The use of mirrors may be one of the great trade secrets of interior design, designers have long utilized mirrors for years to reflect light and texture, to create interesting patterns, make a space feel larger, or simply to add drama to a room lacking in personality. The wonderful thing about mirrors is that they multiply whatever is placed in front of them; they enhance both natural and artificial light and actually add depth by reflecting textures. Mirrors come in all shapes and sizes, can be hung on the wall or even a ceiling, can be polished, antiqued, or distorted.
Feng Shui masters use mirrors to remedy many different problems presented in interiors, including hanging them over work surfaces where you could have someone “sneak” up on you from behind. This allows you to maintain a visual of the space directly behind you at any time. A mirror can also be used to bring nature in by being placed across from a window and reflecting the outdoors in. They can also be used to counteract design flaws, like a sharp angle that dissects into a space by being hung directly across from the flaw and reflecting it back.
Mirrors make an elegant finish for furniture, which continues to make a chic design statement. Mirrored screens can be used to brighten up a dark corner, or a mirrored chest can be used in a small space, like a foyer to make it feel larger. Mirrored tables of all shapes and sizes can enhance almost any décor.
A collection of mirrors hung on a wall create an eclectic look, frameless mirrors lend themselves well to more contemporary design and mirrors with heavy gilded frames are right at home in traditional spaces. To make rooms feel bigger, use tall mirrors spaced across the wall to brighten and therefore enlarge a space. Distorted mirrors, made from polished metal, create interesting reflections that will change with the amount of light within the room.
If lighting is insufficient for a space, mirrors can help to enhance the existing lighting. Placing mirrors in dark corners will both multiply the light and expand the space. Candle light is doubled by the reflection in a mirror and will create a festive environment, perfect for this time of year. With all of these, and many more applications for mirrors, designers can utilize them in virtually every space and every project.
What is Solid-State Lighting?
LEDs are part of a family of lighting technologies called Solid-State lighting. LEDs have the potential to revolutionize the efficiency, appearance, and quality of lighting as we know it.
Light Emitting Diodes are among the most energy-efficient light sources available on the market. LED lamps are already today more than five times more efficient than incandescent lamps and future technical achievements offer additional potential for the coming years.
At present, artificial lighting accounts for around 19% of global electricity consumption – that corresponds to 2.4% of worldwide primary energy consumption. 70% of the energy used for artificial lighting is consumed by lamps for which there are more energy-efficient alternatives. Simply replacing conventional light sources with LEDs would theoretically halve global electricity consumption for lighting. The potential savings are therefore enormous. From http://www.osram-os.com.
What should I know before buying an LED lighting product?
1. Look for the Energy Star logo to ensure a quality product with a minimum three year warranty
2. Make sure you have a compatible dimmer switch. Manufacturers can provide a list of approved dimmers.
3. Make sure you have the correct color of light, there are several options.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the quick adoption of LED lighting can:
1. Deliver savings of about $256 billion in 20 years.
2. Avoid building 40 new power plants.
3. Reduce electricity demand by 33% in 2027.
The entrance to your home should be welcoming and make a statement about who you are, even if it’s not the primary entrance to your home. The front entrance is a way of transitioning from the outside world into your space and can set the stage for the entire home.
Specifically, a well-lit entrance will help guests to find your home and help you to identify and welcome them. A wall lantern should be hung on each side of the front entrance (a single lantern for secondary entrances is fine). The size of the lanterns should be between 1/3 to 1/6 the size of the door, this can depend on the style and scale you want to convey. Lanterns should be hung approximately 66 inches above the threshold.
If you have a porch or an overhang use a lantern or a flush mount fixture if there are height constraints. It’s a good idea for the exterior to coordinate with the interior for a cohesive look. You also may consider installing a dimmer switch for the exterior lights. Just as is the case with your interior space, you may want to adjust lighting levels according to your needs.
Landscape lighting is also an important component. It can help with way-finding and increase safety. Make sure to light the pathway and any surface transitions or steps. Pathway lights can be spaced 8 to 10 feet apart.
On the interior, you can create a sense of drama or welcoming with the lighting. A beautiful chandelier can set the stage or for smaller entrances, a flush mount or semi-flush ceiling fixture will work. To determine the size, add the length and the width (in feet) of the foyer together. This number is the proper width (in inches) of the fixture you need. The bottom of the fixture should not be below 7 feet above the floor. If there is a window above the door, hang a chandelier or lantern to be centered in the window so it is visible from the outside.
You may also want to add wall sconces on either side of a mirror or artwork. Select a size and scale appropriate to the space and place these approximately 60 inches above the finished floor.
The proper lighting is the finishing touch to any design and will help to convey the feel and effect that you desire for your spaces, indoors and out.
It is true that trends are cyclical, everything eventually comes back around again but they are updated and refreshed to make them more appropriate for how we live today. In trying times, like our current environment, we tend to take refuge in our own homes. Many of the current trends convey this as well as the move towards a more global society and environmental consciousness. Some of these may seem to be contradictory and that is often the case but we usually manage to find ways of reconciling these contradictions to create an eclectic and compelling if not cohesive environment. Here are a few trends to look for in the coming year.
