Thursday, June 23, 2016

How Everyone in Charlottesville (and maybe your town) Can Stop Light Pollution

This entry was inspired by Facebook comments written by Jim Duncan, the Charlottesville real estate agent behind the Real Central VA blog, and Waldo Jaquith, who knows a lot about stuff (read this if you need to know). Jim posted about this problem and Waldo made a comment about something we can each do to make it a little better...

A few weeks ago, Jim shared this article which says that 99% of Americans and Europeans live under artificially bright skies (add in the other continents and the number only goes down to 80%). We all know that if you live near a city or large suburban area, your skies are never totally black at night. When you've visited a less-developed area, you've probably done what I have - looked up and thought about how nice it was to see all the stars. This article goes on to talk about how artificially bright skies disrupt migrating birds, our health, and the rain forests (no joke, there's a separate article just about the effect of our light on the rain forests).

Fabio Falchi et al.

When it comes to the birds, city lighting and architecture is causing them to lose their way, often flying into windows. There's an article about how prevalent this is in Washington, DC. One building, which has trees in an atrium that is lit at night, agreed to dim their lights so the birds aren't quite so attracted...but I'm sure there are street lights that illuminate the area a bit, too.

Wouldn't you want to rest there if you were a bird on a long migration trip?
(Bill Couch / Creative Commons)

As far as our health goes, all the artificial light around us affects our sleep cycle. I started wearing a sleep mask when I lived in our downtown condo because the lights in the parking lot were still affecting the bedroom, even with the roman shades down and drapes drawn. I still wear it in our house because we have neighbors who leave flood lights on all night. I sometimes joke that it's like living next to a penitentiary because it is so bright outside. When we move into our back bedroom, we'll be installing a few layers of lined window treatments to block the light out.

There are a few things you can do at home to cut down on light pollution.

1. Replace outdoor lights with "dark skies compliant" fixtures.
I'll be honest and say that I assumed doing this would be hard, but this part is really simple. All you have to do is be aware of the shape of the light. To make things even easier, most of the websites that sell lights have "Dark Skies" sections! The options aren't limited at all.

Generally, you want fixtures that throw their light downward. If the fixture is lighting the area above it, it's probably not dark sky compliant.

Since seeing the graphic below, I've been looking at the lights around me at night and mentally rating them on this scale. I'm happy that the street lights on the Charlottesville Downtown Mall are compliant.


2. Put your lights on timers or install motion sensors.
Motion sensors and timers ensure that the lights are on when someone needs to see, but cuts light pollution when you're asleep.

We switched our garage lights to motion sensors a little over a year ago and I love that the light goes on when I pull in on the driveway. We have a couple more that we should switch over and it's always a pain when we get into bed and realize one of those lights is still on.

3. If you use LEDs, keep them under 3000 Kelvins.
Apparently, blue light is especially bad, so those super bright, flood-style bulbs should be avoided. This is why so many towns have lights that are sort of orange-ish. Those are dark sky compliant.

Whether your style is traditional, transitional, or modern, there are great outdoor lighting fixtures that are dark sky compliant.

Traditional wall lantern via Wayfair

Transitional lantern via Wayfair

Modern lantern via Wayfair

Want to get started? Here are some sources for "Dark Sky Compliant" lighting:

[Share to Pinterest]

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Small Update Leads to a Big One

I'm not sure why I always have to point it out when I mess up, but here we go. In our condo, I always used the same colors on trim work - Benjamin Moore's White Dove and Sherwin Williams Alabaster. The colors seem like equivalents to me, but I have never looked into it. Anyway, I thought my trim was bright and crisp in the condo.

In this house, I continued using Benjamin Moore's White Dove in several rooms and the more I looked at it on the trim, the more I thought it looked a little dingy. Consider this picture from Halloween:

It's not horrible, but the trim is more subtle than I would prefer. Leaving something that's sufficient, but doesn't seem quite right is hard for me, so there was a point when I couldn't walk through the foyer without thinking about how that trim needed to be repainted. There are so many projects still on our list that it seemed a little crazy to fixate on the trim. I decided to give myself one afternoon to repaint the trim.

Looking for the "right" white convinced me that you are better of just picking a color randomly than googling for suggestions. Every design blog has posted about white paint (including this one). I had some BM Simply White leftover from another project and hesitated to use it because everyone seems to be falling over themselves for this color lately, but anything could be better than the sad trim I had.

