Feb 24, 14
Do you ever find yourself looking for ways to give your space a modern lighting makeover? We’ve got the perfect solution: LED tape light. Due to its thin profile, LED tape light is a discrete lighting option for unexpected and hard-to-reach areas that could never be lit otherwise. Adding to its versatility, tape light comes in a variety of colors, is dimmable, and can be trimmed to fit any space. So, where are some good places to install it? Below are some areas where LED tape light will add a modern element to your overall lighting scheme.
If you have stairs in your home, you know how jarring it can be to turn on a bright stairway light in the middle of the night just so you don’t trip and fall. Instead of flipping the switch to turn on that downstairs foyer or hallway light, use LED tape light for more subtle illumination that won’t completely take you out of your drowsy, just-woke-up state. Place warm white tape light underneath the upper edges of each stair (pictured to the right) or on the underside of the railing for hidden down lighting. To give the tape light a clean look, you can use LED tape light extrusions to conceal the tape light itself.
There are certain places in your home that are dark and hard to reach, such as above and under kitchen cabinets and in ceiling coves. LED tape light can turn these seemingly useless spaces into the perfect place for sleek accent lighting. Installed above your cabinets, tape light will provide stylish up lighting and give new life to boring wall space. High-output LED tape light installed in a ceiling cove can pull double-duty as both overhead and accent lighting in your living room.
Display Cabinets and Shelving
LED tape light is also a great option for lighting enclosed areas such as display cabinets, shelving units, and closets. The picture to the left shows a perfect example of how tape light can transform a few shelves on your wall into an eye-catching feature among your home’s décor. Because LED tape light uses very little energy and has very low heat output, you won’t have to worry about it being hazardous inside a closed display cabinet or in a small closet shelf. Plus, your tape light can be hardwired to a wall switch using an LED driver, so that it works independently from your overhead lighting.
One of the more fun options for LED tape light is using it to outline an object with light or provide backlighting. We’ve mentioned in previous blog posts how tape light is great for backlighting televisions because your eyes are less likely to strain in the dark. Well, the same could be said about other electronic devices like your computer. Even though regular tape light would work, USB LED tape light is a much more convenient option. Just like standard tape light, this USB tape comes in many different lengths and colors, including RGB color-changing. All you have to do is plug in the cable into your computer’s USB port. Backlighting isn’t just for electronic devices either – it can be used behind mirrors as well to give them a unique halo effect.
For those of you who really want to make a contemporary statement with LED tape light, you can use it to create glowing silhouettes around or under unexpected pieces of furniture such as a bathroom vanity (pictured to the right), the underside of a bar or kitchen counter top, a pool table, or even underneath your bed frame. Installing tape light underneath furniture creates a warm glow that provides modern, low-profile accent lighting. Much like stairway lighting, LED tape light used as furniture accents gives you a way to achieve low lighting during the night with an added element of safety.
What are some creative ways that you’ve used LED tape light? Let us know in the comments below or give us a shout on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, or Pinterest.
Feb 14, 14
Planning out the perfect date can be stressful, but creating the right atmosphere is half the battle. A date night at home complete with dinner and a movie is great, but going the extra mile by changing up your lighting will make it even better. So, if you’re planning a low-key, romantic evening in with your significant other this Valentine’s Day, these simple lighting pointers will help you set the mood.
For some of us, having a nice dinner out on the patio might seem a little implausible this time of year. But why not bring that same outdoor bistro feeling indoors? Commercial light stringers fitted with decorative globe lights will create a warm, romantic glow in your dining room or kitchen. The low-wattage globe bulbs will give off the type of dim light that you typically see in softly lit restaurants. You can also use these outdoors when the weather finally does warm up.
Do you have any leftover holiday decorations? It might be time to break them out. A similar and more inexpensive lighting option to patio lights is using Christmas light strings. The color you use is up to you, but using warm white light strings will create a more relaxing atmosphere that doesn’t feel like you’re just decorating for a holiday party. They may not be as sophisticated as outdoor patio lights, but it’s the thought that counts, right?
