Lighting is a critical design element that should be addressed early when planning a home renovation. Given its impact on design, as well as so many other pieces of the project, it’s best to discuss your needs up front, develop a strategy and confirm those plans as the project progresses. Consider the following professional tips to get started.
Two-Step Planning Process: Creating a plan in the early stages allows you to coordinate other elements within the design, such as smoke detector or speaker placement, which typically also require wiring in the ceiling. Or, if a ceiling fan and recessed lights are to be installed in the same room, light placement is critical to avoid a “strobe-light” effect when both are in use. Early planning also allows you to order fixtures well in advance to avoid lead-time issues. The second step is doing an on-site review during rough-in. No matter how good the plan may look on paper, some flaws may “come to light” when actually walking through the space. Don’t only review light and outlet locations, but also take note of switch placement as the direction you enter a room may alter the ideal location. If there are any changes to be made, now is the time before drywall goes up and rooms are painted!
Add Light in Layers: Interior lighting falls into three categories. General or ambient lighting, serves as the overall illumination for a room, and creates a uniform level of light. Typically, this is the light that comes on when you enter a room and flip the switch. Task lighting focuses on a specific area of the room, such as under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen, or a sconce in your bedroom for reading. Finally, accent lighting is used to set the mood or draw attention to a particular focal point. Examples include a hanging pendant, table lamp or specially placed art lighting that highlights a fireplace or sculpture.
As a rule of thumb, it’s recommended to focus on ambient lighting first, followed by task lighting then accent lighting. However, in a specialty room like a home office or one serving as a gallery, this doesn’t always hold true.
Tricks of the Trade
Switch out standard on/off switches for dimmers as much as possible, as they provide maximum flexibility and control. They help to instantly set the mood and also save energy when you don’t need a brightly lit room.
Keep in mind that the fixture itself doesn’t always determine the type of light it gives off, but the way it’s positioned can. For instance, sconces on swing arms with shades can cast light downward and provide task lighting for reading in bed. However, the same sconces mounted flush to the wall with the shades directing the light upward, can add beautiful accent lighting.
Having the right type of lighting in a home’s lower level is crucial, as good design can go a long way in eliminating that “basement feeling.”
Taking steps to carefully plan your lighting solutions before the wiring is installed and drywall is complete can go a long way in saving you time, money and hassle during your next remodeling project.
Tim Burch is Vice President of BOWA, an award-winning design build firm specializing in luxury renovations ranging from master suites and kitchens to whole-house remodels. A Northern Virginia native, Tim focuses on clients in the Loudoun and Fauquier County areas providing them with his 25 years of expertise in the design build construction industry. He is a third generation builder, certified remodeler, and instructor. Prior to joining BOWA, he was the Lead Project Manager of Construction for the Emmy Award winning construction reality television show, Extreme Makeover Home Edition on ABC Television. For more information on Tim and the BOWA team, visit www.bowa.com, or call 703-734-9050. Have a question for Tim that you’d like to see covered in Middleburg Eccentric? Email him at AskBOWA@bowa.com.