When you are picking your lighting, don’t forget to think about using interesting or innovative light bulbs - especially if you can see the bulb in the light fixture. While many of us don’t relish the CFL bulb (exceptfor the energy benefits) some design firms like Holger are thinking out of the traditional design and are trying new designs such as the Plumen, below. It’s $30, and I am waiting for mine to arrive. (ok, it’s a bit expensive but it is a very cool design. I just saw that West Elm also has it with free shipping.) I think it’s such a great shape and would give the light a more dramatic look. Don’t hide these bulbs behind lampshades!
Update: I purchased one of these bulbs and they are as great as they look. But be ready for their size: they're twice as large as a regular light bulb.
Pairing Lights and Bulbs
If you don’t believe me, see in this example what an addition to the light the bulb makes to the light. It’s a pretty pendant on its own, but so much more when it has the Plumen light bulb.
I think the Hanover pendant from Simon Pearce paired with the Vintage Squirrel-Cage Teardrop Filament Bulb (only $15 for this designer bulb) would be terrific for a vintage or traditional design.
Another alternative is the chrome light bulb. The chrome on the bottom half of the light bulb reflects the light back into the fixture, thus eliminating annoying glare into one’s eyes, or one’s guests’ eyes. This is a great solution if you love a light fixture for your dining room that doesn’t come with a diffuser, or open-end pendants over a kitchen island. Of course, it will cut down on the light that is emitted, so be prepared for a darker room. Some light from another source (a table lamp or two on a sideboard or if you have an open floor plan light from another area) would be a good idea.
Both bulbs would also look great with something like West Elm’s Glass Jar Pendants.
West Elm shows it here in their Glass Industrial Pendant. This fixture also has the advantage of having light come out the top of the pendant, which would lessen the problem of having less light come out.
Or it would be great in a pendant like the Mistral Pendant, which has an internal reflective surface. That would give a lot of light. (the Mistral also has a very cool fan inside of it as well to provide heat or cool, depending on the time of year).
How to pick Light Bulbs
If you’re like me, you don’t really know what is going on with light bulbs these days, and how to pick the CFL bulb that matches what you used to have with incandescent. There are some good resources to get up to speed. But one thing first – apparently LED technology is improving, and soon those lights will take over the CFL light bulbs. They are able to make them give off the warm light that we all like, rather than that ethereal blue you usually see, and I understand they last even longer. Also, apparently they do not contribute as much light pollution to the sky. Hopefully the day we use them instead will come soon. Here are the aforementioned resources in the meantime:
1. The Lighting Association has the best page I have seen yet on comparing the light from Incandescent, Halogen, CFL, and LED bulbs. (also see it at the bottom of the post). It’s great, because not only does it tell you Lumens (which I haven’t really gotten used to thinking in), it actually compares it to the 100W bulb, the 75W bulb, the 60W bulb, and so on so you have a good idea. And it does it all in one nice chart.
2. Energy Star has quite a cool interactive site which gives ideas on what shape of bulb to use where (spiral, tubed, globe, etc), as well as shows the difference between soft white and bright white and with a dimmer.
3. And if you really want to go deep, the Lumen Coalition has quite an in depth site to educate yourself on energy saving choices you can make with lighting around your home.