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DESIGN: The Basics of Lighting

The basics of lighting

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The basics of lighting

The excitement of starting a design project in your home can often find you getting caught up in the details of colours, furnishings and finishes. These are all obviously of great importance to the overall aesthetics of our space, however, equally or quite often even more importantly is lighting. Light is a vital element of any good design. Good lighting will enhance any space. However, great lighting can elevate it.

For your lighting plan to be a success you need to consider a layered approach to your lighting. Layering your lighting is advantageous as it enables you the flexibility of creating different vibes and functions within a given space. There are four basic categories of lighting layers to be aware of: Ambient, Task, Accent and Decorative.

Ambient lighting illuminates a space and allows you an ease of mobility throughout a room. Task lighting, as seems obvious, affords you added lighting in a specific area devoted to a particular task or function. Accent lighting can be used to highlight artwork, decor or perhaps architectural features within a space. Finally there’s decorative lighting, the fourth layer of illumination, which simply is an accessory to your room, or the finishing touch.

Another source of light that should never be forgotten in design is natural light, what I like to consider to be a fifth layer of lighting. Natural light is the most inexpensive and environmentally friendly light available. Many new condo and home builds today are being constructed with wonderfully large window features that allow for maximum natural light, even in smaller spaces. Not only does this feature provide you with great source of natural light as well as a wonderful view, it also helps to create the illusion of a larger rather elevated space.

Here are a few design tips to get you started:

  • Work with a reputable lighting store when purchasing your lighting, and spend some time inquiring about the various types of lighting that are currently available. With the recent developments in LED lighting there is far more available than you may be aware of.
  • Incorporate a different style of light in to your space, something a bit modern in a more traditional environment or a beautiful crystal chandelier paired with a rustic farmhouse table.
  • The general rule for an eight-ft. ceiling height is that a chandelier should be hung approximately 29 to 33 inches above a dining table; for each added foot of ceiling height increase by three inches.
  • Recessed pot lights are a lovely addition in a room, however, be sure to add the proper amount; too many can be overwhelming and appear messy on your ceiling. If you reside in a condo, pot lights may be restricted. Consider the addition of track lighting in this case; there are many great track light systems on the market now that have a very high-end look to them and are far more user-friendly for a condo environment.
  • Use dimmer switches where possible. Not only can it reduce your electrical usage, but it also adds to the ambience of a room.
Linda Mazur is an award-winning, nationally publicized designer and Principal of Linda Mazur Design Group.

With almost two decades of experience this in demand multi-disciplinary design firm is known for creating relaxed stylish spaces and full-scale design builds within Toronto, the GTA and throughout Canada.



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Design Option: Add in some Natural light with Skylights

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Design Option: Add in some Natural light with Skylights

When looking to design or decorate a home we can often get caught up in the details of the colours, furnishings and finishes we’d like to use. These are all important to the overall aesthetics of our space. However, equally or even more importantly is lighting. Lighting is a requirement to ensure that your space not only looks good but also functions well. Most of us are familiar with the basics types of lighting: ambient, task and accent. However, one that is often forgotten when designing is the option of adding in natural light.

We all enjoy the benefits of natural light in our lives and our homes. Natural light not only enhances the aesthetics of your space, but seeing the great morning sunshine is a wonderful way to begin the day. Many homes suffer from those dark and shady areas such as a staircase or a bathroom, where natural light struggles to reach. If this is the predicament you find yourself in, then consider adding a skylight to your design and let the light shine in!

The addition of skylights, or sun tunnels if you are lacking the space, can be a wonderful asset to your project. It not only increases the volume of natural light, but also aids in the “health” of your home. Windows are designed to let light in and to circulate air throughout a room. However, hot air rises, and therefore so will any toxins and pollutants. To counter this, many of the skylights on the market today are being designed to open, allowing your home to properly ventilate. Boasting this feature, along with greater energy efficiency, temperature regulation and protection from the sun’s rays, the skylights of today can be a fantastic complement to the design, architecture and function of your home.

When designing for my clients, I enjoy the challenge of maximizing light, especially natural light. As we often have limitations to window sizes and locations, skylights become a great option, creating a more open feel to the space – a great feature for “space-challenged” urban dwellers!

However, before you start ripping up your roof and ceilings to install skylights in your home, there are a few important points you should be aware of in order to maximize the benefits of this great feature.

  1. Plan well and be aware of the finished outcome. Skylights are not vertical windows; the two are not interchangeable. However, they are designed to complement each other. A window is designed to catch the sun’s rays and when open circulate air in a room. By adding an operable skylight, you are able to bring sunlight into the core of your home while also properly venting out your home, thereby creating a healthier environment.
  2. Think about how the sun moves throughout the day. Skylights positioned on a north-sloping roof will pretty much diffuse light for you all day, whereas one situated on a southern sloping roof will be exposed to more direct sunlight. To diffuse the light you might want to consider a skylight with a built-in operable blind.
  3. Select appropriately for your space to maximize the design aesthetics. Just as a large skylight in a very small bathroom may appear overwhelming, a single small skylight on a vast sloping ceiling in a family room or kitchen may not be as impressive as you might hope. Skylights come in varying sizes. Therefore, if you have a large ceiling you may want to consider adding more than one skylight or create a cluster of different sizes for visual appeal. However, for tighter more confined spaces, the sun tunnel option may be the way to go. You also need to consider your lighting plan in accordance with the skylight.

