Whether it is a kitchen, bathroom, living room or bedroom, each of these spaces needs lighting during non-daylight hours and dark days. Yet, lighting often is an afterthought.
This is why a lighting assessment should be part of every remodeling plan, says Lino Carosella, CR, CKBR, GCP, of Carosella Design Build in Havertown, Pa. A lighting assessment can be simple or complex, but it can help determine the lighting needs for a particular space, for it’s particular use and for the client.
Carosella believes remodelers may want to call in a professional to do lighting assessments. “In our case, we use the showroom representative at our lighting distributor, where we usually send our clients to make lighting selections,” he says.
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Lighting may also be specified in plans provided by an architect or a designer. “If there is a good design person involved, they will normally account for the lighting needs of the client. It’s about being a good designer, or if you’re not, finding someone who is. If you don’t know about lighting, find an expert and have him or her help the client make the right choice, the right quantity of lighting and the right place for it,” Carosella advises.
How much lighting is needed for the space and the purpose for which it is used, where it is placed and the type of lighting are the three main factors to consider in selecting lighting, Carosella says.
Older clients are known to need more light, as are visually handicapped persons. “If you’re making a home accessible or making changes to a home for people who plan on aging in place, you want to take that into consideration. We did work for a visually challenged person who was much older, and we illuminated under the toe kicks of all the cabinets and the steps of all the stairs to make those obstacles more easily identifiable,” Carosella relates.
Beyond the practical, the aesthetics of lighting are important, too. “The sky is the limit as far as choices; there are so many manufacturers and so many styles,” he says. [Having done a lighting assessment] “we know what we need to light the rooms; we know what the purpose of this light will be. Now the clients have to choose something that is also aesthetically pleasing to them.”
Considerations such as color temperature and type of lighting are also important. Carosella again emphasizes the importance of relying on professionals for advice. Incandescent lighting is being phased out, compact fluorescents have made an appearance, and LED bulbs are the latest to catch the imagination of lighting designers and manufacturers.
“They don’t always play nice,” he says of the differing technologies. “LEDs don’t work well with certain dimmers. There is a whole world of research you need to do when you buy an LED bulb to put in a particular fixture to make sure it works with the particular dimmer you want to have on your wall.
“A dimmer is a great way to save energy and also lengthen the life of an incandescent bulb,” he continues. “All of this changes when you start moving into LED and compact fluorescents; you may have a compact fluorescent bulb that’s dimmable, but it may not work with a particular dimmer, or it may not dim correctly, dim smoothly or dim to off. Also, the energy savings may not be there either, depending on the electronics of the ballast inside that compact fluorescent. You might not be saving any energy by dimming it.”
A final consideration, one that often is overlooked in lighting assessments, is natural light. “Consider how much natural light is flowing into the space,” Carosella advises. Too much natural light can be detrimental, of course, and Carosella tells remodelers and designers to look into motorized treatments that open and close to block or filter light and help block heat and cold transmission. “You can take control of natural light,” he says.