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The Basics of Lighting Design

The Basics of Lighting Design

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The Basics of Lighting Design

by Samantha Sannella

Ensuring that your space looks and functions requires the perfect lighting. Light is the key ingredient in the space and influences our safety, health and mood. Layering three types of lighting is critical for good lighting design. Providing flexibility in how lights are activated is important as well. Whether old-fashioned switches or a digital smart system, the guiding rule about how lighting is used should be common sense.

Ambient Lighting

This is the general lighting that must be provided to ensure that a space is well lit. It provides illumination for general tasks and it is always better to provide more, rather than less, ambient lighting. It’s easy these lights on dimmers or to zone it on switches if you believe that you might over-light a space. The psychological aspect of lighting is an important element throughout the design. Ensuring that spaces are devoid of shadows and dark corners helps us to circumvent our mental triggers of looming danger, according to Kristina Zarembo, a lighting consultant at Nemetz.

Task Lighting

Task lighting is critical in workspaces such as offices, kitchens and bathrooms. Under-counter lighting, bathroom vanity lights and desk lighting should be carefully calculated. Foot-candles measure the amount of light on a surface while lumens measure the amount of light emitted from a source. It is important to know the meaning of both of these terms since there can be significant loss of light as it travels to a surface due to distance, direction and other factors, such as the colour of the surface.

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting brings added visual interest to a room by creating different focal points and is another important element of lighting design. Accent lighting highlights specific objects like art, sculptures and bookcases. It can also be used to highlight a textured wall, or other architectural features. Classic track lighting and picture lights are often used to provide accent lighting.

Calculating Lighting Requirements

Lighting calculations can get technical. Fortunately, many suppliers offer these services at no additional cost. However, it is still essential that designers understand the terminology and can ensure that the space is lit appropriately.

Lumen: A lumen (lm) is a measure of the total amount of visible light emitted by a source in any particular direction.

Lux: Lux (lx) is the metric measure of illuminance. This is a measure of how much light there is over a given surface area. One lux is equal to one lumen per square metre.

Foot-candle: A foot-candle (fc) is the imperial measure of illuminance for those who prefer to work in imperial feet. One foot-candle is equal to one lumen per square foot.

There are charts recommended by the Illumination Engineering Society (IES) that recommend the number of foot-candles or lux required for a space.

Lighting fixtures and their lamps indicate how many lumens they emit. After calculating how much area you are lighting, and how many lumens are needed, then you must search for fixtures and lamps that meet your requirements. It is recommended that you over-light and use dimmers. As people age, they need more light.

Photography: Loft BBY SDJ Design
Photography: Loft BBY SDJ Design

Trends

Indirect hidden light is a trend on the market today made possible by advances in lighting such as LEDs, OLEDs and fiber optic lighting. It is possible to hide the light sources and illuminate walls and ceilings without ever seeing a single fixture. Lights have become more powerful and laser technology has influenced lighting development.

Also important to note are the advances in lighting control systems. In short, everything can be controlled through WI-FI and a smart phone or iPad, even when you are not home. While some of these applications are great, when the Wi-Fi is down frustration can increase. While many designers dream of never seeing a light switch mounted on a beautiful wall again, reliability over form is highly recommended and at this time redundancy is needed.

SAMANTHA SANNELLA, BFA ID, M ARCH, is a designer, educator and principal at Urban Retreat Homes.

She is an expert in the field of design and construction and is a columnist for RENO & DECOR and editor of the Ontario Design Trade Sourcebook.

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Communicating with Contractors and Suppliers

Communicating with Contractors and Suppliers

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Communicating with Contractors and Suppliers

by Samantha Sannella

The first step in any good partnership is to select at least three contractors/suppliers who can meet your requirements based on several criteria, including:

  • They should have relevant experience and expertise in what you are trying to accomplish so look for a portfolio of projects. Good vendors can provide photos and reference letters. Also check to see if they are licensed and insured and if they use certified products and installation methodologies.
  • They should have a process in place that you can understand and follow. If you are unfamiliar with their technical terms, ask them to explain or use the power of the internet to educate yourself.
  • They should be able to provide references for successful projects that are similar to your own. Keep in mind that it is nice to hear good things about the contractor, but always ask where mistakes were made and how they rectified them. How your vendor resolves issues is an important part of the relationship. Customer service is key.
  • The lowest price isn’t necessarily the one that you should choose. Consider a cost benefit analysis to weigh the cost of the project against the potential quality outcome. My motto is, “The bitter taste of poor quality remains much longer than the sweet taste of a low price.”