Whatever your decision, I think we can all agree that skylights, as well as sun tunnels, can be a wonderful feature in your home. They add a strong architectural design element to your space while creating interest and airiness to your ceiling. So invest a little more thought into the volume of natural light you’d like to see in your home and consider the addition of a skylight in your next renovation project.

Whatever your decision, I think we can all agree that skylights, as well as sun tunnels, can be a wonderful feature in your home. They add a strong architectural design element to your space while creating interest and airiness to your ceiling. So invest a little more thought into the volume of natural light you’d like to see in your home and consider the addition of a skylight in your next renovation project. LindaMazurDesign.com

Photos by Stephanie Buchmann. Skylights photos courtesy of Velux Canada.


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New homes today offer countless benefits

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New homes today offer countless benefits

Buyers of new homes today expect more – more space, more windows, more closets, more conveniences and more dazzle. The kind of “mores” you just don’t find in older homes, no matter how cozy they are.

While many homebuyers are attracted by the mores new homes have to offer, they also say they find the lesses very appealing. Less maintenance. Less repair work. And less costly heating and cooling bills. Builders are listening closely to what buyers are demanding. And they’re responding with new home designs that offer a whole new world of attractive style options and amenities at an affordable price.

Sure, older homes can be quaint. But when it comes to design, comfort, convenience and value, nothing compares to a brand new home. When asked what factors motivated them most to buy new, home shoppers across the country cited the following reasons:


New homes these days feature maximum light and spaciousness. Whether modest or grand, new home layouts combine informal areas for family activities, workable kitchens for comfort and ease, gracious formal rooms for elegant entertaining and cozy areas for privacy.


Open and airy design appeals to a majority today’s new homebuyers. To accommodate this trend, even small compact homes are being built with soaring ceilings, dramatic entryways, deluxe master baths and innovative windows for a feeling of spaciousness.


A house filled with natural light bestows warmth, charm and uplifting feelings on those inside. To capture as much sunlight as possible, builders are making use of innovative strategically planned windows, skylights and a variety of sun spaces that make new homes look and feel more open, inviting and spacious.


New home builders are wise to affordable, Earth-friendly, low maintenance building materials that make it possible to conserve natural resources without sacrificing comfort. For example, engineered wood – a manmade composite lumber – uses half of the wood fibre of sawn lumber, but is considered stronger and cheaper than the conventional product. A wide variety of other innovative materials – many of which are recycled – are also finding valuable uses in new home construction.


Here’s a fact that hooks many a new homebuyer — new homes consume half as much energy as homes built prior to 1980. Thanks to more efficient heating and cooling systems, better windows, controlled air filtration and improved insulation, new homes can save owners substantial sums every month. Besides the economical advantages, HVAC systems in new homes also provide more comfort and convenience year round.


Occupants of new homes are almost six times less likely to die in fires than occupants of older homes. A growing number of new homebuyers are aware of this statistic and factor it into their purchasing decision. Builders are offering the latest smoke detection systems, circuit breakers and ground fault interrupters making new homes a safer choice for concerned families.


When it comes to health risks, new homes offer clear advantages. Asbestos – which can cause serious respiratory disease – has been removed from shingles, piping, cement board, roof tar, floor tiles, ceiling tiles and insulation. Lead is no longer used in paint or as solder for plumbing. Formaldehyde emissions from particleboard and hardwood plywood also have been eliminated. What’s more, in certain regions of the country, new radon prevention techniques are being built into new homes to prevent potential health problems.


Extra bracing and framing anchors help new homes withstand high winds, storms and even earthquakes. In addition, new building materials make roofs and floors stronger and quieter than those older homes where board sheathing was used. New kinds of trusses for roofs and floors increase strength and also allow builders to offer a much wider range of design possibilities by eliminating most bearing walls.


Closets, closets and more closets. It seems new homebuyers just can’t have enough of them. Homebuilders realize that storage space is something their purchasers crave. They’re responding with walk-in closets, built-in shelving and innovative storage areas to meet their buyer’s growing demands.


With siding, windows and trim that never require painting, new homes are not only easy to maintain, they also keep their fresh attractive appearance year after year. Also worth noting, decks that embellish new homes these days are typically made of pressure treated lumber designed to resist rot and insects and retain their beauty from season to season.


Enter a new home and you’ll immediately notice amenities designed to add ease to your lifestyle. You’ll find state-of-the-art kitchens with beautiful and functional built-in appliances, high-efficiency central heating and air conditioning, numerous electrical outlets and USB charging ports, plus luxurious bathrooms with large vanities, mirrors, enclosed showers and free-standing tubs. Look around. You’ll see that new home communities tend to look even better with age. As owners add personal decorative touches and landscaping, the homes in a new community acquire added charm … and added value.


Research shows that in many cases new homes appreciate more than older homes.


If you’re hunting for a new home that satisfies all of the items on your wish list, new is definitely the way to go. So why deprive yourself any longer? Once you’ve made your move to your new dream home, you’ll wonder how you survived so long without it.



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Using Skylights to Make Rooms Feel Larger

Using Skylights to Make Rooms Feel Larger

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Using Skylights to Make Rooms Feel Larger

Sara and Frank are empty nesters who downsized to a smaller home in Greenville, S.C. They wanted to live in a walkable city, which is why they built their home near the local greenway – just minutes from the downtown shops and restaurants. But because it was built on a narrow lot, the house needed a way to bring in natural light while still maintaining privacy from neighbors. VELUX skylights in the living room and the kitchen provided this ample natural lighting – so much so that the couple rarely turns on the lights during the day.


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