Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The POWER of Pendant Lighting

The Headlines:

A little light...

packs a powerful punch!

When I re-did our kitchen about 4 years ago I did not put in pendant lighting.  Turns out... that was a mistake.

As always, I chronicled the kitchen remodel on this blog.  You can see the post HERE

One day... about 3 years later it hit me.  We needed pendant lighting.  Actually, the fact that we needed better lighting in the kitchen was something I knew for a while but chose to ignore.  That's how I roll sometimes.  Turns out it can really make a huge difference.  See, nice but a "smidge" boring...

 Today, it's a whole new world...

I can NOT explain the huge impact it made.  

2 reasons: it provides much better lighting and it looks amazing!  So, not only is the area warmer due to the new lights but it just looks finished.  I no longer will put ANYTHING on my countertops except a small vase of flowers as pictured here.  There's no need.  Too distracting.

I know what you're thinking: I just need to get my house in order, pendant/chandelier lighting is dead LAST on my LIST! But maybe it shouldn't be.  As the Power of the Pendant is strong.

Here are my 5 Pendant Lighting Points:

1 - Don't Spend Too Much
There are lots of pendant choices out there.  Some are through the roof expensive.  Don't get those.  Get the ones in your price range.  Those puppies are connected to the ceiling.  People won't be touching or inspecting them.  They have to look good from a few feet away and that doesn't necessarily have to cost you 2k.

2 - The BIGGER the Better
Gone are the days when a small pendant looks cool.  In fact just the opposite.  They look super distracting.  They don't command enough attention to get noticed.  You're putting up pendants to GET NOTICED so the bigger the better.  The ones in my kitchen are the extra large.  24" x 16" and I wouldn't go a hair smaller.  I'm also loving the "trend" of putting up 2 X-Large ones instead of 3 Medium or Small  ones.  It's just cool.

3 - Don't Hang too High (or too Low) 
The rule, according to a lighting designer I consulted out of NYC (I know - very chic) - the bottom has to be at least 6 feet above the ground over a kitchen island.  They can be higher if your ceiling is massive.  Mine is... I went 6 feet 5" above the ground.  Too low and it just looks weird.   Too high and, well, it just looks weird.  *Other hanging height rules: bottom of a dining table pendant/chandelier should be at lest 30" above table if the ceiling height is 8 feet but add a few inches for every extra foot of ceiling.   And in a living room, bottom of fixture clearance should be 6'6" if there's an 8 foot ceiling.  Higher if the ceiling is higher and so on...

4 - Get DIM
If you can, put the pendant lights on separate switches from any canned lighting (that will cost a tad more with your electrician) and get a dimmer switch.  It just adds a whole other level to your lighting.  Trust me on that one.

5 - Avoid Glass
For 2 reasons:  cheaper and easier.  Several of my friends have glass on their pendants.  The dust that collects on them is excruciating and cleaning them is even harder.  Yes, even with Windex.  They're just so cumbersome (think about it - high, suspended & on a chain).  Plus, the glass-less choices cost less.  Glass costs more.  Period.  Now, they're coming out with so many lighting choices WITHOUT glass... you should just get those.  I did.  The ones in my kitchen don't have glass and neither does the one below in my bathroom.  Couldn't be happier.   

If you're still not convinced of the Power of Pendants let me show you a few more examples.  While searching for the perfect kitchen pendants I bought one I didn't use.  So I put it in my bathroom.  Above my tub. 

It's gorgeous.  Really glams the place up!  Lighting Love.  Convinced yet?  One more example.  I put this pendant up right when we moved in.  

Now, while a very cool pendant in the right space.  Here, it didn't go with my decor.  Plus, it provided no light - since it was only one bulb (be careful of those 1 bulb pendants) - so changed it out for this chandelier...

and problem solved.  It was brighter and the style fit better.  I get tons of compliments on it!

Everyone says it... lighting is under-rated.  Turns out "everyone" is right.  Once you fall under the Power of the Pendant... you certainly see the light!

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Friday, May 13, 2016

House-front Face Lift - For Less!

The Headlines:

Need to spruce up the front of your House?

Here's how to get the most bang for your buck.

After a while everyone needs a face lift.  Yes, we're talking about the house not you.  When we bought ours about 4 years ago I knew we had a lot of work ahead.  I've documented most of it on this blog (check under the label "remodeling" on the right side bar).   We've done it slowly.  Not all at once - like some people.  I'm a Stay at Home Mom and funds aren't un-limited.  Plus, I really like doing this stuff so I want to get it right.  We try to be smart and calculated while staying fiscally responsible shall we say?  That's what you want to do too?  Then here are my suggestions:

1- Pick Priorities
Try to limit these to a reasonable number - 5.  We desperately needed to paint, get rid of our horrible light "noses," update the door, change the eye sore windows and fix the mailbox.  We'd love to re-do our driveway (make it circular and add stone) plus update the landscaping but that's just not in the cards right now.

2 - Find A Painter Who Can Do MORE!  
This will save you cash because he's already there.  We saved mucho money getting one guy to do EVERYTHING!  As opposed to a painter who only paints.  Trust me, the painter will charge you almost the same amount as the guy who will do everything.  They're harder to find but they're out there.  My "painter" also lopped off the ugly "nose" lights that tend to go on adobe style homes like mine.

We added these sconces that look so much better:

He also changed out our mailbox and added new, cooler looking numbers (which I blocked out).

3- Develop A Plan
After picking priorities and finding a guy to do the work - you need to be clear on exactly what that work will be.  At first we thought we wanted to add stones to our house and stain our front door dark.   Look, the door was in dire need:

But I decided to bail on the rock idea.  We could get more bang for our buck by simply adding the wrought iron lights and iron front door.  Yes, the door would be pricey but worth it.  The sidelights even open for some cross ventilation.  I love this door.  Typically, you the customer, get to design iron doors too!  They can do anything.  Each one is usually made custom for the customer.

It's even awesome on the other side which was a surprise to me.  I never thought about how much it would change the feel and look inside the home!  But bottom line the new door ties in nicely with the windows, lights and indoors for a super cohesive look.

4 - Use Paint In Un-expected Places.  
Our windows looked horribly dated since they were "framed" with white instead of black.

We had to do something.  But new windows would cost thousands & thousands of dollars.  And our windows were fine.  In fact, really good, according to the window pro who just came over...  So I came up with an idea to PAINT the window frames.  Surprisingly, the contractor didn't charge too much to do that yet the impact was HUGE.

The result?  Much better.

They look phenomenal.  And we started a trend.  Everyone in our neighborhood is doing it now.  You can also throw up another color instead of black - red and turquoise are big where we live.  We also put black paint on our view fence.  In Arizona, houses usually use the same color of their house on their fence but I asked -  why not black?

Turns out, it really makes the fence look like a wrought iron, custom job versus what we had before.

5 - Bring the Indoors Out
Last thing.  It's super cheap to go shopping inside your own house!  Sometimes I just look around, see what I don't need or want INDOORS any more and repurpose it outside.  That's what I did below.  That side table used to be my bathroom stool.

It works perfect here.  Side note, if you can swing it, all front yards need a sitting place.  To better watch the kids ride bikes, drink wine or just to keep the neighbors in line.  If you don't have a designated one, like a porch, make one.  I almost guarantee you can find a little spot on your lawn or under that eave.  Just look for it.

That's it.  Are you inspired?  The whole project cost just under $15k.  No, not chump change but I'd say it looks like a million.  

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