The Most Common Lighting Mistake + Fave Sources For Lamps

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Ahhh… the days in the northern half of the northern hemisphere are now quite short. I find myself needing to turn on the lights by about 4:15 PM. And soon, it will be earlier.

So, I thought it would be a good time to have a lighting post.

It’s actually a HUGE topic and there’s no way, that I can cover it all in one blog post.

 

But before I get into the most common lighting mistake, I have a little confession to make.

 

Lighting is an area of design that I’m a little weak in and here is why.

 

Back in the fall of 1989, when I was beginning my 5th semester of interior design school, I signed up for a full-load of courses which was about 6 or 7 classes. A lighting course was one of them.

I showed up for the first class, feeling a little off. And for good reason. I had just found out the day before that I was 6 weeks pregnant!

(He’s 26 now.) :]

We were given a massive assignment due one week later.

The day after the first lighting class, I was no longer a little bit off.

I was now feeling quite a bit like when I was a child and we used to go on the hilly ride from Evansville, Indiana to St. Louis and my father would virtually chain smoke in the car, up and down the hills for three hours…

My mother always kept plenty of plastic bags and shoe boxes (my Dad owned a shoe store) on hand for me to barf in.

That’s how I felt back in the fall of 1989.

I went home after that day’s classes and told my husband that this was not going to work and I needed to drop out. But, he said that I would probably be feeling better in a few weeks and perhaps not throw in the towel completely; maybe just drop 2 or 3 of the classes.

So, I did. I’m sure that you’ve already figured out that lighting was one of the courses I dropped.

However, even though I don’t have all of the technical language, I did pick up a lot from other courses and much more, in the 27 years since then that I’ve been working in this business. There are a lot of famous designers who haven’t taken any courses whatsoever.

Whenever there’s something I don’t know, I always work with people who do know what they’re doing. I’ve worked with some fabulous electricians over the years and learned a lot from them.

 

We get it Laurel. What is the Number One Lighting Mistake!

 

Oh, sorry.

It’s this.

 

too-many-pot-lights-via-deborah-nicholsonphoto from Lighting Designer Deborah Nicholson

 

Those things.

 

People refer to them by different names. High Hats, Pot Lights, Cans, etc. But I learned the term, Recessed Down Lights

And no. That’s not Deborah’s work! Her issue is pretty much the same as mine.

.

Before, I go on… and get strung up by an electrical cord, I want to say that it’s not that there shouldn’t be any of these, but to be mindful that they are only one part of a great lighting plan, if used at all.

Recessed Down Lights are wonderful for smaller spaces where task lighting is very important such as kitchens and bathrooms. But even then, placement is everything.

For kitchens, the lights need to focus on the counters and bounce off the cabinets.

For bathrooms, I don’t think that they are the best lighting. I far prefer wall lights but one or two are okay. My little bathroom has four halogen down lights and they are fine.

For living areas, I prefer that down lights are used sparingly and mostly to hi-light art (with an “eyeball” fitting) or in spots where light is needed but it’s impossible to have a lamp or sconce.

 

If you light the corners of the room, the rest is easy.

 

However, what I commonly see that’s the biggest lighting mistake is that the assumption is that the recessed lights are ALL that’s necessary

 

And that is a recipe for a poorly lit room, full of glare and ugly shadows.

If you’d like to read more about some of the options with recessed down lights, Home Depot has a pretty good article.

 

Okay, but Laurel, I live in a home and it came with these down lights. Now what?

 

Yes, I understand completely.

This is why God invented dimmers.

Everything goes on a dimmer!

The other thing is that there are different fittings for your recessed lights.

And on top of it, these days there’s a choice of bulbs.

 

This is where you’re going to find a lot of resistance from this old dog.

 

I’m sorry.

Well, not really.

 

Maybe someone can point me and the rest of us in the right direction. But so far, I’m not very impressed with LED lighting. I’m sure that some of it is alright, but a lot of it is not, IMO.

In fact, some of it is so bad, that it’s making me pretty steamed. We’ve been through this before on another post, but I can’t stand white, cold light. I know that some disagree with that, but I hate it. I think that lighting should simulate candle-light and be warm.

Yes, I realize that warm lighting distorts colors, but I actually love that.

The other thing people do is OVER LIGHT their rooms. Or there’s a huge imbalance of light. So, dimmers are a good place to start to get some control over that.

