by Randi Destefano
Being an interior designer means more than helping clients with the pretty stuff. It also means staying current on technology and trends. This week, to stay current with my design certification, a class on kitchen lighting was in order. Even though I know the basics, it’s always a good idea to have a refresher now and then to learn something new. And, of course, I love to share it with you!
The most important take-away for the class, that I can’t stress enough, is the need to plan. We plan our vacations, our road trips, and even our days. In a remodel, we plan our cabinet layout and our appliances. But how many of us don’t even think about planning the best type of lighting we need in the kitchen? We know that we need overhead lighting. And if you’re “lucky enough” to have a fluorescent box on your ceiling, you know that you want to get rid of it! But what should you replace it with? Let’s take a look at the three essential layers of lighting that are important in every kitchen.
Layer 1 – Ambient Lighting is the general lighting that brightens our kitchen and is the foundation for all the other lighting in the room. The goal with ambient lighting is to have even distribution throughout the space so we don’t have dark pockets that make it hard to see.
In the past, builders and re-modelers turned to the flush mount light fixture, or the lovely fluorescent box centered in the work space. The trend today is to use recessed can lights. And then we always have the questions…How many cans should we use? How should they be spaced? The answer to this is based on the ceiling height, the colors in the room and how they reflect, and…your age. Yes, our eyesight gets worse as we age, and some of us feel more confident with more overhead lights.
Layer 2 – Accent Lighting
Most of us love this layer because it’s the “jewelry” for the kitchen. A few ideas of where to place them are:
- Pendants over an island or table
- Over the cabinets, tucked away behind the crown molding
- Inside cabinets with glass fronts to show off what’s inside
- Lighting in a tray or cove ceiling
- Under counters
- On floating shelves which are popular today
- Toe kicks…especially good for late night visits to the kitchen so you can find your way!
Layer 3 – Task Lighting is especially needed to help us see better when we’re working around the kitchen. Things like reading the buttons on the coffee maker or dicing vegetables are all made easier with task lighting.
We all want to have our counter work space illuminated so that we can see better and avoid dark spots. That’s why it’s so important to install under cabinet lighting in your home.
To get the best coverage and light up your whole counter, the lights need to be installed to the front of the cabinets. LED tape strips offer the best opportunity for this. And the length of the light strip needs to correspond to the width of the cabinet. A big no-no would be to try to save money and install a 12” light strip on a 36” cabinet. Doing that would create shadow pockets on your counter, and make seeing difficult.
Unfortunately, on tight budget projects, this is often the first thing to get deleted off the want/need list. And it’s the one thing that clients regret not including. I can’t stress how important it is to find other ways to stay within your budget.
We plan everything else in our kitchens, so why not take the time to plan our lighting. Remember before you run out and buy the pretty fixtures, put some thought into where you want the lights, where you plan to do the most work, and then where you want that WOW factor of beautiful pendants.
by Randi Destefano
Most of us have been here before. You’ve stretched your budget to buy the perfect new home in a great location. It has the space you’ve been craving for family visits and that new craft room you’ve always dreamed of. But there are still some things about it that need to be updated to make it your own. Unfortunately, the amount of money you have left to invest in this makeover isn’t as great as you hoped. Don’t worry! You can still have great design on a budget if you follow the 5 ways listed below.
Whether you’re downsizing or up-sizing, have more wall space or less, design can (and should) be good at any price point. Your new home design should always keep your needs and lifestyle in mind. And it should always speak to your personality and your approach to life. This is always how you get started…even when you want great design on a budget.
The WOW Factor
Choose that one luxury feature or item that will make the most impact and become the focal point or memory detail in your home. This could be a treasured antique piece that’s making the move with you. Or you might want to spend a lot of your budget on a gorgeous vent hood and range.
No matter what you decide on for a luxury focal point, the rest of your design elements will need to be adjusted accordingly. We all place different values on certain things. For some, a blow out kitchen is more important. And to get there, they’re willing to pinch pennies in other areas. It’s important to spend some time thinking about your lifestyle and your values. This will help you decide on your luxury item.
Less Expensive Materials Used in Unique Ways
The tile in your shower is simply too dark for you. Not your style, and it’s dragging you down. There are so many gorgeous tiles on the market, but you’re really committed to staying within your budget. Some simple 2×3 subway tile would work. But what about a 4×8 subway tile installed in a herringbone pattern? That simple change will make a huge impact. And you haven’t blown your budget.
Hardware and Lighting
I want you to think of hardware and lighting as the jewelry for your home. Updating your cabinet hardware to a new finish or different shape will make a world of difference in how you feel when you look at your cabinets. Consider different hardware for a bar area or hutch area…just to be different.
One area to make a big impact is with pendant lighting over an island. If the “new” home your moving into hasn’t been updated in years, it’s probably time to make that investment for yourself. Keep in mind the size of the island and how dark it gets in the kitchen. That will determine the size of the light, the color of the shade, and the type of bulb that you use.
Color, Pattern, Texture
Each of these three design elements can be applied with very little added cost. A fresh coat of paint on walls or cabinets will make a world of difference.
Pattern and texture can be added with wallcoverings. They’re back in a big way right now! But if wallcoverings are still not your thing, casually drape a throw over a sofa or chair to bring in new colors and textures. Accent pillows are another way to update your new space.
Use Only What You Love
Moving to a new home always brings the dilemma of “what should I keep?” “What should I take?” The number one thing to do is only keep what you absolutely love. And when you’re making a purchase, only buy what you love.
When you’ve finished this list, you can start a second list of things that you absolutely know you don’t want in your new home. This can also include furniture pieces that you know won’t fit in the new space. This always requires measuring walls and furniture. Sometimes it means moving pieces to different rooms than you had them in before. Furniture and colors that can flow from one room to the next give you the option of moving them around to suit your needs.
Moving to a new home is an exciting time. Sometimes you have the luxury of completing your makeover before you move in. Other times you’re moving in on the tails of the last homeowner. But whatever your situation, always remember that you CAN make this work if you take your time, don’t panic, and follow the 5 ways to good design on a budget.
If you find yourself overwhelmed and stressed about how to make it all come together when you move, call Randi today at (404)213-8571