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Design & Remodel

Innovative ways to create storage and organize the chaos

In home remodeling, the frustration I hear all too often is clients having too much stuff and no way to organize or store it all, whether it be in the kitchen, bathroom, or the whole house in general. This time of year, with family and friends visiting for the holidays, people especially want to get organized. This can be a huge cause of stress, even if you don’t realize it. There are lots of innovative ways to create storage solutions at home and organize the chaos.
 
Not every home has ample closets or unfinished space options, especially if you have an older home. But first, is the obvious option: store infrequently needed items in an attic, basement, or crawl space. Most often, these have already been considered and utilized, so this goes without saying.  For a crawl space, make sure the space is encapsulated for better humidity or temperature regulation and less chance of creepy-crawlies getting in your boxes. Similarly, for an attic or basement, the better insulated it is, the better your things will be protected.
 
With the obvious is out of the way, let’s talk about some creative storage ideas. First, the space underneath a staircase can typically only partially be used and is often turned into a small closet. But think about the space under each step or under the lowest steps. This often just becomes dead space.  You can turn the risers (the vertical part of each step) into drawers or create a bookcase in the side of your staircase. Either of these options allow for more usable space under a staircase.
 
Another option is to utilize slat walls, these could help organize areas like a garage, basement, utility room, playroom, or craft room.  Most people are familiar with slat wall systems in a garage or commercial setting, which includes hooks and pegs for hanging.  However, there are much more sophisticated systems out there that have not only hooks, but shelves, baskets, bins, and hanging rods, just to name a few.  
 
Yet another place to find extra storage space is to think outside the box, or literally, think outside. Outdoor living spaces are more popular than ever with people spending more time at home, and there are ways to incorporate storage in these spaces. Bench seating can help create defined spaces either in a porch or around a firepit. Benches with a lift-up seat and hidden storage can house cushions, umbrellas, outdoor games, and any other items that are used outside and that there just isn’t room for inside the house. In addition to benches, there are also ottomans, coffee tables, side tables, and chests that both look great in your outdoor living area and can incorporate hidden storage.
 
The kitchen is a common place where people struggle with finding a place for everything. There are so many gadgets and appliances, that a lot of them end up on the counters. Of course, the ideal place for these items would be in the cabinets or a pantry, but if you don’t have any space in those left, try bringing in a piece of furniture. A hutch, cupboard, or buffet table that sits against a kitchen or dining room wall could easily store these items. You’ll be bringing in a statement piece, while also hiding away those items that you need easy access to but want out of sight. If it is in your budget to redo your kitchen cabinets, I always recommend putting in new cabinets to the ceiling. This will give you more storage while also eliminating the dreaded dust-catching space above cabinets that stop short of the ceiling.
 
The last storage idea might seem like a simple one, but it can have a big impact: replace your builder grade wire shelving in all your closets with custom closet shelving systems. We all know the pain of pantry items falling through the opening between the wires and the closet floor being filled with all the items that don’t work or fit on a single wire shelf. By having closet systems installed, or even installing them yourselves, you’ll be able to customize where you have hanging rods, open shelving, drawers, dividers, baskets, shoe shelves, and even hampers or trash cans (depending on the area). This customization allows for easy organization and easy access when you need it.
 
The thought of organization and storage can seem overwhelming when you don’t feel like you have the space or the time, but there are tons of smart storage solutions out there to help you!

Sara Bagwell is a designer for Tracy Tesmer Design/Remodeling in Gainesville.








November 2020 column

Evolving trends in home design

While the world has been in an upheaval over nearly the past year now, people are focusing more than ever on health, family, and their home. 2020 has encouraged trends in home design that emphasize flexibility, cleanliness, and comfort. While spending so much extra time at home, people are realizing what in their home works and what does not.
 
