Lighting Fixtures – Home Decor and Remodels Can Have Personality Without Sacrificing Cost or Quality

For the past 20 years the real estate market has experienced extensive growth until the market declined in the last few years. With this explosive growth also came an explosion of home décor, styling and lighting, which the average home owner could afford. Prior to this time most of the average buildings constructed showed little flair or imagination, with few exceptions, such as hotels, government buildings and wealthy estates.

The average home owner does not need to sacrifice with the home décor and lighting. The available choices of lighting range from the mass produced and cheaply made aluminum fixtures found in the big brick-and-mortar home improvement stores to custom crafted lighting imported from Europe. The latter will not be found in any hardware store, but in specialty lighting boutiques.

Most lighting fixtures will not break the bank, nor should it be necessary to skimp on quality. Specialty lighting houses will, of course, have the best and widest selection of styles. There are well over a hundred different manufacturers of lighting fixtures and lamps in the United States alone. Most lighting stores can not compete with the home improvement behemoths for square footage so will make up for that by having the need to sometimes cram as much as possible into a smaller space. For this reason alone these specialty houses rely on a myriad of catalogs. Many times the customer will be permitted to “check out” these catalogs as there is not a way to leaf through them all in a few minutes.

Surprisingly most of the lighting shops are quite good at minimizing the wait time for a light fixture order. Quite often the average shipping time can be as little as 3 days or so. For custom designed order a realistic time frame may be up to 6 to 8 weeks or more.

The customer should be prepared for the majority, if not all lighting stores, to normally require a deposit for any special order. The purpose for this down payment is to cover the minimal expenses which the store will incur in the event of an order cancellation. Many specialty boutiques may also assess a restocking fee in the event of an order cancellation as well.

When shopping for lighting fixtures, a prior special order cancellation may be available at a significant discount in order to move stagnant inventory. Should the customer decide to purchase a number of fixtures then price negotiating may also be an avenue for savings for the customer. The saying, “the more you buy, the more you save” can be applied to this situation.

Home Decor and the Environment

We all know that, as consumers, our money is our vote. When we choose products that are not Eco friendly, we elect to destroy our life support system. We elect to poison our water and soil, and to make our atmosphere into Swiss cheese that we cannot breathe, and that will not protect us from carcinogenic cosmic rays.

When we choose products that are produced without toxins, or are made from materials that are sustainably harvested, we elect to give our children a planet they can survive on.

This then is our challenge, in a consumer driven market, we must change the way we shop in order to change the way factories produce their products. Ultimately, we are responsible decision makers every time we pull out our wallets. We can change the way we consume Earth’s resources.

It starts by becoming aware of our options. Imagine these options as a pyramid, where at the base you have the least favorable option: disposal. Above that would be energy recovery. On the third floor, we find recycling topped by a layer of re-usage. Closer to the top comes minimization and the crown of earth-friendly tactics is prevention.

An example of prevention would be to use slip covers that protect our furniture, so that it did not wear out, and we would not need to buy new furniture, which, even in the best of circumstances, causes energy consumption and emissions for manufacture and transportation.

An example of minimization, would be to buy furniture that is made of sustainably harvested, and quick growing wood, like bamboo, so that our crucial oxygen producing forests are not depleted. Buying from local manufacturers means there is less fuel consumption required to bring it to you.

An example of reuse is to buy a piece of tropical hardwood furniture at a garage sale. To buy tropical hardwood from the manufacturer would be to encourage the most destructive practices causing deforestation. You’d be causing the problem by creating a market demand. However, buying that same item at a garage sale would not be nearly as bad. Using reclaimed materials from old buildings when they are torn down is also a way to be sure that hardwoods are not wasted.

An example of recycling would be to buy furniture upholstery made from recycled cotton. Organic cotton is of course best, as it prevents the use of so many toxic pesticides, and prevention is at the top of the hierarchy of options.

In absence of an organic option, recycled cotton, which uses clean strips of old t-shirts to make new fabric, is still better than buying new conventionally grown cotton, as it will at least avoid creating a demand for more toxic cotton farming. Recycling does, however, generate waste in energy and emissions during the manufacturing and transportation processes, and is therefore less desirable than reuse.

An example of energy recovery would be to take the piece of furniture you think is beyond repair, and (provided that it has no toxins in it) burn it in your wood burning stove to heat your house, thereby preventing the waste of electricity and gas of operating your standard heaters. This however creates emissions, and the demand for a new product, so it is low on the hierarchy of options.

Disposal is the least desirable option because it causes damage on so many levels. It creates the demand for a replacement product, uses energy in transportation to the dump, and then creates more landfill, or emissions if burned.

Now that you are an informed shopper, teach your friends about these principles and model them for your children. Make home decor a laboratory to put these ethics in practice. You’ll learn lots as you go, and be proud of your home when finished. Eco friendly decor can be every bit as beautiful and affordable as conventional decor, and is usually more so.