Out came the paint brushes...and the little, angular craft painting brush I use for trim.

I liked it. I didn't love it at first. But it worked. I liked my foyer again. Even Olivia, the sheep, seemed happier.

The adjacent living room started looking really sad. The previous owner had ever surface painted with matte, ivory paint and next to the pretty pink and white foyer, the living room looked dingy, too. You know what happened next...

I had a lot on my plate when all this was happening and I figured that I would save a little time by ordering my paint from I ordered on a Friday around 10 AM and the website said that orders placed by 3 PM would most likely be shipped via FedEx the same day. I was a little disappointed that my order didn't leave the store in New Jersey until the following Tuesday. The paint arrived on Thursday.

The cans were all dented, so thank goodness for the metal brackets that kept the lid from spilling in-transit. The only problem was that neither the packing list or website told you how to get them off. I wound us using the smallest screwdriver attachment I had to pry them off the lid.

I put my standard eggshell on the ceiling (it really is better than flat) and walls, then semi-gloss on the trim. I continued my beloved Shell Pink in the living room and by this point, Simply White was growing on me.

Here's where things were before I started working on the trim...

Better photos and "after" pictures are coming next week since I'm only home on the weekend to take pictures in daylight.
[Share to Pinterest]

Monday, June 20, 2016

Jean-Louis Deniot for Baker Furniture

It's been a while since I've had something pretty to share on the blog, but driving by the Baker Furniture store in Georgetown yesterday reminded me of these beautiful images the Baker team sent recently. Architect and interior designer Jean-Louis Deniot is the newest collaborator in Baker's Guest Designer Series.

The overall feel is contemporary, but these pieces could easily sit next to other styles. Do I need to go on and on? Let's get to the images. I also picked out a few of my favorite pieces at the end.

You can see more pieces on Baker's website, Facebook, and Instagram.

[Share to Pinterest]

Monday, June 6, 2016

A Return to Green Front Furniture

I can't believe that it's been about a year since my last time to Green Front Furniture in Farmville, Virginia. I've stopped at the store's northern Virginia outpost a couple times, but have been too busy to make a proper trip to my favorite place to look at furniture.

Marc and I made the trip (a little more than hour south of Charlottesville) on Memorial Day too look for a sofa for our forma living room. We didn't find the right sofa, but we had a lot of fun exploring Farmville and all of Green Front's buildings.

This was Marc's first visit and I don't think he realized just how much ground we were going to cover that day. He stopped to check out A LOT of the outdoor furniture, even though shopping for a patio or deck is a long way off for us! I have to admit that I couldn't help but test out these first two pieces. The first is a one-of-a-kind market sample (presumably from High Point Market).

 There's a lower-level in one building that is full of chairs and I saw so many pretty patterns and colors...

 When a mirror seems huge in a warehouse, you have to wonder if your ceilings would be high enough for it.

I LOVE "puzzle" tables like this one:

There are so many dressers and chests that look like they are straight out of the Horchow catalog.

 This chair had me second guessing my plans for our living room. I love the silver!

 If you like this next chair and ottoman, move quickly. We helped my mother-in-law buy the one that was in the warehouse. The one of the floor is available!

Building 9 has Hickory Chair, Jonathan Charles, and some other very nice casegoods. That's my favorite building of all! I can't believe the light fixture in the picture below is still available. It is amazing in person and the price is fantastic.

The bar in the next picture is incredible. It's basically a room that takes five people to transport to your house and assemble. One of the salespeople said it's being sold for about $30,000 retail, but they are selling it for $12,995. It's definitely a conversation piece that requires a grand home!

 When I looked at this picture back at home, I wondered why we left without buying anything. What a gorgeous mirror! The lamps are great, too.

Speaking of great lamps...

The basement of building 9 is mostly used for antiques and there are so many ginger jars and vases. My favorite pair was already sold. :(

I kind of want to go back and get this silver bowl (is it a wine chiller?). I love those elephants!

Some of the Green Front Furniture buildings are old shoe factories. They aren't air conditioned, but there are huge, industrial fans set up to keep air moving. This is especially helpful as you get to the upper levels, where it can be a little stuffy.

The tippy top floor of building 10 is off limits, but I think it's cool that you can peek up the ladder. I wonder if it was used for storage in the building's previous life?

[Share to Pinterest]