L.A. at Home

Design, Architecture, Gardens,
Southern California Living

Category: Lighting

Review: Insteon remote-control LED light bulb

The dream of a fully technology integrated and automated home can make a tech geek downright giddy: coffee machines that grind coffee and brew at a set hour, power sockets with built-in USB outlets, steaks cooked medium rare thanks to a Bluetooth thermometer. For every person who thinks a thermostat that learns personal temperature preferences is excessive, there's a tech geek who calls that cool.

Take the new LED bulb by Insteon. Released a couple of weeks ago, this bulb can be turned on, off or dimmed by remote control (included with bulb) or by iOS and Android apps. It's the next step in automating your home lighting: No special lamp attachments needed, no dimmer plates to attach to your wall.  The bulb and remote communicate via radio frequency.

We tested the device and found installation to be simple. Hold down a button on the remote until it beeps, screw in the lightbulb, then wait for a confirmation double-beep from the remote and bulb. The setup worked the first time we tried. At $29.99, the Insteon bulb presents an easy, albeit limited, alternative to much more expensive home automation systems.

Continue reading »

Neutra lamp auction part of effort to fix Silver Lake landmark

LAMA-Neutra-Prototype-Lamp-May12-3 copy
Four pieces of wood, some glass, a light bulb and wire. Do I hear $20,000? That’s the low estimate floated for a 1942 prototype lamp by Richard Neutra to be sold by Los Angeles Modern Auctions on May 6. The value, the auction house said, stems from the piece’s rarity: Only one other like it is known to exist.

Designed for Neutra’s parents’ house in Westwood, the lamp now belongs to Raymond Neutra, son of the iconic L.A. architect, who is donating proceeds toward the renovation of the Neutra VDL home and studio in Silver Lake. Robert Alexander, interim director of the landmark house, said the next phase involves reconstruction of the main roof by the L.A. firm Marmol Radziner, with hopes of eventually reviving Richard Neutra’s original vision: a rooftop reflecting pool with a surface that visually melds with the Silver Lake reservoir in the distance.

Continue reading »

Fluorescent tube lights: clean lines, soft glow, cool vibe

Functionals Luftschiff
In the world of home lighting, the brightest star may be the LED, the long-lived light-emitting diode, but we're showing a little love for that forerunner of energy efficiency: the fluorescent tube. Some of the latest designs celebrate the tube's long, linear shape, and with the help of new bulbs that have a less clinical glow, the result are fixtures that look made for a loft instead of a hospital. The vibe? Cool, not cold.

Castor Design Recycled Tube LightWe've got a sampling of designs with the caveat that sizes and prices can vary so much, you'll want to check manufacturer's sites as well as Google for purchasing options. We'll start with Recycled Tube Light, right, by Toronto-based Brian Richer and Kei Ng, who work under the name Castor Design. They arrange burnt-out fluorescent tubes as an unconventional lampshade. Illumination comes from halogen bulbs set inside the tubes. The design is sold through YLighting as a pendant light or a table lamp.

The Luftschiff, pictured at the top of the post, a new edition to the Functionals collection. Luftschiff takes its name from a 1930s zeppelin, fitting for a 4-foot-3 aluminum vessel that seems to float. The hefty black silhouette emanates pure white light from twin fluorescent tubes.

Keeping reading for more designs ...

Continue reading »

Big Daddy's Antiques moves to a big new L.A. space

Big Daddy's Antiques L.A.
Packed with old-timey home furnishings and industrial objects, Big Daddy's Antiques has the look that certain chain stores are trying to emulate. Think tables made from salvaged wood and lighting fabricated from metal machine parts. But here the vintage pieces are unusual and authentic -- not reproductions.

The business has been around for two decades, starting out as a warehouse for stone and iron garden goods on an obscure corner south of downtown Los Angeles. Now owner Shane Brown has moved Big Daddy's to a somewhat easier-to-find L.A. location near Culver City, one block west of La Cienega Boulevard just north of Jefferson Boulevard. It has more than 16,000 square feet of furnishings and a 15,000-square-foot garden annex, all imaginatively staged by Brown in a former film sound stage with a soaring bow-truss ceiling, above. 

"The displays at Big Daddy's are always inspiring," said Peter Dunham, interior designer and owner of the Hollywood at Home stores, who was shopping for industrial light shades during my visit. "And the furniture has so much personality, texture, wear-and-tear."

Big Daddy's Antiques lightPrices vary from flea-market reasonable ($40 for a vintage seltzer bottle and $125 for Spanish terra cotta olive jars) to antique-store expensive ($8,600 for the pair of leather club chairs pictured above).

Custom zinc, steel and reclaimed wood tables start at $1,650. Big Daddy's also creates elaborate bird cages, priced upon request. The abundance of decorative accessories from Brown's travels across the world are for sale along with a vast collection of 17th and 18th century vellum books, $150 to $1,500 each.

Big Daddy's also exhibits at antique shows and flea markets; check the website for show schedules.

