creating a more accessible and low-maintenance space (i.e., eliminating unnecessary steps, adding slip-resistant bathroom floors, etc.)  See the National Association of Home Builder’s checklist for more information.

Lighting adjustments do hold a prominent place on the “aging in place” checklist, but they would be better off on another list altogether.

People begin experiencing major changes in eyesight at the young age of 45.  As you get older, the changes accelerate: You are less able to discriminate between colors, more sensitive to glare, and less able to see small details.  Also, it begins to take increasingly longer to adapt to sudden changes in brightness.

Research shows that a 60-year-old needs twice as much light as a 30-year-old.  Most of the commonly found lighting guidelines are written with the 30-year-old user in mind.  -American Lighting Association

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As Seen on TV: Our Xenon Light Strip

Have you ever seen a cove lighting installation in action?  Our xenon low voltage strip was featured on the DIY network TV show Rescue Renovation!  The episode features a young man who bought his first home from 1000 miles away.  Needless to say, it turned out to be quite a “fixer-upper.”

In this clip, you’ll see the Rescue Renovation team coming in to help.  They use the light strip behind crown molding to accentuate the home’s original cove ceiling.  View the video after the jump! (more…)

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“How Many Under Cabinet Lights Do I Need?”

If you are about to embark on a kitchen remodel and are installing under cabinet lights, follow these guidelines to determine how many fixtures you should purchase.

First, measure the length of the “cavity” under your cabinet where you are going to place the fixtures.

If you are installing puck lights…

For a 6-10 inch cavity measurement (in length), use 1 puck light.

For 11-18 inches, use 2-3 puck lights.  For 19-26 inches, use 3-4 puck lights. For  27-34 inches, use 4-5 puck lights.  For 35-42 inches, use 5-7 puck lights.  For 43-50 inches, use 6-8 puck lights.

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Is It Lights Out Time For Your Kids?

Are night lights really good for our kids or should we be encouraging them to sleep in the dark? Research shows that the question is not quite that simple.  In fact, it’s all depends on the amount and quality of sleep your kids are getting.

It’s not unusual for young children to sleep with a night light, and there are certainly advantages for both parents and children. For parents, it means that you can peek into their room and see how they are doing without waking them by turning on a harsh light.  For kids, it’s often about security. Dark shadows can terrify some little ones. (more…)

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Little-Known Facts about Energy Efficient Lighting

The Huffington Post recently published a great article about home lighting.  We figured some of their ‘little-known facts’ might be no-brainers to our blog readers, so we wanted to share just the best of the information here:

For each $1 you invest in efficient lighting, you will be paid back up to $6 in energy savings.

You have all heard that CFLs beat incandescent bulbs as far as energy efficiency, but exactly how energy efficient they are might draw a blank.  Think about it this way: if you use a 75-watt incandescent for six hours a day, you’d pay approximately $54 a year on energy (this includes the costs of replacement bulbs at 75 cents per bulb).  A 20-watt CFL with the same light output would cost $14 a year to power.  That bulb would cost $6 to purchase initially but it’d last four years for six hours a day, so the total expenditure per year would be $15.50.  That’s $38.50 less per year, which is a return on investment of 642%! (more…)

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How to Remodel Your Kitchen on a Budget

1. Take one step at a time:

There’s no rule that says you must complete each component of a kitchen remodel at the same time.  Figure out which project is most important to you and start there.  If you’re dying to replace the cabinets, get a quote and finish that project first before starting on the countertops, flooring, or lighting.  It’ll be less daunting to budget in smaller pieces.  Also, you’ll avoid living with a non-functional kitchen if you’re only tackling one project at a time!

2. Shop for the deals:

Be patient so you can take up every opportunity for a discount.  It’s easy to buy everything from one home improvement supplier, but it’s not likely you’ll get the best prices if you take that route.  Ask your contractor for the inside scoop – a lot of times contractors get significant discounts on supplies.  If you’re shopping for lighting fixtures, make sure to subscribe to our email newsletter.  We offer exclusive coupons to our subscribers each month.

3. Try DIY:

Not everyone can do it, but if you’re at all handy around the house, consider taking on part of the remodel yourself!  You can find extensive resources online or at the bookstore with tips and how-to’s to walk you through almost any project.

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How To Lower Your Energy Bill This Winter

Think twice before using the same old strand of incandescent lights.

Between the extra costs of heating your home in the cold weather, turning the lights on earlier as Daylight Savings Time comes to an end, and higher fuel costs in general this year, energy bills tend to skyrocket during winter months.

If you use the standard incandescent light strings during the holidays, this is the year to think twice.

LED string lighting uses 90% less energy than its incandescent counterpart.  It lasts about ten times longer and is highly durable, meaning you will no longer be heading out to the store each year when yet another string is spent.

Also, LED lighting is cool to the touch.  The holiday lighting fire hazard you hear about is caused by the fact that incandescent lights emit a lot of heat (never a good combination when you’re talking about stringing it across millions of dry Christmas trees). (more…)

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