May 31, 2011

How to update your lighting.

The first step in updating your lighting is to switch to a compact fluorescent (CF) bulb.  Why?  You'll use 70% less energy and the new CF bulbs have a warm color temperature and are even dimmable.  This isn't a mandatory step...just one with thoughts towards the future and energy efficiency. 

Next, if you are working with switched fixtures, change the switch to a dimmer. Why?  Mood and ambiance are first. Get the right amount of light at the right time. Energy savings is a plus. Why leave all of your flood lights on full blast while you eat dinner?  Dim them down after prep and cook time for a relaxing meal.

Take a look at the fixture itself. Here are 5 tips for modifying fixtures to create a new or updated look.

1) Change the color. Is the old brass chandelier too bright? Try a spray metallic finish and make it wrought iron. If nickel is the new color and your fixture is black, try a primer first then one of the new metallic sprays by Rust-Oleum.  Even changing a brass fixture to another color - and moving it to a bedroom - is a great idea and saves on buying new fixtures for every room. Here, an rusted brass fixture became a hot new chandelier.

2) Update or switch the shade.  The simplest fix is to swap or update the it for a table lamp or a chandelier. You can purchase a new shade in a different style or color, or dress up the one you have with trim, beads, paint, punch outs and even new fabric.

3) Swap the globes. If your foyer chandelier has cut glass globes, try updating it with a coat of paint and frosted glass globes in a different shape.

4) Cover naked bulbs. Many chandeliers have candelabra base bulbs and clear is used. Bathrooms have bath bars with clear, round bulbs.  Cover the chandelier bulbs with shades or switch to frosted bulbs. For the bath, if you want an easy project, simply replace the bare-bulb style bar with one that has down-lights or up-lights with shades or glass globes. For a more detailed project, change the bar to wall sconces that flank the mirror over the sink; it's better lighting but requires electrical know-how.

5) Remove or add elements. Have an older fixture with broken crystals, or a newer one with yellow acrylic danglers? Remove them for a new look or replace them with something different.  Hang seashells in a cottage home or glass balls in a contemporary one.  Cover up chains and cords with shirred fabrics.  For fixtures with leaves and other detailed accents, take them off for a cleaner look. Have a plain fixture? Dress it up with crystal beads or items that fit your decor. 

6) Add a ceiling medallion.  Most fixtures look fuller with a medallion or other molding to add to the scale and highlight a chandelier.  If installing one is too difficult, try adding a stencil design around the fixture for a fabulous effect.