Brown is something of a savant when it comes to creating light fixtures. In a Richard Serra-meets-Martha Stewart moment, he turned aged baking pans, right, into architectural sconces, $375 each.

He also used them as candle holders. See them on the back wall next to an installation of fan grilles in the photo below, a clever trick that could easily be imitated at home.

Big Daddy's Antiques
The drafting table, left, is $2,200. Keep reading to see more of the store ...

Continue reading »

Swap incandescents for LEDs at Christmas light trade-in


Home Depot sold 40,000 miles of Christmas light strings last year. That's enough to circle the globe one and a half times, according to a company spokeswoman.

While most of those light strings were outfitted with incandescent bulbs, the world's largest home improvement specialty retailer is encouraging customers to upgrade to more energy-efficient LED strings with its fourth annual Eco Options Christmas Light Trade-in, kicking off Thursday and running through Nov. 13 at all of Home Depot's 1,961 U.S. retail locations.

LED holiday lights are up to 80% more efficient than incandescent holiday lights, according to Home Depot holiday decor merchant, Brad Whited. LED lights do, however, tend to cost significantly more than their incandescent counterparts. To help offset the price difference, Home Depot is offering $3 to $5 coupons to customers who trade in their old Christmas light strings (either working or non-working). Customers are limited to five trade-ins.

The old light strings are then recycled through the retailer, which has partnered with a zero-landfill processor that separates the strings into their component parts and recycles them as glass, HDPE plastic, copper and tin steel.


America's eco-friendly Christmas tree

Incandescent light bulbs: What to do now

Can I Recycle light bulbs?

-- Susan Carpenter

Photo: Christmas light bouquet. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Rejuvenation opens store in Los Angeles [updated]

Rejuvenation store L.A.
[Updated Oct. 11: Photographs were added for a better preview of the store. The post originally published Sept. 29.]

Rejuvenation, the lighting and hardware specialist based in Portland, Ore., has opened the company's third showroom in a restored 1931 Art Deco building across from H.D. Buttercup in L.A.

Rejuvenation store L.A. One pleasant surprise: The spacious and inviting store has much more than lighting, including a mix of new and vintage furniture and accessories including doormats, barware, pillows, Bauer pottery, candles and coffee-table books. The salvaged finds such as the funky neon sign and rope coffee table that I saw during my visit add a sense of fun.

Because the store is divided into different categories -- Midcentury Modern, Classical Revival, Arts and Crafts and more -- shopping for period pieces is a breeze. Prices range from $8 for a juice glass to $12,000 for the vintage table shown below. Store manager Doug Grooms said most lighting falls in the $100 to $6,000 range.

One area of the new store lets you see the effects of different lightbulbs. You'll also see installations of doorknobs,  light switches, hinges and hooks. (The selection includes period switches for, say, a Craftsman home.) My favorite vignette: intricately detailed vintage lights rewired for sale at the back of the store. 

A grand opening party is planned for 6 p.m. Oct. 13. Proceeds from a silent auction during the event will benefit People Assisting the Homeless in Los Angeles. Reservations are requested.

Rejuvenation is at 8780 Venice Blvd., a location that many people think of as Culver City but that's actually Los Angeles. (310) 400-1872.

Rejuvenation store L.A.

Sneak peek: New from West Elm

New designs in room dividers and screens

"Nano House: Innovations for Small Dwellings"

-- Lisa Boone

Photo credits: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

At Wright design auction, the bright spot is lighting

W Greta Magnusson Grossman 2

For design fans who look to the auction market as their leading economic indicator, the sale Thursday at the Chicago auction house Wright provided one bright spot for the industry: lighting.

W Greta Magnusson Grossman 1Italian lamps designed by Angelo Lelli in the late 1960s performed well, as did the midcentury work of Greta Magnusson Grossman, one of the primary recipients of posthumous adoration now that California design is experiencing a resurgence of appreciation. Her 4-foot-2 Grasshopper floor lamp, pictured at right, had been estimated at $3,000 to $4,000 leading up to the Wright auction. It sold for $11,250. (The design is on view in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's show "California Design 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way.") If you think that the Grasshopper price is stunning, check out the smaller Grossman table lamp above, which went for $15,000 on Thursday.

"California design is really on the make now," said Michael Jefferson, Wright's senior specialist for 20th century design. He said the Pacific Standard Time exhibitions could be nudging the market, but he also noted that most of the bidding for the Grossman designs came from the East Coast. "We're seeing European interest as well," he said.

Though some of the most expensive pieces in the auction went unsold, less costly pieces by top designers still brought near-record prices, Jefferson said. Given the perception of a slightly depressed market, consignors were urged to run with low estimates in hopes of drawing broad interest and sending bids higher. The strategy worked.

"When push comes to shove, buyers are willing to pay for extraordinary pieces," Jefferson said. Lighting in particular performed well, partly because many buyers were seeking functional design -- pieces that would not be not only appreciated but also used.

