CFL vs. LED + Color Temperature + Getting It Right (Finally!)


This seemingly simple story has been a long time in the making – 2 years, but who’s counting? – and we’ve just now finally nailed our living and dining room lighting. Well, not the fixtures (we’ve been content with those for a while!), but the actual bulbs!

If you’ve been with us since we bought our home in 2013, you might remember that the first thing we did was tear down the ceiling to install a proper support beam. While we were at it, we centered the overhead lights in both the living and dining rooms, and at the suggestion of our contractor, we decided to add 4 recessed lights per room (so 8 in all) and install a dimmer switch for extra ambient lighting. I remember the day that Scott and I went to the store to purchase bulbs and being completely overwhelmed. Thinking we were being very smart, we left the store with 8 CFL floods at a color temperature of 5000K, also labeled as ‘daylight’. We thought, well, we want the colors to feel very natural! Daylight it is.

As soon as they were in, we hated them. They were very, very blue, and so we did what any person would do who doesn’t want to go back to the store, and we never turned them on. Like, ever. We finally unloaded them at a yard sale, went back to the store and picked up 8 more CFLs at a color temperature of 2700K, which was not only much more pleasant, but it had us turning on the lights for the first time since they were installed!

It wasn’t long until we decided, we hate these too! CFL bulbs have a longer warm up time, so once we flipped the switch, the room would get brighter and brighter to the point that we’d say, did you turn up the dimmer? One of us would attempt to turn them down, but if we got too low, they’d switch off completely and/or create an irritating humming noise. Not good. Again, we stopped using the recessed lighting altogether.

Luckily, we have a happy ending! This month, we’re working with the Ace Hardware team to completely transform a room by using nothing but LED light bulbs, and we could not be more happy! The second time we purchased CFL bulbs, LEDs were hovering around a price point that was still too high for our liking, but they’ve since come down to a place that makes them a tough contender against CFLs. Not to mention, they’re really the biggest money saver in the long run; this article really digs deep, and it’s good to know that the best bulbs out there are also the best for our wallets.


We decided on a 6 pack of these Feit LED bulbs that boasted the ability to dim and light up instantly. Yes and yes! As soon as we took them out of the box, we loved that the frosted glass was already much more attractive than our old CFs. Below, the LED is on the left, and the CFL is on the right:


We swapped out every last CFL for the Feit LED bulbs (our dining room, kitchen and nook lights were all also upgraded to this 60 watt equivalent), and we were thrilled to see that with a flick of a switch, they really did turn on right away! They even dimmed down to the lowest setting without a hint of a flicker, and at 2700K, it feels soft but not overly yellow. It’s just a clean, inviting light, much more white than an incandescent bulb with the same color temperature.


The lighting aisle can be tricky – it’s no joke! – but we are 100% satisfied now that we’re on the LED train and we’ve found the color temperature that we find the most pleasing in our home. As we continue to update fixtures around the house (upstairs, you’ve been so neglected!), we’ll be nixing every last incandescent and CFL in our home.

If you’re looking to transition towards LED lighting (hello, money savings), visit your participating neighborhood Ace Hardware this weekend, October 16-18, and take advantage of the Buy 2 Get 1 Free LED light bulb sale! Buy two select FEIT LED bulbs and get one of equal or lesser value free. There’s no limit, so you can mix and match to get the bulbs you need to re-light your entire house!*


We’re excited to be collaborating with Ace Hardware as a part of their Ace Blogger Panel! Ace has provided us with compensation and the materials necessary to complete this project (hey, thanks, Ace!), and all opinions are our own. See all the blogger projects on the Ace Pinterest page.

*While supplies last. Store stock only. See store for details.