1. Nostalgia for classic design with a contemporary spin.
2. Places to retreat and renew incorporated into places for excitement and entertainment.
3. Indoor living areas with outdoor connections and vice versa.
4. Conservation of materials but an abundant use of natural materials.
5. Feminine and masculine details creating an interesting contrast within spaces.
6. Neutral colors mixed with wild colors.
The first trend is one that has been gaining momentum for a while now, it has been tagged ‘New Classicism’. This incorporates a classic ideal with a contemporary flare using layers of design elements with a ‘less is more’ goal; using fewer and finer things with simple details. When budgets tighten consumers favor classic silhouettes, familiar time periods and comforting materials. But we still crave something new. Typical elements include fine, high touch fabrics and finishes, dramatic architectural details, and an opulent but approachable luxury. Mosaic tiles are ever popular with colorful textured or polished stone and glass or metal detailing, old and worn finishes on wood, hand crafted furnishings and finishes or natural finishes where imperfections are apparent.
This is a rich and authentic but comfortable style.
The Spa bath continues to be of utmost importance to consumers who are nesting more than ever before. Hotel-like amenities are being incorporated into people’s homes in increasing numbers. Things like steam showers, body sprays, whirlpools, bidets and warming floors are as popular as ever. Calming, natural colors are a perfect match for this spa trend.
A trend towards linking the indoor and outdoor spaces is not new but is continuing to be strengthened by a more natural palette of colors and materials. There is an abundance of products meant to invoke a natural look as well as those made from natural materials. This will also increase in popularity as the Green Movement takes precedence in creating our living environments.
A very interesting trend that is gaining momentum is the duality of details within a space or what may be considered to be contradictory elements. Such as feminine details like beading, floral prints and dressmaker details tempered with masculine details like simpler lines, tailored upholstery, neutral colors and metallic accents. Another example would be the desire to live more locally during an ever increasing global society and how does that affect our interior spaces?
Along those same lines, conservation of natural resources is highly important as we try to be as environmentally friendly as possible. But how do we conserve natural resources as we are understandably more drawn to them? The answer is to use natural resources that are more rapidly renewable, like bamboo or to re-purpose furnishings instead of throwing them away. This is where many of these trends tie together, using familiar items to create a new aesthetic.
Colors that are emerging are more complex than we have previously seen. Grays are continuing to be important and vary from cooler to warmer tones. These neutrals pair well with the more energetic tones like lime green and orange or pink and are inspired by stainless steel, concrete and charcoal. We are seeing fewer beiges but those that still exist are complex and tinted with yellow or are earthier.
Purples and blues continue to be a strong influence in ’09 in all shades from violet to aubergine but are leaning a bit more to the reddish side. Colors that represent a sunset and range from deep purple to rosy reds are important. The red and orange palette is softening to more earthy shades. Think of the spice tones and tropical fruit. Pinks stay strong but may have hints of other hues like orange or violet. These colors are both exotic and enticing.
Organic colors will be sweeping in with tones like lime green and gold. Natural elements from beach, forest or mountain have a calming effect. Green is the most restful color to the eye and evokes a feeling of safety which means it will remain an important color in the coming year. The apple green of 2009 pairs well with aubergine. The chocolate brown that we have seen so much of is giving way to softer tones inspired by wood and natural fibers.
Remember these colors are all becoming more complex than in 2008, and the old rules for combining colors are disappearing with the growth of technology. Metal finishes will follow a similar path. Silver tone finishes will continue to be popular but more complex like aged silver. Gold and copper tones are still gaining in hammered, burnished or foiled finishes. New technologies are evolving and the creation of new pigments and finishes are keeping metallics fresh and new. Metallic finishes are also the perfect foil for neutral color palettes.
Most of us by now realize the importance of reducing energy consumption, according to Energy Star, Americans prevented 37 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2006 alone––equivalent to the annual emissions from 25 million vehicles. And savings are on track to nearly double again in the next ten years. We can all help to further that goal by specifying Energy Star light fixtures from BellacorPro.com, every compact fluorescent bulb (cfl) can prevent nearly 500 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions over its lifetime!
According to Energy Star, the energy used in the average home can be responsible for more than twice the greenhouse gas emissions of the average car. If every home in America replaced the five most frequently used light fixtures in their home with cfl’s or fluorescent fixtures, we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the amount equivalent to nearly 10 million cars and save more that $65 each year in energy costs per household!
Here are some recommendations on the use and application of cfls:
1. Use cfls in open fixtures that allow airflow, such as lamps, wall sconces, and pendants.
2. For recessed fixtures, use a reflector cfl instead of a spiral cfl to evenly distribute the light down to your task area.
3. If a light fixture is connected to a dimmer or three-way switch, make sure to look for cfls that specify use with dimmers or three-way fixtures.
