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Phillips illuminates lighting possibilities

Lighting can play a pivotal part in the look of homes. It can accent the decor of the house or be a dramatic styling element all its own. 

Carrie Arnold, co-owner of  Phillips Lighting and Home in Modesto, has been involved in home lighting sales for about 25 years. She lights up when talking about all the possibilities illumination lends to a home and exciting prospects for the future.

"Lighting should be the focal point but it needs to be harmonious or maybe play a supporting role," Arnold said. "The job of lighting is to make beautiful features sparkle and shine, make a room seem interesting."

Located in the McHenry Village Shopping Center, Phillips is in its fourth location since it was established in 1947 by Arnold's grandparents, the late Elton and Wilma Phillips. Arnold's parents, Chuck and Karen Arnold, co-own the store which has 6,000 square feet of display space and another 3,000 feet of warehouse.

Technology is creating a huge shift in the world of lighting, particularly light sources, fixtures, bulbs and lighting controls, Arnold said. With the emergence of LED, people can think of lighting in different ways and the design of fixtures is evolving.

"Form can change from traditional bulbs to LED strings," Arnold said. "I enjoy design and working with people on their homes and I enjoy the product itself. I like an element of surprise; you don't necessarily want everything in the room to match."

With LEDs, we will see light fixtures in new ways. Designers will be able to change colors. Traditional lighting is thought of as soft white to cool white but the mood of a room can be changed by the tone or color of lighting.

Arnold said her favorites tend to be relatively contemporary but eclectic. She said a beautiful lamp or an unusual light fixture can make a "pop" in a room. Lighting can call attention to beautiful architectural features in a dining room or entryway and highlight things like a tile backsplash in a kitchen.

Many different looks are popular these days. The vintage-industrial theme with its distressed finishes is in vogue. Bubbled glass, old barn wood and Edison reproduction light bulbs fan the retro look, Arnold said.

Other homeowners and decorators favor the sleek, modern, streamlined and minimalist look, with polished nickel or oil-rubbed bronze. Crystals are incorporated into contemporary light fixtures, like a piece of jewelry in the home.

People love a little sparkle or some bling, she adds.

But ornate light fixtures with leaf designs and curlicues' have become passé.

Rosa Ishoo has been a Phillips sales associate for about 10 years. She said the charm of her job is when the customer gets a smile on his or her face and they find just what they are looking for. 

"It's rewarding to look at how beautiful it (lighting design) looks," Ishoo said. "Some like traditional, some modern and some in-between. I like a little bit of everything."

Arnold has been on several product manufacturers' advisory panels. In March she will add her ideas to a manufacturer's 2017 product offerings.

By and large some people seem to look at lighting fixtures as permanent but Arnold disagrees.

"After 15 or 20 years or longer, you should look at changing lighting when you are doing a major redecorating. For a relatively small investment you can make a huge difference in the look of your home. Even something as simple as changing the lights in front of the house can give you a lot of bang for your buck," Arnold said.

Phillips has thousands of light fixtures on sale and more than 100 ceiling fans on display alone. Arnold said a contemporary challenge is creating lighting compliant with stricter state Title 24 codes. These codes mandate super-efficiency while beautiful designs are created.

Arnold said Phillips carries all the top and better brands in lighting, with prices comparative to the Internet and other area retailers. 

Phillips is located at 1700 McHenry Ave., 76A , and can be reached at 524-6287 or— Doane Yawger of Merced is a semi-retired newspaper reporter and editor.