Define the Commitments

You should receive a project plan that defines the scope, estimate and schedule for their work. You also need to come to a mutual agreement as to what each side will deliver to the other. You will increase your project’s chance of success by defining your commitments and the contractor’s commitments.

Ask for a written estimate of all materials and labour up front before any agreement is in place. This should be delineated by phase. For example, I have seen many estimates where the contractor or vendor quotes a lump sum for the bottom line without providing the details. If a contractor cannot provide details in a written format, you are increasing your risk that something will go awry.

Maintain Consistent Communication

Do not get caught waiting for a “magical result” several weeks or months in the future. Instead, actively communicate and work with your contractor through reports and inspections of the work completed.

To manage the contractor, you need to maintain contact with them. Demand regular status reports or meetings that describe their accomplishments to date, what work is still in progress, and what has not been started. These should be measured in work hours, days or weeks, something that you can convert into a dollar amount. Do not accept percentages as units of measurement. A project can be 90 per cent done for months or even years. I know many people who have jobs that stopped at 90 percent.

Final Inspection

Final inspection is an important part of the job. When negotiating the contract, always hold back 10 or 15 per cent of the total cost until the job is 100 per cent complete. This will provide incentive for the vendor to finish all the work in a manner satisfactory to the owner.

Professional architects and interior designers inspect the contractor’s work in a formal process called a deficiency list or punch list and are responsible for approving invoices to the clients as work progresses. It’s a tedious but useful process as you make a list of all deficiencies — it requires a keen visual inspection to note even the smallest details, such as a crooked light switch plate on a northwest wall, or the lack of caulking at the corner of a sink.

Your goal should be to obtain the best possible quality construction for the most reasonable price. At the completion of a satisfactory job, you should offer the vendor the ability to photograph the work as well as offer them a letter of reference for their file.

SAMANTHA SANNELLA, BFA ID, M ARCH, is a designer, educator and principal at Urban Retreat Homes.

She is an expert in the field of design and construction and is a columnist for RENO & DECOR and editor of the Ontario Design Trade Sourcebook.

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Universal Design

Universal Design

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Universal Design

by Samantha Sannella

As our population ages and diversifies, demand on design professionals is growing. The following is an abbreviated checklist for applying Universal Design concepts to your solutions.

Lighting and Electricity

As we age, we need approximately 30% more light to see clearly. Provide an increased number of electrical outlets for extra lighting — especially in bedrooms. Mount electrical outlets at 18″ AFF and switches 48″ AFF. At bedside tables, mount outlets at nightstand height. Consider sourcing lighting that uses the same type of light bulb — ideally an LED one to minimize changing them.

In addition to good quality general lighting in the kitchen, under cabinet task lighting is very important.

Flooring

I cannot overstate the importance of non-slip flooring. While we all love a polished marble entry, an Ontario winter with muddy boots can cause a slip and fall accident. The bathroom is a frequent site of injuries; consequently non-slip flooring is important here as well. Mosiacs can work well in this situation. Between rooms, minimize the threshold as much as possible. Thresholds are difficult to navigate for persons in wheelchairs and with limited mobility. Moreover, carpet can be difficult for wheelchairs and area rugs must be secured thoroughly as they present a trip hazard.

Kitchens

When designing kitchens, ensure that appliances are easily operable and intuitive. Too many options can create problems! Easy to read controls are a must. Make sure that a high level of contrast is provided. Controls should also be glare free. Ergonomic controls that are easy to operate without hand strength are a must.

Induction cooktops are great. They only work via the magnetic connection between the cooktop and pot so when the pot is removed, the heat goes off. A ‘lock-out’ feature is a good addition that prevents children from accidentally turning the appliances on. When sourcing an oven, ensure that the racks are easy to remove and clean. Fail-safe features, such as automatic shut off, is great for cooktops, ovens and other appliances that can overheat.

Appliances that beep and or flash when on or opened are good for all of us, but especially the aged or those with children.

Ovens present a big problem for people without strength. I highly recommend a wall mounted oven rather than a range, as it is easier to control the height and hence, the lift strength needed to place and remove food. As well, a microwave with easy access to a shelf nearby is a good solution. Kitchen cabinets with knee space under sink or cooktop is a great idea. Additionally, an area where food preparation can be performed from a seated position is desirable.

Bottom mounted or side-by-side freezers are a better solution that the top mounted freezer, however, an ideal solution would be a separate fridge and freezer (both full width and height).

Dishwashers with top of door controls are an issue for people with limited visibility. They look great, but can be very difficult to read. When sourcing dishwashers, low decibel dishwashers are good for people with hearing impairments as background noises interfere with hearing aids.

