Archive for 2012

Corbett Spellbound Chandelier

Nowadays living rooms are not reserved just for special occasions. The living space is frequently the social center of the home.
It is the place to curl up with a good book, watch TV, visit with friends or entertain formally.

Contemporary living room via Coates Design Architect

Unlike the kitchen and bathroom, where the position of the light fixtures is pretty much determined by the built-in furniture and appliances, the living room often has a more flexible lighting plan.


Tech Lighting Monorail via Applegate Tran Interiors

In new construction you generally see recessed lights.

“Downlights place the most brightness on furniture and floor surfaces.
Three-dimensional forms stand out; the lighting blends into the ceiling.

Space downlights 4′-6′ apart for even illumination.
Arrange the pattern so it relates to doorways and windows. You do not have to keep downlights in a single grid pattern; they can be clustered over conversation areas and spread out in between.”

- American Lighting Association


Kichler Lighting Palla Chandelier

How does one know how much light is needed for a room?
Kichler Lighting has a helpful formula:

Multiply the length times the width of the room.  Then, multiply that number times 1.5.  That gives you the amount of wattage you need to light the room properly for general illumination.

Example:  A room is 12 ft. x 16 ft. (12 x 16 = 192).   Then multiply 192 x 1.5 = 288 watts.
That means an 8-light chandelier using 40-watt bulbs would give 320 watts, which is even more light than needed.


Striking Vintage Style Fixture, via TruLinea Architects

For specific task lighting in areas where stronger light is needed, multiply the area’s square footage by 2.5 rather than 1.5 to find the needed wattage.
A kitchen work island or a desk area where schoolwork is done are examples of task areas in your home.
Theoretically a large living room could according to this calculation get away with one large multi-arm chandelier, but the result would not be that pleasing.

Try to incorporate at least four layers of light in a room , so that you can smoothly transition the space from high energy to relaxing by the touch of a few dimmers.


Tech Lighting Monorail

Sometimes the living room only has one single box in the ceiling that was intended for a flush mounted ceiling light or a chandelier.
In many remodels the ceiling lights were replaced by track lights that are just sitting there in the middle of the room asked to do a task they were not intended for. The result: glare and discomfort.
Use spot lights to highlight artwork while allowing light to bounce back into the room. Great way of getting ambient light without glare.

Here the Tech Lighting MonoRail spots do a great job of creating drama as well as allowing ambient light to reach into the room.







Track Lighting used artfully by Joie Wilson Interior Design

Track lights are great for illuminating artwork, interesting architectural details, bookcases, anything you would like to show off.
By illuminating these focal points you will get the benefit of extra ambient light that doesn’t shine directly into anyone’s eyes.







Tech Lighting Display Lights via Webber and Studio Architects

Start by illuminating points of interest in the room.
Find architectural details like artwork on the walls, a bookcase, heavy beams or a natural stone fireplace.

Once they are illuminated this alone will add a considerate amount of accent light to the room.
Track lighting with wall washers, individual spot lights or recessed lights with adjustable trims are ideal for this task.

In a smaller living area this might do it for the ambient layer of light.  In larger spaces you can add wall sconces or ceiling lights.
Torchieres that light the ceiling can help expand the space visually.


Luceplan Costanza

Once you have lit your focal points, look for your task areas: Your favorite reading chair, a game table, sitting area.  You want “pools of light” to give these areas atmosphere. It’s all about creating a feeling of comfort well being.
Portable lamps have the advantage of being  very flexible.
You can move them around and change the shade color to fit the season.

Remember to layer the light and control the layers independently so the room can adapt to different functions as needed.
Dimmers are a good way to help the change the mood of the room.
As an added benefit, dimmers extend the life of incandescent bulbs considerably.



Cozy Reading Chair, via Rebekkah Davies Interiors + Design

Table and floor lamps with fabric shades add a warm and friendly ambience to the room.
The warm circle of light invites you to sit down, relax, read a good book or engage in an intimate conversation.


