Where to Install my Under Cabinet Lighting?

Under Cabinet Lighting Info

Under cabinet lighting is a wonderful addition to your kitchen when you need a brighter work space – those dark corners and shadowed areas in the kitchen will disappear and add that extra layer of lighting and functionality to your space.

All under cabinet lighting should be placed in front of the cabinet for more light efficiency – placing the under cabinet lights towards the front of the underneath side of the cabinet allows them to illuminate a larger area than if they were placed toward the back.

It would be a good idea, before installing the lights, to hold the under cabinet lights in the position you want (towards the front) and see what type of light casts downward onto your counters – doing this will make you more content with the end result.


How to Choose a Ceiling Medallion

ceiling-medallionCeiling medallions can often times seem like an afterthought in homes but, when the right medallion is chosen, it can truly tie the whole room and lighting scheme together to create that decorative touch to your space; ceiling medallions don’t have to be overlooked either as there are plenty of attractive moldings out there that will harmonize beautifully within your décor.

In case our readers are not familiar with ceiling medallions, they are decorative moldings that typically adorn the center of a ceiling where a specific fixture is hung – they are often seen in foyers, dining rooms and great rooms, basically in a space where the ceiling is high. Really though, almost any room with a hanging light fixture can have a ceiling medallion, it’s just the size of it that should be considered.

elk-ceiling-medallionMaxim Lighting offers a wonderful lighting guide on their site, including some information on ceiling medallions. With the help of our lighting specialists as well as maximlighting.com, we’ve compiled a list of some things to know when choosing a ceiling medallion:

  • When choosing a medallion, remember that it should never be the same size as the outside diameter of the light fixture; maximlighting.com clarifies that a medallion “can be bigger or smaller, but if it’s the same size, the two objects will form a virtual column that will make the room appear smaller.”
  • Often times, the higher the ceiling, the larger the medallion can be; these are meant to be shown off as a decorative accent to your fixture, so if you have a smaller medallion surrounding a chandelier in a two-story foyer, no one can really admire it.elk-ceiling-medallion2
  • According to maximlighting.com, if you are adding a medallion to a fixture in your hallway, make sure to pick a size that is relative to the width of the hallway.
  • The size of a room is dependent on the size of the medallion – dining rooms, bedrooms and foyers can have a medallion that is “larger in diameter than the light fixture.” But in a hallway or bathroom, remember that it should be smaller.

These are just a handful of pointers to keep in mind when looking for a ceiling medallion, maximlighting.com also has a formula to use when doing so: Multiply the width and length of the room and then divide the product by seven. “The resulting number would be approximately the diameter of a ceiling medallion for a room with a ceiling that is nine feet high.”


Stainless Steel vs. Bronze or Brass Finishes

The earliest light fixtures were made of brass and bronze because of their weight and low heat conductivity. Although stainless steel was invented in 1912, it took decades to discover that it was a better finish and product for lighting fixtures. Even today people associate the weight of brass with quality and the luster of polished brass fixtures with elegance but the problem with brass and bronze is that they require a coating to prevent tarnishing and oxidation; even a lacquered brass gets easily marked up with fingerprints and oils. Once this coating wears off the fixtures must be polished frequently to retain their luster. Brass will often look dated very fast if the lacquer is left to wear off and the fixture remains unpolished. Although brass is heavier than stainless steel it is softer and more porous making these pieces more susceptible to scratches and gouges. Stainless steel is harder, more durable and will hold its shiny finish. A higher quantity of brass is needed in order to make a brass fixture as strong as a stainless one. Brass is a heavy and expensive metal and adding more only makes it more expensive and heavier than its stainless steel counterpart. As the lighting industry goes green, brass fixtures would be counterproductive, as the smelting process used to produce brass is dirty and harsh to our environment. Brass fixtures were great for their time but the introduction of stainless steel and aluminum has made them obsolete.


What are my lighting options for my bathroom mirrors?

backlighting-bathroomThe most flattering and efficient lighting for a vanity mirror is at about 5 feet 6 inches off the ground or approximately eye level. How you achieve this will vary on your bathroom layout and overall style preferences.