 

What about doing something to spruce up the trim on the recessed lights, Laurel?

 

Thank you for bringing that up. :]

 

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I found some trims like this (not sure where they are from) which I could see in an old Victorian building, but not necessarily a residence. (Maybe if very high ceilings and only a few like in a hall.) They are urethane and they can be painted to match the ceiling.

jet-com-5-spot-light-trim-medallions-6-inche-urethane-set-of-5

Jet.com

But, please, please, please don’t ever do anything like this. (below)

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unless, you’re decorating a brothel.

 

It’s my feeling that ALL ROOMS need lamps and/or Wall Sconces

 

Did you know that in Laurel’s Rolodex there are over 200 wonderful sources for lighting? These are both retail and To The Trade and many of them are both retail and TTT.

It wasn’t that long ago, that it was difficult to find great lighting, but that has changed in the last 15 years. Now, there are tons of gorgeous light fixtures.

 

Since this is such an extensive subject and lamps, IMO should be the mainstay of great lighting, I’m going to focus the rest of the post on Table lamps.

 

 

One thing about lamps is that they seem to be getting bigger and bigger! There may be a few exceptions, but for most of our homes with 8 or 9 foot ceilings, my max is about 32″. If your room is larger and with super high ceilings, it is possible to get away with larger lamps

 

bunny-williams-lamp-lee-jofa

Bunny Williams lamp that I’ve pictured before is 35″ and it feels in proportion in the Lee Jofa showroom in NYC, but it’s a large space with super high ceilings.

 

Below are 12 or so of My Favorite Lighting Sources and at least one table lamp from each source. These aren’t all the sources that I like, but a good sample.

 

aidan-gray-home-40-high-addison-buffet-lamp

Aidan Gray Home

The Addison buffet lamp from Aidan Gray Home is a statuesque 40″ and breaks my 32″ rule, but it’s so sleek and classy. But it definitely needs at least a nine foot ceiling, I think.

 

barclay-butera-celadon-cove-table-lamp

Barclay Butera

The Cove Table Lamp in Celadon from Barclay Butera is about the most perfect table lamp ever. I have found that a shot of turquoise or aqua is a wonderful way to wake up a tired room.

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Bradburn Gallery

Bradburn Gallery is not the manufacturer of this lamp they call Cezanne Blue. I couldn’t find the source, but I love this hobnail-esque piece.

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The Pavillion Lamp from Bungalow 5  is a true classic.

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As can be seen here, at 30.5″ high, it is plenty big!

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Port 68

This is another wonderful trade source for lighting and home accents, but available just about everywhere. I found this lamp at Candelabra.

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Candelabra

Candelabra is probably my favorite retail source for lighting. In fact, over the years, I’ve had clients go there to “shop.” They have a lot of terrific brands. And it’s a lovely website as well. The above Pike Table Lamp above is a Robert Abbey lamp. They have a lot of beautiful lamps and at a more moderate price point than some.

ralph-lauren-marlena-small-table-lamp-circa-lighting

Above and below by my second favorite retail source that also offers a designer discount, Circa Lighting.
The lamp above is a Ralph Lauren design called the “Small” Marlena Table Lamp. But, it’s 32″ tall and that is not at all small!

circa-lighting-medium-foo-dog-table-lamp

To make it even more confusing, this is the “medium” Foo Dog Table lamp which is also a Ralph Lauren design at Circa Lighting. It is only 27″ tall! That’s a terrific size for rooms with an 8 foot ceiling.

Point being, to be super careful if ordering lamps online. Their size can be quite deceiving.

Also sometimes measurements are given with or without the shade. And sometimes the shades are sold separately.

circa-lighting-gustavian-buffet-lamp

This is the Gustavian Table Lamp from Circa Lighting. It’s about 33″ high but because it’s fairly hunky for a buffet lamp, I think it could go in some rooms (with a high ceiling) as a table lamp. I used it on several boards in the new paint palette collection.

christopher-spitzmiller-lamps-moss_villa_prussian_blue_gb_1024x1024

Christopher Spitzmiller

Designers and design enthusiasts have long-admired the giga-gorgeous work of Christopher Spitzmiller. These beauties are completely hand-made. Price-wise, they go in the category of “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” :]

carleton-lamp-christopher-spitzmiller-dsc_0412_1024x1024

Carleton by Christopher Spitzmiller.

