The New Traditionalism

This traditional interior is enhanced by warm inviting all-LED lighting

This traditional interior is enhanced by warm inviting all-LED lighting

Can modern lighting, particularly LEDs, be integrated successfully into traditional homes? Yes, absolutely! Today design magazines are filled with very modern looking homes and interiors, and LED lighting lends itself seamlessly to the clean lines of this style of architecture. Even mid-century homes are using high efficacy lighting without losing their Mad Men appeal.

This home pictured above, a recent project, is a perfect example of the use of LEDs in more traditional settings. LEDs have taken the place of incandescent or fluorescent cove lighting, halogen shelf lighting and fluorescent under-cabinet lighting in kitchens. Recessed fixtures are now making use of either LED retrofit bulbs or integrated LEDs to produce warm illumination that is now as good, and in many cases much better than illumination from incandescent light sources.

For many years LEDs were a bit of a horror show. They had a greenish or bluish tint, were inconsistent in color, had relatively poor color rendering capability (typically measured by CRI, which stands for Color Rendering Index), flickered, and did not dim well. Now it’s a total beauty show. Today’s LEDs are available in a variety of scintillating colors, including many alluring hues that match incandescents. For example, if you want the color of incandescent light at full brightness you ask for a 2700° Kelvin (Kelvin is the rating used to measure the color temperature of illumination). If you prefer the color of dimmed incandescent, specify 2400° Kelvin. If you are drawn to the color of candlelight then 2200° Kelvin is what you want. If you’re more drawn to the brighter whiter light of halogen, 3000° Kelvin is the right one for you.

No matter which one of these color temperatures you choose there is one other element you need to be aware of before making your final decision: CRI. This determines how close the light source is to the quality of incandescent light and how accurately colors appear under the light. Traditional incandescent light has a CRI of 100. You want to pick an LED that has a color rendering index rating of 90 or higher. But it can be difficult to find this information if you are looking on the packages of LED prodcuts in stores- not every product has a CRI rating prominently displayed. Ask your lighting designer if in doubt.

It’s now possible to use LED sources for all general and specialty applications in residential lighting: luminous cove lighting, recessed adjustable fixtures, subtle shelf lighting, chandeliers, sconces, and exterior fixtures. Now LED light sources can match and exceed incandescent light with a warm color temperature and high CRI. And because LEDs are so flexible, they can often produce a better light with crisper shadows and cleaner rendering than incandescents. Plus they last much longer than incandescent bulbs.

Whether you are building a new home remodeling an existing one, now’s the time to consider the use of LEDs to create a home with a warm inviting ambiance; while saving money and being earth friendly at the same time. It’s win-win all around.