Turn Down the Lights
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a romantic restaurant that uses bright interior lighting. Even if they do exist, would you prefer to spend a special evening with your significant other under harsh, bright light or soft, low light? If you prefer the latter, installing a dimmer switch to control your lighting fixtures is the best way to accomplish dim mood lighting. If installing a dimmer for your overhead lights seems like a bit of a hassle, or you want a quicker dimming solution, try a plug-in dimmer switch. Just plug your table lamp into the dimmer, and use a sliding switch to adjust the light levels any way you want.
For a more unique approach to accent lighting, replace existing light bulbs around your house with colored bulbs. Studies have shown that color affects mood, with red being a color used to evoke excitement and passion. However, be careful about going overboard. If you want your colored lighting to be a bit more subtle, don’t replace any overhead lights with colored bulbs. Placing red or pink party light bulbs in a few table lamps here and there will produce a more subdued, but still unique effect.
You can never go wrong with the soft glow of candlelight. For the same effect without the possible fire hazard, try wax LED candles. Made from real wax, these flameless candles have a battery-operated LED light that produces a dim flickering flame effect that will provide relaxing illumination in any area of your home. At least if you forget to turn them off, the worst thing that can happen is a dead battery or two.
Do you have any lighting tricks that you use for your date nights? Let us know in the comments below, or share them with us on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, or Pinterest!
Jan 31, 14
Whether you’re flipping through your favorite culinary magazine or pinning to your food board on Pinterest, it’s difficult to ignore how even the simplest dishes look so appealing. So why does the food in these pictures look so appetizing? Besides the fact that you might be hungry, the next best answer is that the photographer knew how to use light. Reproducing these mouth-watering pictures can be a difficult task if lighting isn’t used correctly. Below are a few lighting tips that will make your food look just as delicious as it tastes.
Using Natural Light
Photo using warm artificial light
One of the best and most inexpensive methods for enhancing the appearance of your food is to use plenty of natural light. Whether it’s LED, incandescent, or CFL, residential lighting tends to be on the warmer end of the color spectrum and can cause pictures to have a bright orange or yellow tint without the use of a flash (like the picture to the right). In most cases, residential lights aren’t bright enough just by themselves. Photographing your food next to a sun-drenched window in your kitchen (or any other room) will give your photo a more natural appearance without distorting the colors of the dish.
Using Artificial Light
For those of you who don’t have a ton of natural light to work with, or if you happen to be shooting at night, there are ways to use artificial light to achieve the same effect. First, the trick is to use a bulb that mimics natural daylight. Full spectrum compact fluorescents are great for this, because they typically have a high color temperature of 5000K or above – about the same as natural daylight – and won’t get hot like halogen lamps. Also, be sure that they have a high lumen output, preferably well above 1000 lumens. Color Rendering Index (CRI) of the bulb is an important factor to consider as well. Keeping the CRI above 80 will help the color of your food appear as natural as possible.
Once you pick a light source, stick to it. Using two light sources with different color temperatures will cause different coloration in each part of the picture’s frame, something that’s extremely hard to fix in Photoshop. So, if you only use natural light, make sure all other lights in the room are turned off.
Manipulate the Light
In order to control and use light to your advantage, you’ll need some tools of manipulation. This is where light reflectors come in. If you’re not a professional photographer or you don’t have a ton of money to spend on lighting equipment, there are a few inexpensive solutions that will work just fine. Using a piece of strategically placed white foam board will reflect light to eliminate shadows and brighten certain areas of the dish. Tin foil and white printer paper are just a few other cheap yet incredibly effective reflecting tools you could use to bounce light back over your food.
Experiment with Angles
Once you have the details of your lighting figured out, finding the perfect angle to shoot your food is the next step. The angle at which the light is hitting the subject can be extremely important in highlighting textures and colors or masking any flaws.
