Home & Garden

New LED lights color-corrected to cut harshness

Dear Debbie: We are putting new lighting in our kitchen and also in our motor home. We want to use the most energy-efficient lights we can find. We have seen LED lights but don't like the harsh light they throw off. Have you any ideas on low-energy lighting that would work for under and over cabinets? - Brian

Dear Brian: For years we put up with the cold blue-white light cast by fluorescent lighting in offices and under kitchen cabinets. It was more energy-efficient than regular incandescent light bulbs, but the harsh ambiance was a challenge. LED lights use even less energy, but they also cast a bright, sharp light that is not conducive to interior rooms. The manufacturers of fluorescent lights came out with a softer, warmer light to meet the challenge, and you can now find LED lights that have been color-corrected to provide a beautiful incandescent light.

The Tape Light system by Connexx is designed to be easily installed and flexible around corners, and its compact size allows for almost invisible mounting using adhesive strips (no screws) so that you see the light but not the source. You can add up to 24 Tape Light strips to one transformer to customize the length to your own situation. Great news on the energy front: One Connexx strip uses less than 1 watt of power, and the bulbs last about 25 times longer than conventional incandescent bulbs.

Undercounter lighting and lights that illuminate cupboard interiors truly build on the design elements of any kitchen. The Connexx Tape Light system is featured in the kitchen shown here, lighting the plate rack and the back-splash. Lighting is a practical component for counters to help in food preparation. You mention you have a motor home. This easy-to-install system is recommended for boats, mobile homes, workrooms and the office. Their website, www.tapelight.com, shows you how to install.

Thank you to all my readers who send in tips and sources for many of the fabulous products you see in these columns. Sharing knowledge about the design and decorating field is a great way to keep us all up to date, and it’s also very inspiring to see and hear about what’s new and exciting in your home.

Dear Debbie: About 10 years ago I bought an expensive Italian dining room set, and after a few months the varnish coat started to go yellow. The store replaced it with a set from another manufacturer, and the same thing happened. Now the store has closed. We have asked different furniture refinishers, and they don’t want to touch it. The set has beautiful rounded lines and is white, and the yellowing ruins it. What can we do? You are our last hope. – Roland and Louise

Dear Roland and Louise: Oil-based lacquers do have a tendency to yellow over time, but I don’t have an answer to why your set would have discolored so unevenly or dramatically. Your only recourse is to repaint and, again, I am puzzled that your furniture refinishers “would not touch” the job. From the photo you sent, the furniture looks to be in good shape and has beautiful lines. The process would entail sanding the surface to give it tooth. Then apply a good quality oil-based primer sealer and let this dry for 24 hours. This will afford a clean, fresh surface for you to paint. Use a low-luster acrylic paint, and apply two coats, allowing drying time between coats. Finish with a few coats of water-based varnish in your choice of sheen. This won’t yellow.

Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at www.twitter.com/debbie_travis. Please e-mail your questions to house2home@debbietravis.com.