Saturday, April 1, 2017

Task lighting and other LED bulb adventures

This week there was a very exciting development on the home renovation front: I was asked to deliver the lighting fixtures for the second floor!  Excitement illustrated below with my favourite light fixture, which is not only not task lighting - it's going over the kitchen table - but also not on the second floor:
Hudson Valley's  Odessa flushmount - doesn't it look just like a retro spaceship??

Okay, okay - being asked for light fixtures probably sounds like the definition of UNexciting but since I bought the lighting for the whole house last May I am pretty thrilled to be getting rid of all those boxes.  One of them is about two and a half feet square and eighteen inches tall.  They are stored in our bedroom in a 5' x 8' stack because I didn't want to rent a storage locker just for light fixtures.  Oh me of little foresight.

My joy at this news was short-lived because when I looked at the lighting storage zone I realized the second floor lights were all mixed in with the main floor ones, sorted by what would stack most compactly rather than what I would want to get at first.  aiiiieeeee

Also, I am supposed to deliver the light bulbs for all the fixtures at the same time, so they can be installed and lit up in a sort of conga line as the paint dries room by room.  By this logic I will be delivering the main floor lights next weekend, or maybe a little sooner.

But rather than dwelling on how my entire Friday evening was spent on dismantling the storage locker, identifying all the boxes, and then reassembling it to accommodate the four kitchen table stools we had to take delivery of yesterday, let's pause for a moment of smugness, shall we?

See, everybody I know who has renovated has gone through the ACK! moment when they are asked to supply the light fixtures for installation.  Like me before all this started, they only perk up for really pretty lights they see in somebody's house or in a display feature somewhere, and otherwise don't look much at what's on the ceiling until it needs dusting, and then they forget again.  Also, most normal people are pooped after choosing tile and paint colours and countertops and they sit down, forgetting they wanted new lights, and that those lights will have to go in when the trades are still in the house to do it.  Then when they get the go-ahead to supply lights, they have no choice but to run off to a big box store, or perhaps a dedicated lighting store, to pick up whatever is carried by them and in stock.  Then they are stuck with lights they may not love after spending a fortune on renovating their space.

I did not want this to be me, so I spent months researching lighting in online shops and design blogs.  I did comparison pricing.  I thought about a colour palette for the house and a roster of metal finishes that would complement what we were using for doorknobs and cabinet hardware.  I noted trends in fixtures that many manufacturers were doing a spin on, and I thought about how much light I wanted in different parts of the house based on what we would be doing there.  Then I talked to Pete and we doubled up because the old version of our house had such terrible lighting, and we want lots of options this time around.

This is the mindset that justifies two chandeliers hanging over our long and narrow dining table...

Pottery Barn 'Graham' - and you know those swoopy bits will dangle handknit socks at Christmas
... each with six 60-watt candelabra bulbs.

Yes, that's a ton of light.

Yes, I gave in when Ray winced and suggested a dimmer even though I really dislike dimmed lights.

and Yes, I will still be glad I picked those fixtures in three years (I hope??) because a long narrow table is EXACTLY where you want to cut out fabric, and gather your friends for a knitting party.  Or, you know, do paper crafts or whatever.  And I can always downgrade to 40 watt bulbs, right?

Compounding our desire for lots of light, I thought about task lighting.  I mean sure, when there are a bunch of people doing crafty stuff at the dining room table we will want lots of light.  When we are actually dining there, we can use the dimmer.  But what about the piano?  It needs task lighting too, right?  So there are going to be two more lights over in that corner of the dining room, flanking a painting for balance...

Sconce by George Kovacs

... each with a 60-watt bulb.

Obviously I will not put on all those dining room lights at once unless somebody loses a contact.  But it gives us the potential to put on one of two of the swing arm lights with the shade directing all the light toward the sheet music, or one of them facing down to bolster candles on the table or mantelpiece.   Or one as a soft cheery light for somebody who's coming home late, after everybody else is asleep, to light the path to the stairs.  Or one pointed toward the window, as a secret neighbour signal to say I Just Baked Cookies, Don't Tell Anyone, Just Quietly Knock For Your Share.

Or whatever.

So - yes.  Too much lighting in every room.  Overkill lighting, really.

In our kitchen for example there will be four LED spotlights under the upper cabinet at my butler's pantry counter, plus the 2-light version of the cute Odessa flushmount on the ceiling just above where I will stand to sort mail or whatever.  Then as much undercabinet lighting again across the main cooking area, with four or five more LED spotlights in the ceiling over where we'll stand to work, a spot over the sink with undercabinet lights either side, more undercabinet lighting over the smaller sink we'll use to fill the kettle at our tea and breakfast counter, and finally a three-light Odessa fixture over the kitchen table.  Now, to be fair - the kitchen is just a weird shape with several different work areas, several of them quite small.  And while Pete likes to work with a ton of lights on and music playing, I like quiet and very focused task lighting when I work or clean up, so we had to come up with a plan to accommodate our differences.  It's still a lot of light, but it won't all be on at once typically, and it's covering a wide area.

But my office is a different story.

It's a small space, about 5' x 8.5'.  A bathroom really, which is what it would have been except I refused to consider stepping into the tub to open and close the window, as that was my big pet peeve in the older version of our house.  Also, if we'd done that, I'd have been working in the admittedly much larger space the bathroom eventually got, which has light tubes instead of windows.  I really wanted a window in my office.

It would be very sensible to light a space that size with a two or three light ceiling fixture and a desk lamp, but where's the fun in that?