W Frank Gehry coffee table

W Arthur Umanoff flip clockIn other bidding, the 1971 Frank Gehry coffee table made of cardboard, Masonite and glass, pictured above, had been estimated at $3,000 to $5,000. It sold for $3,500.

The rosewood Flip table clock, pictured at right, sold for $1,450. It was designed by Arthur Umanoff circa 1960 for the Howard Miller Clock Co., and it's just 6 inches wide.

For more results from the auction Thursday, keep reading ...

Continue reading »

California Look: Outdoor lamps by Kindle Living, Linda Allen

Kindle Living Linda Allen


















The California Look poll, Round 2: Outdoor lamps

 Outdoor rooms can be as fully furnished as their indoor counterparts thanks in part to some technological advancements in lighting. As part of our two-week contest to help define the California Look of 2011, we first sought your opinions on patio planters. Today we ask: Which of these two outdoor fixtures, both born in California, lights up your eyes?

And the nominees are ...

A. The Lumen lamp by L.A.-based Kindle Living, left. The firm has refashioned the look of propane patio heaters and introduced a model with a battery-operated glowing base, featured on L.A. at Home back in January 2010. For our contest, we're nominating Kindle Living designer Arturo Fis' larger-than-life Lumen, a plug-in patio lamp made from a mix of plastics (some recycled) that stands more than 7 feet tall and glows with six standard light bulbs.

B. The Corra table lamp, right, part of interior designer Linda Allen's collection called Live. Anywhere. Using a patent-pending 8-watt LED (comparable to a 55-watt bulb), the 32-inch-tall lamp is made from spun aluminum and resin with decorative sunburst diffusers and laminated shades that can be used indoors and out. Allen's designs are wireless, powered by batteries that can last up to 140 hours at the lowest of three dimmer settings. 

Have a favorite? Illuminate us with your vote below. Voting in this category will close in three days, so share your opinions now about why your pick captures the spirit of home and garden design today. Winning designs and reader comments will be featured in a forthcoming article.



Coming Wednesday: Indoor-outdoor fabrics.


0-LAT-Home-1951 ALSO:

The California Look: 1951 inspiration for 2011 contest

The California Look: Round 1, patio planters

Homes of the Times

-- David A. Keeps

Photo credits: Kindle Living, Linda Allen Designs



How to choose a light bulb: The incandescent and alternatives

Lights bulbs: the most discussed topic that few still understand? Quite possibly.

Take the bulb on the far left: That's easy, you say. It's a compact fluorescent. But how much energy does it really save compared with a traditional incandescent bulb, and how much can it lower your bill? And how does it compare with the bulb immediately to the right, an LED?

And if that's an LED, how is it different from the bulb that is second from the right, also an LED?

And if the bulb on the far right is a halogen, what the heck is the thing in the center? An incandescent? A halogen? A halogen incandescent (if there even such a thing)?

You can Google "light bulb ban" and spend a couple of hours sorting out the mess, or you can read Times staff writer Susan Carpenter's explainer on modern alternatives to old-school incandescent light bulbs.

Article: energy-efficient light bulbs

-- Craig Nakano

Photo: From the left, a compact fluorescent, an LED from GE, an EcoVantage halogen incandescent from Philips, an LED from Philips that looks yellow in the box but glows white when plugged in, a halogen.

Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times


Plumen, an alternative to ugly fluorescents

Can you recycle Ziploc bags? Cereal bags? Wine corks?

The most water-wise house in L.A.?

The Realist Idealist: Green home improvement

Turn a vintage bicycle into a hanging lamp? How the restaurant MB Post pulled off the look

When architect Stephen Jones shared his design for the Manhattan beach restaurant M.B. Post a few weeks ago, several readers wanted to know the story behind the playful bike-turned-lamp, above.

  So we asked.

“It was a wonderful mistake,” Stephen Jones says with a laugh.

MBPOSTThe architect had purchased the 1954 bike on EBay for $100, thinking it could somehow relate to the theme of M.B. Post, formerly an old post office. When the team couldn’t find the right sculpture for a slot in the wall, a light bulb went off in Jones’ head. He ran home, grabbed a bike hook from his garage, and sure enough, back at the restaurant, the bike fit the space perfectly.

An electrician ran low-voltage wire inside the frame of the bicycle, then popped in sockets in the handlebars and wheels. Initially the bulbs stuck out perpendicular to the wheels, so Jones simply bent the upper ones toward the ceiling and the lower ones toward the floor.

The final touch, in keeping with the vintage vibe: six antique-style Edison light bulbs with an exaggerated filament spiral.

— Lisa Boone

For an easy way to follow the California scene, join our Facebook page for L.A. home design.


Pro Portfolio: The design story behind M.B. Post

Photo credit: Rick Poon



Recommended on Facebook


L.A. at Home in Print

In Case You Missed It...

Hot Property


Recent Posts
New home for L.A. at Home |  July 17, 2012, 3:45 pm »
The Scout: What's new on Pico Boulevard  |  July 13, 2012, 8:22 am »
Review: Insteon remote-control LED light bulb |  July 10, 2012, 8:28 am »