Don’t be afraid of being eclectic in your lighting choices.
Got an old lamp base from your grandmother that has sentimental value – pair it with a fresh shade and feel good about setting it on your modern side table.
It’s all about being creative!

Eclectic and inviting living room via 6thstreetdesignschool




Colorful Living Area via Kristen Rivoli Interior Design

Magnificent Living Room via Applegate Tran Interiors

Last week I did a house consultation in a home where there was no overhead lighting in the living room except for two rows of track lights aiming towards the sofa “for reading”.  Horrendous glare, no matter where you were sitting or standing in the room.

Simple fix:  By moving the track close to two opposite walls and aiming the track heads at a beautiful painting,  a huge rough-hewn beam and a colorful wall with family photos the room received enough general light bouncing off the walls. The rest was then filled in with table- and floor lamps. We changed a ratty looking shade for a new one in a neutral tone.

Result: An inviting space with warmth and focus on what matters to this couple.

Cost: a few hundred dollars.


Lifestyles change over time, and furniture gets moved around. That’s the reason portable lamps work so well in a living area.
It’s amazing, how  good lighting can change a space. And it doesn’t even have to be expensive.
A few tricks make a huge difference in making the living room feel comfortable and inviting.

I do so many home consultations where all I do is to haul a few floor and table lamps out from various nooks and crannies throughout the house and demonstrate how creating “pools of Light” creates atmosphere.
We also try to find just the right “wow” pieces to make an instant impact in your room.
At Form + Function we are all about finding good lighting solutions for every budget.

You can create ambient light by placing a $25 floor can light behind a potted plant or by using it to highlight a sculpture.
We have lots of tricks up our sleeves for getting you the most for your money.



Rules of Thumb for Track Lighting
This is one of the most frequent questions we encounter when we do lighting consultations: How far away from the wall do I position my track?

Here are a few guidelines:


For lighting objects on a wall, the wall itself, or any vertical surface, position the track and the fixtures as shown above

  1. Generally, fixtures should be aimed at a 30 degree angle from the vertical to prevent light from shining in anyone’s eyes and to avoid disturbing reflections on the surface of the object. Usually, one fixture is required for each object being accented.
  2. Measure the distance (“B” to “C”) from wall, on ceiling as shown in the tablebelow.
  3. Mount track at “Location” (“A” to “B”) from wall, on ceiling, as shown in the table.

Mounting Distance for Track Lighting

Wall grazing via

Track lighting is ideal for artwork, bookcases, interesting architectural features. Try grazing a stone fireplace with spot lights positioned close to the wall  making the interesting texture stand out. Or highlight a beautiful wood ceiling so that it glows with the warmth of the materials.

Wall grazing is such an easy and relatively inexpensive technique that  can become an important feature in itself.

The effect entirely depends on the texture of the wall, the light source and angle of the beam. A wall graze creates dramatic high and low levels of light on irregular surfaces,such as brick or stucco.

The aim  is to get an even spread of light across the entire wall from an acute overhead angle (between six and twelve inches from the wall depending on the ceiling height), to make the texture  stand out.
You can use a track positioned close to the wall to create this effect or recessed lights as shown in this stunning home by Lacroux and Streeb.of Basalt, Colorado.

Wall washing is another technique that can be used to add light to a room. It is different from wall grazing, which creates more shadows to emphasize texture.
A wall wash will make a wall look smooth and minimize its texture due to the even illumination. To create this effect the lights are positioned further away from the wall.

The rule of thumb for wall washing is for your mounting distance (the distance between your lights and the wall) to equal your spacing distance (the distance between your lights).

1/3 of your ceiling height is a good guideline for determining this.

  • Mounting and spacing distance : 2-3 feet for ceilings up to 9′ high.
  • Mounting and spacing distance:e 3-4 feet for ceilings between 9 and 11′ high, etc.