While still pricey, this division of CS is far more reasonable at $785 each.

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Currey and Company

Currey and Company has some cool pieces. I’m not quite as enamored with their lamp collection as I was a few years ago. That’s partly because their prices have recently taken quite a large leap. But this Lilou Table lamp in this deep bottle green is one of the best out there. It also comes in black and a white version too.

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Festoni

Festoni is another trade company that has a very cool collection of lighting and home furnishings. I wish their website was more slick, but their product is very stylish and they are designer friendly for all of you designers out there. The piece above as you can see comes in a bunch of beautiful colors.

This is one where the base and shade are sold separately and the measurement is for the base only!

port-68-chinoise-exotique-table-lamp-on-one-kings-lane

One King’s Lane

One King’s Lane has an exquisite collection of lamps with many of the names here like Bradburn Home. But here’s something interesting.

barclay-butera-celadon-cove-table-lamp

This is the same Barclay Butera Lamp (see above) that’s sold on the Bradburn Home label for a really good price.  Barclay is selling it for $725, but One King’s Lane hast the best price at $479.

You can get some fantastic deals on OKL. But, if you see something from Visual Comfort and you’d like to give Circa Lighting (who sells VC) your business, you can call Circa and they’ll probably do a price match.

That’s a tip I picked up a few years ago from my rep at Circa Lighting.

*********

And in case you’ve been in the DARK

Today’s THE LAST DAY!

The last day to take advantage of the discounts for Laurel’s Rolodex and the Paint Collection/Paint Palettes. At midnight, Pacific time, everything is getting a big price increase. I’ve sent out notices from mail chimp and written about it more extensively by clicking the paint link above.

xo,

Laurel-e1443573876689

  • Gail Caryn - December 29, 2016 - 9:41 PM

    I love the idea is using lamps on my built-in hutch and fireplace mantle but what to do with those pesky cords? I doubt the mantle would look great with a honking extension cord hanging down the side! Maybe I could do one in orange to go with the racing colour in your most recent post :). Any solutions fellow followers? ThxReplyCancel

  • Amy Ash - December 1, 2016 - 9:29 AM

    Laurel, I enjoy all your posts, but i especially appreciate when your topic is proof that I am not a complete nut because I “Kinda” obsess over the lighting issues in my home. Our house has eyeball lighting in our dining area and kitchen. For the first 2 months I fought those bulbs w my broom handle, trying to direct them in a way they would not “burn my eyes out!!”. I swear, they start to turn colors if you look straight at them. After pleading and debating my sanity w my husband I finally called an electrician to install dimmers while hubby wasn’t home and charged it. I’ll never tell my husband the cost, but it was priceless.
    Also, i often wonder if it takes other people such work just to put out a new lamp. First, all my halos are mixed up so there’s a job finding appropriate size, which depends on which shade I use, and what table it’s on. And after trying just about every shade w every halo, all now scattered out of storage, the real work begins. Deciding on which lightbulb. This sometimes takes days. When it’s not right it’s not right. Right?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 1, 2016 - 12:48 PM

      Hi Amy,

      Do you mean lamp “harp?” That’s the metal piece that fits over the light bulb that the shade is attached to on a table lamp.

      And yes, it’s not that easy and sometimes the harps that come with the lamps are the wrong size! Part of that depends on if the lamp is sitting on something low like an end table or higher like sideboard, chest, or some cabinet that could be as high as 54″ or so.

      The good news is that harps come in a wide variety of sizes and are not expensive. You can buy them online or any good lighting store.

      I hope that answered your question. And good for you, getting the eyeballs on a dimmer! It should be SOP, IMO.ReplyCancel

  • Anita - November 15, 2016 - 4:09 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    This is a timely post, as I had just been considering asking you if you could do a post on lighting. However, my request has more to do with choosing styles and finishes for ceiling and wall fixtures (in a case where you are choosing the whole house at once, such as new construction or a complete remodel). Do you prefer to see all the fixtures come from the same line for a completely coordinated look, or mix and match styles with the same finish? Or completely mix and match styles and finishes? What is the max number of finishes you would recommend in a house for all metals – lighting, hardware, faucets, etc.? I think a lot of people might be interested in your opinions. (And I get that you prefer lamps, but I am thinking in terms of chandeliers, pendant lights, wall sconces…)ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 15, 2016 - 4:14 PM

      Hi Anita,

      I haven’t gotten to ceiling and wall fixtures yet. but I will! Those are all good questions, but a lot depends on the style of the home and what else is going on!

