Wednesday, December 22, 2010

White Christmas

It seems that the rest of the world has been inundated by snow, but not us.  Sunday night that changed.
A storm largely out at sea gave Cape Cod eight to twelve inches of white stuff.
The light strings were even, but the weight of the snow stretched them out.
It all looked very picturesque - until I had to shovel the stuff.  Shell driveways are a pain.  There's no way to scrape them without depositing the shells elsewhere.

I wish the snow had come a week earlier.  For two years in a row it rained at the annual Christmas Stroll.  This year, though, it was cancelled due to high winds and heavy rain.


Monday, December 13, 2010

LED Christmas

From the start I had decided to have the house wired for Christmas window candles.  Although I wanted to be able to flip one switch and have them all come on, some of them are in bathrooms and are on a GFI circuit so it takes two switches.  I bought the LED bulbs last year but things weren't far enough along to use them until this year.
I am surprised that C6 LED bulbs aren't more available.  They are readily available online, but I have not yet found them locally.  The LED's don't put out quite as much light, but they run much cooler and use maybe 1/10 of the electricity.  They didn't even measure 1 watt each on my Kill A Watt.  You certainly don't need to worry about singeing the window shades.

This year I ran the LED light strings around the porch and deck, but next year I'll probably get more energetic and run them up the gables and across the front of the house.

Our tree is from Balsam Hill.  Although artificial, it's quite realistic.
The LED lights look just like the incandescent mini Christmas lights.  The outer branches are moulded to resemble an actual tree and the inside of the tree is the cheaper twisted plastic strip branches.  If you look closely at the enlarged photo you can see them, but they're not very apparent.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


When we built our first house many years ago, I chose most of the the lights in one afternoon.  Cost was a primary concern and, as it turns out, we've slowly replaced those fixtures over the years.  This time these are carefully chosen and permanent.

I have to note that most people will look at the photos - and there are a lot of them - in this blog entry but only scan the words.

Most of the lights are from Hubbardton Forge.  You can see our road trip to their factory in Vermont, along with our visit to Handmade in Vermont, where we bought most of our fixtures.  Like most of our lights, the front porch light is simple with a few subtle flourishes.
It has the opaque mahogany finish which matches the finish on this one (below), which was a returned item from Handmade in Vermont that we bought for 75% off of list price.
All of the interior lights from Hubbardton Forge have kind of a similar theme, although there are several different styles.  It was a splurge, but they look great.  Most of them have compact fluorescent bulbs.  A few of them, like the Powder Room fixture in the background here, are too small for a CF bulb and have halogen bulbs instead.
The Dining Room light is a Mackintosh style fixture.  The Kitchen downlights are compact fluorescent, although I have mixed feelings about recessed downlights.  They're unobtrusive, but the light is fairly directional and they are relatively inefficient fixtures, but at least they have the efficient CF bulbs.  Sometimes, though, downlights are just the right thing because they are so unobtrusive.  The under cabinet lights are LED.  They're very efficient, long lasting and run cool so that the bottom shelf in the cabinets doesn't heat up.  The pendant lights have kind of a funny story behind them.  We looked at so many pendant lights and wanted to get just the right thing.  The really nice ones have imported hand-blown glass, but can be a little expensive and we couldn't find just the right color.  Then I found McDermott Glass Studio in Sandwich.  We could buy a cheap generic pendant from Lowes, minus the shade, and McDermott can make a custom glass shade for about the price of some of the imported ones.  We haven't gotten around to doing that yet, but we found some really cheap discontinued orange shades at Lowes and put those in for now.  They actually look pretty decent.

The Hall fixture is similar to the main Living Room fixture and the Foyer light.

The one in the corner of the Living Room is one of the new designs from Hubbardton Forge and looks pretty cool at night.  It's kind of a glowing column of light.
These are not my first choice for spotlights, but the price was right.  They're a little too close to the ceiling so they do project light onto the beam.
I really liked the Tech Lighting Sprocket fixture, but they are surprisingly pricey for such a simple little fixture, especially when three are needed.  They also have a neat little heat resistant flight paper shade available.  The cheapies do the job, though.
This is the CF fixture from Home Depot that we used in a number of places like Closets, the Laundry Room and at the back door.
We had a hard time finding energy star ceiling fans that don't look like they're from the Victorian era.  This one is from the Period Arts Fan Company which is an offshoot of The Modern Fan Company.  The wall sconces are dimmable, although my wife has a compact fluorescent bulb on the left and I have an incandescent bulb on the right.  Even with dimmable CF bulbs, they get down to about 50% and then shut down.  The IKEA furniture works pretty well in the room.  For some reason they've discontinued the Tingvoll bed frame.  Some of IKEA's styles can be a little strange, but this one's a classic.
And here's our Master Bath vanity.  The pendant shades are just cheapies from Lowes, but they work.  I like pendants because they cast light in all directions.  The vanity and medicine cabinet arrangement works quite well.  We each have a medicine cabinet for personal stuff and then have drawers in the middle for the common things.  The hard-wired hair dryer is quite convenient too.  I was looking for something a little more modern, but this is about all there is for hard-wired dryers.
The bath fan/lights are also energy star rated.  This one is from Panasonic.  The more common NuTone and Broan fans just don't last so long.  The walls are Benjamin Grey Limestone, which has neat little fossils in it.  The roll-in shower was a bit of a challenge, but I build the receptor myself.  This type of thing is usually done with a thick mud job shower pan, but I didn't have enough height.  The floor joist are recessed 1" and I built this out of wood and cement board and used a Kerdi drain and membrane system.
The fixture over the stairs is another one that was a Hand Made in Vermont return that they sold for 75% off.  It actually went from Vermont to Anchorage and back.
The pendant in the background is another returned fixture, but I had to have the stem cut down.  The alcove at the dormer is a nice little space.
These are the most efficient ceiling fans I've ever seen.  They are Emerson Midway Eco fans and can put out 289 CFM per watt, which is a big difference.  They have aerodynamic airfoil blades and a big efficient motor.
This is not a Hubbardton Forge light, but I thought I'd show our towel hook arrangement in the Guest Bathroom.  We have nine hooks and nine towel/washcloth sets, each in a different color.  This may be a few more than we need, but it works well.
And finally this is the fan/light from Minka Aire in the guest Bedroom.  This room is a big one and is set up with a queen size bed and a trundle bed which can be made into two single beds or popped up to make a king size bed.
We still have little decorating to do, but that will come in due time.