The Myth of Compact Fluorescent Lamps by Jamie Briesemeister

Energy conservation has become a hot topic over the past few years. Consumers are urged to turn off lights, use less hot water, and switch to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in place of incandescent bulbs. I agree with the first two points, but I take issue with the idea of switching every light bulb in one’s house to CFLs. While they do have substantial energy savings over incandescent lamps, they also have a hhandful of negative traits that are rarely discussed as frequently. Here’s what you may not know:

  • CFLs contain mercury. Lamps that are unbroken pose a minimal health hazard – but as soon as they are tossed in the trash and end in a landfill, they are going to break. Once this happens, people may be exposed to toxic levels of mercury vapor and/or other metals, which can be breathed easily – or easily absorbed by the ground in landfills. Proper cleanup and disposal procedures should be followed to prevent mercury poisoning. See web links and numbers at the end of this article for proper disposal information.
  • Most CFLs are not designed for dimming. Dimming CFLs can damage the bulb and/or dimmer that controsl it – thus shortening lamp life. For screw-in CFLs that are dimmable, proper ‘burn-in’ or ‘seasoning’ procedures should occur before dimming. Even then, when dimmed they often dim to 20% or so, then shut off abruptly, or they flicker. Higher performance light fixtures are available, but are not size or price-matched with screw-in CFLs.
  • When CFLs are dimmed appropriately, they do not become visibly ‘warmer’. The color instead looks blue-white, making the environment look washed out and skin look pasty. A stark contrast to the warm white color often desired for a pleasant and relaxing ambiance.
  • CFLs should really be used in areas where lights will be left on for a lengthy period of time.When used in areas where the light is switched on and off frequently, CFLs tend to have a shortened lifespan.
  • Utility or work spaces are best for CFLs. According to the Home Lighting Control Alliance, CFLs should only be used where lighting color and quality are not important.

Luckily, other lighting options exist to provide you, the consumer, with a better overall ‘green’ lighting experience…to save energy, the environment, and ultimately save money and time.

Light emitting diode, or LED, lights are one great option to consider instead of compact fluorescent bulbs. In new construction or as a retrofit solution, LED lights do tend to cost more upfront, however, one LED ‘bulb’ may last as long as 50,000 hours: 50 times longer than that of an incandescent bulb and 5 times longer than that of a CFL. Here are a few more facts in favor of LED lights:

  • LED lights use less energy than other lamps on the market: 85% less energy spent per incandescent lightand 50% less than a CFL
  • LED lights are dimmable AND produce a warmer light quality. Everything looks more lifelike and the warm, pleasant ambiance desired when dimming is attainable.
  • Overall savings matter. On average, one 65-watt light for 50,000 hours would cost around $325, but with one 12-watt LED light, it costs around $60. Replacing bulbs less frequently saves resources, time and money.
  • See for yourself. Energy calculators help you see your savings over time:

As you can see, simply swapping out light bulbs for CFLs isn’t the only option available. In many cases, it may not be the best answer at all. With new fixtures becoming available – and prices dropping – consider LED lighting when trying to conserve energy in the home. In the long run, it saves more energy, more money, is dimmable, and produces a pleasant light quality. It’s a win – win!


CFL disposal information:

Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Hazardous Waste Program: 1-800-361-4827 1-800-CLEAN-UP

LED lighting information:

Home Lighting Control Alliance:

Think Outside the “Tree”: Non-Traditional Holiday Decorating Tips by Kimberly Reuther

At a young age, we are taught to “think outside the box” and discover our own uniqueness. However, when it comes to interior decorating, many people have a hard time finding their vision. I’m here to offer some ideas for non-traditional ways of decorating for the holidays.

Color is a good place to start. Many homeowners have asked for ways to incorporate holiday themes without adding in green and red. My answer to that is usually texture and sparkle! But really all white dinnerware deserves a touch of color, it doesn’t have to be red (see image below), it could be blue, purple, augergine, whatever matches your kitchen & your personality!

I saw this table display at Pottery Barn, hanging the white platters on the solid color wall, and I thought it was a great idea. Now, you don’t want all your serving platters hanging when you need to use them for serving but you could replicate this look with a mixed-match set of dishes or things found at a flea market. You could also add a bit of holiday flair by hanging ornaments randomly on 3-5 platters. This is actually a fun look that works through all seasons.

Another display that caught my eye was this one at Pizzaz 2 Interiors in Lamp & Lantern Village. I just discovered this little store/interior design firm and I love what they have to offer. Lots of great ideas big & small in such a small space! Anyway, I love how the contemporary deer head with a simple wreath offsets the elegant and colorful bowl of ornaments. That’s a very easy thing to accomplish, as we all have extra ornaments laying around.

