Vancouver Interior Designer: The Real Reason Your Lighting Sucks

I buy lots of lamps for my clients from HomeSense. If you don’t count the big box stores, we have about four lighting stores in Vancouver (and that includes two in Richmond)  so the selection is mostly bleak in general.


When you buy a lamp at HomeSense the lightbulbs are usually included. In the last year they switched them from “soft white”to “clear,” and if you take it home and don’t realize what has happened, your light can look very ugly indeed!

When one of my best friends Tami and her husband Larry moved into their new townhouse, she arrived home with this lamp she had fallen in love with but this is how it looked lit.

Photo by Maria Killam

See all the shadows, every single piece of the lamp is unattractively reflected on the wall. Terrible!

See what a difference a FROSTED bulb makes!! Don’t forget about wattage as well. If you don’t need it for a reading light sometimes a 40 watt bulb is better than 60 for atmosphere. Sorry for the bad photo, it was almost dark by the time I took this photo today.

I am so stressed about the regular incandescent bulb being discontinued forever and being stuck with the compact fluorescent (left below) that a while ago I ran out and bought over $100 worth! Haha, I know some of you might think I’m nuts but the two biggest elements of design that create the most atmosphere is #1, Lighting (with the correct lightbulb), and #2 Colour on the walls.


If you have any light bulbs that look like the above right and are wondering why you hate the paint colour in your space, this light could be the culprit. When you switch all your lighting back to regular incandescents you will notice a huge difference in the look and feel of your house at night!

A vignette at Tami’s house

Who cares if they last a hundred years. . . atmosphere is way more important than longevity especially at Christmas!

Which lightbulbs do you have in your house?

Download my eBook, It’s All in the Undertones. If you have a computer, you can download my book!

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.

Related posts:

The Enchanting World of Atmosphere

Atmosphere: The One Thing you Cannot Buy

Creating Rooms that Glow



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  1. I hate Government regulations even more now, that we are stuck with theses hideous light bulbs. All of the beautiful restaurants, and night spots, even the country clubs have switched to this lighting . It totally changes the feeling of the room from warm to cold and creepy. It also changes the way people look. I figure if they look like corpses, I look like a corpse as well. I was seated in a upscale restaurant just last night. The lighting was so bad, we got up and left. Before they changed out the light bulbs it was a warm romantic atmosphere. It just makes me sick. dose anyone have any suggestions, besides hording bulbs. They will run out eventually. Thank you Mr president!

  2. You’re not alone in hoarding light bulbs, my husband bought enough to fill the shelves in a small closet……. each shelf has a different wattage. He’s clever that way!! Great post, I enjoyed it and learned something new, thanks!! T.

    • Boy, talk about opening up a can of worms.

      I just finished staging my rental property and ran back and forth to the store trying to find a new ‘ice cream cone’ style bulb that didn’t emit such a horrid, cold, dreary light. Especially in a windowless room. They call the bulbs a soft glow. Yuk! I was hoping for the best but the DR is adjacent to the kitchen which still had the original bulbs of days gone by. What a disappointing and glaring contrast. It made the DR room feel like a jail cell.

      I then went straight to my old favorite lighting store where they knew me by name from my Staging/Design days. I was thrilled to find a Tupperware box of the ‘old pre-historic bulbs’, as described by the young new sales clerk in a condescending manner. Thank goodness. I bought the three I needed and then after thinking about it, I went back the next day and bought their entire supply.

      Maria, if anyone has the company name still manufacturing the preferred bulbs of days gone by, please, please post in CAPS in the subject line for your loyal followers. Thank you, thank you.

      P.S. You know what else I’ve begun to realize with this throw away mentality? You can spend a lot of money on a beautiful modern work of art style (chandelier) that includes the bulbs. When I asked how I change a bulb (because it’s not obvious) they tell you you cannot. You just toss out the chandelier. Reeeeallly!!

      • OMG that’s crazy! You can still find those bulbs in lighting stores they are simply not front and center. Ask for them, I also have bought hundreds of dollars of stock! Maria