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Vancouver Interior Designer: The Real Reason Your Lighting Sucks

By 12/12/2011January 24th, 202077 Comments

I buy lots of lamps for my clients from HomeSense. If you don’t count the big box stores, we have about four lighting stores in Vancouver (and that includes two in Richmond)  so the selection is mostly bleak in general.


When you buy a lamp at HomeSense the lightbulbs are usually included. In the last year they switched them from “soft white”to “clear,” and if you take it home and don’t realize what has happened, your light can look very ugly indeed!

When one of my best friends Tami and her husband Larry moved into their new townhouse, she arrived home with this lamp she had fallen in love with but this is how it looked lit.

Photo by Maria Killam

See all the shadows, every single piece of the lamp is unattractively reflected on the wall. Very bad!

See what a difference a FROSTED bulb makes!! Don’t forget about wattage as well. If you don’t need it for a reading light sometimes a 40 watt bulb is better than 60 for atmosphere. Sorry for the bad photo, it was almost dark by the time I took this photo today.

I am so stressed about the regular incandescent bulb being discontinued forever and being stuck with the compact fluorescent (left below) that a while ago I ran out and bought over $100 worth! Haha, I know some of you might think I’m nuts but the two biggest elements of design that create the most atmosphere is #1, Lighting (with the correct lightbulb), and #2 Colour on the walls.


If you have any light bulbs that look like the above right and are wondering why you hate the paint colour in your space, this light could be the culprit. When you switch all your lighting back to regular incandescents you will notice a huge difference in the look and feel of your house at night!

A vignette at Tami’s house

Who cares if they last a hundred years. . . atmosphere is way more important than longevity especially at Christmas!

Which lightbulbs do you have in your house?

Download my eBook, It’s All in the Undertones. If you have a computer, you can download my book!

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.

Related posts:

The Enchanting World of Atmosphere

Atmosphere: The One Thing you Cannot Buy

Creating Rooms that Glow

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  • This is a big stressor for me too! I admit to buying and hoarding 3-way 50-100-150 watt incandescent bulbs for my lamps. I hate CFL light, it’s just awful.

  • Courtney says:

    Personally, I haaaaate the color temperature (2700K or thereabouts) of incandescents. Like, it actually makes me feel angry! Can’t wait for LED prices to come down enough for me to have all daylight LEDs (5000K light temp range) through the whole house.

    • Emilia says:

      Thank you. I thought I was crazy because no lighting store could tell me why my new Toto “cotton white” sink looked “pink” when placed in my small “renovation in progress” powder room. This was sending me into a color catastrophe until I felt that I had resolved this problem. Too make a painful story short this is what happened. My husband had replaced the bulbs in our new light fixture with 3000 Kelvin halogen lights. They were the small Ell base. Apparently this so called “warm” yellow 3000 Kelvin light makes everthing look pink. I found a source for the 4000 Kelvin halogen and am eagerly awaiting their arrival. I was unable to find a 5000K with the base I need. However, from what I have learned, this 4000K will be a vast improvement. This whole experience was frustrating because no one had any explanation; not the paint store, not the Phillips customer service line representative, not the various lighting store that I called and not the expensive store from whom I purchased the sink. The lady at the sink store said that she hated halogens because they made everything in her bathroom look tan. So, she was blaming the halogens light themselves but not the Kelvin measurement. At that point I had been almost in tears and was considering discarding the new light fixture, A visit to a “bulbs only’ only store helped me figure out that a higher kelvin would cast a truer light. I am still trying to learn about “kelvin” so when I saw your comment I felt that I was on the right road to figuring out how light bulbs and their temperature (not wattage) affect the paint colors of a room. Pain is usually a good teacher. However, perhaps Maria could give us some insight into how various bulbs and various bulb temperatures affect and reflect paint color. Thank you Courtney for your post. And, as always thank you Maria for your educational blog.

