Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Kitchen Lighting: Brilliance on a Budget

Hi Friends,

These tips for low-cost kitchen lighting are kind to your wallet and keep your kitchen shining in style by Karin Beuerlein.

Lighting is an element that can make or break a kitchen. The good news is that adding quality lighting to your kitchen doesn't have to involve big, expensive fixtures or exhaustive remodeling, as long as you think carefully about what you want to accomplish and then use a little creativity. These tips will help you do both, so your kitchen can be shining with style in no time.

Use Fixtures That Perform Multiple Functions
"I'm a big believer in using the 'layers' technique for designing kitchen lighting," says Frankie Cameron, account manager for BellacorPro.com, a lighting retailer based in Mendota Heights, Minn. These four layers, Frankie says, represent the functions that lighting performs in the kitchen:

The ambient layer: The general overhead lighting in a room.

The task layer: "Ambient lighting often doesn't provide enough lighting for specific tasks you want to perform," Frankie says, "so you have under-cabinet lighting, for example, or a light over the sink or over an island."

The focal layer: Used to highlight objects such as pieces of art, architectural details, etc.

The decorative layer
: This layer is used purely for fun. It's "meant to enhance the overall interior design," Frankie says.
Your best bet for budget lighting is to try to find pieces that perform several of those functions at once. Richard Landon, owner of RL Design LLC in Bellevue, Wash., and winner of Best Overall Kitchen in the National Kitchen & Bath Association's annual design competition, did this in his own home by combining ambient, focal and decorative lighting in one smart fixture.

"I bought an interesting, S-shaped 4-foot-long fixture from IKEA," Richard says. "I took out the ugly pendant lighting over my dining room table and put in this really long, curvy thing where I could aim individual lights at the walls in different directions. That would work in the kitchen, too. If you have a single fixture in the middle of the ceiling, go buy a light that's very interesting and eclectic from a budget place where you get good quality for a low price."

Richard particularly likes monorail lighting, which is a stylish modern twist on traditional track lighting that allows you attach different individual lights to one long, curving track. The track is suspended from a single point on the ceiling and its curve can often be manipulated to suit your space. "If you hunt around you can find less expensive ones," he says. "My dining-room fixture is similar to this (see photo), and I bought it for $49."

Bring Light Down to Your Level
Looking for a quick budget-minded lighting makeover? Try mid-level task lighting. "If you want to do something interesting in your kitchen," Richard says, "get some lighting in the mid-zone by using ready-made halogen fixtures. Attach them to the bottom of your cabinets, turn them on and you'll feel like you have a whole new kitchen." Over your sink, he suggests, replace the customary single light with a funky fixture with arms, or a couple of hanging pendants, for an inexpensive but dramatic change.

"Having light down lower is mood-elevating," Richard says.

Take Your Time
"Frugal" need not be a synonym for "frumpy" when searching for the right fixture, but to find unique lighting that meets your budgetary and design needs, you'll need to lurk a while in stores or online. "The Internet is your friend for budget lighting," Richard says, "and if you want do things cheaply, you have to spend the time looking for the right piece." Try the online catalogs of your favorite budget retailer and don't forget to browse eBay.

Think Long-Term — Not Short-Term — Savings
Although the initial cost of energy-efficient fixtures may be slightly higher than those that use traditional incandescent bulbs, keep in mind the true costs of higher energy consumption and more frequent bulb replacement when you're budgeting for lighting. "We're seeing lots of new under-cabinet lighting with [more efficient] halogen and xenon bulbs," Frankie says. "But what's really becoming popular is LED lights. The technology is advancing, making LED a more affordable option."

LED, which stands for "light-emitting diode," is a lighting technology that is long-lasting and extremely energy-efficient.

"The initial cost is more expensive than incandescent," Frankie says, "but the light bulbs last something like 60,000 hours." That's nearly seven years of continuous, cool-burning light.

Do It Yourself
Labor is another hidden cost of adding kitchen lighting. "The best advice I can give anyone is to learn how to do lighting yourself — take a class, take a seminar," Richard says. "If you need someone to help you, go to one of your smaller, family-owned lumber stores and ask the guys at the counter for a handyman they trust. They'll often be less expensive than the ones who operate out of the larger stores, plus they'll treat you fairly and talk to you straight."

The bottom line: Plan carefully when it comes to design ideas, function, energy efficiency and cost of installation. You'll be pleasantly surprised at the dramatic kitchen lighting results you can get on a modest budget.

Check back for more decorating ideas and enjoy a brighter space.

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Live well,

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Facts About Roses

Hi Friends,

A dozen roses can be the language of love. Here, 12 fun facts about rose bouquets compliments of Rose Kennedy.