First of all, there has been a new found need for multi-purpose, or flex, areas in the home. The home has become not only the place we sleep, play and eat, but also the place we work, learn, and (virtually) socialize. Yes, you can set up a work station at the dining room table, but to increase productivity, it’s best to set up a space separate from where you typically “live.” A guest bedroom, bonus room, or basement are excellent spaces to set up a home office or home school zone. But try your best not to take your work into your bedroom. Studies have shown that working in the space you are used to sleeping can decrease productivity and even disrupt your sleep patterns at night.
 
Maybe you don’t have a separate room or basement to utilize. Try getting creative and converting a space in a corner of your living room or dining room, with a fold down desk or secretary bookcase.  Be sure to find a space where things can be tucked away when not in use, though. The work-life balance was tough before and even harder now with both activities happening in the same space.
 
Another trend that 2020 has continued to perpetuate is the focus on cleanliness and easy-to-clean materials. Denser materials like porcelain tile and engineered quartz are more popular than ever. These materials, as opposed to natural stones like travertine, marble, or even granite, are virtually maintenance free and very easy to clean.  Natural stones are porous and should be cleaned, sanitized, and re-sealed more frequently.  Porcelain tile is a great material to use for bathrooms, including floors and showers, or floors in other “wet” areas of the home like laundry rooms,
mudrooms, and kitchens. Engineered quartz (not the same as the natural stone, called quartzite) is a great material for countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms. Quartz has even come a long way in terms of colors and patterns, now with options that are difficult to distinguish from natural marble or granite. 
 
With the whole family spending more time at home, another trend that I talked about in a previous month that is continuing to be popular is the expansion of living space to outdoors. Screened porch and sunroom additions have been extremely popular this year, with outdoor kitchens/bars and decks following close behind. These additions add valuable square footage to the home that can be used, in most cases, year-round.  An outdoor living space or addition can serve as a secondary gathering place for friends and family or even a special location for game or movie night. These additional spaces could also be another option for flex space, such as a part-time office or place to do schoolwork. The options for a screened porch or sunroom are endless.
 
Comfort has always been an important part of home design.  But with more uncertainty in the world these days, the home needs to feel even more like a haven than ever. Hygge, pronounced “hoo-gah,” is a Danish term that means a sense of coziness and well-being.  The practice of Hygge has been around for a long time and is generally believed to come from the word meaning “hug.” When it comes to home design, Hygge refers to the sense of calm, mindfulness, and wellbeing your home can and should bring. Your home is your refuge, a place for your family to feel happy and safe. This feeling can be brought about by the materials you have in your home: soft, natural fabrics, cushions, bedding, and rugs; warm, natural lighting; and reduced clutter. Of course, everyone’s sense of calm and happiness may look a little different, and that’s OK! The key to Hygge is using mindfulness in selecting materials and choosing items that create a sense of tranquility without too much fuss. 
 
While we can’t control what’s happening in the world, we do have control of our home and the way it makes us feel. Your home should feel like a safe zone and place of comfort. Even though it has even more functions than ever, it should be easy to maintain and bring you joy and a sense of calm. 

October 2020 column

Choosing exterior materials and styles for your home

Turn on any home renovation show and more than likely, you’re going to be wowed by sweeping interior remodeling shots. And rightfully so. After all, it’s common to spend more time inside than outside. 
 
However, your home’s exterior not only creates a first impression, it sets the tone for your whole home’s style. With our beautiful seasons here in Georgia, it’s possible to spend time outdoors nearly year-round. Because of that, having an updated, attractive exterior shouldn’t be overlooked.
 
When first thinking about an exterior remodel, it’s best to settle on a design style that’s personalized to suit your taste yet fits into the neighborhood. Be sure to check with your neighborhood’s covenants and restrictions when it comes to architectural styles, if they exist as part of your HOA. That will determine what options you may have. If you do not have an HOA to contend with, it’s still important to consider your neighboring homes when deciding on updates and finishes. An exterior style that sticks out too much in a bad way may not win you neighborhood friends or a large buyer pool down the road. 
 
