L.E.D.’s are Improving–

People I’ve talked with that tried the new LED (light emitting diodes) light “bulbs” have disliked them. This new way of producing light for our homes and offices uses MUCH less energy to produce light than any other artificial light source so far. (The sun, not an artificial light source, is obviously the brightest light.) We’ve been able to retrofit our recessed can light fixtures, and our exterior light fixtures with LED lightiing. We’ve purchased pucks to use as undercabinet task lighting. ……And we just haven’t liked any of them.

 The LED light is glaringly blu-ish, reminiscent of yesteryear’s fluorescent bulbs, before technology discovered how to build a full spectrum, color corrected fluorescent. People prefer a warmer looking light for their homes; it “seems” more relaxing and cozier. This is part of our psychology, because back in our cave-inhabiting days, the cave fire-pit gave us warmth and protection. The cave fire-pit light was warm colored. We associate feelings of comfort and security with warm colored light.

But LED’s, unlike fluorescents, aren’t lit by a gaseous arc to spark a light within the bulb. In fact, there is no actual “bulb” to an LED.Scientists have discovered that by combining the black body radiation curve, which relates light wavelength to light intensity within an incandescent bulb, with a  logarithmically-based dimming technique, and then correcting for temperature variation, a light is produced  in LEDs with the color between amber and white, much like the warm colored incandescent bulbs we are so accustomed to. And the extreme energy efficiency still exists. 

Now this is more like it! By people expressing their dislike of a product, it is being improved, and soon we may all like the looks of LED lighting!

Sharon Breay, A.S.I.D., is a certified, awarded, and widely recognized interior designer and yard-garden designer. She works with clientele at Breay Design, speaks frequently on the subject of design, and has authored several booklets on the subject of design. To contact Sharon directly, hit the Contact Us left button on her website (http://www.breaydesign.com)

Have you SWITCHED for the Holidays?

Tom and I just got back from SanAntonio. While there, we, of course, spent a lovely evening on the RiverWalk/Cruise again. We were a week too early to see the Holiday lights,but the gondola driver told us the city was installing three times the lights that they’ve had in the past.

Well, we all like festive lighting, but this certainly didn’t sound too environmentally based. ….Until he told us the entire lighting cost would only be a fraction of last years’ cost!  HOW?

They switched for the holidays! Today’s LED Holiday lights are reliable, fairly inexpensive and EXTREMELY economical to use. They will pay for themselves in a very short time, and continue to be economical to use for a long, long time, because they last much longer than any of our bulbs. Besides–there are no bulbs to break or go out.

L.E.D. stands for light emitting diodes; they are not bulbs at all, but produce a good white light (the current ones, not the earlier ones).

Although LEDs began being marketed about ten years ago, they were mainly used as novelty accent lighting for commercial buildings. As technology has progressed, LEDs are moving into offices and are just beginning to be seen in our homes. Recessed lighting seems to be the best interior method of handling LEDs at this point….in addition to strings  of light. They are the new lightinhg technology. Isnt it time to switch?

Remember your interior and exterior surroundings need to fit YOU like your favorite shoe fits you, in order to be functional and attractive. Ask yourself…..”Does the Shoe FIT?” If not, contact us; we are the experts in interior spaces and yard space. You’ll be glad you called or wrote us.


About a year ago (March 30, 2010)  I wrote a blog entry on senior living, and barrier free design.  Here are some additional facts to think about when preparing a home for senior living, whether that be for your parents or the future you. Remember, aging–despite the advertisements–IS inevitable.

Visually, seniors have problems with low contrasts such as the graphics on appliances, or between text sizes on signage, or between wall and floor transitions. Solutions could be found in using big bold, dark text on a light background; or using a darker flooring or flooring border, with light colored walls.

Dark surfaces around brightly lit surfaces, such as a window or light fixture with brilliant light, can also cause slower cognitive response. One solution to this is to use fluorescent bulbs as they give diffused, softer lighting rather than intense, hard edged light from halogen bulbs. I recommend using a type of fluorescent that has a kelvin color temperature (color–nothing to do with feel) of 3000 degrees as it is closest to the color of incandescent light bulbs that most seniors are accustomed to.

Here are some other findings the Architectural Research Consortium discovered in 2009: Seniors have problems adapting from high noise levels to low noise levels and vice versa. They do better with comunication in quieter spaces than hearing loud voices.

The research report also states that temperature levels need to change as we age. Seniors often stay home more, have lower activity levels, and wear light weight clothing. So thermal comfort for them usually is at a higher level than for young people.

Since seniors have reduced perception in both taste and smell, smoke detectors and other similar aids are extremely important.

Aging should not be defined as a period of withdrawal and less involvement. Providing environments that take into account senior needs will allow a much more satisfying life.

Make your home fit you like your favorite shoe. Ask yourself, “Does the Shoe…FIT?” If you need help, contact us; we are the space specialists, with cross country references for designing for seniors.

A Light in the Garden


compliments of OutdoorLights

compliments of OutdoorLights

Once there was a poem about a light in the garden. Is “a” light enough? Probably not. Exterior lighting needs to be planned as carefully as we plan our interiors and our architecture. So often when I am looking out the window of a home in evening, all I see are the reflections of the interior home staring back at me. I see none of the lovely grounds beyond!  If this sounds like your home, here are tips to rectify the problem.

Yards are to be enjoyed in the evening as well as in the day, and from the inside as well as from the outside. A little string of low voltage or LEDs, or solar lights usually won’t do the job—not because of the type of light, but because of the straight line of lighting fixtures. Too much of a good thing becomes too predictable—and ultimately, boring. Nor will a huge sensor light over the garage door create the feeling of peace and mystique that are so appealing in a night garden. Nor will lighting up the yard like a commercial parking lot be appreciated by viewers, particularly neighbors! 

By mixing lighting heights and intensities, and what the light illuminates, we can create an interesting, unobtrusive night scene that can be enjoyed both from inside and outside. Think about the spaces in your yard. You will do well to provide some ambient, low level lighting for general visibility, some task lighting at areas such as steps, and some accent lighting to focus on a favorite area of architecture, or lawn ornament, or shrub or tree. The task lighting should be about twice as bright as the ambient light, and the accent light, which will only shine on one element of focus, can be 15 times as bright as the ambient light, for real “punch.” 

Next blog, we’ll discuss some methods of lighting the entry. 

See you then!—Sharon Breay