Dangles: the living room lights hanging from cup hooks in the ceiling

Lighting

Andrew Kerrby author page

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Friday April 15, Thursday May 12

Process of elimination

Wow! There are so many lights to choose from! Thankfully I was able to eliminate most on the basis they were either: a) hideously looking, or b) prohibitively expensive, or c) hideous and expensive. Once you cull the crap and costly the options are limited. Thankfully there’s not many lights in 60k House – only 13 in total, inside and out. While being small in area, the place has some decent volume to it – the ceilings are up to 3m high. This offers flexibility when selecting lights. It’s amazing how the selection of light fittings can alter the feel or appearance of a particular room. Personally I hate downlights – the acne of the ceiling.

 

Flex: flexible cord and coat hooks - offering flexible layout options for the lights in the living room

Flex: flexible cord and coat hooks – offering flexible layout options for the lights in the living room

Flexibility

In Scandinavia they are a bit more stylish and smart when it comes to lighting. Wait. They are much more stylish and smart when it comes to most things relating to design. I only recently found out that most apartments rented in Europe come without any light fittings at all – this might explain why they rely on floor lamps so much, and why their light fittings are nicer – because people take them when they move. Another style of lighting I associate with Scandinavia is the low, sometimes retractable, light over the centre of the dining table. Lights don’t need to be stuck way up on the ceiling, or even fixed in the one place.

 

Decisions: Kyle considers which hooks to hang the lights from

Decisions: Kyle considers which hooks to hang the lights from

 

I always had the idea to suspend multiple lights in the living room. It was simple enough – run a couple of cables out of a ceiling rose, hang some cup cooks from the ceiling, and take the lights to where you need them. You can adjust the position, the height, the grouping – and also create a funky pattern with the chord (if that’s your thing). Funky patterns aren’t really my thing (I’m all about functionality and practicality) so once I figured out how I would set up my living room (at least for the summer) I repositioned the lights where I needed them: away from the TV, above the dining table, near the couch for reading, and over the book shelf. Here’s another thing: lights can hang low – if you’re not going to bump into them. If you hang lights over something that you will walk around (dining table, book shelf, etc) you’re not likely to hit them. Another great thing about LED’s (there are so many great things) is that they don’t get hot – they are cool enough to touch. That’s cool.

 

Safe: LED bulb - warm colour, cool to touch

Safe: LED bulb – warm colour, cool to touch

Lightbulb moment

I had been struggling to find decent lights that I liked and could afford. I had always envisaged the external lights to be stainless steel up/down lights – they look stylish, but also come with the stylish price tag. I changed my mind and bought a black pair anyway for the verandah. I wasn’t entirely convinced about them (always keep the receipt). When Alan the electrician came to install the other lights I confessed I wasn’t sure about the external lights. We talked about bunker lights – ubiquitous, nautical (I can see the water), shack-like, cheap. Alan said that bunkers would probably provide more light, and you can put different LED globes in them. Cheaper light, cheaper globes and more effective. Done deal. Or so I thought.

 

Glowing: the external bunker lights make the polycarbonate glow at night

Glowing: the external bunker lights make the polycarbonate glow at night

 

I went to Bunnings to pick up some bunkers. There were more options: LED slimline, oversize, eyelid, clean or with a cage. I sought out, and found, a knowledgeable team member (no mean feat). After an informative chat weighing up the pros and cons we narrowed it down to just two options: clear or cage. Both were the same price, same size, same colour, and same globe capability. Then I remembered the broken windows I caused as a kid, throwing balls around outside – time at 60k House would invariably involve ball games. A cage to protect the glass diffuser seemed like a good idea. And at that instance I reverted back to selecting items that were most suitable for the project – effective and economical. I had been wowed by the ridiculous range of lights and fittings but was now back on track.

 

Tough: the bunker lights will hopefully be able to withstand some things thrown at them

Tough: the bunker lights will hopefully be able to withstand some things thrown at them

Regulations

The Building Code of Australia includes an energy efficiency section that includes lighting: internal areas are allowed to have a total of 5W sq/m; external areas 4W/ sq/m. I was limited to 305W inside and 132W outside. I have 9 LED bulbs totaling 73W for all of my fixed internal lighting; 33W outside. The house is by no means dark and dingy – LED lights are just so damn efficient. And last for ages – up to around 10,000 hours. All of my lights are warm (slightly yellow) as opposed to cool (clear white). I simply prefer the colour and ambience that warm lights create.

 

Sparky: Alan installing the bedroom light

Sparky: Alan installing the bedroom light

 

Alan said he would supply an LED sensor operated twin spotlight for above the front door – it’s economical, effective, and one less light that I had to select. The entry hall is the only room in the house without any concrete (floor or walls), so I decided to splash out and buy a concrete lamp holder. The bedroom has a plain white suspension kit with a plain white lampshade. I haven’t been able to find any decent spotlights for the kitchen that I like (and can afford) so am making do with a couple of batten holders that work just fine. I’m still on the lookout for some affordable twin spotlights that will provide directional task lighting to the kitchen, or reflect off the angled plasterboard ceiling down onto the bench. Another option I was exploring was a roll of tiny LEDs, plugged into a powerpoint and fitted beneath the shelf that runs above the bench along the wall – it could look good and work well but seemed a bit flashy.

 

Concrete boots: the only concrete in the entry is the light fitting

Concrete boots: the only concrete in the entry is the light fitting

Fire and water

I want the bathroom to have a bit of an industrial feel, combining the rough with the refined – exposed copper piping, rough Huon Pine duck boards, etc. First I bought a conical brass lampshade. I took it back and bought a copper suspension light kit. I went back again and bought a conical frosted glass lampshade with a brass fitting. I left the shop feeling pretty chuffed thinking it would match perfectly with the copper kit. Brass. Copper. Two different metals! I took the lampshade back to the shop but it was only available in brass. Oh well. I installed the lampshade anyway and then realised the shower head was chrome, the elbow was brass and the pipe was copper. The light nearly matched perfectly!

 

Steampunk: the bathroom light, with mixed metals

Steampunk: the bathroom light, with mixed metals

 

Costs: Living (cord, ceiling rose, lampholders) – $170; External Bunkers – $37; External Spotlight – $66; Entry – $57; Bed (light, shade) – $44; Kitchen – $13; Bath (light, shade) – $36; Bulbs – $131. Total Lighting cost including fittings, lampshade and bulbs – $554

 

Disclaimer: Any advice contained within this blog is of a general nature only and cannot be relied upon. Details provided are in good faith and relate specifically to this project. Any author will not be held responsible for advice or information presented.

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