First, let’s think about the most visible components of any home’s exterior – siding and roofing materials and styles. These components can create vastly different statements for your house. Think about how different a home with a classic brick exterior feels when compared to a Craftsman style or even a log cabin.
 
There are so many siding materials to suit any taste or need, including:
  • Hardie, or another composite
  • Brick
  • Stone
  • Log, real or simulated
  • Wood
  • Vinyl
  • Metal
  • Stucco
  • Concrete
  • Glass
     
Deciding on siding material is just step one. You’ll also need to consider the style and color(s) of the siding. When it comes to wood, Hardie plank, or even vinyl, you have the options of vertical siding, such as board and batten or panel siding, lap (or horizontal) siding, or shakes. For stucco, there is traditional or synthetic, also known as EIFS. In thinking about stone, you’ll have the options of natural or synthetic, in styles that are rustic, modern, or somewhere in between. And the combinations of the types of siding and colors are virtually endless. It is important to choose a combination that makes sense for the style of your home and neighborhood, as well as your personal taste.
 
For the roof, you’ll go through a similar process – selecting not just whether it’s composed of shingles (asphalt or wood), slate, tile, metal, or other material, but also the color and style – gable, gambrel, hip, flat, shed, etc. These choices will be dictated by your budget as well as the style of your home.  

While some of your exterior finishes and colors may now be decided, there are plenty of other features to consider.
 
Windows – A wall of windows with a view is a tremendous feature for any home. Not only does it give you a spectacular vantage point, but it will leave quite an impression on any passersby. Maybe your home doesn’t overlook the lake or mountains – updating your windows could still give your home a facelift and an energy savings bonus.
 
Entryways – While the back of the home has been getting a lot of attention lately, as people are spending more time at home and getting creative with outdoor living areas, it’s important to not forget your home’s curb appeal. The front of the home is the first thing people see when they drive up and can really make a statement.  Something as small as changing your front door style or color, can have a big impact. Or maybe you want to go big by adding a front porch or new architectural features. 
 
Decks and patios – An important component for any home, outdoor living areas are a must for lake living. You’ll want to create attractive, comfortable outdoor spaces for relaxation and entertainment, whether it’s a patio for grilling, a complete outdoor kitchen or a wrap-around deck. 
 
Lighting – Tasteful, wet-rated lighting solutions will not just add ambiance to your home at night, but also enable you to entertain and enjoy outdoor spaces when the sun goes down. Replacing old, outdated light fixtures on the exterior of your home can have a big impact on both style and function. 
 
When it comes to home remodeling, don’t forget to think outside the walls and remember your home’s exterior. The options are endless, so be sure to work with a professional to help guide you to the best options for your home.
 

September 2020 column

Counting the ways to improve your 'space'

When it comes to home remodeling, the first rooms that come to mind are kitchens and bathrooms because they tend to show their age the fastest. However, there are many other rooms or creative ways to update other spaces in your home to make them more functional. Remodeling is just as much about making space effective as it is about making it pretty.  
 
For example, who says you can’t have an organized laundry or mudroom? These rooms tend to be the catch-alls of the home, but when designed and organized properly, they can be both functional and beautiful. First of all, the right cabinetry can have a huge impact on these rooms. Cabinets can help organize the space so things can be put away but still be easily within reach.

Along the same lines, where there are cabinets, there is countertop. This could become a built-in folding or ironing station. Maybe you don’t have room for cabinets?  Wall shelving or over-the-door hanging organizers will do just fine. There are even companies that specialize in small space organization. In a mudroom, a bench with storage underneath and cubbies above, also known as a hall tree, can help store and organize shoes, coats, and bags.

And don’t worry if you don’t think you have the space to be creative. There are professional organizers and designers out there that are happy to help!  Pinterest is also a great place to find inspiration.
 
Do you have an extra storage shed, barn, garage, or outbuilding on your property that’s not being used to its full potential? If it is salvageable and you don’t need it for storage, why not turn it into a usable space? You will first want to make sure the structure is sound and weather-proof. Once that is confirmed, the options are endless. 

