LEDs: Sophisticated, Cheesy or Downright Sleazy?

For about a year and a half, I commuted from London to a small town outside of Zurich for work. The job was great, but my husband and I weren’t ready to move to the mountains. So instead I spent a lot of my life working from home, or in hotels and airports. That soon lost its lustre.

When I travelled to this town, I had a great little boutique hotel that I stayed in so much, they knew me by name and always had my key and a good glass of red wine ready and waiting. But every now and again, I would call to make a last minute booking only to find it was full. Given this was a small town, it usually meant every other hotel was also booked, and I’d have to resort to a little bed and breakfast located on the highway. For some reason, it always had rooms. I soon found out why.

This little place was a work of love. The owners had obviously spent a lot of time doing it up, however they seemed to be targeting a very specific type of customer – not me. The first time I stayed, I walked into my room to find an extra-large sunken jacuzzi. With little plastic massagers placed thoughtfully around it. The shower was an extra-large wetroom with LED lights installed; these same lights were also around the base of the kingsize bed. Both were automatically set to mood lighting that Austin Powers would be proud of, and it took me a full hour to figure out how to change from romantic reds and violets to ‘off’. Call me a killjoy, but it just made me think a little too much about what probably went on when I wasn’t the one staying. It was very clean, and the staff were very helpful (and often very surprised that I was there at all) but I slept fully clothed that night, and the few that followed. And learned quickly to book my favourite boutique hotel far in advance.

Ever since I stayed in this place, I’ve had a phobia of LEDs; I just think they’re a bit cheap and sleazy. Liam and I once viewed a flat that had them installed, and I turned around and walked out. Not to be a snob, but I just couldn’t imagine living somewhere that reminded me of this bed and breakfast. We could have ripped them out, but for me it was a sign that this wasn’t the place for us.

Today, my hatred for these little lights was well and truly challenged. My husband and I stopped in at The Gantry, a cute local restaurant and bar that will soon be five minutes from our flat. I love the style of this place; exposed brick, fun vintage clocks and signs, and a very well stocked bar with industrial open shelving and spaces for customers to sit.

The Gantry

After our glass of wine and before walking home, I headed to the bathroom. Tucked away downstairs, this place would normally be quite dark. But the owners had cleverly made it look as though they’d installed sliver-wide skylights along the ceiling and the wall to let light in. I had a quick peek to see how they’d managed that (yep, true sign of an interiors geek), only to discover a thin thread of LED’s tucked under the cornicing where the ceiling met the brick.

Screen shot 2013-08-26 at 21.19.43


The simple white light reflected really nicely against the dark stone and wood and made the space feel welcoming and considered; not a dingy afterthought, like most London bathrooms. And definitely not Austin Powers, thank god. While I won’t be installing LEDs anytime soon, I thought this was probably one of the cleverest tricks I’ve seen to brighten up a small and dreary room.

What do you think: have you ever seen exposed LEDs used in a sophisticated way, or are they a sight best left unseen?

In other news, we’re off to the new flat tomorrow for the first time since we made our offer! In the midst of measuring and talking wall colour, I’ll be taking photos. So check back if you’d like to see our first project – if all goes well we move in five weeks. 🙂


2 thoughts on “LEDs: Sophisticated, Cheesy or Downright Sleazy?

  1. There have been times when the puck lights in a ceiling, looking like a bunch of badly placed spotlights, have been a turn-off. Lamps would have been much more pleasing. LEDs are difficult to work with to make the right look. I have tried under the cupboard attachments several times and find the light too harsh, too weak, too blue, too something that wasn’t the look I wanted, which was something to work by but also warm and welcoming. We also have a screen of tree branches against the wall in the living room that is a nice change from artwork. I have a soft incandescent light behind it which I like but it gets hot. I tried a portable battery operated LED unit to help with the fire hazard, and hated the effect because of the blue light. LED light does not spread out like incandescent, which makes a huge difference in effect. The treatment at The Gantry is perfect. Were they LED or small string incandescent? You actually went back to the place on the highway???lol?????

    1. Definitely LEDs – like the strings of Christmas lights you can buy these days. I know they’re more eco friendly but I can’t get used to them either. As for the place on the highway, I had to stay there three times sadly. Never again!!

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