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After we built our planter boxes, the rain came. It came, and it came, and it came, and it took over a week to receive two days of blue skies in a row. The first morning of the sunny-double-days, we got right to work on phase two of the planter boxes – built-in bench seating, insulating and staining!

Jumping back for just a second, we had a consult with a landscape designer from one of our local nurseries, Christy Webber. For $45, she came to our home for one hour, and we talked about the layout of our yard, how much sun we receive (a lot!) and what kinds of plants we were drawn to. I’ll talk more about that in a later post – including the plants we purchased! – but one of the most important things she discussed with us was the necessity of insulating our boxes.

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We told her that we wanted mostly perennials, and maybe (like, if we ever found ourselves with a spare handful of hours) we’d fill them in with annuals depending on the season. Because the ground is the best insulator for perennials over the winter, and because we don’t have that working in our favor, she told us that our plants-to-be would live a much longer and happier life if we lined them with thin sheets of foam insulation.

To keep the insulation hidden under the soil, I used a height of about 18,” 3″ shorter than the top lip of the planter. They cut down easily with a utility knife, and I used a staple gun to keep them in place (this is my favorite – easy on the hands!). We ended up having so many extra sheets, we actually went around and double insulated them!

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A couple of days before we actually built our planter boxes, we decided on a whim to incorporate bench seating under our garage window. Not only would it give us additional seating (or more importantly, CC seating), but by eliminating 4′ of planters, we’d save just a little more money on soil and plants. It seemed like a win-win! And spoiler, it’s already the best seat in (er, out) the house.

Our idea was to bridge the gap between the two boxes along the garage, and we wanted it to blend seamlessly into the simple design of the planters themselves. To start, we built a support ladder frame from 2×4 pressure treated wood:

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We put together the four outside supports first, and each ladder support received two coated deck screws on the top and bottom. Everything was squared along the way to ensure an even, structural frame:

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Next, we skinned the support frame on the front and top with the same 5/4″ x 6″ pressure treated deck boards we used for the boxes, leaving a small 1/2″ overhang not unlike the boxes, too! Shimming between the boards not only helps with drainage, but aesthetically, we prefer the look. Tip: As pressure treated boards dry out, they’ll also shrink up a bit. This will make any spacing you add a little larger in the long run, so keep this in mind.

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With our bench built and all the planters insulated, it was time to stain! In a perfect world, we would have waited another week or two for the pressure treated wood to dry out, but the one good thing about this scorching summer is that the weather allowed us to move a little faster. We waffled on finish for a while, mostly between a cool, modern grey wash or a deep walnut color. In the end, we did a good gut check and realized that there was a slim chance we could grow sick of the grey, and so we went with a classic dark stain. To get the color as deep as we were envisioning, we used Cabot’s semi-solid deck stain in Cordovan Brown. The oil based stain boasts fade resistance and also acts as a water repellent. Sold!

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When we first applied the stain, we might have both panicked a little. It was dark! Really, really dark! At first, it seemed that it was leaning much more solid than semi-solid. I told Scott, this looks like we’re painting them brown! Needless to say, we picked up a few tricks really quickly, and now we couldn’t be more happy with the results. Here’s what we did:

  • We mixed the stain thoroughly and several times throughout the process
  • Scott used a paint tray and roller to apply a good base layer of stain
  • I followed quickly behind with a 3″ paint brush, working the stain into the grooves and cutting in under the lip
  • When I felt that the grooves were filled in nicely, I swiped my brush over the surface to further spread the stain and give it a more natural look
  • It was a hot day, and the stain was quick to dry. Because of this, we worked very, very fast!

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After an hour, the stain soaked into the planters even more, and it was very forgiving overall. The few problem areas I was fretting over were a non-issue! Below, you can see that we painted the stain about 6″ down inside the planters as well. Although it was a little extra work, we knew it would irk us for years if we could see the exposed pressure treated wood above the dirt line! Worth it.

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The next day, we pulled all the planters into place so they lined our backyard. The color of the stain is rich, and it still allows for the wood grain to shine through. It’s exactly what we hoped for:

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Finally, we could attach our bench to the planter boxes! The trickiest part was getting the two boxes level with each other, but Scott worked his magic.

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We added a scrap of wood on each box to give our bench something to sit on, and then we laid our finished bench on top of that. The front panel of the bench hangs over the ladder support by 2 inches, which hides these supports completely:

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We pushed the boxes together until the bench was nice and secure, and we used more coated deck screws to go through each box and into the ladder support. It was raining, but we were excited! DIY waits for no one. (Well, unless you’re trying to stain outside, you know?)