In addition to the aesthetic effects of wall grazing and wall washing, it is amazing how much you can illuminate a space using light reflected off walls.

Last word: when using light to bounce off and showcase architectural features, always keep one thing in mind: Only illuminate what you actually want to highlight!
Sounds so simple, yet I am tempted to repeat the phrase.
Don’t shine a light up to a spot where you primarily highlight a fire alarm and a faulty patch job, but move the beam so that it hits the beautiful arch and stucco ceiling and leave what you don’t want highlighted in the shadows. That is what shadows are for!


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How Ceiling Fans Work

Modern Fan Co. Pharos Ceiling Fan

(Compliments of  the Modern Fan Co.)

First, a confession: Fans don’t cool air; they just move it around.

When it’s warm, the blades of a counterclockwise-turning ceiling fan push air downward. Like a breeze on a summer day, this moving air makes you feel cooler by evaporating the moisture on your skin. This wind-chill effect can cause an 80-degree room to feel more like it’s 72 degrees. For this reason, there is no need to run a ceiling fan when no one is in the room.

Something else: Most people don’t think to turn on a ceiling fan when it’s cold inside, but this can actually warm up a room. Modern Fans have reversible motors, which means blades can easily change direction (clockwise) and push air up toward the ceiling. This redistributes the warm air that would otherwise be trapped near the ceiling and evens out the temperature in the room. Circulating the warm air also reduces condensation on windows.

Bottom line: Our fans use very little electricity to increase the efficiency of heating and cooling systems.


Now that you know what a ceiling fan can do for you, it’s time to narrow your choices based on your taste, room size, lighting needs and quest for an energy-efficient, reliable product. Here are some considerations in choosing a ceiling fan:

Style: The Modern Fan Co.’s ceiling fans are sleek metal sculptures that work well with modern, traditional or transitional architecture and décor. They are more streamlined than other ceiling fans because of designer Ron Rezek’s inventive way of using geometric forms and attaching the blades without brackets or clamps.

Size: In most rooms, our 52-inch blade span is the most appropriate selection. The 42-inch blade span should be reserved for smaller rooms or narrow spaces (10-foot-by-10-foot and smaller) or when airflow to the area above the blades is blocked or restricted by architectural elements (beams, walls, cabinetry, etc.). Occasionally, two 42-inch fans may be a desirable alternative to one 52-inch fan. Our Altus and Cirrus models are available with a 36-inch blade span for exceptionally small or narrow spaces.

Ceiling height also plays a factor in selecting a fan. The more space between the blades and the ceiling, the more effectively your fan will circulate and distribute air. However, building codes require that the blades of a ceiling fan be at least 7 feet above the floor. Generally, we recommend hanging the fan as far down from the ceiling as is visually appropriate, while maintaining the 7-foot blade clearance above the floor. With higher ceilings, a good guideline is to hang it one-third of the distance between the ceiling and the floor. Keep in mind that optional light kits may add several inches to the overall length of the fan.

Attachment to the ceiling can be accomplished either with a down rod or a hugger. The Modern Fan Co. offers standard down rods, which are vertical poles that range from 3 inches to 72 inches. Down rods work best in rooms with high or sloped ceilings. For ceilings that are 8 feet high, Modern Fan designer Ron Rezek recommends using the hugger versions of our fans, which are short sculptural pieces he designed to continue the style of the fans.

The blades on some models (Nimbus, Pharos, Halo and Cloud) are positioned at the top of the fan body. When hung with the shortest down rods, the blades on these models are very close to the ceiling, reducing the volume of air movement, as explained above. Consequently, these models are best suited for ceiling heights that can accommodate a slightly longer down rod.

Lighting: All Modern Fans have lighting solutions either integrated into the design or as options. Ron Rezek has been a successful lighting designer since the 1970s. When he designed the first contemporary-styled ceiling fans in 1986 and then launched The Modern Fan Co., he sought to not only create attractive ceiling fans, but ones that efficiently incorporated lighting solutions. He was the first to introduce indirect light, direct down light and fluorescent options in ceiling fans.