What is it about a beautiful, romantic bouquet of roses that brings out the accountant in all of us? Hardly anyone can remember the precise amount of the national debt, but at least 92 percent of women can remember the last time they received flowers, and some 56 percent of those blooms would be roses. No matter if you'll be giving or hope to be receiving, here are a dozen freshly picked facts and figures about rose bouquets you can count on:

180 million: estimated number of roses produced for the floral industry for Valentine's Day 2005

64: percentage of fresh roses purchased that are red, followed by pink (11 percent), mixed colors (10 percent), peach or salmon (5 percent), yellow (4 percent), white (3 percent) and other (3 percent)

74: percentage of roses bought by men

32: of rose purchases made by women, the percentage sent to their mothers

24: of rose purchases made by women, the percentage sent to husband or significant other, followed by purchases made for themselves (22 percent) and daughter (16 percent) or friend (14 percent)

20: years that Joe DiMaggio sent six red roses to the crypt of his deceased former wife, Marilyn Monroe, three times each week

3-5: blooms that are sacrificed on a rose bush to allow a single long-stem rose to grow.

6: roses in a bouquet to symbolize infatuation

3: roses in a bouquet to symbolize a couple and their shared love for a traditional one-month anniversary gift

20 - 60: minutes to submerge whole droopy roses underwater in a sink or bathtub (after trimming about an inch from the stems) in the hopes of reviving them

80: degrees F, the highest temperature roses should ever be displayed at; they'll last longest in a cool area

121: years since Kate Greenaway's Language of Flowers was first published in 1885, specifying the meaning of deep red roses to be "bashful shame," white roses "I am worthy of you," red rosebuds "pure and lovely," and yellow "decrease of love" or "jealousy"! Today the yellow rose indicates friendship, joy and caring, and the red is a universal symbol of passionate love.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Check back for decorating ideas and fun facts.

Your kind contribution will allow us to continue sharing great, no cost and cost saving ideas for your space. Click the "Donate" button below to make a contribution. Thank you!

Live well,

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Heart-Shaped Crafts

Hi Friends,

Dazzle your beloved with hearts made from paper, wire or roses with these easy-to-follow projects.

Hearts That Shine

Materials and Tools:
origami or any smooth paper with a different color on each side
tooling foil, 38 gauge
scissors (regular and pinking)
metallic-ink pens
ballpoint pen


1. Cut the paper and fold it to form a square.

2. You can decorate the cover of the card or cut a heart in the center so that you can see the second color inside the card.

3. Cut out small tooling foil hearts. (Foil comes in a variety of colors — brass, silver, copper, red, blue and green, and it is easily cut with scissors.)

4. To emboss, press on the opposite side of the heart with a ballpoint pen. We made dots, spiral and hatch marks.

5. Glue the hearts to the paper.

6. Decorate the cards with metallic-ink pens.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Check back for more decorating ideas.

Your kind contribution will allow us to continue sharing great, no cost and cost saving ideas for your space. Click the "Donate" button below to make a contribution. Thank you!

Live well,

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Improving Home-Energy Efficiency by Installing a Ceiling Fan

Hi Friends,

Experts say a ceiling fan can save up to 40 percent on your summer cooling costs, and up to 10 percent during the winter heating season.

In summer, ceiling fans cool the room by creating a "wind chill effect." For example, if you had a ceiling fan in a room that was 85 degrees, the fan would make the room feel like 78 degrees. During colder weather, by using the 'reverse' setting the ceiling fan saves energy by circulating hot air that rises to the ceiling and blowing it back down into the room.

Safety Alert: Before beginning the installation, make sure the power to the receptacle is turned of at the main switch box. Consider using a voltage tester to ensure that the power is off.

Materials and Tools:
ceiling fan kit
voltage tester

1. Remove existing fixture.

2. Once the fixture has been lowered out of the way, you may want to take the extra precaution of using a voltage tester to be confirm that the power has been turned off to the receptacle.

* Remove the old light bracket, and replace it with the new ceiling-fan bracket.

* In our demonstration, we installed a fan that uses a receiving unit for an optional remote control. The remote eliminates the need to have pull-chains hanging from the fixture, and incorporates a dimmer feature. Install the wireless radio receiver into the switch housing so that it can be connected into the existing wiring according to the manufacturer's instructions.

* Assemble the fan body, canopy and the support rod assembly. The down-rod attaches to the motor, and sets in place using secure pins and set screws.

* Lift the assembly over the open side of the bracket and set it in place.

* Make the electrical connections, wiring the fan to the receiver. If you're not comfortable doing electrical wiring, don't hesitate to call in an electrician to help you with this.

* Raise the canopy up to the ceiling to cover the receiver and wires and fasten it with screws.

* Assemble the blades and blade carriers. The blades simply attach to their brackets with screws.

* Mount the blades to the bottom of the motor.

* Install light fixture to the switch housing. The manufacturer of the fan will provide specific instructions for the electrical wiring.

* Finally, lift the light fixture into place, and secure it to the motor assembly.

* Install the decorative light shades and bulbs.

* Turn the power back on, and test your fan's operation.

Operating Tip: Locate the reverse switch on the fan housing, which will be used to reverse the direction of the fan to help disperse warmer air during winter months.

Energy-Saving Tip: There's something to be aware of when you shop for a ceiling fan, or any other energy related product — the Energy Star Label. This logo means that the product has met the energy savings standards put out by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It's an easy way to tell if the product is energy efficient.

Check back for more decorating ideas and stay cool.

Your kind contribution will allow us to continue sharing great, no cost and cost saving ideas for your space. Click the "Donate" button below to make a contribution. Thank you!

Live well,