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The front panel of the bench aligns with the second planter panel from the top, and the overhanging top board mimics the lip of the boxes! To give the bench a little extra height and make it extra cozy, we added this 3″ box cushion covered in Sunbrella fabric.

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The cushion stays secured through two small eye hooks in the back:

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It’s been a little more than a week since everything has been stained, and it’s rained almost every day since. We’re happy to report that the rain beads up and rolls right off! Of course time will tell, but we only used half a gallon of stain for 37-feet of planter boxes; let’s just say that we have all the touch up stain we’ll ever need.

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As we progress in the backyard, we get more excited for the projects still on the list! According to my inbox, summer is winding down (back to school and fall sales, anyone?), but I feel like we’re just hitting our stride in our outdoor space. The fireplace is getting her facelift very soon, and we can’t wait to dig in on a big table!

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But first? Dirt. Plants! We’ve learned so much about both. Over the weekend, we had a massive gravel delivery, and whoa, what a difference that makes, too.

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In the meantime, you know where to find us.

  • Michelle Schreib | Birds of Berwick - August 23, 2016 - 8:03 AM

    I’ll have to go back and see what you’re planning for the fireplace, but I actually love the character of yours! It’s so cute and looks amazing with the dark planters. Green plants will only enhance this whole area, so bravo!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 23, 2016 - 8:08 AM

      Thanks, Michelle! We’re not digging the faux burnt edge around the opening, and the color isn’t our favorite. Just gonna modernize it a bit with a new paint job and convert it to propane! We’ll share all the details once we tackle it.ReplyCancel

  • Steph M. - August 23, 2016 - 9:01 AM

    They look great! I love the warm wood. This is going to be a great spot for outdoor dinner parties!!ReplyCancel

  • Kristen - August 23, 2016 - 9:21 AM

    Wow!! The bench and planting boxes look amazing!ReplyCancel

  • Brooke - August 23, 2016 - 10:25 AM

    It’s looking really great!

    I do have one question though, aren’t you concerned about having the fireplace so close to your fence and wood planters? I have an original Majestic Firehood with a list of setbacks based on the model and the Firehood requires 36″ clear on the sides and 19″ from the rear to any combustible walls. Other models have smaller clearances but some of those were gas burning not wood burning. Maybe yours doesn’t have as large of a clearance?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 23, 2016 - 10:36 AM

      Hi, Brooke! Some of our inspiration photos show this fireplace with even smaller clearances (and indoors even, which is this model’s original purpose), something we took into consideration, for sure! Another thing we’re doing is converting it over to propane, so it will no longer be wood burning.ReplyCancel

  • Julia [Chris Loves Julia] - August 23, 2016 - 10:58 AM

    This looks so slick. Seriously.ReplyCancel

  • Crystal - August 23, 2016 - 11:05 AM

    Are you going to be staining the back deck and stairs? Does it bug you that they are such a different color from the planters, being warm and bright, rather than a deep dark brown?ReplyCancel

  • Staci @ My Friend Staci - August 23, 2016 - 3:33 PM

    I love that you went with the dark brown which adds a great dimension to the space. And how cute is CC the sun worshipper… <3ReplyCancel

  • Dakwerken - August 25, 2016 - 3:50 AM

    I wanted something like this for our backyard for a very long time. Thanks a lot for sharing the great idea of making use of lawns and backyards so effectively!ReplyCancel

  • Jodi - August 25, 2016 - 10:14 AM

    Looking great!!ReplyCancel

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After we mounted our laundry cabinetry, we waited weeks to finish trimming it out. Instead, we’d say, we have to go to the grocery store today! Or, let’s lay brick pavers instead! Or, want to map out our planter boxes?

I think we were getting burned out on the laundry room. It’s been a long, winding, renovation road since last year – can you believe we started planning this room in November of 2015? – and although we’re so close, I guess you could say we got completely derailed during these summer months. The backyard was calling! (It still is.)

Finally, we looked at our calendar. Together, we blocked out an entire weekend where we’d trim those cabinets. The good news? It only took half a day, plus a few hours the following day to touch up with spackle, caulk and paint! The cabinets make the room. Once we checked that to-do off of our list, we were amazed at what a difference it made! Why did we wait so long?

