One of the most important features that enhance the look of a remodel is lighting. Any photographer will tell you that lighting makes all the difference in a photograph. The same is true with the features in your home. Whether it’s a kitchen, bathroom, or media wall, choosing the right lighting makes the difference between things look plain and ordinary, or really making them look amazing. We will discuss the different types available as well as where and how to use them including recessed can, under cabinet, and accent lighting.
LED’s are the most popular form of lighting available. New LED’s have excellent C.R.I (Color Rendering Index) scores, which is another way of saying that colors look the way they are supposed to look. Fluorescents often have poor C.R.I scores which means colors look really off. LED’s are also available in every type of bulb commonly used, and their costs have come down dramatically. They last from several thousand hours to tens of thousands of hours, greatly outlasting any other type of bulb. In many cases they are fully dim-able. Because of the fact that they use a fraction of the power of standard incandescent bulbs and last many times longer than either incandescent (regular bulbs) or fluorescent (spiral bulbs), they will typically pay for themselves during their lifetime. Except for certain cases where accent lighting is not available in LED form, we will assume the use of high quality LED’s in the areas we discuss below.
Kitchens are an area where proper lighting is extremely important but is rarely utilized properly. We are all familiar with the terrible long fluorescent bulbs and drop ceilings of homes in the 70s and 80s. The color of the light was awful and they often made the kitchen look dark and dingy. But with good bright LED’s even those types of kitchens can look bright and open. Large kitchens are often the worst culprits of poor lighting. With their tall ceilings and large space they need lots of illumination to keep them bright and show off the kitchen details. But often there are just a small number of under-powered bulbs for the entire kitchen. By adding a few more fixtures and changing out the bulbs to high power LED’s, the kitchen can be transformed into a bright and cheerful space. LED under cabinet strip lighting is another feature that adds brightness and character to a kitchen. This is used to improve the brightness of the counter-top work space and make the back splash pop with texture or color. They can also be used above the cabinets to provide soft mood lighting for the kitchen. The last touch is pendant lighting. These lights are typically used over cabinet islands or peninsulas and provide a unique decorative accent to the kitchen as well as providing additional brightness to the area when needed. Choosing the right combination of these options will enhance the look of your new kitchen and really make it stand out above the rest.
Bathrooms are another area where lighting can really improve the look of the space. Most bathrooms include vanity lighting in the sink area which is good when you are at the sink, but is insufficient for most bathrooms to really show them off. This is especially true for sconces installed to the sides of mirrors which, while very attractive, are not very bright for an entire bathroom. New recessed can LED’s over tubs and showers gives up to 5 times the lighting of typical wet area recessed can lights. So with recessed can LEDs in place your new tub or shower will be shown off like the pieces of beautiful artwork that they are. Additionally, recessed can LED’s in the center of the bathroom or in a toilet area provides excellent overall illumination for the space.
Designing and building media walls has become an industry all in itself. With so many design options and materials to use the combinations are nearly endless. New media walls are designed to be a showpiece, not just a place to put your TV and a few book or decorations. Media walls include features such as lighted niches and shelves, cubbies for media equipment, fireplaces, stone or tile facades, and of course the TV area. While being functional, these spaces are designed to really make a statement and set the mood for the whole room. And a big part of that mood comes with the lighting. The niches can take on a character of their own depending on whether the lighting comes from the front, the back, the top or the bottom, as each location gives a unique look and feel to the niche. Stone or tile facades can also be a real showpiece. Typically lighting comes from the ceiling and shines down on the stone, washing gently over the surface of the stone to really enhancing the texture of the stone. This can also be done from below as well and gives more of an outdoor landscaping look to the stone. It is important not to shine anything directly on the TV as this will wash out the color on the TV during watching. But LED back-lighting for the TV can be a modern and eye catching feature. You will want to be able to turn off or dim the lighting of the media wall when you are watching as well. Dimming is the preferred option as you can still watch the TV and keep the look of the media wall, so be sure you have a dimming option available when you are designing your media wall.
Having designed hundreds of remodels including kitchens, bathrooms and media walls, we at Retro Pro have seen over and over the huge impact that the right lighting can have for the space. In the overall project it is a relatively small cost, yet the impact can be huge. So be sure to find a re-modeler who take the time to plan the right fixtures for your space when you are designing your remodel, because it’s one of the most important overlooked details we see in the kitchen and bath remodeling industry.