"My style is not that contemporary. Can I still make LEDs fit?" This is a question we hear quite frequently. The short answer is YES!
Since thoughtful lighting design is all about making the lighting feel harmonious it is important to take the surroundings into account. Sleek, contemporary spaces with lots of white surfaces crave crisp, white light whereas spaces with wood paneling, tapestries, window treatments ask for a warmer tone of light.
These days retrofit LED lamps ("lamps" is the lighting lingo for "bulbs") are available in a wide range of color temperatures. This is what you see on the box of the LED as Kelvin (K.) If you are looking for a replacement for incandescent lamps, look for 2700K or below. 2700K is very close to the light of an incandescent lamp. 2400K is even warmer and is similar to a dimmed incandescent lamp. There is now even the option of a 2200K LED on the market. This is getting close to romantic candle light.
Keep in mind that our conventional incandescent lamp turn a warmer color temperature when dimmed, but LEDs by nature don't. Of course there are always manufacturers who find a way around these pesky details, so now you will indeed find some LED retrofit lamps that offer that one feature: changing from 2700K to 2400K when dimmed. Since the diodes are so tiny, these lamps contain a variety of them that turn on at different times providing the color temperature you want for your mood. I have found that most of the 2200K lamps and even some 2400K LEDs look a bit Halloween-ish, orange, so don't go on a shopping spree. Buy one and try it out first before you change out all the lamps in your 12-arm chandelier. Finally you can also find the retro-looking vintage filament lamps in an LED version and they are amazing! A nice addition to a traditional chandelier with exposed lamps.
Another thing to look out for on the box is the CRI (Color Rendering Index.) The higher the better. And of course you usually get what you pay for . So here it is up to you, how important it is that the lamps give you beautiful color rendering. I personally go for the highest CRI in anything that has exposed or directional lamps like track lighting. You want to highlight your artwork and treasures, so go for it! If I wanted to save, it would be with floor and table lamps or pendants with lamp shades, since the shade fabric will diffuse the light anyway.
In a traditional home you want interesting architectural details to stand out without the light source itself becoming too intrusive or industrial looking. The slim profile of LED tape light allows you to highlight soffits, ceiling details, built-in bookcases - you name it, in a subtle way that fits the elegance of the decor.