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Some of you might remember that we teamed up with TheRTAStore.com for our cabinets after feeling frustrated by the size and height limitations from other ready-to-assemble cabinetry brands. But The RTA Store? So. Many. Options! After ordering several samples, we landed on the Aspen White Shaker; the white is bright but warm, a great complement to our ostrich wallpaper. Here’s what we did to complete the project and, as a result, get us that much closer to finishing the whole room!

First, we removed all the cabinet doors. A custom made side panel was attached to the wall using small L-brackets. Due to our unique depth of 32″ to stay flush with the side of our machines combined with our 9′ ceilings, we asked our kitchen cabinet maker if he’d be willing to do the job. It was painted in Sherwin Williams Extra White, a really, really solid match to the Aspen White finish. With the panel in place, we used base and wall fillers (they come in all different lengths and widths!) to fill any and all gaps. Everything had to be measured twice, cut (once) and clamped into place, if possible.

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We opted to use our nail gun with short nails, very carefully angling the gun away from the front face in the off chance a rogue nail would decide to shoot through.

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Behind the scenes, things always look worse before they get better:

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We accounted for a 4″ gap between the cabinets and the ceiling, but to give our filler a place to adhere, we needed to add scrap wood to the top of the cabinets:

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Below, you can see how the crown is now flush with the doors – a result of them laying on top of the scraps. Afterwards, we caulked along every seam (we used this method against the wallpaper) and filled nail holes, and we finished that by touching up the caulk + spackle with paint (a combination of these paint kits and a leftover jar of Sherwin Williams Extra White). The results feel custom and built-in – exactly what we were hoping for!

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The recessed lighting was a last minute inexpensive add-on during the thick of the renovation, and we’re so glad we included them! The option to have the more powerful recessed lights or our dimmable brass flush mount feels weirdly luxurious.

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Soft close hinges are a standard with the cabinets we chose, and the shaker style is so simple and clean-lined when paired with these knobs. So pretty!

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Our counter is still a work in progress. To this point, we’ve cut down a slab of butcher block, but we still need to mount a sink and faucet, both of which have been in waiting for far too long!

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To make the space work for us, we chose 24″ deep uppers for maximum storage. Not having seen many examples of extra deep upper cabinets, we wondered, will it be… too much? Will it feel like a wall? We’re happy to report that choosing the 24″ depth has been a dream. We’re storing everything from thick bed linens to towels, soaps, cleaning supplies and even photo albums! Our base cabinet is pulled far enough away from the wall to create a counter depth of 32.”  We’ve given Libby a cat door to use the facilities, and she has been loving the privacy! (Often times, we’ll find her snoozing the day away inside the cabinet.)

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We couldn’t be more satisfied with our cabinets, and we’ve found our entire experience with TheRTAStore.com to be easy and effortless! From browsing samples to working with one of of their designers, to building and installing, we surprised ourselves with how much we could accomplish on our own. If you’re looking to get started on your own laundry room – or bathroom or kitchen! – you can use the promo code YBH50 for 50% off all sample doors!* Start planning with a free designer now, and you’ll be set to go in time for their upcoming Labor Day Sale!

TheRTAStore.com provided us with cabinets for the laundry room, and all opinions belong to these two. Thank you for supporting the brands that support us, and most importantly, we hope this gives you another budget-friendly option for all the flat-packed cabinetry out there!

*You are responsible for return shipping of sample doors, but original payment method of doors will be credited back to you!

  • Carol - August 19, 2016 - 6:55 AM

    Love it! This is fantastic!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle Schreib - August 19, 2016 - 7:21 AM

    Thanks for the discount; I just ordered a bunch of samples! I can’t wait to redo my kitchen!

    Love the Laundry room!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 19, 2016 - 7:38 AM

      Scott and I often say that we wish we would have known about The RTA Store (.com) for our own kitchen remodel! While we love our cabinets, we couldn’t ‘splurge’ for things like soft close hinges, whereas they’re a standard for most cabinet styles at RTA. Best of luck! I love that the samples are entire doors, so you really can assess color and style in your own home!ReplyCancel

  • Casey - August 19, 2016 - 9:27 AM

    These look awesome! I’ve never heard of the RTA store but I will definitely check them out – I’ve always been frustrated with the standard cabinet options at my local hardware store. Now I’m totally inspired to give my laundry room a much needed update :)ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - August 19, 2016 - 11:49 AM

    Love the room! So nice Libby has her own space!! Can you share a photo of the inside of her cabinet sometime?ReplyCancel

    • Antonella - August 20, 2016 - 9:26 AM

      Yes, please! And also how you organize the inside of the cabinets! I’m in an organizing funk and need all of the pros’inspiration I can get my hands on :-)ReplyCancel

  • Kimberly - August 19, 2016 - 12:22 PM

    They came out great! I love the simple crown you guys used on these and your kitchen cabinets.

