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.

A Luxury–or a GREAT Convenience?

Wouldn’t it be great if the bathroom in-floor heating was turned on shortly before you woke up in the morning? Wouldn’t it be great if we could save money by only having heating–or cooling in summer– at the temperature we like to live in—JUST before we got home–saving on energy and energy bills the rest of the day?

Home technology automation does that and so much more. Televisions, high-tech home theatres, inercom, security systems, lighting and electronic shades can all be fully automated for us users.

Rather than looking like an afterthought, Mark Wagner of Wagner Home Systems suggest this technology be incorporated into the planning stages of your renovation, remodel, or build-new.  He says, “Electronics can blend in so much that if you didn’t know where to look for them, you wouldn’t realize they were there.”

Think of having a whole house audio system with access to your music library from anywhere in the home. Think of a sprinkler system that can be accessed remotely, so you don’t sprinkle the lawn while it’s raining.

Remember, our homes must fit us like our favorite shoe. Ask yourself—“Does the Shoe,,,FIT?” Need a little help? Just call us. We are here for you.

Simple Steps to Curb Appeal–Part 2

The last post was on curb appeal–bigger items your home might need. This post, let’s discuss those smaller items. These are tips from Money Magazine, the people who know what is worth while and what isn’t. (And I’ve added some details)  This is a good time to handle curb appeal–before the snow begins!

1) What about exterior lighting? We’ve written about it before, but what do YOU have? Shiny brass or solid black isn’t as “today” as finishes like antiqued copper, bronze or brushed nickel.

2) Your house numbers and other hardware may also need an updated finish, as those suggested above.

3) Have blooming flowers as long as your locale allows–and then tasteful winter landscape looks with interesting bare shapes, textures, and colors. (Think of some things like Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick, tall grasses that don’t droop in the snow like switchgrass, and color like redtwig dogwood–something similar for your yard.)

4) Paint your home in subdued colors of nature, muted greens, deep reds, pale yellows–for a peaceful look. Bright high-contrast colors exaggerate a house’s flaws.

Remember, you want the home to be appealing, but it can also reflect YOU. Our homes should fit us like our favorite shoes. Ask yourself, “Does the Shoe….FIT?” If you need some help, contact us. We are the interior/exterior design experts.

How about a Labyrinth in your Back Yard?

Ever heard of a Labyrinth? Webster defines it as an intricate structure of interconnecting passages which are difficult to find your way through. But for this blog post, I’m speaking of a garden labyrinth– interconnecting paths, that create a bit of a maze. Notice I said a “bit” of a maze. Nothing too difficult; this is a maze to allow us to relax and enjoy nature.

Recently, a client asked for some type of meditational garden space in their back landscaping. It was to be its own entity, but blend into the yard. We didn’t have hundreds of feet to devote on the labyrith. But we had enough to create a small version in approximately 30- 35 sq. ft. .

The whole idea is a bit like Zen, as you travel the paths of a labyrinth, walking in circles, or in this case, curved, organically shaped paths, you are to appreciate the beauty along the paths that take you to the center. By the time you reach the center, you are refreshed of mind and body.

In this narrow-pathed personal labyrinth, we still  had space to create along the way a shady garden strip, a hummingbird garden strip, a trellis garden strip, a water feature, a butterfly garden strip, a zen stone garden, and a small sculpture.  Both client and I loved creating it.

The labyrinth idea would not need to be circular in nature, but by doing so, it adds to the feeling of “getting away,” as you walk within the circle.  To be really effective, give it some low level night lighting.

Remember, your surroundings need to fit you like a favorite shoe fits you. Ask yourself, “Does the shoe….FIT?” If you need some help; contact us, Breay Design, the Space Specialists.

Designing for….? Happiness?

Design for ……?Happiness?

 What does Happiness have to do with Design? Aren’t we referring to colors and furniture?  Well we are, but good design is much more than colors and furniture. Design is very much based on psychology. Applying our own personal psychology to a space can contribute greatly to our happiness. We do need to follow good design principles, but we must equally take into consideration the personalities of the inhabitants of the space.

 The other day my husband wanted me to look over his new website for his stamp dealership. The header had a large background of very deep gray that gradiated down the page. My personal opinion was that it looked gloomy, even depressing. And yet the graphics person working so closely with my husband apparently didn’t feel the same. I also thought back to a recent hotel stay where there were lots of coral colors, plants and sunshine. It gave me a feeling of being in the tropics, and made me feel very happy. What colors and things make you feel happy? What themes of rooms make you feel happy?

Lighting has much the same effects on our happiness. Very bright lighting throughout your home could easily make you feel tense, jittery, and grumpy. Yet soft colored, low level lighting would probably make you feel relaxed, even secure.

 One of the first steps in applying the Chinese philosophy-religion of Feng Shui (the placement of furniture & accessories to bring you wealth & happiness) is to eliminate clutter.  A harmonious flow comes from having only a few favorite items setting out. It seems our minds have quite enough to thing on.

Bring in natural light and fresh air. Have house plants that purify the air, such as fern and ivy.

It is not the trends and latest TV show designs that we need to follow. We need to follow our heart. Use good design principles, but don’t overlook your own personality. If you need to GET AWAY!–you may wish to address the happiness your own home design gives to you.  Think of your home as a shoe, and ask yourself, “Does the Shoe….FIT?”

Exterior Task Lighting

Courtesty of OutdoorLighting Perspectives

Courtesty of OutdoorLighting Perspectives

Hi again!  This blog will continue discussing exterior lighting, focusing on the task lighting of our entries. In review, our yards need three layers of lighting:

1)      Ambient, low level general impression lighting

2)      Task lighting for where we perform tasks

3)      Accent lighting for areas of interest (the brightest area of lighting)

You may have a walk leading up to some steps at your entry. Perhaps a fixture with lights about eye level will be enough for both walkway and steps. The steps will need brighter lighting than the walk so no one trips on them. Therefore, put the light close to the steps, allowing the waning light from the fixture to glow down the walk. If you have a longer walk, you may need a lower, small auxiliary light further down the walk, being careful not to create monotony with too many of the same fixtures.

The steps consist of treads we walk on, and risers (at the back of the tread ) that take the treads to the next level. If we light the steps from below or with lighting that illuminates both tread and riser equally, we have a safety hazard. The user can be easily confused seeing both treads and risers as “one” plane because of the equal lighting on both, instead of 1 horizontal plane (tread) and one vertical plane (riser).But if we light the steps from above, the treads are lit and the risers are in shadow. This is a much safer method of lighting steps.

Now visualize the door. Consider putting a light right above the door or at the side of it. Having one light centered in a porch ceiling will give overall light, but you will be in your own shadow trying to unlock a door. If you have this situation, consider adding task lighting over the door or at it’s side.

Next blog, let’s discuss discuss designing for happiness.

See you then!—Sharon Breay