Shedding Some Light at Brecher’s

Contributing Writer

First of all, Louisville, take a breath. The comfortable old incandescent light bulb you’ve been twisting into your lamps at home is not gone forever. To paraphrase something Mark Twain is supposed to have said, rumors of its demise are premature.

Going away? Yes, at some point they’ll disappear. Different? Absolutely. Changed? Only for the better. You just have to be reprogrammed to look at the lumens rating on the package, not at the watts.

“Lumens are the amount of visible light emitted by a source, and that should always have been the consideration,” says John Rueff, sales manager at Brecher’s Lighting. “The watt is the amount of energy consumed each time you turn the light on and that’s all it is. The higher wattage is not a reference to the brightness of the bulb.”

In fact, the industry stopped making 100-watt bulbs in 2012, and last year banned the 75-watt bulb. (This year, the 60-watt and 45-watt bulbs will be gone, as well.) Whereas the old 100-watt bulb produced 1,100 or 1,200 lumens, you now get that same brightness in a lower-energy 72-watt bulb. And today’s 53-watt bulb produces the same 800 lumens as an old 75-watt bulb.

Rueff, a Certified Lighting Consultant, spends much of his time educating Brecher’s customers about watts, lumens, compact fluorescents and LEDs. But Brecher’s is primarily what it has been for 91 years: the decorator’s, home builder’s and homeowner’s best resource for choosing beautiful home lighting, whether installed in the ceiling or positioned throughout the house.

Consumers flock to the showroom on Hurstbourne Lane to look at the gorgeous crystal chandeliers and elegant Tiffany-style table lamps. Rueff and his team will be in Dallas next week for the first of the two annual International Lighting Conferences to see all the new products and styles.

There’s always something new, but the dominant design trend for the last few years has been bronze and brushed nickel finishes or blends of bronze and gold tones. “A lot of homeowners still have brass doorknobs and hinges and want to maintain a uniform look,” Rueff says.

Shoppers can find chandeliers in the Brecher’s showroom from as low as $50 to around $7,000.

“Chandeliers can be like pieces of artwork in the house,” he says, “with all that bronze and gold or wrought iron, the sparkling crystals and beautiful lines. There’s a reason they’re called the ‘jewelry for the home.’ It’s like a woman putting on earrings to dress up her outfit. You put a crystal chandelier in the house to dress up its style.”

There’s one chandelier in particular priced at upwards of $10,000. It’s a beautifully sculpted piece hanging near the window, where its crystals catch and reflect the sunlight into the colors of the rainbow.

“It’s a beauty, and we’ll find a home for it,” Rueff says, “but we can achieve the same quality of style and brilliance for much less.”

In fact, he says, Brecher’s carries about 180 manufacturers, so “we can get pretty much anything for anybody.” Among the more popular brands are Kichler and Quoizel at the high end, and Schonbek and Visual Comfort at the highest end.

But the company takes even more pride in its customized consulting business. “We work hand-in-hand with builders, contractors and certified electricians all the time, getting involved in the more serious, more technical aspects of lighting, like wiring and working with available construction.”

“There are a lot of practical issues to setting up your home’s lighting plan,” Rueff says. “Where are windows? How much natural light? What do you want the lighting to do? Is it for reading, or for mood and ambience, or perhaps to focus on the artwork on the walls?”

They also seek to match the lamps to the architecture – classical Old Louisville, Prairie-style in Anchorage or ultra modern in Indian Hills.

Then there are all the construction issues: How old is the house? How much additional wiring can the house tolerate? How efficient is the wiring in the house? Are the walls plaster or drywall?

“We look at the floor plan and talk extensively to the homeowner,” he says. “You can’t just put outlets wherever you want them, especially in older homes. So we try to give them every option.”

By the way, if the name John Rueff sounds familiar, his family business Rueff Lighting was started in 1913 by his great-grandfather, Henry Rueff, and operated a showroom on East Broadway for more than 90 years.

In 1913, the Edison light bulb was only 34 years old. Talk about things changing.