    I discovered the RTAstore through your first post about them and have been dreaming of a far off kitchen renovation since. I’m torn between the Aspen White and Frosted White cabinets, so many decisions! I may just have to order sample doors to caress while I wait… Is that too weird?! Haha!ReplyCancel

  • Lindsey - August 19, 2016 - 12:25 PM

    I love everything about this room but…will you be staining the counter? Maybe a richer dark color or closer to your floors? It’s a beautiful wood but I’m hopeful to see some contrast there.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 19, 2016 - 12:29 PM

      The counter isn’t done yet! I mentioned in the post that it’s still a work in progress – all we’ve done is cut it down. We’re debating on a finish, but we sort of love the light look. It will get sealed, which will darken it a bit, but we’re still on the fence for the actual finish.ReplyCancel

      • Alex - August 23, 2016 - 10:13 AM

        More questions about the butcher block countertop – did you install yourselves? We are waiting to finish out our laundry room with the same countertop, but now sure how we will do it since our walls aren’t exactly straight. Did you order an already cut down piece somewhere? (I’m in Chicago too so curious where your source is!) I’m scared to just buy a piece and have to figure out how to cut it…ReplyCancel

        • Kim - August 23, 2016 - 10:38 AM

          Hi Alex! We got the butcher block at Menards, and we cut it down ourselves. We will definitely be sharing that whole process once we finish it with the sink and faucet holes AND plumb everything, BUT to get the exact measurements against our crooked walls (crooked walls forever!), we cut out a template using a piece of foam board and used that as a stencil for our butcher block. Then we used a circular saw to carefully cut the two ‘crooked’ sides. In our case, we kept the front and right edge (along the washer/dryer) square.ReplyCancel

  • Hannah H - August 19, 2016 - 7:56 PM

    How is Miss Libby doing without her partner in crime? It’s been fun to see her on the blog/instagram a bit lately. We have two cats and a dog and love reading along with your pets adventures. Also – the laundry room looks amazing!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 20, 2016 - 8:58 AM

      You’re so kind for asking. She’s doing pretty good – being her snuggly, sweet self! I always worry so much about the others when we lose a pet! We’re always watching her to make sure she’s happy and content.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - August 22, 2016 - 11:11 AM

    I just used a very similar wall color in my bathroom makeover and I am in LOVE with it. Your blog is fantastic! Thanks!ReplyCancel

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A few months ago, Julia asked me to change the way we think about photographing our homes. Let me explain – have you ever noticed that bloggers are always (always!) chasing that daylight? But what if we started pulling out the camera in the evening, after the sun has gone down? By mid-afternoon, I’m already counting down the minutes until Scott comes home. I know that when he does, we’ll take the dogs for long walk, we’ll cook dinner or call in from our rotating favorites, and aside from a few loose DIY odds-and-ends, we’ll do our best to sink into a relaxing nighttime routine. I always get a little rush of excitement when I know he’s on his way home, because the evenings are my favorite time of day, with my favorite people (because our pets are my people, too)!

With this in mind, Scott and I joined forces with Chris and Julia, and we asked some of our biggest blog inspirations – Dana, Nicole, Gwen, Brittany and Melissa! – if they’d also like to share a favorite nook in their home for A Night InRejuvenation, a brand we love that has supported our home renovations for years, came aboard to help us shed new light (ha!) on the homes you’ve come to know so well during the day.

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It’s taken us a while to get to this point, but after countless months of hardcore renovation in our living, dining and nook rooms, two wall colors and our third rug swap among countless other things, this mostly open space feels really, really good. The gap between our couch and the dining room table has always felt a little large (on the opposite side is the pretty Pelle gooseneck), but we’ve since added Rejuvenation’s Cylinder floor lamp, and as it turned out, it was the missing link all along.

Looking around our first floor, we noticed that all of our lights have glass shades! Above, you’ll see the Hood light over our dining table and the Eastmoreland pendant in our kitchen, both glass. The Cylinder lamp is quite tall – taller than me! – but we chose it for the large fabric shade and that black trim. The warm brass accents have my heart (always), and we were happily surprised to find that it has two sockets for just the right amount of mood lighting:

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While it’s the obvious choice, our velvet sofa (or let’s be real, on the floor with my ‘people’) is my top seating pick for a low-key evening in, while Scott chooses records in our music nook. If it were up to me, I would exhaust the same three albums over and over and over again (Some GirlsNight In the Ruts [arguably the most underrated, most blues-y Aerosmith album of all time] or anything Roy Orbison), so it’s better to leave it to Scott. Our turntable gets a healthy workout more often than not, and nothing pairs better with a glass of wine than Miles Davis. Or The Clash!