I mean yes, there is going to be a three light ceiling fixture.  It is technically a chandelier, which I bought because it was a good colour, enormously sale-priced, and felt sort of 1930s French industrial to me - but was in hindsight a great choice because it will draw the eye down from the rather ugly 18-inch square ceiling cassette that provides additional cooling or heating when needed.

Robert Abbey, 'Aunt Bee'

Also there are two sconces over the daybed nobody believes I have room for in there.  (I do though - I had it custom-made a little smaller than standard and am planning on a 14" deep desk.  Meh, I do a lot of my writing and knitting designs curled up on a sofa anyway, and a daybed also makes a great surface for sorting papers or yarns or sewing pattern pieces.)  This is a modestly-priced fixture by Quorum Lighting - I think I got my two on sale for a little over $20 each - but it's small, it's the right colour, and can take up to a 100 watt bulb.  Also I think the style looks okay with the other lights in the room and will pull in the black metal base of the desk I still have to ask our stair railing supplier to create for me.

And of course you need desk lights... but if all you have is 14" you don't want to waste any of it on a table lamp... so we are putting in two more swing arm sconces, a pair that match the chandelier.

Robert Abbey, 'Aunt Bee' Swing Arm

I cannot WAIT to be able to focus additional light right on the needle bed of my sewing machine!  The one that's in the machine itself is good, but I often find I need more to light the fabric that's on its way to be stitched.

In the end, we decided not to reuse any of the lights we'd had in the house before.  Some were really cute and had the right amount of light, but the new ceiling heights and room sizes just begged for something bigger.  For example, in the hallways, we are using this light, which I think is pretty cool but still era-appropriate, rather than our old selection of a compact metal base with a trio of fluted glass shades:

'Diamond', from Feiss

Notice anything about this fixture?   Or the Odessa fixture?  Maybe you won't think of it - I didn't, when I first fell in love with the style and surprisingly affordable price - but changing the bulbs is going to be a serious drag.  It will mean climbing a ladder and unscrewing the whole thing, which makes the lights we used to have seem pretty fabulous by comparison.

And that loops us back to the second responsibility I have right now.  First, unearth the upstairs light fixtures.  Second, supply the light bulbs.

Want to know how many standard 60-watt A-19 light bulbs we need for all the fixtures going into the second floor?



There are only 17 on the main floor, but that's because some of what we bought for that floor wants candelabra-style bulbs, which is going to be another project.

And the thing about light bulbs is that if you want incandescent ones, you are really only getting 43 watts now instead of 60.  Which is okay... but they don't last, either, and you have to change them a lot.  Since six of our fixtures are closed (four 'Diamond's and two 'Odessa's) I really don't want to be changing them.

Instead, we are going with LED replacement bulbs.  I found a website here in Toronto that can have them to my door before enough paint is dry to install the first fixture, and their standard A-19 60-watt replacement is a warm white with a super long lifespan and graded for use in closed fixtures.  Not all LED replacements can be used that way, because what little heat they do emit can burn them out faster than in an open fixture.  Bonus: they only need 9 watts to produce the same amount of light as as standard incandescent bulb. That means we'll use a ton less electricity to light our house on top of a ton less gas to heat it, thanks to our underfloor heating/serious insulation combo and our on-demand water heating system.

And you know what all that means, right?  Not just an earth-friendly, sensibly-lit environment for making stuff but -

more money for yarn!!!! 

And that's exciting, even if light shopping isn't, right?

Hope you have a great weekend and I'll see you again soon!


Kathy said...

Hi there - I can't believe how many of your interior design choices I really, really like. Usually I look at something someone else has chosen and think that I would never choose that.
I so envy your house renovation. I love transformations and it is going to be so exciting when it's finished. I'm looking forward to the great reveal.
How are the fingers? Has the physio become easier?

Laurinda said...

It may not be fun, but it sure is exciting! I love all the extra lights you're installing, even if I tend to use very little lighting myself. I also love your enclosed lights, they're really cool. & I didn't know that about LED lightbulbs, either! I'm just going to file that under "Good to Know"...

gapsdd said...

Two years ago we did a full house renovation on the same scale as your project. We elected at considerable cost to replace every light fixture and go 100% LED. It was one of the best decisions we made. Two things we learned along the way: Make sure all the bulbs emit the same color light and make sure the bulbs are dimmable on the few that have dimmers.

Mary Keenan said...

Kathy, thank you so much!! I've worked really hard to make choices that are practical and attractive and not already absolutely everywhere, to the point that they will look dated soon. Because I NEVER WANT TO DO THIS AGAIN ;^) I can't wait to show you guys all the cosy nooks I've made room for! The physio is good but slow - I saw the specialist today and he was so thrilled with my ability to make a fist that he took a picture for his students. I felt honoured, but I would have preferred a lollipop for my efforts, ha

Mary Keenan said...

Laurinda, I really hope I have this right about the LEDs. We looked a lot of fixtures with LED versions - as in, you *can't* use an incandescent bulb in them - and I assumed it was either/or in all cases. But it seems like these LED bulbs are okay to use in existing fixtures, which makes sense - what's the point in saving all that energy if you're creating all that landfill over time?

Mary Keenan said...

gapsdd, thank you SO MUCH for this validation of my lighting plan! I bought the bulbs in bulk so they will all be the same for sure, and I did remember to get dimm-able ones where need be, thank goodness. Those ones cost more so I registered the difference and did a fixture count before I did the checkout ;^) Sounds like you are all settled back into your place now and I hope you love it!