      One thing though, no matchy matchy fixtures– ever. Same with end tables matched the coffee table, or nightstands matched the dresser. ReplyCancel

  • Teresa - November 14, 2016 - 7:52 AM

    Lamps 😀 Thank you so much for this post. I still haven’t taken the plunge. I have found myself in that place where I’m afraid I’ll make a bad decision. Wrong color, wrong size, wrong shape. I really like that aqua lamp and your statement about it helping out a tired room. So, if I have chosen blue as my main accent color, blue and white, it is o.k. to have different shades of blue, all the way to aqua?

    OMG! that ceiling is exactly what my husband is trying to do to our kitchen. I. kid. you.not. We have gone round and round about it. He wants two strips with lights every three feet on both sides and then lights down the middle. We already have lighting under the cabinets if you need to see the counters really well. Sigh. Men. Everything needs to be super sized in their minds. I think we have gone over that lighting at least 10 times. He thinks I’ll change my mind. I won’t.

    A bad canned light story. We went to dinner at a couples home. Went into the living room to sit and chat. Bam, she hit a switch. My eyes scrunched up and my hand automatically came up to cover my eyes from the blinding light. I felt horrible as she apologized and offered to turn it back off. It was just so bright. I blamed it on my light sensitive eyes.

    Lastly, thank you to the generous people who offer great information in the comments section.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 14, 2016 - 11:15 AM

      Hi Teresa,

      Yes, mixing the blues is gorgeous!!!

      Proportion is a big deal and not that easy to get right. There is some leeway, yes, but most rooms cannot handle a 35″ lamp! But it also depends on the shape.

      Kitchen lighting is different. I think that you do need downlights, but I prefer the smaller halogen bulbs. The fittings are smaller. (about 5″ including the rim). You need an electrician who is very knowledgeable about proper placement. And you don’t need a ton of them.

      I would still recommend a lamp or two, sconces, a chandelier/lanterns and/or pendent.

      A lot also depends on the size of the kitchen as well as shape.

      It is better to over-light than under-light and then use dimmers to control how much. Also putting some of the lights on different switches offers more control if you don’t want everything on.

      I am sensitive to bright light too. The worst for me is a bright sunny day in the winter; particularly if there’s snow on the ground. I get an instant headache.ReplyCancel

  • Carol Totaro - November 14, 2016 - 12:22 AM

    Hello dear Laurel wonderful guru of design! This is some awesome post you have done on lighting. It was the class that I missed too due to life stuff. I will probably reread your info and the comments too several times over. Great stuff. I too began hoarding incandescent bulbs when those lobbyists ruined our lighting and forced the CPF’s on us– the curly ones . One of your readers talked about ordering cases of them. Funny thing – my local grocery store still has a few incandescents on their shelves and they will order something in for you specially if it’s in their warehouse. So tomorrow I will be the crazy lady asking them to order a few cases of light bulbs for me…. haha but we gotta do what we gotta do! Hope you have a wonderful week Laurel and thank you again!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 14, 2016 - 7:04 AM

      Hi Carol,

      Thanks for stopping by! Kristie Barnett (The Decorologist) says that they are bringing incandescent bulbs back!

      We can still get them here in NY, too. You might’ve noticed what happens when we fear our rights are going to be taken away from us. ;]ReplyCancel

  • laura kayata - November 13, 2016 - 6:55 PM

    i LOVE this post. agree 100%. i HATE those LEDs … the color is just so … off. and i agree on the recessed down lights – a few are great in specific areas. we live in a historic home, with ZERO recessed down lights – so i have a LOT of lamps (my husband says our house looks like a lamp store). i have been looking at having some recessed down lights added in a few areas … for balance – so all light does not have to come from lamps and chandeliers. THANKS! love your blog. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • chris - November 13, 2016 - 5:01 PM