      • RShaw says:

        Sorry if I’m repeating anything here, but kelvin (K) is a unit of measure for temperature. Color temperatures over 5000K are called cool colors (bluish white), while lower color temperatures (2700–3000 K) are called warm colors (yellowish white through red). For example, a candle flame, whose light is quite yellow/orange, is around 1900K, and the sun at sunrise/sunset (when the light is also more yellow) is 2000-3000K. In contrast, the sun at noon is around 5000K, so just around the point where light starts being comparatively more blue to our eyes. (Anyone who spends a lot of time on their smartphone or on the computer at night and also has insomnia already knows this, or they should, because that blue light at night will mess with your circadian rhythm, but that’s a different topic.)
        So the kelvins are handy for telling you the relative yellowness or blueness of the light for a particular bulb. And then it’s just a matter of the difference to your eye of a the color of a particular object under yellow light vs. blue light. The light will tend to “neutralize” or make complementary colors more gray/brown. And something white/light-colored will tend to skew towards the color of the light. To see this in a really exaggerated fashion, hold something bright blue and something white under colored holiday lights, say orange Christmas tree bulbs. Under really orange light, orange being the complementary color for blue, the blue object will look dark and blackish, while the white object will look more orange than it really is. The same thing is always going on with light, just usually on a more subtle scale.
        And as for the lady at the sink store complaining about halogen bulbs, the two of you were actually talking about the same thing in different ways. Halogen bulbs, being around 3000K, are on the warmer color end of the spectrum. But you’re always going to get truer color (if we consider true color to be what we’d see in the light of the middle of the day), the closer you are to the kelvins for the light of the noon sun, which as mentioned above, is around 5000K. Now, if you get a bulb that’s above 5000K, you will start having the opposite problem (depending on how far above 5000K it is), where everything will start looking more blue than “normal.”

  • Jennifer says:

    Ugh, I hate fluorescents, too. Last year, I ordered a drum-style ceiling lamp for my hallway that required CFL bulbs. To make matters worse, the plastic “shade” on the bottom of the drum is slightly tinted blue, so the color is very cold.

  • Jennifer says:

    When I painted my basement recently, I had to switch out all the recessed can lights from soft white to reveal. With almost no natural light, the soft whites made every swatch of blue-grey take on a dingy greenish cast. After switching the bulbs, I found the perfect color!

  • Marlo says:

    I didn’t know that clear bulbs did that – great example.
    I have incandescent which I prefer. I have a drawer full of florescent bulbs that I tried and didn’t like because not only did they produce a terrible colour but they flicker too – well they don’t literally flicker but they look like they do.

    I’ve recently heard about LED lighting which I’d like to try.

  • Christian says:

    This made me laugh so I had to reply. I can tell my husband that I am not the only one hoarding the incandescent bulbs! Every time I go to Target now I buy a bunch b/c I know they are going to stop making them soon and I just can’t tolerate the look of florescent bulbs. I use florescents in the garage and attic and that’s where I draw the line!

  • Leone says:

    I learned the hard way about how harsh the clear bulbs can be. Ugh. I also am not a fan, to put it mildly, of CFL’s. Most of them emit a tiny, high pitched sound and if you put them in a lamp with a dimmer switch it’s really noticeable and annoying. What’s the point of having a dimmer switch if I can only use it set on high? The noise isn’t loud but my ears still pick it up and it’s a mood killer. Extremely annoying.

  • Hi Maria, Wow–great topic as usual. Yes..the color is just awful on those fluorescent lights. I use them were we care more about needing the extra light..and not for ‘looks’.

    In our school room, functionality is the priority. I used to go through so many bulbs in that room. Also, out on the deck we prefer the florescent bulbs. It’s as black as ink for miles around out here in the country and having to change eight deck lights would be a huge headache. It’s nice to only do that once a year.

    But for any room that we want real ‘beauty’ we use the soft light. In fact, when school is done and the paperwork is finished, I turn off the flourescents and turn ON the two little desk lamps for that homey glow. That way I can have the best of both worlds. :o)

    The only place fluorescents work is hospitals and offices. Funny, now that I think about it, those are usually the most cheerless places in the world. Perhaps they should consider switching back? :o)


  • Loribeth says:

    Unfortunately, my husband won’t let me use incandescent lights. The only place he hasn’t replaced them is the lamps on our nightstands. I have, however, found that the fluorescent lights do have different colors, so you can get them in warm or cool tones… They’ve also come out with 3-way fluorescent lights, but I haven’t bought any yet.

    • Anders Hoveland says:

      Your husband “won’t let use incandescent lights” ?
      I am normally a very flexible person, but if my spouse tried to screw those awful CFLs anywhere in our apartment, I would put my foot down! That’s where I draw the line. The light from those CFL death spirals is absolutely awful. It strains my eyes, makes all the colors look weird and off, and does not make me feel at ease.

      If I were you, I would tell your husband that you are getting rid of his bad spiral bulbs, and that if he really wants “energy efficiency” he’ll have to buy some LED bulbs (although these do not work in all places in your house). Stockpile on your favorite bulbs, or see if you can find Halogen replacement bulbs for sale.

