Sewing Studio Makeover: Task Lighting for the Cutting Table

After sulking for five days, I am now officially OVER my Corian countertop obsession.  I decided that, deep down, I really do not want a $2K countertop surface on my sewing cabinet.  For one thing, if I splurged on that countertop, I'd really feel stuck with it -- and who's to say I won't want to change or reconfigure my setup again a few years down the road?  What if I want to upgrade a machine or add an additional sewbaby to the family, requiring yet another countertop surface with custom cutouts to fit the new machines?  Nope -- no Corian for me.  We'll just have to figure out something else for the surfaces.  Let me know if you have any great ideas up your sleeves!

My Desecrated Currey & Co. Chandelier
Meanwhile, I've been on a lighting lark.  I already showed you here how I desecrated upcycled a chandelier from storage to replace the ceiling fan in my sewing studio, spray painting over its lovely hand painted finish with a can of Krylon Metallic Satin Oil Rubbed Bronze and switching out the chandelier pendants.  (It's looking a lot better now that the additional crystal chandelier pendants and replacement candle sleeves have been installed).  Then Bernie added four sloped can lights (just finding the right can lights and trim rings was an adventure in and of itself) while I embarked upon a grand quest to find the perfect pendant fixture to mount over my cutting table. 

The best information I found about designing an adequate lighting plan for a sewing studio came from Deb Luttrell, owner of Stitchin' Heaven Quilt Shop in Minneola, Texas.  Deb says that sewing requires at least twice as much light as casual reading, and says to plan for 2 watts of incandescent light (or 1 watt of fluorescent light) for every square foot in your workspace -- and that's just the ambient lighting.  She suggests a pendant light with a minimum of 150 watts hanging over the cutting table for task lighting, with the edge of the shade 14" above the work surface.  Wow -- compare that to the NO light I had over my cutting table before.  I also read some depressing statistic about forty-year-old eyes requiring twice as much task lighting for fine detailed work than twenty-year-old eyes need for the same tasks.  Ugh -- even my eyeballs are middle-aged, now?! 

Of course my husband wanted to just install additional can lights over the cutting table and "be done with it," as he put it, but the vaulted ceiling is way too far above the worktable and light disperses -- you get much better task lighting from a bulb that hangs 24" above your work surface than you would from that exact bulb mounted 8' above your work surface. I'm done using razor-sharp rotary cutters and shears in the dark. Not only was it difficult to get accurate rotary cuts after dusk with my old setup (because I couldn't see the markings on my rulers), but it's also dangerous.  I'm lucky to still have all ten fingers!  As it happens, it is not an easy feat to find a reasonably priced, moderately attractive pendant light with 150+ watts. 

Rejuvenation's 600 watt Dakota Warehouse pendants
The first pendant I crushed on was the Dakota Warehouse Pendant from Rejuvenation.  It comes in different finishes with different shade options, and you can customize the length for an upcharge.  Best of all, each of these pendants takes TWO bulbs with a maximum wattage of 300 watts EACH.  That's six hundred watts of luxurious lighting spilling across my cutting tables -- what's not to love, right?  Well, this fixture costs over $450, for one thing, but the deal breaker is that it can't install on my sloped ceiling.

I found quite a few pendant fixtures from other manufacturers with a similar industrial vintage style (not surprising, since this type of pendant is trendy right now in all sorts of residential settings), but I couldn't find anything that gave me the amount of light I was looking for until I came across the Ivanhoe Sky Chief Warehouse Pendant from Barn Light Electric Co. 


Barn Light Electric Co.'s Ivanhoe Sky Chief Warehouse Pendant
I ordered one of the Ivanhoe Sky Chief pendants with a 20" diameter Cherry Red shade.  It comes with an 8' black cord that can be shortened at installation to position the light precisely above my table, and it takes a single 200 watt incandescent bulb.  It's not going to be the prison searchlight that the Rejuvenation light would have been, but it should be more than adequate -- and it will install on my sloped ceiling with no customization or modifications required, all for a mere $238, less than half of the cost of the Rejuvenation fixture.  I think it will be perfect.

Next post, I'll share some conflicting advice about ergonomics in the sewing studio as it pertains to the proper height for sewing cabinets, cutting tables and pressing stations.  I know you're excited but, please, don't hold your breath -- I'm still working on gradually emptying the studio.  I'm hoping Bernie will have time to put in the additional dedicated electrical circuit for my iron (so the lights won't dim every time my iron cycles on and off) and the floor outlet for my sewing cabinet (no more cords to trip over) and complete drywall repairs this weekend so we can start painting.  I can't believe I unwrapped my new sewbaby over two weeks ago and I still haven't sewn a single stitch with it -- I want this room finished ASAP! 

That's not going to happen unless I get EVERYTHING else out of the room, though.  Here's a reminder of what my room looked like just before Christmas:
My Studio Disaster "Before"


...and here's what my room looks like today:
Studio Half Emptied, Today

See?  My sewing room may only be half empty, but my cup is almost half full or something.  Whatever that means! 

By the way, I did order a finish sample of that Cherry Red pendant shade so I could check that it was the right shade of red for my custom sewing cabinetry, but then I just ordered the fixture anyways, because I'm impatient (and because I have a very good track record with dangerous color-matching like this -- don't try this at home!).  If the two reds don't play nice together when my pendant arrives, I'll repaint the sewing cabinets to match the pendants. 

Time to get those kids to bed so I can go back to emptying the studio!

1 comments, opinions & scuttlebutt:

Jenny K. Lyon said...

Love the red! And honey, if 40 is middle aged, well then I'm, well let's just say I don't think 40 is middle aged! Interesting discussion about lighting. That is why my cutting table is in my Master Bath with 10" ceiling and bizillion can lights. Your system is going to be fabulous!

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