One of the most common techniques in food photography is back lighting. Place your light source behind your food and the reflector to the front but still leaving enough room for you to photograph. The picture to the right is a perfect example of back lighting being used to enhance the complex textures of the food. Most importantly, it’s all about experimentation and finding the technique that’s right for you and makes your pictures look best.
Don’t think we’ve forgotten about you smartphone users. As someone who likes to post a food pic to their Instagram every now and then, I know that some lighting conditions are not always conducive to like-worthy pictures. While the lighting tips above can also be applied to smartphone users, here are a few more that might help you out.
- Don’t use the flash. As I mentioned before, natural light is the way to go. The flash on your smartphone is often way too harsh to produce a good picture. Plus, you don’t want to be that person who ruins the atmosphere of a dimly lit restaurant with their flash.
- Find good photography apps. Even if you are in moody restaurant with soft lighting, those lighting conditions can sometimes be fixed with a few adjustments using one of the many photography apps out there for smartphones. Adding filters and adjusting brightness, contrast, shadows, and saturation can make a big difference.
Have you used any of these techniques for food photography? Leave us a comment or show us your pictures on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, or Pinterest!
Jan 22, 14
So, you’ve just finished painting your bathroom the perfect shade of light blue that took you weeks to decide on. Washed in natural light, your bathroom looks like a calming seaside oasis. But when you turn the lights on at night, it completely loses its soothing affect. Why? Chances are the lighting you currently have installed is all wrong for your new paint colors.
The lighting we choose to use in our homes can have a huge effect on the way we perceive color because it is created by the way objects react to certain wavelengths of light. This is called metamerism. It’s the same reason why you might buy something you thought was black in the store, but in the light of day, you realize it’s actually navy blue. No color is definite or stands alone because any type of light, whether it’s natural or artificial, affects our perception. When considering what kind of artificial light source to use in your home, whether halogen, incandescent, LED, or fluorescent, it’s important to think about how it will enhance or diminish a room’s existing color scheme.
Determine Your End of the Color Spectrum
Kelvin scale and color spectrum
The first thing you’ll need to do before choosing your light source is evaluate whether or not the paint color in your room falls into the warm or cool part of the color spectrum. If your walls are painted in rich reds, yellows, and other earth tones, you would most likely need a warmer light source. If they’re painted in blues, greens, or other vibrant colors with cool undertones, a brighter, cooler light source is your best bet.
The table below describes the kind of light that is generated by each artificial light source.
||Generates a yellow light that enhances warm tones, but dulls cool tones.
||Produces a whiter light that is comparable to sunlight.
||Generally used for cool lighting applications, but is available in warm color temperatures.
||Can be used against all colors and is flexible across the color spectrum.
Warm Paint Colors
To bring out the richness and warmth of your paint color, choose fixtures and lighting that have a “warm white” color temperature between the range of 2400K and 3000K. The lower the number on the Kelvin scale, the warmer the color temperature of the light will be. Typically, the best lights to use within these color temperatures are incandescent or halogen bulbs that produce a whiter light that won’t distort color as much either way. LEDs and CFLs within the low color temperature range will work as well, but make sure they have a high enough lumen output to meet the level of brightness you’re wanting.
Cool Paint Colors
To enhance the vibrancy of cooler paint colors, you’ll want to choose lighting with a color temperature that falls between 4000K and 6000K. LEDs and CFLs within this color temperature range are called either “cool white” or “stark white.” If you were to use a light source with a low color temperature against blue or green paint, the color might appear dull and distorted.
Brightness and Color Rendering
The color temperature of a light source isn’t the only thing that affects the way we see color; brightness of the light, or lumen output, does as well. Rooms with darker colors painted on the walls tend to absorb more light than a room with light colored walls and tend to look dull if the lighting is not bright enough. The brighter the lighting, the more the true color of your walls will stand out. However, the dimness or brightness of your room and how it reacts to color is all a matter of personal preference.