    I agree with laurel. I am not crazy about canned ceiling lights, and almost never have them on. Not even dimmed…and not even in the kitchen. I do use only lamps, which I have all over the place, for ambiance lighting.
    BUT…lets not throw out the baby with the bath water…(always wanted to use that phrase!)
    A lot of us follow the same blogs, and sometimes I struggle not to get bogged down by taking these post toooo literally. Not all canned light is bad, just like “pink beige” is not always 100% bad. It just depends on what it is combined with and/or how it is used.
    If you have a larger house, with larger rooms that do not have windows on all sides…you’ll need canned ceiling lights, even if they are just used occasionally. They are not mood-lighting, but necessary light for those very important occasions like when you loose your contact lens on a rug. Then, you will thank the Goddess above that you have the light you need! So both have their uses. Canned ceiling lights are functional lights, lamps are ambient lights. Two different things.ReplyCancel

  • Brenda - November 13, 2016 - 2:31 PM

    Thank you, Laurel, for your informative post. We are in the process of remodeling a small home. Lighting has been a concern for me, but no worries now! You have answered several questions. Just wanted to say that I’m very thankful for your knowledge! You have truly shed light on my questions!ReplyCancel

  • Linda - November 13, 2016 - 1:50 PM

    Hello Laurel, I recently inherited a Rembrandt Lamp, it was purchased in the 1950’s. We have 22 foot wood ceilings& tall windows in the living room looking out on Kentucky Lake.
    I have fallen in love with the height and globe, so I purchased a second one. Switch on bottom of base with three way on top. Perfect for tall ceilings. I was expecting to see a Rembrandt or Stiffel in one your choices.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 13, 2016 - 4:41 PM

      Hi Linda,

      We had Stiffel lamps in the 60’s in our home in Evansville, IN. I’ve been to KY Lake by the way. Fond memory with my childhood BFF.

      But I had to look up a Rembrandt lamp. Those are way cool, but a very specific look and yes, would require a high ceiling.

      And also, all the lamps I had are new lamps. But nothing wrong with wonderful vintage lamps!ReplyCancel

  • susie - November 13, 2016 - 12:01 PM

    got some free table lamps from my neighbor. The best thing about them is that they have woven shades that look like parchment shades from a distance so the light from the lamps has a nice golden glow. You can’t beat it.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 13, 2016 - 4:26 PM

      Hi Susie,

      Sounds really pretty!

      Free is my favorite word in the English language.

      My second favorite word is scholarship. :]ReplyCancel

  • Susan Silverman - November 13, 2016 - 11:09 AM

    Hi Laurel

    Lighting was also not my forte when I was getting educated. However, since then I’ve really noticed how lighting affects me. The older I get, the better lit I want a place to be…unless of course one is going strictly for ambience. So having said that, I’ve embraced LEDs, (which have come down in price I might add) not only for their efficiency but for the fact that there are choices and the packaging indicates the colour of light you are purchasing (amongst other things that I won’t get into). That to me is the most important thing. No matter what the equivalent wattage I am purchasing, I like my light to be 3000k. It provides what some manufacturers call warm white and others cool white. (Go figure!) 2700k provides that “incandescent glow” that many people crave. To me it’s all personal preference. But every time I’ve explained this to clients, they seem to prefer the 3000k (especially for pot lights in kitchens) and love it. This is not to be confused with the real “cool” daylight white which is 5000k and should probably only be used in factories. And then, the colour of the lamp shade also makes a big difference, so it’s trial and error now when it comes to lighting. So the fact really is, is that one really has a choice in lighting colour (anywhere from 2200k to 6000k).ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 13, 2016 - 11:48 AM

      Hi Susan,

      Thanks so much for all of that info! And I agree that kitchens are a completely different animal from a living room. But I still love lamps and/or sconces in a kitchen. I love my little lamp in my kitchen, but it’s not a very big kitchen. ReplyCancel

      • Linda - November 13, 2016 - 1:52 PM

        Do you have a lamp on a corner table or on your counters?ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - November 13, 2016 - 4:44 PM

          my little lamp in the kitchen is on a counter. In my living room, which is about 13.5 x 20 I have four lamps. Two are on demi lune tables near two corners . One is on the desk in near another corner and the last one is on a chest.

          When they’re all on, the room is beautifully lit. The lamps on the demi-lunes have black shades but are each in front of a mirror and the effect is heavenly!ReplyCancel

  • Elle - November 13, 2016 - 11:01 AM

    When I was apartment-hunting with my now-husband in the 1990s, an agent pointed to a living room ceiling that had can lights along with small, protruding fixtures, and said, “Look! Recessed AND abscessed lights!”

