Kitchen photos by Whitney Gray Photography.
GT: What are your rules for lighting a space well?
WH: Make sure there is always a good balance of light—no dark corners from lack of lighting or hot spots from stacking too many fixtures to one side. Consider the ease in being able to access switching on lights for entering a room, as well as being able to turn lights off when exiting a room. It seems like a simple concept but I can’t tell you how many homes I’ve found in which this has not held true. Whether remodeling or building a new home, visually “walk” your floor plan with this in mind.
Photo by Whitney Gray Photography.
GT: Do you have any favorite lighting tricks or a fresh way to use light?
WH: LED tape lighting has become one of my best friends! With it I am able to slip lighting into spots for a continuous glow. I love it under cabinets as well as inside of glass upper cabinet doors, to help showcase lovely collections. It can be dimmed, as well, and because it’s flexible enough to fit in tight spaces, the gaps caused by the limited sizes of old fluorescent strip lights is a thing of the past. As in all technology, it’s become a more affordable option.
GT: How do you explain the concept of layers of light to your clients?
WH: I tend to use metaphors to help clients visualize concepts and experiences. For example, lighting might be compared to a symphony orchestra. While each light might have a gorgeous glow or purpose, there are times when the musical score requires one instrument or section to be the star, with the others being the accompaniment. In some instances, there may also be a need for a blending between the melody and the harmony—meaning, there are occasions where the lighting or orchestra may come together for a big finish. Those are all reasons we have choices to consider for task, ambient, accent, aesthetic, and even natural lighting. I ask clients to consider what it would be like to have only one kind of light source and how limiting and monotonous that can become. I can truly see the “light bulb moment” in their eyes!
“Lamps are lovely but they can’t always make up for a lighting deficit.” —interior designer Wanda Horton
GT: Tell me about a time a space's lighting worked really well.
WH: For many, the kitchen is such a hub for activity, and lighting is so key—from the time the first sleepyhead arrives for morning coffee, to the end-of-the-day when the last meal or midnight snack is being savored. I think it’s one of the most important rooms for creating layers of lighting and when a client appreciates the flexibility of it, it’s a great outcome for their project. In the kitchen photos I’ve shared, we worked from the top down, with recessed fixtures to distribute the light evenly, pendants to allow for proper task focus at the island, under cabinet lighting—with my favorite LED tape lighting—and more LED tape lighting tucked into the upper cabinets for illuminating some collected pottery pieces. I love how they have been able to set the stage for the different times of the day, as well as to cast a subtle glow, when a full-on setting isn’t needed. Of course, everything is on dimmers, too. This kitchen will be able to meet every lighting need, for now and for the future.
GT: Tell me about a time/place when the lighting really didn't work.
WH: Most of the time it’s when there hasn’t been enough lighting configured into a new build plan and without the benefit of a space plan or furniture layout to determine where it will be needed most.
The Phantom of the Opera - chandelier of musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber played in Opera Podlaska. Image courtesy of WikiMedia and Henryk Borawski.
GT: Do you have a favorite memory or place where lighting/ambiance plays a huge role?
WH: I’ll never forget the chandelier in the opening scene of Phantom of the Opera. Now that made a statement!
GT: Do you have a favorite type of light bulb?
WH: A warm white LED, equal to about 60 watts of a traditional incandescent.
GT: Do you have a favorite word you use to describe light or lighting fixtures?
WH: Glimmer. It’s, of course, a real word but it’s kind of a fun play on the word glamour. Lighting should be both the glimmer and glamour in a room.
GT: What advice would you give homeowners on making sure their rooms are well lit?
WH: Check all four corners to be sure they are well lit. Invest in good lamps, as they can be relocated as the room arrangement changes.
GT: What advice would you give someone on choosing a statement lighting fixture?
WH: Make sure you consider the rest of the pieces in the room and, if you want to make a statement with a fixture, edit.
GT: You chose the Jackie table lamp as your favorite among our collections. What speaks to you about this fixture?
The ability to customize the classic design of Jackie, just like a little black cocktail dress, and changing the jewelry, so to speak, to fit a mood or preference. I love the romance of using candlelight, whenever possible. This design allows for the lighting to be softened, with touches of color.
GT: In what sort of space do you imagine using this fixture? Please describe the room in detail!
WH: There are so many lonely living rooms and I think a pair of Jackies would make for good company, by turning the space into an end-of-the-day retreat. A delicious, large chaise, appointed in plush velvet, with a gilded martini table tucked to its side. (A crystal glass of lemonade will do just fine, too.) Custom built-ins of burlwood, with cream lacquered interiors, emitting a low glow of lighting, would flank the walls. These would be filled with an amazing art glass collection and of course, books of favorite subjects for curling up with a good read. There would be music in the background and a diffuser misting a special blend of oils. It would be a place of rest and replenishment, and definitely feminine.