In these hard economic times homeowners are not moving into the next bigger house but are instead staying put and investing their hard-earned (if somewhat deflated) equity into upgrading their present residences. If budgets are tight, sometimes green design isn't first on the list, as there's a perception that it's more expensive. But with a bit of savvy design expertise, energy efficient lighting can be both within the budget and warm and inviting. Designers are learning how to integrate efficient lighting into all styles of projects, not just high-end modern design, for new construction as well as retrofits and remodels. This is a positive trend, as building codes, led by California (where Title 24 requires the use of high efficacy lighting in kitchens, bathrooms and outdoor areas), are gradually changing to require more efficient lighting and other systems. In this post I talk about a traditional remodel project where highly collaborative teamwork produced a result that is beautiful, green and affordable.
|Breakfast Nook: The Pendant fixture and sconces use dimmable CFL’s in a flame tip shape by Litetronics. Five watt bulbs provide 30 watts of illumination with a lamp-life of 25,000 hours|
Many of today’s fluorescents can be dimmed, do not hum or flicker and have a wonderful warm color. The key here is that the best bulbs on the market do not come from the dollar rack at the big box stores. Lighting-wise, I like to think of the decorative fixtures as the architectural jewelry for a home. This allows the chandeliers and table lamps to give the illusion of providing a room’s illumination.
For this modest two-story home I was very fortunate to work with interior designer, Nancy Satterberg. She believes that the trick in a remodeling project is to keep the upgrades subtle so that wall colors, floor finishes and well integrated lighting enhance the existing architecture.
While some homeowners may want their homes restored to their previous splendor; these owners decided to go a different way– creating a feeling of smooth traditionalism with unexpected warmth using innovative, energy efficient lighting. They also relied on Satterberg’s skilled hand to mix contemporary furniture and Asian antiques. The use of much of the owner’s furniture, as well as their treasured artwork and objects, collected from around the world, brings an element of personalized grace to this beautiful home. This was also a big help for a modest design budget. The 9 month-long project updated the look to what Satterberg calls “new millennium traditional”, meaning that the hard-edged look of the home’s 1950’s architecture was now softened with warm wood molding, saturated colors and the contrasting finishes available today.
|Dining room- An alabaster pendant by JH Lighting was converted to a hard-wire fluorescent using locking sockets for GU24 bulbs manufactured by Maxlite. The reduced heat output of CFL’s prevents the alabaster from discoloring.|
For example, the flat ceiling of the master bedroom was replaced with a deep coffered detail offering greater height to the room, along with the restful glow of illumination from both indirect LED lighting and decorative CFL pendants. This dramatic yet cost sensitive change blends beautifully with the existing architecture. The whole design stayed within the confines of the existing unused attic space.
|Kitchen: Fluorescent puck lights by Tresco provide both task lighting for counter tops and ambient light above cabinets. Warm color blends seamlessly with the incandescents used in other parts of house.|
Satterberg took care to choose natural cotton and wool blend upholstery fabrics for their durability, to stand up to constant use by children and pets. The varied textures are complimented by the lighting, both day and night, as well as season to season. The interior designer’s selection of Asian-inspired textiles enriches the owner’s collection of rugs. Satterberg’s decision to refinish, instead of replacing the existing floors, helps unify all the rooms and adds a rich textural quality, while saving a few trees as well!
|Bedroom: Raising the flat ceiling added architectural interest to master bedroom. Pendants by Christina Spann of Lightspann have dimmable CFL’s. The perimeter cove LED lighting is the Color Kinetics/Philips EW Cove GLX Powercore.|
There are three elements within each space that need lighting: art, architecture and people. Think about lighting the people first – you must humanize the light. A layer of ambient light softens the shadows on people’s faces, as well as softening the otherwise hard edges of the architecture. The addition of accent light can add drama, but should remain subliminal, only attracting attention to objects, artifacts and artwork or other dramatic design details in the room.
There was also an extensive use of adjustable low-voltage LED lighting on this project, to accentuate the artwork throughout. CFL sconces and hidden, linear indirect LED and fluorescent sources were implemented for general illumination. The window coverings were minimized to allow a generous amount of natural light into all areas, while also allowing the subtle, shielded exterior landscape lighting to draw guests outside at night.
Effective lighting is an integral design element and needs to be planned along with all the other design components at the beginning. Well-done lighting design has to accommodate all the practical and aesthetic needs of the homeowners. Exciting new technological advances in luminaires (light fixtures), lamp sources (bulbs), and controls can make lighting versatile enough to meet any need. In other words, effective lighting is critical to creating the desired in any home, especially at night.
Ultimately though, I see the role of the interior designer as primary. Without an experienced and inventive interior designer there may be little worth lighting. The result of a collaboration between interior designer, lighting designer and contractor is a home, which, when combined with the latest in lighting technology, creates a unique and dramatic kind of understated glamour.
Photographer- Dennis Anderson www.bluewaterpictures.com
Interior Designer- Nancy Satterberg, Satterberg Desonier Dumo www.satterbergdesign.com
Contractor-Forde Mazzola Inc. www.fmabuilders.com
Lighting Designer- Randall Whitehead, Randall Whitehead Lighting Inc. www.randallwhitehead.com
Randall Whitehead is a nationally known lighting designer and author. He has written seven books on lighting, the latest being Residential Lighting- A Practical Guide to Beautiful and Sustainable Design (John Wiley and Sons). For more tips on lighting visit him online at http://www.randallwhitehead.com
He has also has published his first book of photography called, Lost Dolls- The Hidden Lives of Toys. See images from the book and watch a two-minute video at http://www.rwfoundimages.com.
To learn more about Title 24 lighting requirements, go to: www.energy.ca.gov/title24
To learn more about Dark Sky Compliance, go to: www.darksky.org
Lighting Resources noted in captions:
Exterior and Breakfast Nook: www.litetronics.com
Dining Room: www.jhlighting.com,