Tag Archives: condo design
Lighting is the most overlooked item in new condo design
Terrence Belford – Globe and Mail
Ask any decorator what is the most overlooked item when it comes to turning that new condo into a showplace and the answer may surprise you: Lighting.
The same people who may search for weeks to find the perfect throw pillows for the couch often totally overlook that it is lighting that sets the overall mood for any room and brings those special features and decorating touches to life.
That perfect bedroom or living room may look like it is set on a factory floor if you leave it to the builder to make lighting decisions.
“In the United States, lighting is part of the overall package supplied by the builder,” says Steven Shaffer, president of Lighting Max Inc. He has outlets in Cleveland and Toronto, and says there is a world of difference in the way builders and buyers in those two cities treat lighting.
“In the States when you buy a condo, the builder’s designers have already thought out how best to show off the suites; here, it is left to the buyer and frankly it is often overlooked. Lighting is tremendously important if you want to show any interior to the best effect.”
Getting the right lighting for a condo is not as complicated nor as expensive as doing the same for a house, says Enza Checchia, who runs Decorenza Inc. She has created interiors for projects such as Red Hot, The Courtyards of Upper Forest Hill and Triumph South in Wildwood, Fla.
The average condo only has six to eight fixtures, whereas a house may have upward of 23. The trick, however, is to make lighting decisions early on while the builder is framing the suite. Leave it until your condo is finished and you face tearing holes in walls to run wires and install connections, she says.
Buyers may not have the cash in hand to install that LED lighting under kitchen cabinets or that cutting edge chandelier over the dining table. But better to get the necessary electrical work done by the builder that face the extra expense at some future date when bank balances are healthier.
“Most builders have people like me you can work with to plan lighting. It is a free service. If you do it while still under construction, the builder’s people can rough in the wiring and connections you will need in future,” Ms. Checchia says.
The first step is to start with the functional, Mr. Shaffer says. Decide which areas in a room will be work areas, places where you intend to read or work. Here you will need a comfortably high level of indirect light – never direct lighting, he says. A strong light shining on a work area creates glare and eye strain.
One of the latest trends in lighting is monorail fixtures, Mr. Shaffer says. They resemble older track lighting but hang perhaps six inches from the ceiling. They can handle three or more lights and come in a variety of shapes – straight or curving. The monorail can have one light directed toward a work area while others deliver ambient lighting to other parts of the room.
“You can get monorails starting at about $500,” he says. “But with those the transformer can only handle up to 20- or 30-watt bulbs. If you want something in the 50-watt range, you can pay anywhere up to $1,000.”
Ms. Checchia also suggests a floor lamp with an extending arm for areas where you may want to read or work. Table lamps may be fine in houses, but they require end tables to sit on. In smaller condo spaces, floor lamps take up less space and are decorative to boot.
For kitchens, think monorails over the breakfast bar and maybe an upgrade to an LED light source under the cabinetry to illuminate work spaces. LED lights are energy efficient with just three- or four-watt bulbs and provide a wonderful clear white light that makes touches such as granite countertops look their best, Mr. Shaffer says. The downside is that they are expensive, starting in the $1,000 range to outfit the kitchen.
“If you have gone to the expense of installing stone countertops, it makes sense to spend a bit extra to show them to their best,” he says.
For bathrooms, never go with a single bar over the mirror, both Mr. Shaffer and Ms. Checchia says. Light coming from one direction produces unflattering shadows. Much better to go with that bar plus a pair of lights one at each side of the mirror, they say. That will provide light from three directions and produce a much more flattering effect.
Ms. Checchia also suggests roughing in a wall connection for a 10-power magnifying mirror on an extendible arm.
“I find those mirrors absolutely a must,” she says. “They are perfect for applying makeup. I could not do without mine.”