I am a lighting designer, who specializes in residential interior and exterior projects; working with kitchen & bath designers, architects, interior designers, and homeowners to help make their projects come to life at night. Down the street from our office is my home which gets used as a light lab to show off the latest techniques and products to prospective clients. Since I promote energy efficient lighting to others it only seemed right to put into practice what I was preaching in my own home.
People have an inherent fear of fluorescents and little knowledge of LEDs (light emitting diodes) or CCFLs (cold cathode fluorescent lamps). Allowing them to experience these sources in an actual installation helps them see that energy efficient light can also be alluring…even downright sexy.
You may not know that LEDs have been around since the 1960’s but were essentially used as brightly colored indicator lights. Around three years ago, manufacturers came up with an LED source with the warm qualities of incandescent light. These newly developed LEDs use considerably less electricity than standard incandescent sources. Many are available in dimmable versions and some fixtures on the market can meet California’s strict Title 24 energy code, which dictates that 50% of the wattage in kitchens must be hard-wired. Energy efficient lighting LEDs can last to 30-50,000 hours, while emitting no ultra-violet radiation; plus they contain no trace amounts of mercury like fluorescents. Companies like Cree Lighting (www.creells.com) offer both screw-in and hard-wire LED kits as retrofits for existing housings; as well as IC rated, airtight housings for new construction.
Top-of-the-line screw-in type CFLs and CCFLs, by manufacturers like Maxlite (www.maxlite.com) and Litetronics (www.litetronics.com) offer a dimmable light source that can be controlled by a standard incandescent dimmer. The GU-24 lamps do meet Title 24 requirements. Lighting manufacturers are now offering decorative fixtures in modern and traditional styles that have hard-wired fluorescent sources; many of which are using the new GU-24 socket and CFL technology that is no bigger than a standard household bulb and socket assembly.
Some of the lighting companies to take a look at for good-looking fluorescent fixtures would be Hans Duus Lighting (www.hansduusblacksmith.com), Kalco (www.kalco.com), JH Lighting (www.jhlighting.com), Metro Lighting (www.metrolighting.com) Eleek Inc, (www.eleekinc.com), Schmitt Design (www.schmittdesign.com) and The Basic Source (www.thebasicsource.com). Many of your favorite companies may now offer the fixtures you already love in fluorescent versions, so give them a call or talk to their rep about what they have available.
LED versions of low voltage MR16 lamps like those made by Color Kinetics (www.colorkinetics.com) are able to beautifully highlight paintings or sculpture without any harmful UV light hitting the art. Even those energy eating xenon festoon lamps in the under-cabinet task lights and shelf light come in LED versions; those offered by companies such as Phantom Lighting (www.phantomlighting.com) are dimmable. Another option for under-cabinet task lights would be a series of LED puck lights such as those offered by Lucifer Lighting (www.luciferlighting.com) or fluorescent puck lights such as those offered by Tresco International (www.trescointernational.com).
We incorporate light layering into all our lighting designs, blending decorative, task, accent…and most importantly ambient light. Ambient light (indirect lighting) softens the shadows on people’s faces which helps them look more relaxed and youthful…like architectural Botox.
My recommendation when specifying a luminaire with an energy efficient light source is to choose decorative fixtures with shades or recessed fixtures with translucent lenses that hide the CFL. I like to call it stealth green lighting design. If people see a bulb that looks like a softy ice cream they automatically hate it. They just can’t get over their fear of fluorescents. If the lamp is out of sight…then it is out of mind. And yes, Kermit, it can be easy being green.
Here are a few images of my recent projects showing earth friendly lighting at its most alluring-
To get more tips on lighting or to learn more about our services go to www.randallwhitehead.com
Randall Whitehead IALD is an internationally known architectural lighting designer, based in San Francisco. He is not only a prolific author, but an enlightening and humorous speaker on the world of design as well. His work has appeared in Architectural Digest, Art & Antiques, House Beautiful, Kiplinger’s, Horticulture Magazine, Designs for Living, Metropolitan Home, Better Homes & Gardens, The Journal of Light Construction and many more.
Randall appears regularly as a guest expert on the Discovery Channel, CNN, HGTV and Martha Stewart Living Radio. He also writes a monthly column called “The Last Word in Lighting” for Residential Lighting Magazine, answering homeowner’s and designer’s questions on lighting.
Randall has written 7 books on the subject, including Residential Lighting, A Guide to Beautiful and Sustainable Design which is an informative…and entertaining reference book for home and garden lighting.
His latest endeavor takes him back to his photography roots. It is a compelling collection of images called Lost Dolls, The Hidden Lives of Toys.