Wall sconces placed approximately three feet apart from each other on either side of the mirror are the most common and efficient vanity lighting. Perhaps your wall is already closed or you want a different look; pendants dropped from the ceiling so they are approximately at that 5-foot 6-inch mark will have the same effect as the sconces. Keep the pendants closer to the back wall than the front of the vanity to avoid glare in the mirror. Many bathrooms do not have the 7 inches on either side of the mirror necessary for either sconces or pendants, so in this situation you can backlight a mirror. Float a mirror out away from the wall and place dimmable LED ribbon lighting behind the relief – this will provide an even lighting that is very clean and modern. If all else fails you can always do an over-the-mirror vanity light; it is the least effective but will still get you the wash of light needed for makeup and shaving. Avoid recessed lighting over the sinks as the only lighting in your bathroom, as these produce harsh shadows that make applying makeup difficult. If you do go with recessed lighting, remember to always use low-voltage cans and place them on a dimmer for the most flexibility.


What does it mean to Layer Lighting?

Layered LightingA room cannot be properly lit using one light source; different sources provide proper lighting for specific uses. Light layering is a design method in which a number of different light sources are blended together to create a cohesive and inviting design. Think of lighting as a wedding cake: three tiers with a little frosting on top.

The bottom tier and overall basis for every lighting plan is your “general lighting”. This light source provides an overall wash of light over the entire room and can be accomplished with recessed lighting, a chandelier or a ceiling mounted fixture like a pendant, flush or semi-flush mount.  Next, layer on some task lighting for specific work areas; a kitchen would benefit from pendant lighting over a prep island or under cabinet lighting. Reading lamps in your family room also allow for multiple functions of the space. Accent lighting is the delicate top tier. Be careful not to overpower the space. The job of accent lighting is to highlight key points of interest, like a painting or fireplace. Lighting can be used to add interest to a room lacking architectural detail; place up-lighting behind a coach or back-light a plant to add texture and soften sharp angles. The last step would be to add your frosting or decorative lighting – this should be a single item that provides soft lighting so as not to overpower the layers of light. This piece is your focal point and creates an eye-catching design with wonderful reactions from guests when entering the room. The layers of an effective lighting plan will accentuate a space, add beauty, provide utility and increase the perceived value of the home.


Light Fixture Types and Their Purposes: LED Tape

LED TapeLED tape has made it possible to add clean and seamless lighting to any location. It is so small at one-eighth inches tall and a one-quarter wide. Many LED tapes can be cut every two to three inches so they can fit into any space from small accent cubbies to long runs of crown molding and the 3M adhesive on the back of these strips will adhere to any material making for easy installation. Some products can be applied into extruded metal strips with frosted lenses, which are great for jewelry cases and other applications where the tape could be seen; the metal and lens encase the tape creating a sleek and modern fixture.

LED tape is made in a variety of intensities and colors, perfect for any application and LEDs are now produced as warm as incandescent lighting, making it great for accenting shelving or cove lighting; the warmer tones make a space more inviting and cozy and they also make a neutral white color that looks great against white surfaces for a more modern look. Color changing LEDs can be placed above crown molding or under the cabinets in a bar area. The LEDs produce any color in the rainbow or transition between them creating a fun and club-like atmosphere. The most common residential application for LED tape is under cabinet lighting; for this purpose, the tape is easy to apply after cabinets have been installed. Only one 120-volt power supply is needed for a run of lights and can be easily concealed in the upper microwave or fridge cabinet. The 12-volt wire that runs from the power source to the lights is easily hidden in cabinets, walls and behind back-splashes for a seamless installation. LED tape with three to four watts per foot creates bright task lighting that can be dimmed down when accent lighting is preferred.


Light Fixture Types and Their Purposes: Wall Sconces

Hallway Wall SconcesWall Sconces are mounted on the wall usually between 5 feet to 6 feet off the ground – they are perfect for many locations within the home, some prefer to mount them as a form of accent lighting in a living room, next to a fireplace or artwork. Wall sconces can also serve to light a hallway or staircase. Be careful with the sconce extension in halls and staircases where the fixture could intrude on the walking space; the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires sconces in these spaces to extrude 4 inches or less in public spaces, up to 6 inches is typically suitable in residential applications of this type. In spaces with high ceilings, like staircases and two story rooms, look for a taller sconce with more weight. Some sconces hug the wall and wash light both up and down; this effect gives the sconce a taller presence and works great in narrow spaces with high ceilings.  Wall sconces also make for great vanity lighting; when placed on either side of a mirror they create a soft and even light, perfect for makeup application and the early morning and nightly routines.