      • Rodrigo says:

        I think of myself as a flexible person as well, but I can’t really stand up these hideous bluish bulbs, anything above 4000K is too abrasive, too harsh on my eyes.

        For a kitchen, 4000k is fine, but for… let’s say a living room even that is too much for my liking. 2700-3000 seems to be the optimal CCTs for a household in my opinion. You don’t want your house to look like a hospital or a bus station.

  • Rebecca says:

    I hate compact fluorescent bulbs! I too have been buying/stock piling 100 watt bulbs. I have had several compact fluorescent bulbs burn out on me, one did not work from the get go, some are slow to start up, plus light like you indicated they cast ugly light . As of now I only use them in the basement.

  • Rory Vanlandingham says:

    We installed Cree LED lights in the 2700 degree color temp in our kitchen and I love them! I hate CFL’s and the few I use I feel I have to save to take somewhere to be recycled. I hate the thought of all that mercury in the dump. I did not know about the phase out of incandescent bulbs. Is this in the US too?

  • I hate the new lightbulbs we are forced to buy! Can’t stand the noise they make, the light they cast and the fact that they take forever to “warm” up! Argh!

  • Momlady says:

    Thank you! I’ve been saying that about fluorescents for years (and years). The only time I approve of their use is at my jewelers bench and then I insist on at least 5000-6500K( so obviously I’m not using CFLs) so I can still tell what color I’m looking at.

  • HiMaria, what a great example on that lamp! I am sick about the new bulbs. First off, the light they admit is horrible. More than that, I could get on a soapbox about the fact the people will never dispose of them the way they are supposed to. It’s just a fact. I don’t believe for a minute that every single broken bulb will be wrapped in a bag before being thrown away. It’s an enormous hazard to the environment! Really makes me I’ll. I could go on but I won’t. I just don’t get it. I wish I had hoarded some too!! Have a happy week. Ps. Have you posted about how to pick paint with these new bulbs?

  • Bluezette says:

    I’m so glad to see I’m not the only one who prefers the high-kelvin daylight bulbs. I have daylight CFLs in most rooms and like them a lot. I had soft whites in my dining room and living room for “atmosphere”, but I painted the dining room yesterday and very much prefer how the wall color looks during the day. I’m planning to try daylight CFLs there, too.

    Our CFLs used to burn out much more frequently than advertised, but since we had our older home’s electrical service upgraded to 220v last year, not one CFL has burnt out.

  • carol says:

    In the photo that you show, you said that the incandescent bulb on the right is the wrong one to use . Is that correct?

    • Ellen says:

      The one on the left is the one not to use. It is the compact bulb. Incandescent frosted, on the right hand side, is what you want. Right, Maria?

  • My husband will only use the flourescents. But now that the warm white is available it’s much better and you get a more incandescent look – it’s not perfect, but it’s better than the cold white they had when they first came out.
    Plus I hate the look of them – even the ones that mask the flourescent with a standard bulb overtop.

  • Susan says:

    We are switching over to LEDs–color adjusted. Our bedside reading lights now produce a warm, clean light similar to an incandescent but actually much more appealing. We did a comparison and I was amazed at how much better the LED light looked. Our bulbs are by Phillips and comparable to 60 watt incandescent. So not hoarding the ‘old school’ :-)–using the savings to buy LED.

  • Paula Van Hoogen says:

    This is a perfect example of what happens when the “government” gets over-involved in every phase of our lives under the guise of “saving energy” or “helping” us in some other way. Our basic freedoms are under attack. next they’ll tell us not to use a certain color paint because the pigment in that color is detrimental in some way THEY determine.

    • Diane says:

      Great response, Paula. Government and big business deciding how to make more profits on the masses.

  • Maribeth says:

    Hi, my name is Maribeth, and I am an incandescent bulb hoarder… the post. Great information about clear vs soft white. I never new that. Thank you.

  • marlis says:

    the old style – for sure!!! hate those new bulbs, they don’t last as long as they say, they are a hazard to get rid of, we are being mandated into a nightmare! I too stock pile the incandescent bulbs. hugs.. xo marlis

  • Great example of clear vs soft bulbs Maria!

    I use CFL’s in overhead lighting, but incandescent in accent, task (depending on the task) and dimmed lighting. I do agree though, CFL light is harsh. I’ve also found that they DON’T last 100 years … I have a bag full of them that have died – ususally within a year. I will be taking them to our local RONA hardware where they will dispose of them properly. And I could get right up on that soapbox with Carol at HouseandHomeDefined above – the average person isn’t disposing of them properly.