In addition to conventional ambient light, we offer application specific solutions. For example, the Cirrus provides either general ambient light or directional down lights. The Pensi has a directional down light.

Most Modern Fans are available with a choice of standard incandescent or energy-saving compact fluorescent lamping. Our CFLs provide 75% energy savings and lamp life up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. While dependable for well-balanced, warm light, keep in mind our CFLs are not dimmable.

Our fanlights generally function well as a primary light source for a space, but may not be satisfactory as the only light source in a room. This will depend on factors such as room size, wall/ceiling color and intended use of the space. Be sure to evaluate the wattage listed for each fan light and the amount of light your space requires.

Quality: The Modern Fan Co.’s line has earned worldwide recognition for its distinctive design, smooth action and reliability. The fans are produced on company-owned tooling in the world’s leading ceiling fan manufacturing facility. There is quality control at every stage.

The company’s fans incorporate Ron Rezek’s single-piece, die-cast rotors that are dynamically balanced. The fans’ high-powered motors work efficiently without overheating and have maintenance-free sealed bearings, which can provide a lifetime of use.

Air distribution: Motor speed, blade angle and blade surface area affect the amount of air a ceiling fan puts into motion. Modern Fans have three or four speeds and reversible motors, which provide year-round benefits across all climactic conditions, as explained above.

Modern Fans’ blades are pitched to circulate the greatest amount of air without overworking the motor. Wood blades are constructed of plywood and matched within one gram, helping to insure a wobble-free operation. The Pensi, Velo and Velo Hugger have contoured blades molded in a high-impact ABS plastic to move the maximum volume of air.

Noise: There is no need to endure a ceiling fan with an annoying electrical hum or ticking blades. Modern Fans are engineered to be stable and as quiet as possible. Every fan motor is tested at least twice for electrical conductivity, quiet operation and smooth running. Our fans also have precision ball bearings and noise-reducing components between metal parts.

Energy savings: Ron Rezek was an early supporter of the EPA’s Energy Star program. Modern Fans draw between .6 amps and 1.0 amp on high speed, about the same as a 100-watt bulb, and approximately .4 amps on medium and .25 amps on low. Modern Fans cost just pennies a day to run and because of their efficient way of circulating air, they allow users to reset their thermostat to cut down on cooling and heating costs, and still remain comfortable.

In hot weather, you can save up to 3% on cooling costs for each degree the thermostat is set above 72 degrees, according to the California Energy Commission.

Modern Fans can save up to 10% on heating costs by reclaiming warm air trapped at the ceiling. The opportunity for savings increases in commercial environments with high, open ceiling construction. The stratified air close to the ceiling can be 15 degrees warmer than the air at ground level.

Speed and dimming controls: Why get up and tug on a pull chain when you can change fan speed and lighting with a wall switch or handheld unit? The Modern Fan Co. offers the choice of wall-mounted or wireless handheld units that control speeds and offer full-range dimming.

Cost: Before you buy, know that a “bargain” fan costs you a lot over time. Modern Fans move greater amounts of air more efficiently without irritating noises, breakdowns or required maintenance. They have stronger motors and engineered blades that reduce cooling and heating bills. Our fans are made from the highest quality materials and components and have attractive, durable finishes. After all, if a fan doesn’t look good in your home, why put it there?

Warranty: The Modern Fan Co.’s ceiling fans carry a limited lifetime warranty.


It’s no more difficult to install a Modern Fan than to put in a light fixture (please see detailed instructions enclosed in each ceiling fan box or click on the pliers icon at

The basics: First, the junction box should be as close as possible to the middle of the room. Blade tips should be a minimum of 18 inches from a wall or cabinet.

Turn off the electricity at the breaker before starting the installation.