    Since then I think of them both as skin problems transferred to ceilings.

    So I was delighted to read your thoughts about recessed lights, and showed my husband that a pro agrees with me about what I inevitably refer to now as “crap in the ceiling” (along with speakers, HVAC vents, sprinklers, and so on) when we are condo-hunting.

    I see a cluttered ceiling as a deal-breaker. As you say, recessed lights aren’t appropriate in most rooms and rarely in a room with a very traditional/historic mood. We have two in our tiny, windowless kitchen, and that’s where they belong. And you make a good point that subtle ones do a better job of highlighting art than some giant brass (or, worse, glowing fluorescent) bar hanging distractingly over a painting.

    That said . . . I have to quibble. Trying to turn a can light into a Victorian can light with one of those silly frames is putting a ruffled blouse on a pig. Contemporary utilitarian objects simply shouldn’t be gussied up to pretend that they existed in the 19th century if they never did. Those ornate medallions should have those repro “early” light bulbs, or a fake candle-bulb flickering dimly in them to finish the joke.

    If I had to have recessed lights, I’d do whatever I could to help them disappear into the ceiling: tiny bulbs or covers flat and flush to the ceiling and matched to its color and texture.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 13, 2016 - 11:45 AM

      Hi Elle,

      I’m sure I wouldn’t put anything around a can either. But could see one or two in some situations with a very high ceiling. But again, I’m usually a less is more girl.ReplyCancel

  • Diana mclean - November 13, 2016 - 10:38 AM

    Hi Laurel
    The lighting I so dislike I call the twirly bird fluorescent bulbs. These were introduced to replace incandescent. If one breaks, u have a hazmat issue BUT most of all, the lighting effect is “dead looking” . Before the sale of incandescent was stopped, I bought them by the case.
    Hopefully they will come back
    Love every lamp u posted – so lovely and I know in any room they will “shine”ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 13, 2016 - 10:42 AM

      Hi Diana,

      Yeah, the compact fluorescent bulbs. The warm ones are sort of okay, but not my preference and if you have a lamp shade that clips onto the bulb, well… it just doesn’t work. Plus, the breakage issue is pretty gross. I never buy them for myself, but had a few when I was married because my wasband liked them. :]

      And no. That’s not why I left him. lol

      ReplyCancel

  • Betty - November 13, 2016 - 9:43 AM

    I must agree regarding LED bulbs. Most are harsh and too bright. I learned a lot about lighting when I was working in my Mother’s home trying to help her stay there as long as possible in her aging years. I read a lot of books, talked to a lot of people. The one thing I came away with is to always, always use the incandescent “daylight” bulbs because they do not cast harsh shadows which can lead to tripping, not being able to judge stairs, etc. I found that these “daylight” bulbs make a room very calm and comforting and I will continue to use them until they are unavailable. My home is filled with table and floor lamps that I love – most from resale shops made when lamps were for lighting and a normal size (who wants a lighthouse in their living room?). I recently purchased one of those “Edison” style bulbs (hate it) but use it and it is easily spotted because of the harsh light and awful shadow it casts like someone drew it on the wall instead of the soft muted glow of a “daylight” bulb. Have a lovely day.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 13, 2016 - 10:38 AM

      Hi Betty,

      I’ll have to check those incandescent daylight bulbs out. Although, I had a consult years ago and what they had, they called “daylight” and they were incredibly obnoxious. No way, it’s the same thing you are referring to.ReplyCancel

  • Alissa - November 13, 2016 - 9:43 AM

    Another reason not to do can lights: they are terribly energy inefficient and majorly contribute to the “stack effect,” where warm air rises and moves out of your living space into areas where it can cause unwanted moisture build-up, and at the same time causes cold unconditioned air to seep in from the lower areas of the home.

    If you have uninsulated can lights, insulating them doesn’t completely prevent this, either, but it helps.

    How do I know? I bought a super sweet custom mid-century home with a flat roof, and our energy auditor had a conniption because we have no less than 20 of them which cannot be properly insulated due to having no attic.