  • Isabella says:

    Maria, have you tried the Lighting Warehouse in Richmond? I find they’re great — rooms and rooms full of options. Stockpiling incandescent bulbs . . . you outlaw, you! :-))

  • Im tempted to do the same, hoarding light bulbs! Great new light and love the red coral!

  • Joy says:

    Hi Maria,
    I agree with Carol, could you do a post on cool vs. warm on these fluorescent and how they effect the different undertones in the paint in the room since this will be our future lighting. Also, this is the first year that we are able to put Christmas lights outside. So I went shopping and saw that in the LED white lights- 99% have a bluish cast or yellow cast and not the white of the incandescent of past years. I decided to hold off on the LED to see if they come out with a white. The store clerk told me to ignore the pkg label that says warm white/pure white and just plug them in to see true color. Found that the “strawberry lights” led are what shows up white but at $20/pkg. Also for those that try to mix the 2 on a tree-I saw yellow (led) and white (incandescent) on the same tree in this garden center. I saw the difference that a year ago would never have seen thanks to you and learning sooo much from your posts. Look forward to reading them.

  • Lisa says:

    This article might interest you! Can you believe they put mercury in light bulbs? We all need to wake up and protest this! 🙂

    • Cris Angsten says:

      This is why they need to be disposed of properly – and why, among other reasons, I will NOT buy them. The other reasons have already been stated – they whine (that sound drives me crazy), and the light they emit is harsh and unpleasant. I’ll use candles and hurricane lamps first. At any rate – I’ll be switching gradually to LEDs.

  • Carol H says:

    I am a hoarder too! I hate the colour it makes my walls look if there is a cfl in the shade.
    Has anyone seen the pictures of the foot someone almost lost stepping on a cfl and breaking it? Just horrible.

  • I don’t blame you for buying $100 worth of incandescents! Supposedly, Texas has a plant that manufactures them and they aren’t going to stop selling them even after January. Maybe you can get them from here. Great advice on changing lightbulb types!

  • L M says:

    For a more optimistic view of post-incandescent lighting options see Randall Whitehead’s take:
    “Many of today’s fluorescents can be dimmed, do not hum or flicker and have a wonderful warm color. The key here is that the best bulbs on the market do not come from the dollar rack at the big box stores… My technique for those clients with a fear of fluorescents is to use what I call stealth energy efficient lighting design. I hide compact fluorescent lamps (CFL), cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL) and light emitting diodes (LED) within traditionally styled fixtures and behind architectural details. If they can’t see a bulb that looks like a softy ice cream then they won’t instantly hate it!”

  • Ellen says:

    Don’t even get me started on this government mandate of outlawing lightbulbs! Just one of many big-brother programs quietly instituted, and most people don’t even realize that this one is coming so soon. In the US at least, I believe it is a phase out program. “Only” 100W bulbs will go away in 2012. Not only is it decoratively less attractive, it is supposed to be harmful to your mental health to have constant exposure to non-full-spectrum lighting, which apparently is what most of these new compacts are. Gotta run, I am off to the store for more 100W bulbs!!! Great post as always.

  • Kay says:

    CFLs light quality is awful! Here in SoCal, incandescents are NOT available except for the odd left-over that a vendor still has in inventory. Dealing with these new lighting issues makes my head ache! Proper disposal of CFLs is going to be another big issue.

  • Sara Smith says:

    CFLs definitely have their problems…the proper disposal issue Kay mentioned above, the problem if one breaks (although they are better now than they used to be), and what you pointed out about the standard color being horrible.

    But, they are better for the environment in terms of energy usage, and that makes more of a difference to me than the longevity, personally.

    I have found that the “reveal” CFLs are MUCH better. They emit a warm glow. They work better with warmer paint tones, and completely eliminate the sickly glow that regular CFLs produce. I pay the extra few $$ for them. They are worth it!

  • Maria Killam says:

    Hi Isabella,
    Yes I know Lighting Warehouse (that’s one of the 2 I meant when I talked about 2 in Richmond).


  • Joan says:

    Boy, this one sure set off a chain of comments! Now I’m definitely going to hoard more ‘real’ 3-way bulbs. I read an interesting tidbit: one reason CFLs were introduced is because incandescent bulbs produce heat. In Canada, we need heat. With the CFL bulbs, not only is the light nasty but the heating bill goes up. Not a great trade-off in my books.

  • Trell says:

    GE Reveal all the way!

