A timely conversation for the season of light



I am renovating an old Depression-era cabin. We tore out the seven-foot ceilings and are leaving the rafters exposed to open the space up. What kind of lighting would you recommend?

A. Track lighting would be a great choice because you have exposed wood ceilings. If you like the look of pendants, there are a number of pendant light designs that fit into track systems. Just make sure that pendants will work with the track system you pick.

Q. I have used old torchiere-style floor lamps for good reading light next to a sofa or chair where I cannot place a table. Is there anything more updated that can still serve the purpose?

A. Torchiere lamps are great for general room lighting, because they aim light up toward the ceiling. We offer a number of new updated designs that come with adjustable side lights on the lamp pole, making them ideal for reading. If you want to go LED, there are an increasing number of floor lamp designs, many of them with very thin profiles. You can also find combo tray table/floor lamps so you can have your light and table in one design.

Q. I want to make the switch to LED bulbs, but I’m not sure how to get the same look and brightness as I’m getting with my old bulbs. What should I be looking for?

A. You’re not alone in being confused. The best way to think about LEDs is to look at how much light they output. So if you have an existing incandescent bulb that outputs 1,000 lumens, which is about what you get from a 75-watt bulb, look for an LED that has the same lumens. You’ll be swapping a bulb that uses 75 watts for one that uses only 20, but getting the same amount of light. The LED will last far longer, too, so that’s a win-win. You’ll also want to look at the color temperature of the new LED bulb, which means the color of the light output — yellowish, blue, etc. Most of us like a warm yellow tone that we get with incandescents, so look for an LED in the 2,000 range. The lower the color temperature, the warmer the bulb.

Q. What major trends do you see emerging in lighting and home decor in the next year?

A. There are some great new trends emerging, from luxe and industrial to French inspiration. Mixed metals are going to play a strong role, with profiles becoming thinner with the integration of LED. We see luxe as lighting with crystal and silver finishes. Industrial draws inspiration from utilitarian and agrarian settings with the use of cages, aged metals and weathered woods. French inspiration has decorative details and soft lines.

Q. I am renting an older home, and the bedrooms don’t have any overhead lighting and I can’t add any. I am mostly concerned about my kids’ bedrooms. Right now, they have only an old halogen floor lamp.

A. If you can’t install overhead lighting, a swag plug-in chandelier is a great choice. These don’t require any electrical installation; they just hang from hooks you install in the ceiling, then plug into any standard household outlet. Lots of colors and patterns are available, so you can match the light to your child’s personality. I’d also recommend a swing-arm wall lamp; these also plug into a wall outlet and are easy to install.

Q. Can you talk about CFLs vs. LEDs?

A. CFLs have been around a little longer and are generally less expensive. They come in different color temperatures, as do LEDs, so if you want a warm incandescent look, choose a bulb that has a rating around 2,000. Newer CFLs have a more bulblike look, with a glass enclosure around the twist tubing. They do have to be properly disposed of. I recommend LEDs over CFLs. They are much longer-lasting and use far less energy.

Q. My husband and I are always fighting over the one good reading chair in our house. I think because it is next to a floor lamp. Is it possible to get the same effect from a tall end table and lamp? I am thinking of a 28-inch-tall end table with one of your 28-inch-tall double gourd lamps on top.

A. You are on the right track. Reading lights should be at eye level when sitting, and your measurements are perfect.

Q. My husband and I are replacing our dining-room chandelier and are debating the best size for the room and how low to the dining table it should be hung. Our room is about 12 by 14 feet with an eight-foot ceiling.

A. A chandelier in a dining room should be positioned in the center of the dining table and room proportions. Avoid purchasing a chandelier that’s larger than the width of your table, as people may bump into it when getting up. A handy rule of thumb is that a chandelier should be 12 inches narrower than a table and have at least 48 inches of space from each of the room walls or edges. Hang a chandelier approximately 30 to 34 inches over a table with an eight-foot ceiling height. If your ceiling is higher, mount the chandelier an additional three inches higher for each foot over eight feet. If you are out shopping and can’t remember all this, take your room measurements (12 by 14 feet) and add them together: 26. That number, in inches (not feet) is about the width your chandelier should be.

Q. I am trying to determine which paint color I can use in a kitchen with honey oak cabinets, beige countertops and tan flooring. The room is large and currently has two (non-cabinet) walls painted a mustardy yellow, but that is too close to the cabinet color. Sage green/cornflower blue seems so 1990s to me. Is there anything to freshen up this color palette?

A. That’s a fairly large space you have there, but a couple of ideas come to mind. You are on the right track with softer greens and blues — very in-style colors for 2015. A great designer tip: Always go one shade darker than you think will look best. Colors always look different on a swatch than on a wall. Also, if the room is very sunny, the paint color will absorb more of the light and look lighter. For a complete designer look, paint your ceiling two shades lighter than your wall color.

Q. We have a flush-mount light fixture in our foyer, and we can’t find the right bulb for it. The light is either too bright and glaring or too gray and overcast-looking. Any ideas?

A. We would suggest using a frosted bulb for this application. That will reduce the glare you are seeing. And put the light on a dimmer switch. This will allow you to set the light level for different times of day, different functions, etc.

Q. In magazines, I’ve seen lamp shades that match wallpaper. In my small town there is nowhere that would even know what I was talking about. I don’t really want to glue stuff to the shade. Do you have any ideas for customizing lamp shades?

A. Wallpaper is very in right now and is a great decorating look. If you have wallpaper, you want to complement it vs. trying to match it directly. We have a made-to-order custom lamp shade program that lets you pick a shade pattern and then select your own custom colors. Just remember that the pattern on the shade should be the opposite of the pattern size on the wall — big on wall, small on shade.

Q. (The holidays are) coming up. Any ideas on setting the perfect table? I usually start off with two candles, and then people complain that they can’t see what they’re eating and all the lights come back on.

A. For any room, you want multiple lighting layers. So by all means have the candles on the table to set the mood, but also include other light sources. You can dim the overhead chandelier or light. If you don’t have a dimmer, use lower-wattage bulbs. An accent lamp on a side table also works well in a dining room setting.

Q. I’ve noticed when going to hotels that often the lamps have power outlets in the base. This is such a good idea. I’d like the same thing in my home but can’t find them in any of the stores.

A. These types of lights are handy, aren’t they?! Hotel chic is in right now, and we do have a few desk lamps that have power outlets in the base. They’re perfect for desk or computer table use.

Q. I bought a big house with a ton of ceiling fans but no light kits. Can you typically install a light kit on any fan that has the removable cover? Also, one of the many fans is not hard-wired, it is plugged into a wall socket. Is there any reason I couldn’t hardwire it?

A. For the light kit, the fan needs to be designed to accept a light kit. One of our fan experts will be able to tell you for sure if your fan can take a light kit. As far as the plug-in fan goes, we don’t see why you can’t hard-wire it. Consult an electrician to be sure.

Q. I live in Southern California, and I want to add some versatile lighting in my back yard. I like the look of string lights and I’d like to have something I can keep up year-round and that can be fancied up if necessary. Do you have any suggestions?

A. Low-voltage lighting is ideal for backyard settings. Look for a landscape light kit to get started. This is a simple DIY installation job, and the kit comes complete with lights, plug-in transformer and cable. There are solar lights as well that don’t require any wiring. These look especially great on decks and patios. (Look for cap lights.)