The Wonderful World of LED Lighting

The sleek profile of these round pendants is made possible with the thin form factor of LED lighting. Photo by An Indoor Lady.

The sleek profile of these round pendants is made possible with the thin form factor of LED lighting. Photo by An Indoor Lady.

There have been dramatic advancements recently in the world of lighting, namely in the form of LED. But with new choices comes added complexity. Gone are the days of simply going to the lighting showroom and picking pretty fixtures, and in fact as technology progresses, I see more and more clients becoming confused, making mistakes, and missing opportunities for a fabulous result. I’d like to help clarify what’s important in lighting selections, and boil it down to some key considerations.


Rather than bore you with the details of lighting technology, let’s review a summary of the advantages of LED over historic technologies. First of all, LED bulbs are made with semiconductors rather than inert gas and mercury (okay I’m sorry – I said I wouldn’t bore you). It’s an important distinction though, because it means they don’t really “burn out”, but rather fade ever so slightly over the course of 30 years. This is a very practical advantage in hard-to-reach places (think about the hassle of changing light bulbs in 20 foot ceilings!). The initial cost is still a bit higher than with other bulbs, but the long term gain pays off. Also, because semiconductors have such a small form factor, it enables the tiniest of applications and shapes. This is a key differentiator. You have probably heard of LED tape, which offers the opportunity for accent lighting in the sneakiest of places such as under shelves and inside book cases. Recently I’ve even noticed a variety of new shapes in the realm of decorative fixtures. You’ll see some that look like raindrops, or grids of light dots, or as someone commented on one of my Instagram images: “floating Star Wars light sabers” (which certainly appeals to my husband and kids!). This is all enabled by LED technology. 

Our client for this project above considered lighting to be like fine jewelry, and each LED fixture has a unique personality and shape (Builder - Enve Builders, Architect - Vanguard Studio, Photographer - An Indoor Lady. The fixtures were purchased through Lightology).


So where can you go wrong? The key mistake I see from consumers is not paying attention to the details. Terminology has changed, so the features and considerations are different. For example, light output is no longer described in watts, but in lumens, so you’ll have to think of it differently than you did a 60w versus 100w bulb (most labels offer a comparison chart). Also, not all LEDs have the range of dimmability that we are used to, so if that is important to you, be sure to ask questions of your lighting expert. Last but not least, the LED characteristic I’ve seen throwing most people off is color temperature. This refers to whether the light is a “cool”, or bluish tone, versus a “warm” or more yellow tone. We didn’t have such choices with old school incandescent bulbs, which were traditionally more yellow. Daylight has a cooler undertone, so that is my personal preference. The scale ranges from 2700K (warmest) – 6500K (coolest), and my ‘go-to’ tends to be 3000K, although I’ve had clients who liked 4000K. My advice is to pay attention to these details, so that if you swap out bulbs in one room, you don’t later buy a different color temperature in another room and create a strange affect from one room to the next. I’ve even seen houses where they replaced a single light bulb on an exterior sconce, only to find it doesn’t match any of the others (yes, that’s right, I am the person who notices these things as I drive down the street!).

Our clients above preferred to use light as an accent rather than a decorative feature. Note the light channel above the fireplace and the LED lighting INSIDE the mirror at right in place of a vanity sconce (Builder - Enve Builders, Architect - Geschke Group, Photography - An Indoor Lady)


In summary, LED is a fabulous technology advancement and it’s where the industry is headed, so it’s time to embrace it and look at lighting with a fresh perspective. To prepare yourself before shopping for fixtures or bulbs, think not only about location (i.e. places where changing the bulb is inconvenient), but light output, dimmability, and now color of light. Don’t be turned away by the initial price tag of LED, but instead think carefully about the uses of your purchase. If you are remodeling, take advantage of clever new ways to accentuate a nice feature. And even if you are just replacing one or two bulbs, think holistically about your longer term lighting plan. It will help you avoid the common mistakes and be happier with your end result. 

Comfy-Cozy Bedrooms

LBI project photo courtesy of An Indoor Lady

LBI project photo courtesy of An Indoor Lady

This holiday we’ve had a few more house guests than usual, which has me thinking about what makes a comfy bedroom. Whether it’s your own room or a guest bedroom, there are strategies you can utilize to promote rest and relaxation. 

For bedding, I love using subtle colors and natural materials for a calm and organic affect. Linen and cotton are my fabrics of choice, and I opt for minimal color with layers of texture for a feeling of luxury. Crisp white is my go-to on sheets, and I know that people have various fill preferences, but I am a ‘down girl’ all the way (if you are allergic to down, there are good down alternatives available).

