Planning for Lighting

Author: Lenore Brooks Design |

It may not be the first thing that comes to mind when decorating or renovating, but lighting design can make or break a project. Lighting affects how well we can use our space, and how we feel in it. So this week we decided to talk to our friends at Verve Electric, who are experts at installing lighting and automated systems in new homes and renovations.

Lighting Tips from Verve Electric
Most frequent question
We often get asked, “How many pot lights do I need in this space?” More often than not, clients underestimate the number of pot lights they will need to properly light the space and prevent shadowing. With the proper number of pot lights, the result is a well lit, warm space that doesn’t require additional accent lighting if it’s not wanted.
Most overlooked lighting
Proper under-cabinet lighting is a relatively simple upgrade, but one that is often overlooked or done ineffectively during a renovation. It is most often used in a kitchen, but can be used elsewhere, such as in custom built-ins.
Often times we see fluorescent lights or puck lights used as under cabinet lighting, and this type of lighting creates dead spots and shadowing, definitely not something you want, especially with a brand new renovation and a beautiful new backsplash.
To create a beautiful, clean and consistent light, we install LED strip lighting behind the cabinet valence. This creates a full and consistent light spread and truly lights up the entire backsplash and counter tops.
Planning the budget
As a general rule, we would recommend that if you are going to do custom lighting for a large-scale reno or new custom build, you should allocate 10-15% for lighting. You get what you pay for when it comes to fixtures, dimmers and lamps.
Retrofitting lighting
If you are adding a fixture to a room that has attic access directly above, this is a fairly simple addition and the benefits far outweigh the costs and we would highly recommend adding lighting.
If there isn’t direct attic access about the location where the fixture is to be added, it’s still reasonable simple, there will just be more drywall patching involved.
Ultimately though, adding the proper lighting is always ideal and should definitely be discussed during the design process.
Finding an electrician for your job
First and foremost you must ensure you are hiring a Licensed Electrical Contractor (LEC). This is different than a Licensed Electrician.
To ensure you are hiring an LEC, ask for their ECRA/ESA number, it should be on their business card, company vehicle, website, etc. Also ensure that they have WSIB and the proper liability insurance.
We also highly recommend that you take a look at their reviews online. Testimonials from past clients that speak to their work are invaluable when making the decision on who to hire.
(learn more about LECs at the Electrical Safety Authority)
The advantage of automated lighting
Automating your lighting simplifies your life. You can pre-program scenes so that you can set the tone for any occasion at the touch of a button.
You can program your lighting to turn off when you leave the house, and turn on when you return home, without you having to remember a thing.
You can adjust your lighting directly from your phone without ever having to get up and walk over to the switch. Simple.
Automation when designing for ADHD
Using a lighting automation system you can definitely program your lighting to turn help guide a person through a specific path/routine.
Incorporating motorized shades into this would also be very easy and would serve as an additional prompt to begin or end a routine. For example, shades can be programmed to open at dawn, (or a set time each day) signalling the start of their morning routine.
(Read why we’re asking about design for ADHD)
Lenore talks Lighting Design
A designer’s role in lighting design
I collaborate with clients to create a lighting design plan for the electrical contractors, and to choose light fixtures that suite the budget and the look.
A lighting design includes layouts for light switches that are aesthetically pleasing as well as functional, including which switches should have multiple locations: for example, a three way switch by the bedroom door and bedside table means you don’t have to navigate the room in darkness thus reducing your overall chances of toe stubbing.
I can also make recommendations about where extra lights would highlight features. There are a lot of potential options, such as in cabinet, art lighting, under counter, integrated into millwork. Doing this at the design stage means that lighting can be hardwired at the least disruptive point in the renovation.
Collaborations make the best results
Going to the big box store is not the only way to see or get quality lights that are affordable. Many electricians (like Verve Electric) have a vast array of lighting they can get at a discount.
Designers and electricians are happy to work together to get the best fixtures for both the space and the budget. But it works best when there is a collaboration so that the space is harmonious.
Join us again next Tuesday to talk about what kinds of lighting are best for different contexts. And if you want to learn more from Verve Electric, check out their blog, or their YouTube channel!
(cover photo by Diego PH)