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Expert Interview: Michelle Steinback of Schoolhouse Electric Part Two

Posted by Paige Thomas ~ March 19, 2009

As promised, below is the second part of the interview from Michelle Steinback of Schoolhouse Electric Co. If you missed part one of the interview, you can read it here.

Schoolhouse Electric Interview - Part Two

1. If a homeowner was going to splurge on one part of their home's lighting system, what would it be?

Typically people spend the most on light fixtures for their entertaining spaces including the living room, dining room and kitchen. These rooms set the tone for the house and are a good place to splurge.

2. You provide many lighting options for homeowners trying to do authentic period renovations, what do you love about older fixtures and lighting that we lack in contemporary designs?

Two things: Details and quality.

Almost all lighting and hardware is made overseas these days. Fine detailing is overlooked and the quality is spotty. We are bucking that trend by keeping our manufacturing in the USA so we can keep craftspeople and time honored production techniques alive here in America. We take great pride in every detail and the quality of American made parts far and away superior. Another advantage to manufacturing in the USA is that it reduces the carbon footprint of our products by eliminating the need to transport materials around the world. Our light fixtures are built to last 100 years and can be re-wired or easily recycled at the end of their life, unlike disposable quality lights made overseas and sold at big box stores. We take pride in our products and do not cut corners-just like the good old days.

3. I tend to focus more on the style of lighting fixtures rather than the function, how can homeowners find a balance between style and function for their own lighting design?

Think of lighting in terms of layers to open the most possibilities and flexibility in your design. Consider mixing overhead ambient lights with sconces, recessed lighting, indirect lighting (such as under counter lighting) and/or table or floor lamps to achieve the level of light you need in a room. For instance, if you are working on a kitchen design and want a set of "eye candy" pendants over your island but you know they are not going to put off enough light for all the task areas in the room, be sure to add additional layers of lighting to make the space functional and adaptable to different uses.

4. Ok, and finally, we love local Portland businesses like yourself, what other local businesses should homeowners know about if they are working on a home renovation or remodeling project?

Portlanders love their house projects. What else are we suppose to do when it rains all of the time? Luckily we are a hot bed for renovation supply companies and organizations. Be sure to check these places check out:

North Portland Tool Library / http://www.northportlandtoollibrary.org Unless you live in North Portland you won't be able to check out tools for your renovation project here (for free!) but this is a fantastic organization. I encourage people to check them out so you can start a tool library in your own community!

Architectural Heritage Center / http://www.visitahc.org/ The Architectural Heritage Center is a non-profit resource center for historic preservation, located in Portland, Oregon. They host dozens of programs, workshops, and exhibits each year. They are also caretakers of one of the largest collections of architectural artifacts in the United States.

NW Renovation Magazine / http://www.nwrenovation.com/ This is a local free publication that posts all of their content on-line for everyone to enjoy. They are a great resource with lots of current information and a great DIY section.

Pratt and Larson / http://www.prattandlarson.com/ Handcrafted tile made here in Portland, one at a time. Love them and you will too.

Old Portland Hardware / http://www.oldportlandhardware.com/ Everyone is talking about this new company specializing in vintage hardware. Top notch is the word on the street.

Hippo Hardware / http://www.hippohardware.com/ They are an institution and treasure here in Portland.

A-Ball Plumbing / http://www.a-ball.com/ They are another institution in Portland and carry some of the harder to find reproduction plumbing items.

Winks Hardware / http://www.winkshardware.com/ This is the hardware store that has everything that you need but can't find anywhere else. Grab a ticket and wait in line M-F because this is where all of the contractors go. The knowledgeable staff is first rate!

Laurelhust Fan Company / http://www.laurelhurstfancompany.com/ This is a brand new company we just found out about. Their fans are amazing.

Aurora Mills Salvage / http://www.auroramills.com/ This is another fun salvage place in the area.

Thanks again to Michelle for taking the time to answer all of these questions!

If you're looking for more information on lighting here are some past posts that might also interest you:

Lighting the Way with Beautiful Fixtures Holiday Remodeling Ideas: The Dining Room Beating the Bedroom Blues

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