Watts Up!

From wall sconces to glass lamps, lighting opens up a spectrum of design possibilities.

November, 2005

Lighting brings clarity where there were only murky shadows, brightens up a room and even changes wall color. When decorating, installing new lighting is an easy way to revamp the vibe of any room.

From an elegant, dining room chandelier to dramatic recessed lights in the study, every room benefits from proper lighting. Get enlightened with room-by-room trips from our local lighting experts and refresh the living room, bath and garden with the flick of a switch!



Much like a forest’s delicately balanced ecosystem, with its layers of fauna–ground cover, shrubbery and canopy–rooms need layers of well-balanced light to create a comfortable, livable home. “Layered lights eliminate unpleasant shadows and improve a room’s appearance,” says Kyle Kamakura, of Dial Lighting Gallery, supplier of residential and commercial lighting.

Rhett Garon, of Pacific Ceiling Fans, agrees. Aside from general overhead lighting, he says there are three basic lighting types: ambient, task and accent. Ambient lights set the mood. Task lighting provides workspaces with individual lighting control. Accent lighting includes decorative chandeliers, wall sconces and pendants that function as directional lighting, drawing attention to a field of view.



Living rooms pose a series of lighting challenges. They are usually the largest rooms in the house, often buzzing with a variety of activities, all requiring different types of lighting. This is one reason why Pacific Ceiling Fans Inc. expanded its inventory to include an extensive selection of lighting. The company’s Aiea store and new Ward Avenue location now carry a wide range of indoor and outdoor lighting fixtures (see example above).

Garon says that, in living rooms, choosing the right light is as important as its placements. “You want to avoid lights that hang too far down or shine in people’s eyes,” he says. “Keep the space open and unobstructed.” In a high-traffic area, he suggests hanging light fixtures at least nine feet from the ground to avoid accidents.

Garon notes that Minka-Lavery, a line of classic, simple lighting, poses clean, crisp designs suited for living room environments. For example, the Minka-Lavery hanging chandelier is popular among homeowners for its less ornate design and natural iron oxide finish.



Proper lighting is especially important in the bathroom. Balanced, close-to-natural light at the sink and vanity is a necessity for women applying makeup and men getting a nice, close shave.

Kamakura, of Dial Lighting Gallery, says inadequate vanity lighting will cast unwanted shadows on your face, like when shining a flashlight directly down at your head. “For example, a lot of baths have recessed lights, because they have a clean design, but they cause shadow effects on your face.” Solution? Kamakura refers back to the importance of layered lighting. He recommends supplementing any type of harsh lighting with a variety of task and ambient lights. The combination, or layered effect, will soften and fill in the room. To create even and consistent light at the mirror, he suggests a pair of dimmable sconces. With one light installed on either side of the mirror, the sconces illuminate the vanity area evenly.

Another option is a modern, cosmetic mirror with built-in lighting. Dial carries the stylish, round Tigris mirror by Tech Lighting. Its chic border of diffused white light provides shadow-free illumination.



The bedroom is where we start and end each day. From choosing clothes in the morning to reading in bed at night, proper bedroom lighting is more sophisticated than the single, clinical, fluorescent overhead. This is especially true in the master bedroom, where two adults may be on two different schedules.

For those who enjoy reading before they snooze, Jenn Johnson, of PacificHome, suggests a pair of table lamps, as they provide just enough light for bedside reading while remaining sensitive to sleeping partners. Plus, table lamps are within arm’s reach at lights out.

PacificHome offers the fun, trendy Lights Up line, featuring stylish, affordable table lamps with metal finishes and linen shades.

For those looking for exotic décor, Bali Moon Hawaii carries a collection of Indonesian home furnishings, along with several choices of table lamps. One of the company’s lamp collections resembles Easter eggs. Creatively made with colorful fiberglass, the lamps are artwork by day and multihued, ambient lights by night.

For a modern edge, INspiration is full of smart design ideas, including unique, personalized accessories that take bedrooms from sleeping areas to dream rooms. “We want to offer something different, something no one else has,” says Joette Colgan, of INspiration. The company provides homeowners with a huge selection of contemporary home furnishings from its 24,000-square-foot Pearlridge showroom.

INspiration carries the Cattelan Italia line, which offers clever, space-saving approaches to bedroom lighting. Its clean, sleek headboards and end tables include built-in lights. The Tango side table, for example, lights up from underneath, accenting the objects above it, and replaces the need for a nightstand light.



In the past, a couple of $1 bulbs provided all the light a cook needed. But that was before the kitchen became the entertainment hub of the house. Today, kitchens need task lighting for workstations, ambient lights for entertaining and general lights for eating casual meals in the kitchen.

Rather than installing dozens of lights, Danyal Correia, president of Honolulu’s Mr. Electric, says dimmers allow homeowners to adjust lights to match the mood and task at hand. Honolulu’s Mr. Electric is a full-service electrical company, providing lighting solutions from installation to repair.

She adds, “Dimming switches provide savings, because not as much electricity is used when a light is dim versus fully lit.”