4. Choose a cfl that offers a shade of white light that works best for your project.
5. To choose a cfl with the right amount of light, find a qualified cfl that is labeled as equivalent to the incandescent bulb you are replacing.
Finally, while fluorescent bulbs are more energy efficient, they do contain a small amount of mercury and require proper disposal in order to not pollute the environment. These bulbs should ultimately be recycled and the EPA is currently working with some retailers to create recycling programs. To find out how to recycle your burned out bulbs, or how to dispose of broken bulbs, go to http://www.epa.gov/bulbrecycling or http://www.earth911.org. For more information on Energy Star products and initiatives, go to http://www.energystar.gov.
Even though home theaters are a fairly recent addition to the American home, they are quickly becoming the standard in almost any new home or remodeling project. Granted, many are part of a multi-purposed space that may include functioning as an entertainment area for guests and a quiet den space as well as watching movies or playing video games. That being the case, it is very important to create a space with a lighting plan to accommodate every scenario.
The single most important thing in any room with multiple functions is adjustability. The dimming of the lights is often one of the most anticipated experiences when one goes to the movies. It’s a signal that the entertainment is about to begin and it’s time to find your seats and quiet down. This same experience can be created within a home theater; you just need to plan for it. A remote control with and integrated dimming system can help you to do this.
Ceiling mounted fixtures are generally not the best choice for an entertainment room; they may reflect in the screen or distract your attention by interrupting your view. Recessed fixtures can work but they should have black trim and the lamp should be further inside the fixture to eliminate glare. These can be placed either over the laps of seated guests or around the perimeter. Recessed and adjustable lights can be used to highlight artwork and displays too but should be programmed to turn off when viewing movies.
Another option is cove lighting to reflect off the ceiling and create ambient lighting that is dimmable and won’t cause glare. This can also be used to accent architectural details. Sconces are another great option but they should focus light up or down and be placed to either side of the room or behind the seating area.
For safety, you may want to add low lights to illuminate the pathway so that you can move within the space without waiting for your eyes to adjust. There are some great LED fixtures that would be perfect for this application.
Lighting is the one thing that could make or break the home theater experience. A good layout, adjustability and quality should get your clients well on their way to enjoying their first movie night with family and friends.
Let’s talk about what constitutes good lighting design. First off, it should look good. Not only should the decorative fixtures enhance the overall interior design but the light quality and quantity should enhance the space and not detract from it. Second, the right amount of light needs to be provided for the tasks that will be performed in any given room. Third, budget, code, and any other client sensitivities need to be met. Fourth, energy efficiency should be a consideration. Lastly, switching and dimming should be well thought out and not over-done, dimmers are necessary tools in helping to create “scenes” in lighting designs. You can read more about how to create beautiful lighting designs in Jim Benya’s book, Lighting Design Basics, Wiley Press.
Jim Benya also teaches the Layers Technique of lighting design. This technique consists of 4 layers; the ambient layer, the task layer, the focal layer, and the decorative layer. The ambient layer is general overall lighting used to navigate any given space and give basic visual recognition. Task lighting is the lighting provided for any task or work space, this may include downlights, lamps, under-cabinet lights, etc. Focal lightings purpose is to focus attention on features such as signage or artwork. The most typical type of focal lighting is track lighting, used frequently because of its adjustability. And finally, the decorative layer is any fixture selected to enhance the design of any space. This can include chandeliers, pendants, sconces, etc. Generally the decorative layer is not sufficient for task lighting, unless it is a directional fixture.
Our kitchens are going through transformations today as a result of the way we want to live and how we would like our homes to function. Kitchen remodels are increasingly looking to change the flow of older homes to be more open and rooms to be multi-purposed, new home construction is down-sizing from McMansions to a more ‘human’ scale and the interior spaces are smaller as well. As a result, designers need to use their best tricks to keep style and purpose at the forefront. Kitchen design is also increasingly customized to reflect a homeowner’s personality, use more environmentally friendly products and maximize space.
A good way to make use of limited space is to organize, using tools like drawer dividers or pot racks, will help keep items that are frequently used right at your fingertips. Also consider adding user friendly items like hands free plumbing fixtures or ergonomic hardware and self closing hinges on cabinet doors and drawers.
Lighting is an important factor in any design but especially in a multi-functional space. In these areas, task lighting gains even more importance in that each function needs to be supported by appropriate lighting. Don’t make the mistake of trying to light a kitchen with a single light source. Utilize under cabinet lighting, interior cabinet lighting and lamps to focus the right amount of light in the right place.
Home owners in all price ranges are coming to expect ‘custom’ details in their kitchens. This often includes exotic woods or paint finishes on cabinets, versatile countertop materials like concrete or beautiful blown glass pendants. Finishes like brushed nickel and bronze are still popular and dark wood finishes are still trending up. For all these reasons, and a million more, design professionals are in even more demand than ever before. Consumers need expert advice on everything they are bombarded with on a daily basis about their homes, the environment and new materials and products. Designers need to be prepared to help their clients make the right choices for themselves and their homes.
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