Storage

Bar type pulls are much easier for persons with limited strength and touch-latch opening mechanisms are great options for everyone. It’s a good idea to offer a variety of storage options that are easily accessible. Shelves that roll out and drawers that are easy to pull are good options for all of us. No one really wants to get down on their knees to rummage through kitchen cabinets! For those pesky corners, Magic Corners that pull out and make use of all the space are truly a wonderful invention. There are many new and useful storage options available, included mechanized inserts that lower and raise shelves for upper cabinetry.

Washrooms

The best option for showers is curb-less with sliding doors. Swing doors are harder to maneuver around for the elderly or disabled people. It is always good to provide a vanity cabinet with knee space underneath. Suggest to your contractor to broadly applied blocking around inside walls, toilets, tubs and showers for grab bar installation. There are many new grab bars on the market that don’t look institutional.

Offset shower controls to avoid burning, bending, reaching and stretching. Under the showerhead is not ideal, as hot or cold water may shock the person. As always, anti-scald shower devices on plumbing fixtures are desirable.

Lever faucets in the kitchen and bath are a must. People with limited hand strength (this includes children) find circular dial type handles very difficult.

When renovating, it is common sense to put shut off valves at W/D, sinks and toilets; however, I still encounter many homes that don’t have them. This is a MUST! Relatively new on the North American market are toilet/bidet combination units or toilets that can include a washlet. I highly recommend these, as they make life much easier for people with limited mobility, broken limbs, aging population, illness, etc. And, as always, a 17″ or comfort height toilet is recommended. Especially useful is a wall-mounted toilet, as these make cleaning the floor a breeze.

Laundry Rooms

When planning laundry rooms, front loading machines with front mounted controls are preferred. Pedestal bases are preferable to raise the height. A nearby area for folding clothes and managing laundry is desirable, as is a place to hang-dry clothes.

Using Common Sense

Ease of Use, Size and Space for Approach of Use, Flexibility, Simple and Intuitive are established principles of Universal Design. However, a good dose of common sense will go a long way. Does it work for a child? Aging person? Would it work if you were pregnant? Or had a broken arm? When planning a renovation or new construction, ask yourself about the phases of your life and think forward to what you might require.

SAMANTHA SANNELLA, BFA ID, M ARCH, is a designer, educator and principal at Urban Retreat Homes and an internationally renowned expert in the field of design and architecture. She is a columnist for RENO&DECOR magazine and editor of the Ontario Design Trade Sourcebook.

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Making the Most of a Small Bathroom

Making the Most of a Small Bathroom

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Making the Most of a Small Bathroom

by Samantha Sannella

In a semi-detached house in Riverdale, a tiny cramped bathroom became a restful oasis for a busy professional. The client had several goals in the initial discussion.

  • To make the tiny bathroom more functional
  • To maximize storage
  • To provide a larger bathtub
  • To create a relaxing oasis

The client was presented with 3 options.

  1. Keep the overall space the same and utilize a 60″ tub,
  2. Move a wall 2′ and accommodate a 66″ tub and provide more space within the bathroom,
  3. Enlarge the bathroom to include a separate shower and tub, but lose adjacent family space.

Settling on Option 2, the design team created a solution that included a custom vanity and storage tower to maximize the vertical space. A 66″ tub was sourced that allowed for a more relaxed bath and shower controls were placed for ease of access opposite the showerhead. A Grohe rain shower was also added. The window was enlarged to create a more open feeling within the room.

A single panel frosted glass pocket door allows light to filter into the bathroom making it seem larger. Carrera marble floor, shower and countertop provided a consistent colour palette throughout. The feature shower wall of Carrera teardrop marble adds visual texture. The cabinets were painted Benjamin Moore Pewter, which offers a lovely mix of grey and blue. The cabinetry offered pullout trolley style storage to maximize every inch of space and a built in laundry hamper to hide the dirty clothes. Custom curved mullions add visual interest to the space, while mirrored panels on the storage tower add a bit of glamour. Smoked grey glass knobs from Emtek accent the cabinet doors.

Pendant lights, from LBL, are hung on the vanity mirror from wall canopies. This mix of the industrial styled canopy and the elegant pendant light further the transitional style of the bathroom. Wall mounted Aquabrass faucets help maximize the counter space. The cabinetry is finished with matching crown moulding, which visually helps increase the ceiling height. Quirky décor items, such as the glossy white horse’s head, add a whimsical flair.

SAMANTHA SANNELLA, BFA ID, M ARCH, is a designer, educator and principal at Urban Retreat Homes and an internationally renowned expert in the field of design and architecture. She is a columnist for RENO&DECOR magazine and editor of the Ontario Design Trade Sourcebook.