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  • Alana in Canada10.16.15 - 9:09 AM

    I’m just waiting for the last of the CFL’s to die so we can switch to LED, too. The Canadian government has banned incandescent bulbs (all be “specialty bulbs, like appliance bulbs). In addition to CLFs, and LEDs, we have halogen bulbs available to us.ReplyCancel

    • Kim10.16.15 - 9:13 AM

      Yup, incandescents are being phased out here, too. Good riddance!ReplyCancel

  • Kristin10.16.15 - 10:02 AM

    We did this recently and oh my goodness, such a difference.ReplyCancel

  • Rita10.16.15 - 10:05 AM

    Kim, do you think these LED light would make our kitchen brighter?ReplyCancel

    • Kim10.16.15 - 10:10 AM

      YES! What kind of lights do you have in your kitchen now? I’m trying to remember (it’s been a while since I’ve seen them). I’d recommend sticking with a soft white LED so it doesn’t feel too “cold”.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah @ onesuchlife10.16.15 - 10:07 AM

    I find LED to be so much brighter than CFL. We’re slowing transition to LED and our light fixtures with multiple bulbs make me laugh because you can clearly tell which ones are the LED bulbs. They do emit great light!ReplyCancel

    • Kim10.16.15 - 10:11 AM

      It’s true! I was worried that a color temp of 2700K would look the same as a 2700K incandescent, but my goodness, it’s so much more clean!ReplyCancel

  • That gif is awesome!!! I just keep watching and watching and watching!!!

    :) LindaReplyCancel

  • Liz10.16.15 - 10:37 AM

    I recently bought 60watt equivalent LEDs for a dining room light fixture but they still seemed too white even though they were listed at 2700k. I wonder if we will ever see LED lights that will help give a warm ambient glow for rooms that need more mood lighting than task lighting.

    If they already exist, please help me find them! I never turn on my amazing West Elm dining chandelier because the room, even with the dimmer feels too “cold” :(ReplyCancel

    • Kim10.16.15 - 11:17 AM

      Hi Liz! I don’t think that all brands are created equal – that’s another thing. I would suggest trying a lower wattage for your chandelier (does it have multiple bulbs or just one?), and switching brands to see if that makes a difference.ReplyCancel

  • Alexandra @ Vandy Vagabonds10.16.15 - 6:36 PM

    I came and I stay because of your awesome home design content but those dogs? Those dogs are giant friggin cherries on top of this delicious eye candy sundae of all things home. I keep rewatching that gif just to watch the pups!ReplyCancel

    • Kim10.16.15 - 9:09 PM

      Thank you, Alexandra! No doubt they steal the show – ALWAYS. :DReplyCancel

  • Kara10.17.15 - 11:00 AM

    The GIF gives a fun view of the awesome way your renos are all coming together – love how bright and open the new kitchen doorway and door/windows to the outside make it feel. The blues from the couch and window treatments add such a fun punch of color and cohesive feel to the space. What a great overall feel you’ve accomplished in your home!ReplyCancel

  • Brynne@TheGatheredHome10.18.15 - 9:00 AM

    Aw, I love the gif! It’s brilliant and so fun – I can’t stop watching it! :)ReplyCancel

  • David Easter10.21.15 - 6:40 AM

    I’ve had the same trouble with daylight lamps. The trouble with daylight is that there is northern daylight and southern daylight. What most people don’t realize is that daylight lamps tend to be the southern type. They tend to be a ‘tropical blue’ rather than a natural white.ReplyCancel

    • Kim10.21.15 - 1:13 PM

      So true! It definitely felt “tropical blue” in our home with the 5000K!ReplyCancel

  • Christine10.21.15 - 10:59 AM

    Ace should thank you for this post! Based on your blog, I went to Ace this weekend and redid almost every light in our house. It was so worth it. Finally we have the light we wanted in our house after trying to figure out a million different combos of soft white and bright white.ReplyCancel

    • Kim10.21.15 - 11:24 AM

      Awesome!! Lighting makes all the difference in your mood too, doesn’t it? Did you end up with soft or bright white with the LEDs?ReplyCancel

  • Trude10.21.15 - 11:34 AM

    Thanks for this! I’ve been thinking about making the switch everywhere, just wasn’t sure where to start. Especially when I don’t want anything going to yellow or blue and making it harder to WB my photos! (When I’m too lazy to get out the ExpoDisc anyway.) ;)ReplyCancel

  • Emma Wilson8.19.20 - 1:30 PM

    I switched from incandescent to LED lights and never looked back! My electricity bills significantly went down. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel


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