    Read more:
    http://www.energyvanguard.com/blog-building-science-HERS-BPI/bid/37246/Kick-the-Can-No-Recessed-Lights-in-the-Building-EnvelopeReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 13, 2016 - 10:35 AM

      Hi Alissa,

      That’s a real “oh dear…” Are you in a warm weather area? I don’t think we have energy auditors in NY. Or at least, it’s not mandatory, that I’m aware of.ReplyCancel

      • Alissa - November 13, 2016 - 6:43 PM

        Laurel,
        I’m in warm, sunny Wisconsin. You should have energy auditors in NY – very few places would require an audit, but some states subsidize them for homeowners. Basically, a professional uses a blower door to pressurize your home and takes infrared images of your building structure to determine where your home is leaking air and where you need more insulation. They are especially helpful in older homes or while building new homes to ensure a structure is built with a high level of air tightness. I highly recommend the process for anyone who feels their energy bills are too high and doesn’t know why or where to start to tackle the problem – it can help a homeowner prioritize which projects will give the most bang for the buck! Like insulating the can lights. 🙂ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - November 13, 2016 - 10:01 PM

          LOL – I’m going to Wisconsin on Thursday. My Mom and Sis live in Mequon.

          My years in Wisconsin (mid teens, Cali, then early 20’s before NY) was when I created (well probably not the first) term,

          SNOT FREEZING COLD.

          no further explanation needed.

          I live in an apartment in an old building in New York but the windows were replaced maybe 30 years ago. It’s pretty toasty here.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - November 13, 2016 - 6:52 PM

          LOL – I’m going to Wisconsin on Thursday. My Mom and Sis live in Mequon.

          My years in Wisconsin (mid teens, then Cali, then early 20’s before NY) was when I created (well I’m sure not the first) term,

          SNOT FREEZING COLD.

          no further explanation needed.

          I live in an apartment in an old building in New York but the windows were replaced maybe 30 years ago. It’s pretty toasty here.ReplyCancel

  • Cynthia Lambert - November 13, 2016 - 9:15 AM

    Laurel, you are completely on target here. Pot lighting is outré now, except for commercial use. Lamps, sconces and chandeliers are the only way to go. But here is some news: LED lighting has come so far, and now meets and exceeds incandescents in decorative uses. So much so, that my brother opened an LED shop here in Hudson NY. Hudson is known for its art galleries and boutique shops along Warren St., and people come up from NYC in droves to visit. Lotus Energy, my brother’s company, has replaced every incandescent, compact fluorescent, halogen and other lighting and now every gallery and most stores and restaurants have strictly LED lighting. Gallery owners are very picky, because the art has to be shown in its true colours, and restaurants want warm light for their patrons. Anyway, check out his website – there is a photo of the showroom towards the bottom, as well as photos of some LEDs: http://www.lotusenergy.com/index.php/led-lighting-ny As a decorator, I am VERY particular about lighting, and have almost completed the process in my house of replacing everything with LEDs. And of course, they save loads of money on energy. They are dimmable and programmable, and some even blink on and off and change colours like in a disco. We have a shop here that makes sputnik lamps and they only use LEDs now. Plus they last longer than regular bulbs and don’t put out heat. Something worth considering, as a designer.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 13, 2016 - 10:27 AM

      Hi Cynthia,

      Thanks so much for all of that! While the advantages are numerous for all the reasons you stated, I guess I’m just too much of a trad girl. I love my lovely, soft, warm light.

      I’ve always wanted to go to Hudson. One day, I should take the trip up. I’ve heard only wonderful things about it!ReplyCancel

  • Debbie - November 13, 2016 - 8:39 AM

    Great post as usual…The first pic reminds me of swiss cheese! Many years ago we redid our kitchen and the electrician we used was excellent. He used some canned lights but highlighting the counters/cabs as you said. He also made sure to stay clear of the ceiling fan (fan only)to avoid the strobe effect. All good advice and our kitchen lighting is wonderful still.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 13, 2016 - 10:17 AM

      Hi Debbie,

      Yes, haha! Swiss cheese is what we say in the biz; at least in these parts.ReplyCancel

  • Kristie Barnett - November 13, 2016 - 8:00 AM

    Hi Laurel! Lovely post on lighting – I once did a living room that had 15 pot lights. It was like some kind of landing strip for alien spaceships! About the lightbulb issue – CREE LED in soft white (not Daylight) are as close to incandescent as I’ve found. Also, I’ve heard that incandescents are coming back (!) and will be more energy efficient than LEDs and fluorescents, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed!!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 13, 2016 - 10:16 AM

      Hi Kristie!