Another key consideration is the type of mattress you’ll be using. It is a big expense, there are many choices, and it is such a personal decision (I recall once shopping for mattresses and lying down on so many that by the end of the day I couldn’t tell the difference anymore!). For guidance on this, check out the following article from my friends at

Organization is also important in the bedroom. I once read a book on Feng Shui design that emphasized that ‘clutter in your space is like clutter in the soul’. That really resonated with me. In particular we should minimize clutter in the bedroom, to clear our minds and renew our energy. Make sure you have ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’. This means having an efficient closet (even if it is small, which mine IS!) and keeping clothes, shoes, jewelry, laundry, etc. out of sight. Additionally, don’t bring work or bills into the bedroom. Those should have a designated spot elsewhere so that you can let go of ‘to-dos’ and focus on relaxation. Just writing this post is prompting me to head up to my bedroom and put some things away!

Lighting is a key consideration for a restful night. Exposure to light can have a serious impact on how well you sleep. Your circadian rhythm (the body's internal clock), relies on cues that tell you when it’s time to be alert and when it’s time to rest. One of the most powerful cues is exposure to light. Here are tips to reduce your exposure to light and set your circadian rhythm straight to get the sleep you need:

  1. Don't use your phone before bed. The blue wave light from mobile device screens can be particularly energizing and confusing for your circadian rhythm.

  2. Dim the lights. Turn down the lights indoors when it starts getting dark outside. It helps mimic your indoor light exposure with what's going on outdoors.

  3. Use blackout curtains in your bedroom. Even at night, light exists outside. Headlights, street lamps, even moonlight can disrupt your sleep.

  4. Get light exposure during the day. Just as avoiding light at night is important, you should be sure to get exposed to light during the day, reinforcing the timing for your circadian rhythm.

Lastly, as far as bedroom decor, you might have guessed my mantra is to keep it simple. With clients I usually plan for nightstands and lamps, and maybe a bench or chair for sitting to put on shoes, but not much is needed beyond that (see examples of a few of our projects below). I often have a rug near the bed for a soft place for feet when waking up, but I try to avoid knickknacks and I keep accessories to the bare essentials.

This holiday season, make sure your bedroom is a place where you can relax and recharge. We all need a retreat at times - make it your gift to YOURSELF for this new year!

LBI project photos courtesy of An Indoor Lady

 A big thank you to Amy Highland, a sleep expert at for providing information regarding lighting and how it affects our sleep.

How to Prioritize your Remodel Dollars

Image courtesy of Getty Images

Image courtesy of Getty Images

One of the most overwhelming aspects of remodeling is knowing where to prioritize your spending, and how to avoid the pitfalls that we hear about so frequently. After 14 years of helping clients navigate their remodels (and completing a few on my own home) I’ve developed opinions about where it pays to spend and where it doesn’t.  

Don’t spend money:

  • Randomly as you stumble across deals, without a well developed plan of attack (especially if it will be unfolding in phases).

  • On fads or trends – it will be money wasted in a few years.

  • On something you want impulsively, and in your heart you know you are compromising, but you want it RIGHT NOW!

  • On trying an untested vendor or a product sight unseen. If you can’t see it in person, make sure that someone you trust has used the product or vendor and had a good experience. Avoiding surprises is the name of the game.

  • On accommodating the priorities of friends rather than your own. For example, don’t buy something just because your neighbor has it, or you think it will impress others. Buy it because it will make you happy or your life easier.

  • Did I already say “because it is a good deal”? I can’t say it enough. Believe me, if the price seems too good to be true, it usually is. (Here is a funny example – we noticed a little doll sized bench show up outside our elderly neighbor’s door. His son said “Oh – we are returning that – dad ordered it online because it looked like a deal.” Ha! Extreme case, but perfect example.)

Do spend money:

  • On talent and expertise different than your own. Hiring a professional with experience will save you money AND headaches (they’ve already made, AND learned from, the myriad of issues that can sneak up and bite you!)

  • On uniqueness. For example, custom furniture can be considered a work of art rather than just a piece of furniture. You are also less likely to get tired of something if no one else has it and you aren’t seeing it in all of the stores.

  • On quality. If something functions well and lasts for years, it will save you money in the long run.

  • On architectural elements that cannot be changed easily (flooring, doors, windows). You’ll want to like them for a very long time.

  • In areas you will enjoy and appreciate often. For example – use the fabulous tile you’ve fallen in love with in your own Master Bath or Kitchen rather than a less visited area of the house.

  • On features that will save you money or effort in the long run. For example, converting recessed bulbs to LED or retrofit trim seems expensive initially, but it will save you money and trouble over time since LED bulbs rarely need to be replaced (the projected life of one bulb is over 30 years!)

  • Lastly, it’s true what they say about being prepared to spend 10-20% more than initially planned. It’s not because the contractor is unethical (assuming you got good references!) – it’s because discoveries occur in a remodel and circumstances arise where it makes sense to address new areas or broaden the scope. Make sure you have flexibility to make the right decisions. 

In summary, remodeling can be a good investment if done right. Create a plan and set aside time and funds so that you have flexibility to make good decisions. It will be more successful, less painful, and you’ll have the best chance of enjoying it for years to come!