  • kelly says:

    I have gotten rid of most of the CFL lights from our house, the light they put out is so unpleasant! Found this out the hard way when helping my best friend paint her living room a light buttery yellow. As the day got later we started turning on the lamps and she stood back and said uh oh I hate this color! After we have painted all day! Funny thing was it looked great by her chandelier, and everywhere else it was a sick greeny color. Light bulb lit up above my head (ha ha) and I realized it was the CFLs! So we replaced them with regular light bulbs and our buttery yellow was back!

  • Dale says:

    I am trying not to hoard and failing. Have you ever checked out seascape lamps? Beeyootiful lighting and wonderful customer service. (no affiliation just a very happy customer)

  • debra says:

    This is one I’ve GOT to respond to! I don’t think you’re crazy at all. I’ve been hoarding bulbs as well. And despair to think what I’ll do when all the incandescents are gone. Debra

  • Maria,

    Great post and your snaps explain the situation perfectly. I say let’s switch to battery operated candles, they create great atmosphere, soft light and are perfect in every room and all wall colors too! This saves your supply of bulbs also.

    Currently I’m using GE Reveal bulbs and have a supply of them stored.


  • I really liked your example of ‘soft’ versus ‘clear’ lighting! Those shadows really are horrendous with the clear bulbs! Will have to keep that in mind!

    I don’t mind the switch to CFL’s so much, they’ve come a long way since when I was little (and my parents always used them) and I am sure they will continue to improve. I also am interested in any new developments in LED lighting.

  • EB says:

    Hi Maria,

    I really love your blog for all the educating you do. I hope you don’t stop doing the in person workshops as I look forward to joining you some time. I was interested to read your recent entry on CFL bulbs. I’m sorry you don’t have access to a wider variety of lamps and bulbs in Vancouver and thought your readers might be interested in these two links. One is from Rejuvenation (a wonderful lighting resource), which you may have visited on your trips to Seattle and the other by a local light bulb store here in Portland called Sunlan which is in our Mississippi neighborhood. (at the bottom there’s some very useful information about how to evaluate lightbulbs) This store is incredible and Kay kind of “prescribes” lighting for various situations including SAD, which is common in the Northwest.

    I wish you the best in all your wonderful new undertakings,

  • lynne allard says:

    Maria, I hate ‘hospital lighting’, so incandescent bulbs are one place where I comprimise my green values! My sons teacher recently went to a conference where they talked about the effect of lighting on childrens behaviour and learning, and the take-home message was, appararently, no fluorescent lighting in classrooms….I’d love to find out more about this. Thanks for another great blog post! Lynne xo

  • Jill says:

    I recently did a color consult for someone and recommended Benjamin Moore’s Coastal Fog for the kitchen and adjoining living room/eating area. She called me to say she loved the color in the living room…but reported that it looked minty green in the kitchen. When I came over to check it out and see what was up, I realized they had CFLs in their kitchen light fixtures overhead- no wonder the color looked so different!

  • Karen says:

    Why is it all the men, the husbands insist on the CFL’s? Mine included. We have a small war of the Roses particularly with one lamp, it seems once a week one of us is changing the bulb to “our preferred” type. It is so silly. Why do women care about the color and the men care about the supposed value of these CFL’s. Hubby also bought some under cabinet LED’s from Hong Kong because he didn’t like the cost of replacing the halogens that put out such clear beautiful light. I loved them so of course he did not! These Hong Kong hacks are horrible greenish yellow light and I’m just sick over it. Why, oh why is this a man versus woman issue? So glad other people posted that they have this issue too. Maria -post about the man VS woman in this lighting arena and in design in general.

  • Darcy Tidd says:

    I am NOT a fan of compact flourescent bulbs either! Thank you for voicing what everyone seems to be thinking. Here are my top three for wishing we could ban CFLs instead:

    ONE: they do not last as long as they say they do…I’m a testimonial for that one. The CFLs we put in our most used light fixtures lasted about three months at best. Which means they aren’t cheaper in the long run.

    TWO: in colder months they need to “warm” up… meaning I had to dilly dally to put on my make-up until the lighting was fully available.

    THREE: CFLs contain mercury. We all know mercury is BAD. Check out just one of many articles at

    Anyway, those are just my thoughts. I share your and many other’s sentiments about CFLs. 🙂

  • Liz says:

    I find all this bragging about not using CFLs astounding. They save energy and that helps preserve the planet we are leaving to our children and grandchildren. If every US home replaced just one light bulb with a light bulb that has earned the ENERGY STAR, we would prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
    As others have observed, there are non-incandescent environmentally friendly alternatives that are better the the original CFLs. So unless you are a member of the flat earth society, stop and think about what is really important.