Turquoise is the hot color for 2010 and we are already seeing it show up in fashion and home accessories. These are great examples of holiday scapes without the traditional red & green. A collection of white vases, urns and objects feels crisp against the deep blue and lime green color combination. Below that, the fireplace mantel with soft aqua lamps is very unique in that a flamingo is the focus rather than a winter wreath. Both photos were taken at MKS Designs in Lamp & Lantern.

Which brings me to this beautiful seashell holiday tree from Wisteria (see photo below). I love it! I love the soft blue mixed with the natural khaki and white tones. The flocked tree goes against anything you would see in Florida yet it works beautifully!

So, who says you have to hang a wreath on your front door? The entrance to MKS Designs shows off these unique over-scaled baskets filled with large ornaments and a bit of pine greenery mixed in. What a statement!

Speaking of wreaths, I love this wreath with silver branches instead of greenery. So fun and festive! Also, this boxed topiary is a cute little addition to an end table and it still pulls off the holiday spirit with an unusual shape and animal print container.

Lastly, another easy tip for your front porch is the bronze pot filled with tree trimmings. Replace your summer flowers with extra branches from the bottom of your tree and you’re done! if you want to embellish this look, just add sparkly ornaments or a string of white lights. Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

Previously written by Kimberly for St. Louis AT HOME’s website.  Read more of Kimberly’s work and view her portfolio at


Walking in a Winter Wonderland by Kimberly Reuther

As many people know I am a huge fan of anything white. White has been a very popular trend in design in recent years from the casual, Coastal Living style to the minimalist ice white design. During this time of year, how do you incorporate holiday spirit without adding color? Actually, neutral color schemes require the same balance all year round: texture, texture, texture. Layers of texture and subtle color changes make neutrals work.

For the holidays, adding in a bit of sparkle transforms your space into a wintery escape. Clear glass, mercury finishes, glitter, metallic sheens coupled with earthy burlap textures, wool fabrics, tweed, raffia, and twigs create just the right balance of textures. Here are a few ideas to try out in your home. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Gray has become the new black as of late. What better way to show off white elements than to put them in front of a gray backdrop. Notice how the textures of the pillows and screen work to reflect light and soften the deep gray sofa. Also, the simple glass vases in a multitude of shapes and colors add a bit of whimsy to the space.

Woodland elements with a modern twist are perfect for adding the layers of texture to a white space. Adding in garland and oversized ornaments can transform any mantel, console or buffet in an instant.

Originally written by Kimberly for Freshome.  View more of Kimberly’s work at


What makes an oven great? by Kimberly Reuther

“I love to cook, correction, I love to bake. Mainly, I love to make cookies for the holidays. When I was growing up, my grandma used to make so many different kinds of cookies, the Tupperware containers spanned for miles! Well, maybe it just seemed like that to an eight year old with visions of chocolate chip cookies in her head!”

Cookie Press Cookies are my absolute favorite!

I also remember baking cookies and pies and strudel cake (so seventies) with my mom. Brownies were a favorite and she could never seem to get the consistency of them correct. The edges you could throw against the wall and the middle was as gooey as the batter originally started out. A few years and other residences later, I realized it may have had more to do with her oven than her cooking skills.

Living in an apartment in the city, I had to get used to gas stoves. Now, if I cook at my parents’ house on an electric range, I think time has stopped as I wait for the water to boil! Needless to say, I have become a huge fan of gas ranges!

I also love reality TV cooking shows and I thought it was time to find out what makes a gas range good, what makes it better and what makes it the best option for a home cook.

Oh, how I wish my dishes would turn out like this!

Here are suggestions from AUTCOhome:

Good – Bosch model HDS7052U

Key points

  • Touch & Turn® Electronic Oven Control with 8 Cooking Modes
  • Continuous Grates – Effortlessly Move Pots and Pans. Easy to Clean.
  • Sealed Burners Prevent Spills From Entering the Burner Box
  • Integrated Warming Drawer

Better – Electrolux EW30DF65GS

Key Points

  • Wave-Touch™ Controls
  • Luxury-Glide™ Oven Racks
  • Perfect Pair™ Ovens
  • Perfect Turkey® Button

Best – Wolf DF304

Key points

  • Natural or LP gas rangetop with large capacity dual convection electric oven
  • Ten cooking modes
  • Dual-stacked sealed 9,200 Btu / hr (2.7 kWh) and 15,000 Btu/ hr (4.4 kWh) burners
  • Temperature probe feature

Happy Cooking!

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