      Too funny, I was thinking about you the entire time I was writing this. I remember your post from a while back about LED’s and now I recall about the CREE LED but couldn’t remember it now. That’s how resistant I am. That is great news about incandescent bulbs! They’re still here and I think are better than they were but if they’re making them even better, then I’ll be one happy girl!ReplyCancel

  • Eileen - November 13, 2016 - 7:01 AM

    I love every lamp in this post. I had an elecrtician go through my house and put dimmers everywhere (even the shower). Game changer.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 13, 2016 - 10:11 AM

      Hi Eileen,

      When we moved to our first home in 1991, before we even unpacked, my husband ran around and put dimmers on every switch. (yes, he turned the power off. lol). ReplyCancel

  • Celeste - November 13, 2016 - 6:53 AM

    I love lamps. Thank you for making a nice place where I can say this. Lamps 💞.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 13, 2016 - 10:09 AM

      Me too! And I forgot to say how much I love my lamps that sit in front of mirrors. ReplyCancel

  • Abby - November 13, 2016 - 5:39 AM

    Great article! Just moved into a new house we built and my biggest regret lighting wise was not including sconces in my great room. My problem now is what to do with the corners you mentioned since one entire wall is windows with zero space and 20+ foot wood ceilings. We have a huge chandelier but every time I turn it on all I think about is omg what happens when we hafta change a bulb (it’s got led lights so hopefully it’ll be a while!) While overall light is good, I’m more of a mood lighting girl.

    Also a caution on leds. Despite wiring with led dimmers, some still have a habit of flickering on occasion with no discernible rhyme or reason. Drives me mad. You also can’t dim them down as low as we could with incandescent bulbs.

    Lighting was one of the hardest things to pick for our new house, right up there with tile!

    I love bradburn lamps and swoon over many of them.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 13, 2016 - 10:08 AM

      Hi Abby,

      Not your fault at all, because most people don’t do it. But I would’ve consulted with a designer to discuss stuff like this before the house was built.

      But, is it possible to put in some floor lamps. Even a small one would make a huge difference.

      Hang on, because I think I should cover that as well. ReplyCancel

  • Pamela Smith - November 13, 2016 - 4:31 AM

    WHAT a timely post! We just returned from visiting Disneyland and staying at a Marriott hotel where all their light bulbs have been changed to white l.e.d.’s. The horror of this was worse than the Tower of Terror.

    Not only is the color awful, but the inability of these bulbs to properly light a room is insane. Yet the bathrooms are overlit. Heaven help you if you need to use them when waking in the middle of the night.

    This lighting issue alone is reason for me never again to book that hotel.

    Who could possibly have been in charge of such a disasterous decision?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 13, 2016 - 10:05 AM

      A man, Pamela. lol And yes, I know that I’m a sexist pig. haha. When it comes to all things not-so-great in architecture and design, you can be pretty sure there are a couple of x chromosomes behind it.

      However, there are some incredibly talented XX as well. But when I look at the debacle of the 70’s there’s no way a woman would’ve done all that! :]ReplyCancel

  • Carole Baker - November 13, 2016 - 2:49 AM

    Hi Laurel,
    I would be interested, as I am sure would others, on your views on using an oversized settee in a smallish sitting room. I am thinking of putting a 2.4m Louis XV in a room 12 feet x 15 feet. I cannot seem to discover any rules about this.

    I find you blog tres interesting and you are one funny woman. I am one of your devotees from Sydney, Australia.

    It would be wonderful to read your thoughts about this. If this does not spike your interest, not to worry, I will keep searching for hints of what works.
    Warmests regards from “Down Under”.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 13, 2016 - 10:01 AM

      Hi Carole,

      Helllloooooooo down there. (just wanted to make sure you could hear me. lol). I love the maps of the world that are rendered “upside down.”

      That is a very good question.

      It actually sounds kind of smashing. You don’t say how high the ceilings are.

      I had to convert to feet and it is nearly 8 feet. The other thing I don’t know is placement of doors and windows.

      Best thing to do is to get some graph paper and make a scale floorplan. You can use rectangles to represent the sizes of the furniture as if you were flying over the room with the roof off.

      Be sure to measure carefully and make your lines correspond as closely as possible to scale you’re using on the paper.

      Up over, we use 1/4 inch graph paper. 1/4″ = 1 foot.

      Hope that helps! ReplyCancel