Another factor to keep in mind is the color rendering index (CRI) of the light source that you’re using. Ranging from 0-100, this index determines how a light source will make a color appear to the human eye. The higher the lamp’s CRI, the better it’s color rendering capabilities. While standard incandescent lamps usually have a CRI of 100, LEDs have about 80+ CRI, and fluorescents range anywhere from 50 to 90. As this video shows below, two of the same light sources with differing CRI ratings will cause colors to appear differently in tone.
Do you have any other home lighting questions? Leave us a comment or give us a shout on Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, or Pinterest!
Jan 17, 14
It’s been said that “a room is like a stage. If you see it without lighting, it can be the coldest place in the world.” We would have to agree. Having stylish décor and a great floor plan is one thing, but not having the right lighting to show it off can render it null and void. This is why, when you’re in the market to sell your home, it’s important to make any necessary lighting renovations that may help seal the deal. Not only will having a well-lit home make your space look more appealing, but potential buyers will be glad about not having to make these lighting updates themselves. Even if you’re not looking to sell your home any time soon, making these updates now could help increase your home’s value in the future. Below are a few lighting upgrades that may help you sell your home.
Artificial light can do amazing things, but sometimes there’s no substitute for the real thing. Because home buyers typically look at houses during the day, they’ll be paying close attention to the way natural light filter in throughout the space. Assess whether or not your home has a lot of natural light, and find ways to improve it. Is an overgrown tree blocking your bedroom window? Trim it! Is your couch preventing light from shining through the windows in your living room? Rearrange some furniture! Do whatever you have to do to make sure there is an abundance of natural light accentuating the beauty of your space. This will make your home feel light and airy instead of gloomy and stuffy.
If a potential home buyer knows that they’re already set up for savings thanks to energy-efficient lighting, it will earn you some serious bonus points. Replace old incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient CFLs or LEDs and install low-energy fixtures that won’t rack up the electricity bill each month. Check out our previous blog post for more info on how much money you can save using energy-efficient lighting.
Lutron Skylark CFL/LED Dimmer Switch
Dimming Switches and Sensors
Speaking of energy-efficiency, dimmer switches and occupancy/vacancy sensors are another good feature for your home to have. Not only do they help reduce the amount of light being used at any given time, but dimmer switches are great for giving rooms a comfortable ambiance. Occupancy and vacancy sensors are great for rooms where lights could accidentally be left on for long periods of time such as closets, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.
If you haven’t done it already, installing task lighting into areas as frequently used as the kitchen is very important. Because kitchen counter tops usually have cabinets above them, they are usually not very well lit if all you have are a few overhead lights. Installing under cabinet lighting is a functional and stylish option that will give your kitchen a clean, sophisticated look. Lighting in smaller spaces such as pantries and closets will also add appeal.
Layer Your Light
When it comes to creating a truly well-lit space, only using a few overhead lights won’t do the trick. In lighting design, a room should usually have three layers of light: overhead, task, and accent lighting. Overhead lighting is usually the main source of light in the room such as a chandelier or recessed can lights. Task lighting, such as a vanity lighting over a bathroom sink, will give areas of frequent use even more brightness and clarity. For accent lighting, use anything from strategically placed wall sconces to track lighting to highlight features of the room you would like to stand out. Having these three layers will make your space look clean and bright.
Greenscape Adjustable Escort Landscape LED Path Light
For some buyers, the quality of exterior lighting can be just as important as the interior. Even though prospective home buyers may be viewing your home during the day, don’t think they won’t notice outdated fixtures flanking your entrance or, even worse, no fixtures at all. Good outdoor lighting is important for a number of safety reasons. Installing LED pathway lights or motion-activated security lights are good safety features to have. Updating any old fixtures to modern ones might not be such a bad idea either. A little curb appeal never hurt anyone.
Are there any lighting upgrades that we missed? Let us know in the comments or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest!