Illuminating a New Home or Remodel
By Sanford Fogg
In a new monthly column, Sanford Fogg, of Fogg Lighting in Portland, offers his best advice on illuminating your home.
Q: What’s the most important thing to consider when planning lighting for a new home or remodel?
A: Bringing in a lighting designer at the start of a project is key. This is not a luxury reserved for people with big budgets. We will consult with any customer, free of charge, in our store. For a reasonable charge, we’ll also make a house call, but this is not typically necessary. Working with floor plans or drawings, we can determine how much light you need in a room, what types of fixtures will work best, and where they should go. Because lighting is one of the last things to be installed in a house, people often don’t contact us until the final weeks of a project. At this point, the wiring is done and it’s no longer possible to alter the lighting plan. We see kitchens that are drastically under-lit, with a grid of recessed lights in the center of the room instead of over the work surfaces. In living rooms, people frequently use recessed fixtures like klieg lights overhead, when they should be positioned around the room’s perimeter to create more comfortable, ambient illumination — to name just a couple of potential pitfalls.
Because contractors’ allowances are sometimes not enough to cover the type of lighting homeowners want or need, we also help clients devise a realistic budget up front so they are not hit with unexpected costs at the end of the process. You can spend a lot of time and money on your plans and architect, and choose the prettiest countertops, tile, and art, but if you don’t light it all properly, you can’t take full advantage of, or truly appreciate, the work you’ve done.
How often do you go into a bathroom? I will bet it is at least once or twice a day. And why do you go into a bathroom, other than to answer the call of nature? You probably comb your hair, or shave, or apply makeup or read the newspaper or take a shower or engage in other grooming activities. And what do all these tasks have in common…they require lots of light, good, non-glare light installed in the appropriate places.
|Well Lighted Bathroom|
I talk with clients all the time who are going to use a fan-light as the main light in their bathrooms. I don’t know if you have noticed or not but most fan-lights do not provide much light. (They don’t do much as a fan either, for that matter). When my wife and I moved into our house a few years ago the vanity lighting was provided by two puck lights in a valance above the sinks. I really don’t know how the previous owners could see!
When I design a lighting plan for a bathroom I go all out. Showers should have recessed lights in them so you can see yourself (in addition to being able to admire all the expensive tile). Vanity lighting should come from the sides if possible thereby eliminating the shadows that an overhead light produces on the face.A good light should be provided for the toilet (think from the male prospective). Good ambient lighting should be provided for the whole room so you can see to clean. These lighting requirements serve to add layers of light to the room as well as providing adequate light for all the tasks performed there. A fan is sometimes required by code. Don’t make the mistake of accepting the idea that a fan-light will substitute for any of the lights mentioned above. And insist on a low sones (quiet) fan. They are not much more expensive, but they are much more enjoyable.
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