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Thank you for sharing A Night In with us! How do you cozy up in your favorite nook? Any favorite nighttime routines? And now we need to know, what are your album go-tos?

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Check in with the entire crew of A Night In: Chris Loves Julia • House Tweaking • Making It Lovely • The Fauxmartha • The Makerista • Brittany Makes

 

The first installment of this blog series is a collaboration with Rejuvenation, a brand we use and love. High fives to Rejuvenation for graciously providing the lighting, and thank you for sharing in our nighttime rituals!

  • Stacy @ Blake Hill House - August 17, 2016 - 5:30 AM

    The evening is the second shift around here. My people are coming and going. I often run in the evening or go to the gym. (I’m an avid long distance runner.) It takes every ounce of my willpower to do so after a full day. I drop into bed at around ten. One of my favorite feelings is being in my bed wrapped in a down comforter. My bed is my nook. In addition to my favorite comforter, I make sure the bed has clean sheets and lots of pillows.

    On the turntable: Fleetwood Mac or The Who. My taste in music varies wildly, but for some reason, our turntable only plays classic rock and roll. :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 17, 2016 - 8:13 PM

      Aw… sounds so NICE! I’d agree with you – nothing beats being wrapped in our cozy comforter, and we’re both out by 10, too!

      Also, excellent turntable selections. Rumors makes an almost weekly appearance around here!ReplyCancel

  • abby - August 17, 2016 - 9:31 AM

    Oh my goodness, I LOVE these nighttime photos! YES, while those blown-out, bright, all-white shots look great, it is so refreshing to see another “feel” to a photo. This looks COZY, and I want to be hanging out in that room right now. I love how CLJ does nighttime shots occasionally, so I am fully on this train and would love to see you occasionally post some more (even in the kitchen–I always love how our kitchen looks at night with soft lighting!).ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 17, 2016 - 7:37 PM

      Thanks, Abby! We love our kitchen at night too – we’ll have to shoot that room!ReplyCancel

  • Misty - August 17, 2016 - 5:36 PM

    I feel like the pups are aware that this whole photographing at night things is different… the look on both of their faces! lol
    love it though, so cozy and warm and adds a little something something that wasn’t there before. More intimate perhaps?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 17, 2016 - 7:38 PM

      Right?! They’re like, this is not the usual time mom takes our glamour shots…ReplyCancel

  • Gwen, The Makerista - August 18, 2016 - 10:24 AM

    I love the contrast in shape with your globe lights and it’s fun to see this space in a different light!ReplyCancel

  • Julia [Chris Loves Julia] - August 18, 2016 - 10:41 AM

    That gif wins! I love your home at night. Chicago, we’re coming for you!ReplyCancel

  • Staci @ My Friend Staci - August 18, 2016 - 11:10 AM

    I love this series. For many of us who work away from home all day, evening and night light are all we get (except for weekends). I do get “light and bright” house envy so this helps pull me back down to earth — you and the Marcums and Dana have evenings, too ;)ReplyCancel

  • Akiyo - August 18, 2016 - 12:39 PM

    Yay, another relevant post for us! :D We recently bought new light bulbs (went on the cheap side so they’re incandescent) with “white” light to replace a set of vanity lights in the bathroom. But they emit soooo much heat! We’re sweating as we brush our teeth. Haha! Do you have preferred lightbulbs you like using? I love how your lightbulbs aren’t yellowing the room.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 18, 2016 - 12:50 PM

      Even though LED bulbs are slightly more expensive than incandescents, they are 100% worth it! No heat, and the ‘soft white’ temperature of 2700 is so pretty. Old bulbs at that same color temperature used to be SO yellow. Bulbs have come a really long way! We’ve purchased from a few different brands of LEDs with great luck – Feit, Cree and Phillips. The only brand we haven’t loved is ‘EcoSmart,’ because they produce so much flickering if they’re set to dimmers and you want low light.ReplyCancel

      • Akiyo - August 19, 2016 - 11:14 AM

        Ooo, that makes total sense! We bought EcoSmart bulbs for one of our dimmer lights and it flickers like crazy. Thought it was all LEDs. Thank you so much for the reccs!!ReplyCancel

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