  • Avilin says:

    While the aesthetic side of me is missing the lovely glow of incandescents, I have to agree with Liz’s comment about remembering the big picture behind CFLs. I also agree that, since these bulbs will be an inevitability in the design landscape for the foreseeable future, a more fruitful discussion would be how to adjust design/color choices in consideration of CFLs. Considering energy-saving light alternatives such as LED lights in design would also be very helpful. Unfortunately, we live in a time of shrinking resources–even a nice stockpile of incandescents is a finite resource. I’m convinced that some of the most brilliant design choices I’ve ever seen have been ones developed in circumstances of restraint. Our energy restraints (including our growing need for CFLs) may produce lovely solutions, if our nostalgia for the past doesn’t blind us to current possibilities.

  • Nicole says:

    My husband thinks I’m crazy because I am a light bulb fanatic! I have tried several brands of CFL’s to find one I like. Sylvania White Light CFL’s in 60W cast a nice clear, clean light–I use these in lamps with off white shades and for task lighting. I have also found that the Rona brand, soft white 60W CFL’s cast a nice warm light–they’re not perfect, but as close to Incandescent as I can find. I have not found a CFL Daylight brand that I like–they all seem to be too blue/cold. I also replaced my 6″ pot light bulbs with LED’s that pop in and cover the entire old fixture (really updates the light without having to replace the entire thing!). The LED has a diffuser over the actual bulb so it casts a beatiful warm light–not harsh at all, turns on right away and dims beautifully.

    It is possible to find replacements for Incandescents. Improvements are made all the time–we just have to keep testing different brands to find the perfect fit. It can be done!

  • David says:

    I use pink or peach toned bulbs-incandescent-in the bathroom and master bedroom. These bulbs give skin tones a marvelous glow. I have never used a 100 watt bulb. I use 60watt max but mostly 40watt with dimmers on everything. Soft pools of light work best in interiors for me. The new bulb products do not duplicate this type of atmosphere.

  • trish Berns says:

    Your friends lamp, I love. I have a big oval hanging version of it in my master bedroom. It is a show stopper! I just built a new home. Lighting was a challenge. IHATE CFL’s refuse to put one in my house. It cost me a small fortune to go other routes, (halogen) but way worth it!
    I have bought a life time supply of incandescent bulbs. It wouldn’t surprise me if there ends up being a black market for them.

  • Jessie says:

    um…genius. I love the simple dont-know-why-i-love-you-but-i-do insights.

  • Anne Elise Hudson says:

    I have read and reread this post over the last several months, and I must disagree.Hanging on to incandescent bulbs because you’re comfortable with their quality of light would be like hanging on to light strictly by fire and candle, or keeping gas lights rather than electrifying. Yes, it will affect color choices, but there are so many ways to mitigate. The warm whites are much better, not all the compact fluorescents are that weird shape, and it’s time to really experiment with the LEDs that are coming out. One thing that I have found to be highly successful in warming up the compact fluorescent is the color on the inside surface of the shade…paint it gold, or coral, and everything warms up beautifully. Just saying…

  • Anders Hoveland says:

    Something else many of you may not be aware of, those CFL bulbs leak out UV radiation. This is probably not good for your skin, just like it’s not a good idea to be out in direct sunlight for more than a few hours at a time. Can anyone say “premature wrinkling” ? My brother is one of those rare people with skin sensitivity problems. He says that the skin on one side of his face gets a little sore if he sits too close to a lamp with a CFL bulb for more than 20 minutes.

    In addition, the UV from these CFL bulbs can cause fading of furniture or artwork over several years. So if you have brightly colored furniture, or an expensive antique oriental rug, a CFL bulb may not be the best idea.

  • Betty says:


    Would you please do a blog post about LED vs. Halogen lighting as it relates to ‘pinky beige’?

    I have pinky beige tile in my basement and I am at my wits end trying to figure out which lighting works best to tone down the ‘pink’….I have pictures of both lighting influences that I’ll be more than happy to share with you if you are interested…

    I’ve been converting my lighting to LED and I really like the lower kelvin value LED’s for the home but it is really dilemma for me in deciding which lighting is best for pinky beige…and the difference between the two is significant!

    Thank you…

    • Jen says:

      I am facing the same dilemma as Betty–which light is better at downplaying pinky beige? Any insight would be greatly appreciated 🙂

  • D.G. says:

    The ‘curly’ bulbs are ugly, cast an ugly light, and are being forced on us. It’s infuriating. I learned to buy pink bulbs from 2 designers in Houston, years ago. So flattering. Guess I’ll start hoarding, too. There will be a black market for the old fashioned bulbs. Otherwise we and our homes will all look sickly and with no ambiance at all!

