Time zones are a funny thing. (This is relevant, I swear!) Kim and I both grew up in Ohio near the western end of the Eastern time zone, which extended bright skies decently into the evening all throughout the winter months. Now that we’re in Chicago, which is near the eastern end of the Central time zone, the exact opposite is true; throughout December and January in Chicago, the sun sets around 4:30pm give or take a few minutes. If you’ve not experienced it yourself, looking out the window to darkening skies at 3:30pm and knowing that it’ll be pitch black in an hour can be a bit… demotivating.
Although the second story of our home receives natural light on all four sides, we needed more light! Couple that with a ceiling fan whose bulb had died and that hadn’t been used as an actual fan since we installed central AC last spring (as it turns out, a fan above a desk = paper everwhere). We knew it was time to brighten up our workspace with some recessed lighting and a different central light fixture. As a reminder, this is how our studio looked after its makeover two years ago:
Same dogs, slightly different mood. (Yes, they are truly this lazy.)
Choosing the new central light fixture was an easy decision. We wanted to keep the room symmetrical, so we ordered the same Conifer pendant, same finish, as the opposite end of the studio. Ours is the 24″ shade in oil rubbed bronze, and it casts warm, bright light that is perfectly diffused. The pendants are hunky and substantial. We’re in love all over again!
When it came time to decide on the can lights themselves, we wanted them to be easy for our contractor to install into the existing ceiling drywall to help cut down on mess and drywall repairs – and, subsequently, cost. The lights also needed to be dimmable LEDs, have a lighting temperature of around 2700k, and disappear into the ceiling as much as possible when not in use. We landed on these slim recessed lights and couldn’t be happier! When not in use, they’re virtually invisible.
We had 8 lights installed over the span of a 30′ room, which is the same number we have and enjoy in our living and dining rooms. According to online calculators, we certainly could have added at least two more, but when paired with our central fixtures, we love how many options are available to us for any mood!
While we were at it, we took the opportunity to install smart dimmers on both the recessed lights and pendant, adding further to our home automation setup. Our Wink based system now controls indoor and outdoor lights, window shades, and thermostats all through the Wink app on our phones or through Alexa voice control. We were admittedly skeptical about home automation at first, but now that we’ve been expanding our system for a couple of years, we are huge proponents. There is something oddly satisfying about saying “Alexa, trigger bedtime” and having all of our lights turn off and our shades lower in perfect sequence. Guys, are we in the future?
so how much does a project like this cost?
I’ll begin with a quick reminder that every situation is unique. We had easy attic access directly above the studio space, so the lighting went in smoothly without any demolition. We also have a great, long-standing relationship with our contractor, and we try to pay in cash whenever possible to eliminate fees (for him) which allows him to provide us a lower rate. Labor prices also vary widely based on location.
All of that said, our total cost was around $1500, including the can lights, dimmers, electrical materials, and labor – but not including the cost of the pendant light, since that will vary for everyone based on their tastes.
We’re incredibly happy with the way the recessed lighting and new pendant brighten up the space and every corner of the room, all while keeping us motivated throughout the late afternoon – and into the evening when necessary! The added bonus of wifi control through the new smart dimmers allow us to dial in the perfect amount of light for working or relaxing at the end of the day. Take that, Central time zone!
PS: We continue to receive quite a few questions about the ins and outs of our home automation system and how everything works together. Is this something you’d like to read (or watch?) more about? Let us know and we’ll consider it for upcoming posts and/or videos! As always, we love your feedback. Thank you!