The choice in light fixtures, placement and bulb voltage are key design elements in setting the mood and tone of each room. Marc Dumas, of Lighting Elegance, says people should choose lights that reflect their lifestyles. Lighting Elegance carries a variety of lighting options, from glamorous chandeliers to sleek, modern rail systems.

“My wife and I make batches of 20 to 30 individual pizza doughs and host make-it-yourself pizza parties,” says Dumas. “The kitchen and dining room fill with people having fun, tossing dough around.” To boost the party atmosphere, Dumas used a sassy, s-shaped bronze monorail, with vibrant amber Melrose pendants.

For formal dining room settings, where flour isn’t flying, Dumas says chandelier designs have come a long way. “Grandma’s wagon-wheel-shape, 12-light monstrosities are gone,” he says. Today’s cleaner, more contemporary chandeliers enhance the dining room, not create distractions.

“One great line, Hubbardton Forge, features oval-shape glass fixtures that complement rectangular tables,” suggests Dumas. “The elongated oval shape balances the table’s four-cornered setting better than a round fixture.”

For the average eight-foot-tall ceiling, he recommends hanging the chandelier so its bottom is at least 30 to 36 inches above the table. Add three inches for each additional foot of ceiling height. “Just as you would hang artwork at eye level, the chandelier should be easily visible, as well,” says Dumas.



Illuminating a home’s exterior is as important as the interior lighting, but it poses a different set of challenges. Exterior lights need to offer safety and security, and enhance the house and landscape.

For security, Conrad Kampp, electrical buyer for City Mill, suggests motion-activated security lights for dark areas. “Motion-activated lights deter would-be robbers and provide automatic walkway lighting,” says Kampp.

For the do-it-yourselfer, City Mill carries Designers Edge exterior lights as part of its wide selection of high-quality security lights. Kampp says the lights come with user-friendly installation guidelines.

See the Light, Make the Change!Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO), General Electric Co. and Webco Hawaii have partnered up to challenge Oahu homeowners to buy and install 100,000 compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs by December 31, 2005.

The campaign, referred to as “See the Light, Make the Change,” saves the state energy, and homeowners money. CFLs use about 75 percent less energy than old-fashioned
incandescent bulbs. By installing 100,000 CFLs, Oahu residents will save approximately $1 million worth of energy, 11,000 barrels of imported oil and 6.5 megawatt hours of power over three years.

If that’s not encouragement enough, $1 off coupons for the purchase of two GE spiral CFL bulbs are available through participating retailers, including Longs Drugs, Times Supermarket, Foodland, City Mill, Daiei and 7-11 stores, and online at www.heco.com.

Make the change to CFLs today!

Aside from safety, exterior lighting enhances a home’s architecture and landscape. Greg Lee, of First Look Exteriors, is not only an award-winning landscaper, he also owns First Look Exteriors, for which he creates custom, hand-blown indoor and outdoor glass lamps. Unlike ordinary exterior lamps, the lamps’ glowing glass jazzes up the color and texture of surrounding trees and shrubbery.

Lee’s landscaping expertise ensures optimal placement for his outdoor lights, which are subtle but key elements in his landscape designs. According to Lee, lighting should highlight the landscape, not become the focal point. “Some people buy a two-dozen-light set and install them all two feet apart, creating a runway effect,” says Lee. “That’s a big no-no.” Rather, dotting the landscape with a few glass lamps, he says, is a good start.

For those looking for unconventional exterior lights, fiber-optic lighting offers a high-tech alternative. “Fiber-optic lighting enhances any landscape feature during the day or night,” says Clarence Nishimoto, of Hawaii Fiber Optic Lighting, one of the few fiber-optic specialists in Hawaii.

Fiber-optic lighting is made up of hundreds of individual fiber strands contained within a plastic cable. A light source, usually an incandescent bulb, transmits light through the fibers. Since the bulb is separate from the fiber, electricity does not run through the cable. “Fiber-optic lighting enables me to illuminate water as it flows over rocks, transforming water features into shimmering, colored patterns,” says Nishimoto. At the company’s Mililani location, Nishimoto installed fiber-optic lighting over a waterfall that spills into a koi pond. The enchanting water feature plays host to a nightly public light show, from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

• Bali Moon Hawaii • 66-200 Kamehameha Hwy. • 637-0012 • www.balimoonhawaii.com• City Mill • Eight Locations on Oahu • Honolulu 533-3811 • www.citymill.com

• Dial Electric & Lighting Gallery • 2240 C Kaluaopalena St. • 845-7811

• First Look Exteriors • 2164 Auhuhu St. • 371-4397 •www.1stlookexteriors.com

• Hawaii Fiber Optic Lighting • 94-430 Nui St. • 623-1988 • www.hawaiifiberopticlighting.com

• Honolulu’s Mr. Electric • 91-110 Hanua St. • 521-7117 • www.mrelectric.com

• INspiration • 98-1005 Moanalua Road • 484-0245 •www.honoluludesigncenter.com

• Lighting Elegance • 3057 Waialae Ave. • 735-3567

• Pacific Ceiling Fans Inc. • 250 Ward Ave., Suite 170 • 487-2322 • www.pacificceilingfans.com

• PacificHome • 1115 Young St. • 596-9338 •www.pacific-home.com


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