  • Rachel says:

    I am utterly outraged that we are all going to have to suffer with hideous lighting!!! I am down right sickened by the light cast by these energy effecient bulbs. It is hideous! Lighting is so very crucial to our mood, our sense of being, ambience…it dictates the whole energy in which we surround ourselves. I am upset that people don’t trust their insticts on this feeling. They block out the reality and say, “well I must be crazy for wanting a certain light, let me squash those feelings and sit in hideous lighting.” There are certain seemingly small things in life that actually inhance or detract from our mood, our entire sense of being. Lighting may seem like a small thing. A color may seem like a small thing. I propose that it is actually a very important thing that can either positively or negatively effect your mood.

  • Ellie Cassio says:

    I love the Cree LED lights. They give a true rendition of the paint color, they use 9.5 watts and are cool to the touch. They also work perfectly with dimmers. Home Depot in our area has put the Cree bulbs on sale from nearly $13 to nearly $7. After we tried them, we quickly went back for more. They expect a lifetime of 25 years, with a 10 year guarantee, I think. Love their color and cool touch.

  • cakequeen says:

    It is too bad that the info Maria put out is only about one type of incandescent and one type of CFLs. CFLs can be very good with a nice warm quality of light, and dimmable, but you have to look for the right ones. LEDs once were like the early florescents with a cold blue cast, but that is also changing. There are still plenty of them out there but they are changing rapidly and I’ve bought some good LEDs recently from Ikea that have warm cast and were less than $10.00 each for dimmable 60 watt-like bulbs. They can last for 20 – 25 years and use about 75 – 80% less energy than incandescents. The best LEDs are purchased from a good lighting shop. Recently a brand called SORAA has released a superb replacement for halogen lamps called ‘VIVID’ which is used for commercial displays. It has 2700 and 3000 temperature light with a color rendering index of 95 – which is EXCELLENT. I’ve replaced all the halogen lights in my ceiling cans this past month. I’m very sensitive to the quality of the light and color on my walls and I cannot tell the difference between the new LED lights and the old halogens I took out. I expect my electric bill will go down substantially.

    Friends, we have a CO2 crisis on our hands with the extinction of 25-50% of all species on the planet expected in the next 50 years if we don’t get on top of it now. Our CO2 levels are now 400 parts per million – the highest in 3 million years. If we don’t reduce our energy guzzling incandescents I surely hope all of us will find other ways to reduce conserve. But reducing our energy load with money and energy saving LEDs is one very easy way to start.

  • Beverley says:

    I, too, have hoarded incandescent bulbs and have some nice Reveal. But I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them. I’m now buying Cree and Ikea LED bulbs and I like them. I had a hallway painted a soft yellow to give the illusion of sunlight, but the hallway became dim and I didn’t realize it. I bought new light fixtures recently, which each carried two bulks, I stuck the Crees in them and the hallway has suddenly become wonderfully, deliciously bright and cheery. Now I can even see into a dark, unlit closet. I could never find anything in that closet, which is in sort of an alcove from the hall lights and had been considering hiring an electrician to run lights in there, but now I don’t need to. I can see everything!
    Also the yellow paint in the hall just looks better with the LEDs, which are frosted, by the way. (I think I had old incandescents in those old builder-original lights – thought they were CFL but I hadn’t changed them).
    The other factor: I find that the CFL bulbs dim over time. I had one in my garage and found it horribly dim. But after my hallway experience, I put an LED that was the equivalent to a 100-watt bulb in there (my only light source in the garage) and eureka! So wonderful.
    Love the LEDs, but I do find that replacing LED in potlights in my kitchen gives a more direct, brighter light, and I’m not sure I like the piercing light that comes from them. I liked the older, softer ones.

  • T. Wright says:

    I must be extra fortunate bc I was totally unaware of the “mandated” switch to the new bulbs. Several years ago I noticed that we were accumulating a ‘LOT’ of incandescent light bulbs of various wattages, enough of them that the large drawer in the laundry room would no longer accommodate them all…… upon asking, my sweet man informed me that several wattages were already no longer being made and others were being phased out.
    Fast forward…. (past the ugly, I love the phrase, ‘death spiral’, Ms. Andress Hoveland coined), I’m so happy someone in our home in was paying attention…..
    I am loving some of the newer LED’s, we have switched out several lamps with those bc the light is flattering to the colors near them.
    As usual this was a great post Maria, even though I must have seen it when it was posted, for some reason I hadn’t read it before. It’s very pertinent today, you were ahead of your time as you usually are. Thanks for showing the difference in the light the different bulbs produce so clearly.