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Colour Trends for 2017

Colour Trends for 2017

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Colour Trends for 2017

by Samantha Sannella

Each year, new trends in colours emerge. Highly influenced by fashion, interior design finishes, such as paint and fabrics, reflect trends that aren’t as fleeting as fashion but offer sophisticated ways to make their impact lasting. Colour forecasters analyze consumer trends, social movements and global influences to predict colour trends years ahead of time. Colour psychology and colour symbolism are also factored into forecasts.

According to the Institute for Colour Research, people make a subconscious judgment about a person, environment, or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing and that between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on color alone. Knowing and understanding colour trends is an important part of successful interior design.

After several years of softer lighter colours, rich saturated tones lead the trend, adding vibrancy to interiors. Shades from the purple and violet end of the spectrum are particularly directional this year. Many of the leading paint companies have chosen their colours of the year from this colour family, ranging from Beauti-tone’s soft, mauve-grey, You Look Mauve-lous to Benjamin Moore’s bolder, deep black-purple, Shadow.

Pantone’s 2017 View Home and Interiors palettes offer seven themes. Each theme contains several colour predictions. Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, told the press that the choices invoked “a renewed sense of imagination in which color was appearing in a context that was different than the traditional,” that the hues “surround us in nature,” and that they “evoke a spectrum of emotion and feeling.”


Benjamin Moore, chose 23 colours for their 2017 colour palette, but its top pick for colour of the year is Shadow, a rich, royal amethyst. “Allusive and enigmatic, Shadow is a master of ambiance. It is a colour that calls to mind a ‘past’, yet it can also make a contemporary, colour-confident statement,” said Ellen O’Neill, Creative Director. “Shadow is sophisticated, provocative and poetic, it can bring energy to a space or harmony and a moment of respite.”

 

Taking the top spot as the PPG Paints brand colour of the year is a soft, muted purple with grey-blue undertones called Violet Verbena. Pairing well with timeless grey, brown, green and deep blue, it is a versatile colour that blurs the boundaries of young and old or male and female, and it works well in any room, according to Valerie Jager, Associate Marketing Manager for the PPG Paints brand. “The 2017 colour palette is made up of classic shades with a contemporary spin,” Jager said, explaining that next year’s earth tones are more vibrant and steeped in pigment than the natural hues of the past. “Rooted in tradition, the colours are warm and toasty, emitting an air of stability and balance.”

 

Beauti-Tone, a division of Home Hardware, is celebrating the launch of its colour of the year, You Look Mauve-lous, one of 35 colours in the Simon Chang Model Home Trend Colour Collection. “These 35 colours are the hues that bring balance and harmony into our homes.” “I love that our colour-of-the-year, You Look Mauve-lous is both simple and complex at the same time,” says Simon Chang. “It is one of those shades you look at and think, what is that colour? While its roots lay in the mauve family, the colour is greyed down making it a timeless, highly usable backdrop for any room.

Anchoring the trend for dusty violet is the inspiration of nature for colour choices. A return to beiges, rich browns, botanical greens and clay greys round out the trends. Several colour forecasters have also cited honey yellow as a growing trend. Blues hint toward the green with pale and saturated teal rising in popularity.

 

Sherwin-Williams have chosen Poised Taupe as their colour of the year. This timeless neutral is modern, classic and a beautiful balance of warm and cool. According to Sherwin Williams, the 2016 industry shows revealed a surprising transition from grey to taupe. Both contract and consumer colours and products have been focused on grey as the key neutral — although grey is still important, we have seen a significant shift in materials and finish color to warmer expressions of neutral.

“Matteness” is another important part of the colour forecast as this enhances the softness of the saturated colours. Blues and purples are warm and colour temperatures offer hints of red, orange and yellow. Metallics, especially bronze, copper and brass will continue to be an important part of interior design and mixed metals is on the rise. Matte paint colours offer a distinct contrast to the metal trend and help with a holistic colour palette. Digital technology has a fringe influence on colour and popular in niche markets: colours that appear shifted or changed when you observe them from different angles.

2017 COLOUR OF THE YEAR

PPG: Violet Verbena (PPG1169-5)

Benjamin Moore: Shadow (2117-30)

Beauti-Tone: You Look Mauve-lous

Sherwin Williams: Poised Taupe (SW 6039)

Dulux: Starry Sky (70BB21/147-A1518)

CIL: Antique Violet (50BB 46/091 | V37)

Sico: Mozart (6172-52)

SAMANTHA SANNELLA, BFA ID, M ARCH, is a designer, educator and principal at Urban Retreat Homes and an internationally renowned expert in the field of design and architecture. She is a columnist for RENO&DECOR magazine and editor of the Ontario Design Trade Sourcebook.

urbanretreathomes.com

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