Use a UL-listed metal box that is approved for ceiling fan installation. The box should be anchored to a ceiling joist if possible or secured to a brace between two joists. Attach the fan-mounting bracket to the outlet box and route the wires through it. Hang the fan and connect the wires.

Attach the blades and light kit.

Turn on the fan and enjoy the comfort.



Extend your living space to the outdoors!

Outdoor Lighting and Fireplace via CG&S Design Build

Outdoor living areas have become a huge trend and it’s easy to see why. This is where we spend a lot of time. Why not  extend the personality and comfort of our decor and personal style to the outdoors?

Outdoor Lights add warmth to this outdoor space via Home Envy

Gone are the days of a small cement porch with a single gas barbeque and a few rickety lawn chairs.  Outdoor living is in!

Since a lot of activities take part after dark it is important to make sure that the lighting is perfect, first of course, so we can see , second for aesthetic reasons.

Stunning outdoor lighting via Home Envy

It’s a good idea to actually create a  lighting plan for your outdoor living space, just like you would do it for your living room or kitchen. Think of all the different activities the space is used for and plan with that in mind: Grilling and cooking, reading in your favorite deck chair, enjoying a romantic meal al fresco or having everyone over for a neighborhood party.
All these activities require different kinds of outdoor lights.

Inspiring outdoor lighting design via House and Home

Just like an interior room outdoor spaces profit from the use of multiple smaller light sources instead of a few powerful ones. The same “layers of light” we are talking about indoors.

An overhead outdoor light can be complemented by a few sconces and a table or floor lamp for task lighting in the seating area.

Outdoor Reading Lamps via

Limit bright lights to high activity areas such as the entrance and your outdoor kitchen and use softer decorative overhead lighting in your outdoor dining and living area.

Keep in mind that great contrasts in lighting, especially outdoors can be trip hazard.  As we age, the eye’s ability to adjust from dark to light surroundings slows, which makes it harder to move quickly from a well lit to a darker area. So, if you are a baby-boomer or older, just plan your outdoor lights accordingly: Avoid sharp contrasts by using multiple light sources.
Use soft ambient lights to fill the completely dark areas with a touch of light, especially at the perimeter of brightly lit areas around doorways and stairs.


Outdoor Path Lights via

A little light goes a long way outdoors

Please, please (did I say it pretty enough?) limit the use of flood/spotlights!! Sure they are cheap and functional, but they are also also extremely glary,  a nuisance to your neighbors and  a source of light pollution.
Of course they have their place: for safety, like at the garage with a motion sensor and at the barn, so you can check that all the critters are safe and tucked in.

Extend your interior design plan to the outdoors

Evenings on the porch are for relaxing.
Fire pits are immensely popular these days.
One of the many reasons is the warm, amber glow of the light (and then of course the fragrance of the burning wood – and the marshmallows!)

A fire pit doesn’t throw a lot of light, but it creates a very unique atmosphere of intimacy and warmth.
You can create this feel with the right patio and landscape lighting.

Outdoor Firepit by Doug Burch

Outdoor Firepit via Doug Burch


We spend most of the time at home in summer outside. We eat all our meals outside and sit and read or visit with friends on the deck every night. We had the dilemma that it was easy to illuminate the deck close to the house under the portal (we live in New Mexico where houses have portals), but further out on our big deck it was pitch black – and we do love to sit and read and that is our favorite spot. Solution: a commercial light string with regular bulbs in the tree branches above reading/dining area. 25W bulbs on a dimmer. Works like a charm and looks so nice, for parties, too!
String lights are ideal for small outdoor spaces, too.

Lighting small outdoor spaces

String lights add charm and a festive touch to your outdoor areas

If all this seems overwhelming, keep in mind that it’s not necessary to illuminate everything in your yard.  Just decide which areas are the highest priorities for you and your family.  Begin closest to the house, since that is where most activities take place.
A few well-placed, low-voltage path or accent lights can have a huge impact on your landscape. Again, follow the principles of indoor lighting: illuminate only what you want to highlight and create focal points.

