Does your lighting make you feel beautiful?

…or handsome?

Whenever you find yourself feeling down, feeling your self esteem drop, or even feeling unattractive, look around: are you in bad lighting? Bad lighting can put you into a funk, create bad highlights and unflattering shadows; you can spend all the money in the world and hire the best designer for your kitchen, bath, or commercial building, but a poor lighting set up can ruin the room.

Example of bad lighting

Good lighting beautifies rooms and people, positively affects mood, and accentuates a room, improving the ambiance created by the design and product selection. Good lighting makes you feel and look better; it takes you out of the dark, bummer England of the soul into the well-lit, tropical yet temperate clime of successful design.

Example of good lighting-Notice how the lighting seems to be layered.

Lighting is like clothing: often it is more successful to plan with layers. You need to consider, and use, the 3 types of lighting:

  1. General Lighting, usually from above
    General Lighting
  2. Task Lighting, which can be turned on and off as needed (think drawing table lights, reading lamps, etc.)
    Task Lighting
  3. Ambient Lighting – (wall sconces, table and floor lamps, dimmed can lights, LED toe kick lighting, etc.)
    Ambient Lighting

The bathroom is possibly the most important – and most difficult – room to consider lighting for. Because the bathroom is small and full of stuff, there will be more shadows and the light bouncing off of the mirror (or mirrors) can complicate the lighting. Lights that flank the mirror are good because they will illuminate your face (for makeup application, shaving, etc.) while minimizing reflected light, because they are on the sides of the mirror. Of course, you would combine flanking lights with general lighting from above, and ambient lighting from sconces. A bad lighting situation would be a light directly above the mirror, or right above your head on the ceiling.

Poorly Lit Bathroom
Well Lit Bathroom

You want to shoot for flattering lights in all applications, and don’t forget your layers of light. Getting away from bathrooms, and moving onto commercial applications, we recently visited a bar/restaurant that had overly strong pendant lighting that was not really accompanied by sufficient general and ambient lighting. As there was basically a pendant per person, each guest at the bar looked lit up like they were on a stage. This lighting setup was unflattering and did not really work for the room; backing up the pendant lights with overhead lighting and ambient lighting would help that bar a lot.

Well Lit Bar

A well lit bar can be a good spot for a casual business meeting, or a place for an intimate conversation. Poor lighting can light up people in unattractive ways and set a bad mood or tone for the room.

History of the Stove

History of the Stove

Following our History of the Kitchen, we thought we’d take a look at the history/evolution of the various aspects and appliances of what now constitute the modern kitchen. This week we are following the evolution of the modern stove.

Your basic gas range
…or a $100,000 range, which might be out of your range…it’s made of gold and it cooks gold

 Earliest Stoves

Asian civilizations created ovens that totally enclosed the cooking fire much earlier than Western civilizations; China, Korea, and Japan had clay stoves by 200 BC:

ancient clay oven

Europeans, on the other hand, were using open fires to cook, from the dawn of man up until the Middle Ages, which was less advantageous than using an enclosed stove (open fire cooking is dangerous – you can easily burn yourself, a lot of the heat escapes so you need more fuel to cook, and the food does not cook as evenly as in an enclosed oven).

Then in the Middle Ages, the hearth started becoming the center of peoples’ home and family life. The hearth was usually waist high and made of stone, with a chimney, or simply a hole in the ceiling, above it to funnel out the smoke from the fire. As Europeans attempted to improve their hearth stoves, they built brick and mortar walls on three sides of the fire, and covered the front with an iron plate.

Enclosing the Fire

Enclosing the fire had the additional benefit of containing the smoke (at least to some extent). Inventors continued to improve wood burning stove, and by the mid-1700s, cast-iron stoves started to become popular, the first of which may have looked something like this:

note the smoke pipe on top, pots and skillets could be placed on top

These stoves all still burned wood; coal didn’t become a viable fuel source until 1833, when Jordan Mott invented the first practical coal-burning stove.


Gas, and Electricity

Gas stoves were invented in 1826, but it wasn’t until the 1920s when enough houses had gas lines that gas stoves could really catch on. Similarly, electric stoves had been available since 1890, but did not catch on until the 1920s and 1930s.

funky gas stove

retro electric

The stove, now

Every modern dog breed, from the Chihuahua to the Great Dane, was bred from domesticated wolves (or, speaking contentiously, dogs came from a ‘wolf-like common ancestor’):

we are the same, You and I

Similarly, today there is a myriad of stoves derived from our early ancestors cooking over a campfire. There are giant ranges for industrial kitchens, and there are tiny propane camping stoves that fit in a backpack.

industrial range
camping stove

I’ve cooked deer sausage in a duck blind in the winter, and we have all grilled outside on a BBQ grill, powered by coal, propane, or even wood. In Mexico, they cook tortillas outside on a Patsari stove:

fueled by wood, coal, or dung

There are solar ovens that you set up outside, and they focus light form the sun. They get hot enough to cook a pizza:

this pizza is powered by the stars

A hamburger place in Boston, Louis’ Lunch, has been open since 1895, and has been credited by some as possibly having invented the hamburger. They are open to this day and still use 3 upright stoves from the 1890’s to cook their burgers:

Louis’ Lunch broilers

Nowadays, most peoples’ (well, people in America) stoves look like this:

this is a stove

But, like all the diverse breeds of dogs, there are countless unique stove designs and models. We have come a long way from cooking food on sticks over a camp fire, but our stoves and ovens still are essentially designed to meet our basic needs: to cleanly and efficiently cook our food in as safe a manner as possible.