A digital sketch of a living room and dining area with focus on adding soft lighting elements

Time to Glow

It all started with a sketch. I wanted to add glow to a table that would be easy for clients to use every night, like candles but without the dripping and smoking and constant replacing. It is easy to sketch, but something altogether different to make happen in reality.

Then we moved into our current home which, for some unknown reason, has a ceiling fan directly above the dining table. I decided it was time to follow my own advice and add a glowing lamp to the table.

Simple, right? Well, as it turns out, not quite as simple as I’d like. After three tries, however, I am closer to a solution- and along the way I found lights that solve other problems I didn’t even know I had.

A cylindrical lantern with a wooden top and bottom

The Quick Fix

My family demanded a solution, fast and cheap.  That’s why Amazon exists, so I did some quick searching and found the TaoTronics lamp for about $30 with one-day shipping on Prime.  It is a bit frightening that I can get a rechargeable LED lamp for $30 delivered tomorrow, but that’s not the point of this post.

The lamp arrived and, quite honestly, we use this every night and most mornings on our dining table.  It is not as lovely warm as the website would like us to believe (much more neutral white than the photo above), but it is a decent light and a good quantity.  We usually have it dimmed to 50% or less of its output.

Frankly, I’m surprised that it feels and looks as nice as it does.  We’ve used it for months, it holds a charge well, is entirely plastic but not unattractive, and the touch dimmer on top entertained the kids for weeks and still works flawlessly.  In other words, this thing works.

Here’s the catch: I’m not sure I can recommend a $30 Amazon product and keep my title of “lighting designer.”  We’re supposed to specify things that are 1) hard to get and 2) very expensive.  So, naturally, I kept looking.

Visit Amazon for more information on the TaoTronics lamp.

An outdoor wooden table in front of a wall with windows, with a potted plant and globular light atop it, at night

Colorific Fun

Doesn’t that look lovely?  I thought so, too, and plunked down $100 for the Eve Flare that changes colors via app.  Flare has the distinction of looking almost exactly like the glowing lights I place on tables in my sketches, so I had to try it out.

We use this one the least.

Unfortunately for us, Eve seems to be only good at saturated colors (not pastels or warm whites) and is not very bright.  There is a reason that all the photographs show it in dark places.  If we use it on our dining table it is going to make our food and faces look a little strange.

The app interface works fine, but if you pick one up be sure to connect it to HomeKit so you can talk to it.  Grabbing the phone and fiddling around is so 2015.  And it only works with HomeKit, so that’s disappointing.

Eve is great, however, for setting a mood in a dark space.  If you want to make a space feel dramatic or romantic or just put soft light on when watching a movie, Eve may be the perfect solution.  Tell Siri to set up movie night, Eve comes on to a soft blue, the other lights dim, the TV comes on, and you’re all set.

Since I cannot recommend it for dining tables, however, I had to keep looking.

Visit Eve’s website for more information.

A table next to a wall with an art piece, potted plant, and short cylindrical light on top of it

Twinkle Twinkle

Take 3.  The costs go up and the size gets smaller.

We have a Casper mattress and so far love it almost as much as we love that we didn’t have to leave the house to get it.  I thought it was unusual to buy a mattress online- and even more unusual to buy a light from a mattress company.

Casper Glow costs about $130 or $230 for a pair and is designed to gently put you to bed and softly wake you up.  Seriously.

Turn it on when you retire to your bedroom to get ready for rest.  Glow, well, glows softly and warmly and, very slowly, dims until you are theoretically lulled to sleep.  In the morning, at a time you set through an app, Glow will reverse the process and gently wake you up.

I have no idea if this works because my wife and I wake up at separate times and therefore cannot use the feature without ticking someone off.  Anecdotal evidence from my team, who received Glows as holiday gifts, is that it works well.

But for table top use, these little things are awesome.  They do not require an app to operate (unless you want to set a wake up time) and are ridiculously fun to control.  Flipping them over turns them on, spinning them dims them, and tapping the button keeps them from slowly dimming and putting your dinner guests to sleep.  Glow is even more fun to play with than Eve or TaoTronics!  As an awesome bonus feature, if you dim one of a pair the other dims at the same time- wireless.  It will amaze your friends.

I like the Glow the best for table top use, and for bedtime use, and it’s pretty convenient for setting a soft mood (though it would be nice if went a little warmer or could handle moodier colors).  It’s significantly smaller than the other two, about the size of a pillar candle, and therefore fits nicely on a table.

Just be prepared to buy a bunch of them, because everyone in your home will want their own.

Visit Casper’s website for more information.

An outdoor table and chairs in front of a curtain with circular pendants hanging above it and a globe light atop the table lighting the area up with orange light.

So far I’ve found three solutions that fit different budgets and provide different benefits. As usual, there seems to be no magic bullet to do it all.

As soon as I pay off all of the above, I’ll start looking again.

Light Can Help You