  • Karin C says:

    Depending on one’s focus and interest, innovation does not always equate with improvement!

  • Julianne says:

    I hate Government regulations even more now, that we are stuck with theses hideous light bulbs. All of the beautiful restaurants, and night spots, even the country clubs have switched to this lighting . It totally changes the feeling of the room from warm to cold and creepy. It also changes the way people look. I figure if they look like corpses, I look like a corpse as well. I was seated in a upscale restaurant just last night. The lighting was so bad, we got up and left. Before they changed out the light bulbs it was a warm romantic atmosphere. It just makes me sick. dose anyone have any suggestions, besides hording bulbs. They will run out eventually. Thank you Mr president!

  • Trudy Wright says:

    You’re not alone in hoarding light bulbs, my husband bought enough to fill the shelves in a small closet……. each shelf has a different wattage. He’s clever that way!! Great post, I enjoyed it and learned something new, thanks!! T.

    • F. Beth Russo says:

      Boy, talk about opening up a can of worms.

      I just finished staging my rental property and ran back and forth to the store trying to find a new ‘ice cream cone’ style bulb that didn’t emit such a horrid, cold, dreary light. Especially in a windowless room. They call the bulbs a soft glow. Yuk! I was hoping for the best but the DR is adjacent to the kitchen which still had the original bulbs of days gone by. What a disappointing and glaring contrast. It made the DR room feel like a jail cell.

      I then went straight to my old favorite lighting store where they knew me by name from my Staging/Design days. I was thrilled to find a Tupperware box of the ‘old pre-historic bulbs’, as described by the young new sales clerk in a condescending manner. Thank goodness. I bought the three I needed and then after thinking about it, I went back the next day and bought their entire supply.

      Maria, if anyone has the company name still manufacturing the preferred bulbs of days gone by, please, please post in CAPS in the subject line for your loyal followers. Thank you, thank you.

      P.S. You know what else I’ve begun to realize with this throw away mentality? You can spend a lot of money on a beautiful modern work of art style (chandelier) that includes the bulbs. When I asked how I change a bulb (because it’s not obvious) they tell you you cannot. You just toss out the chandelier. Reeeeallly!!

      • Maria Killam says:

        OMG that’s crazy! You can still find those bulbs in lighting stores they are simply not front and center. Ask for them, I also have bought hundreds of dollars of stock! Maria

  • K. says:

    Remember when florescent lights came out and everyone looked like a cadaver? Then they got much better while reducing energy use, a pressing problem for the globe. The same has happened in the LED market. LEDs are fabulous for bringing down energy use/costs and even better for their longevity. I appreciate the ones that I have in hard to reach places.

    Incandescent lamps have a nice glow but they are old technology. They are what we know and so we go back to what we know when faced with what we don’t. LEDs have surpassed them in color, energy use and longevity by a long shot. Fortunately things have gotten very good with LEDs, but you need to be a bit knowledgeable about choosing which ones for each situation.
    First, you need to know what kelvin to choose (the lamp’s temperature range.) 5000K is cool/cold light. That is nice in some situations but not most. 3000K is neutral to cool and 2700 is warm like an incandescent. Then you need to know about CRI, the color rendering index of the lamp (bulb). A color rendering index of 80 doesn’t enable complete reflection of the colors around the area that is being lit, it does so by about 80%. That might be ok for a closet or work spaces but not great for a living room with various colors. The best color rendering index in LED’s is 93, at 93% colors are vivid and rich and pretty accurate. This is what display lighting usually has.

    So, when purchasing LED lighting look for kelvin (lower numbers mean higher warmer cast, and look for higher CRI. CRI is important and not always mentioned in the packaging, usually because it is low. Those lamps are cheap and not worth the purchase. Like everything else we buy that we care about look at brands. Phillips, Green Creative, Soraa are top brands with very high quality lighting. They are not the bottom of the barrel supermarket or hardware store choices. They are more expensive, but worth the money to get the quality lighting you need for each situation. They have MR16 replacements that are excellent, especially Soraa’s “Vivid” line. I’ve replaced ALL lighting in my house with these 3 brands and my electric bill is substantially reduced. My warm peachy walls look splendid, and I don’t have to get a ladder every year to replace short lived old technology lamping.

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