Our dinner guests moved into the kitchen to read a book and a light bulb went off in my head: Our dining and living rooms were just too dim. Fortunately, a silver, beaded hanging light came to our rescue. New lighting improved the visibility and the decor of my home with just a small investment.
My husband found an attractive fixture -- $10, marked down from $40 -- in the clearance aisles of Urban Outfitters, a national chain. We also upped the wattage by changing our light bulbs to energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) that use 75 percent less energy than a standard 60-watt bulb and will save energy and money.
''Lighting accounts for nearly 20 percent of a home's electricity costs, with the average home containing more than 30 light fixtures, so it represents an opportunity to save on energy bills,'' said Anibal Sepulveda, regional communications manager for The Home Depot.
With our new fixture and bulbs, we expected more light, but we were surprised by the transformation of our living room. Everything -- the wall colors, the furniture and the accessories -- looked upgraded.
Affordable lights are available at high-end specialty stores, national chains, garage sales and thrift stores. Melissa Zegans, store supervisor for six Salvation Army stores in Broward County, says light fixtures and chandeliers are sold there for as little as $10. Her inventory includes one-of-a-kind lights, antique crystal chandeliers ($50) and Tiffany-style lights.
''We get new shipments every day, usually earlier in the day,'' Zegans says.
''Selecting a light fixture is more than just choosing a beam of light. Lighting sets the mood and tone for a home,'' Sepulveda says.
Home Depot offers these tips for selecting fixtures:
• Pendant lights that dangle from ceiling are a great source for general lighting.
• For the best visibility, hanging lights or chandeliers in an entry way should measure two inches wide for every foot of width in a room.
• Track lights can be combined with other fixtures for general lighting or used as accent lighting.
This is from my latest column in the home & design section of the Miami Herald.
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