Outdoor Step Lights add safety and general illumination

Looking at the lights at my own walkway down to the horse barn I cringe, since our wonderfully creative and rambunctious dogs have destroyed every single one of them. My project to keep me busy for a weekend, I guess.

After this experience, I can’t stress it enough, how important it is to buy the quality that can stand up to the (ab)use your yard gets.
In my quest to find affordable high quality fixtures I chose some that obviously didn’t stand the test and now have to do the job over.
Should have looked for bollards like these I saw in the Swedish magazine Hus o Hem. They look indestructible!

I also need this T-shirt from!!!


Outdoor kitchens have gained popularity. I definitely have one on my wish list! Just stumbled across this great outdoor kitchen that uses industrial warehouse lights. Looks so much better than the typical barbecue light and of course illuminates the space so that you can really see what you are doing.




Outdoor Kitchen with Barn Lights

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Spruce up your kitchen for the Holidays with new Tech Lighting fixtures that will make your beautiful counters stand out even more. Finally get the lighting right in your bathroom. Now is the time! All Tech Lighting fixtures are at 25% below list for our Black Friday sale AND we are including a modern tabletop gift with your purchase.
Choose between the charming Hug salt and pepper shakers or the beautiful oil and vinegar cruets both from Mint, Inc. Or choose the serene stacked river stones that hide their purpose as salt, pepper shakers with a holder for soy sauce.
If you want it we will gift wrap your gift and send it to a special person of your choice.
Check off your Holiday gift list and relax!


Artemide Tizio Bulb pre 1993

The iconic Artemide Tizio desk lamp has, among other wonderful features, a long life span.
On and off we have customers stop by, who are at a loss as to how to change the light bulb in their Tizio, and we immediately know that they most likely have a pre-1992 model.
The original Tizio used an automotive halogen lamp. These were not the simple bi-pins we know today, so the head of the Tizio was designed to accommodate the automotive bulb.

How to change a Tizio bulb on a pre-1993 model

The trick is to open the head as shown. The lamp/bulb is removed and replaced from the back.


Ingo Maurer - Light Poetry

At Form + Function we just LOVE Ingo Maurer. We have sold these incredible fixtures for over 20 years and enjoyed every moment of inspiration.

Ingo Maurer is well-known all over the world for his playful, intriguing lamps, light objects and lighting installations.

Buying an Ingo Maurer piece is not just just picking a light fixture. It’s choosing a piece of art, an installation that brings more than just illumination.
You can see many of them in our Santa Fe showroom, or call us for photos from our projects as well as cutsheets.

Visit our Facebook photo album, a collection of Ingo Maurer photos from homes and businesses from New York City to Copenhagen, Tokyo, Rio…

Get inspiration and have us ship you your very own magical Ingo Maurer light creation.

We ship worldwide, efficiently with no hassle and low shipping cost.
We are proud of our projects all over the world and would love to ship one of the wonderful Ingo Maurer light creations to you, too!



Colored Cords

Textile Cords in lots and lots of Colors


No need to bend over backwards to hide your lamp cord. With these incredible colors it’ll be hard to choose just one.

Complete cord sets start at just $49!

Check it out here.



Vintage Cloth Covered Cord in fun Colors

Sometimes the simplest things just make sense.

A colorful cord to match your decor, a socket and a light bulb – voila!

Starting at $49, our Color Cord line is affordable as well as fun.

We are excited to introduce our own line of “Design-it-Yourself” fixtures with textile covered cords in a wonderful array of colors.
Simply choose your cord color (Ok, ok, I know that’s a tough one!), the length, a socket and either a plug at the end or a ceiling canopy – we do the rest!

We can’t wait to share our photos from the restaurant project we are currently working on. We are using lots and lots of our Color Cord, casually draped across a beautiful space.







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