Maybe you want to create a home gym to focus on your health. It might cost a little more up-front than going to a commercial gym, but it will save you time and money in the long run. Or maybe you want to let your creative juices flow in an art or craft studio, and you haven’t found the space to make that happen yet.  Alternatively, maybe you just need a place to go and have some peace and quiet away from it all.

“She sheds” and man caves have been popular for a while now, and we continue to see them. If you do not have an extra building for these options, you still have the option of converting existing space in your home, like an unused bedroom or basement. If those don’t exist either, there’s always the option of an addition.
 
An area of the home that’s typically an afterthought and not at the top of most people’s remodeling list is the entryway or foyer. Yes, this space in most homes is usually on the smaller side, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be interesting.  Changing out your front door will not only add to the appeal of your foyer, but also your home’s curb appeal. If you have a small foyer, consider a front door with glass in it, even if the glass is obscured, this will still provide some much-needed natural light to brighten up the space.

There are also other ways to add interest, such as creating a feature wall or adding a unique light fixture.
 
Another non-traditional space to remodel is a bedroom. Most people think there’s not much that can be done to a bedroom, but that’s not the case. Ideally, most people want to add space, but if that can’t be done easily from existing square footage in your home, you could consider an addition.

For example, a master suite doesn’t always feel like a suite, especially in an older home. By adding space to the room, it can feel grander and less cramped. If you don’t want to go to the expense of adding onto the bedroom(s) in your home, there are still ways to up the design-factor.  Adding elements like a tray ceiling, wainscoting, or even a small fireplace can make the room feel more custom and homier. If your room is too dark, consider adding more windows. Even something as simple as changing the wall colors, or adding crown moulding, can have a big impact.   
 
The ways to update your home are endless. Just remember, the space should not only be beautiful but also functional for your family’s lifestyle. It’s time to think outside the kitchen and bathroom box!

August 202 column
 

Ideal flooring options for lake living

Of the many things to consider when building or renovating a home on the lake, one that is often underappreciated if not overlooked, is the importance of what’s beneath your feet. Let’s face it, when you own a home on the lake, chances are you or your guests are going to be spending some time on the water. Inevitably damp feet and soggy swimsuits will make their way back inside.
 
To help problems associated with wet floors, consider these great flooring options for the areas of your lake home that tend to see more moisture such as kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and basements.
 
Tile
Tile is one of the most popular flooring materials for homes on the water. Many tile options – and there are more options today than ever before – are beautiful, durable, and economical. Choose from attractive, unique styles that are resistant to scratches and water damage such as:
 
• Wood-look tile
• Uniform patterns (stone and ceramic)
• Non-uniform patterns (stone)
• Molded (uniform edges)
• Handmade (sometimes non-uniform edges and textures)
• Custom (relief work, non-standard designs, etc.)
 
Another bonus – tile flooring is easily maintained, cleaned, and hard-wearing. Be sure to talk to a design-build expert about the best styles to suit your tastes and home, and don’t forget to ask about non-slip additives for any tiling that may become slick when wet.
 
Vinyl
Vinyl isn’t what you may remember from your childhood. Waterproof, easy to clean, and dent-resistant, today’s vinyl options can mimic hardwood, stone, or tile without sacrificing comfort. Solid vinyl tile (SVT), luxury vinyl tile (LVT) or luxury vinyl plank (LVP) have realistic appearances and perform better than other flooring styles, as they stand up against wear and tear and can be easier to install. Vinyl is a viable option for those who want the durability and moisture resistance of tile but are looking to stay within a smaller budget. 
 
Additional options
Just because we didn’t highlight certain flooring types here as the ideal option for lake living doesn’t mean they have no place in your lake home. However, certain materials should be kept away from areas prone to moisture or humidity fluctuations.
 
• Hardwoods – Hardwood flooring is popular in lake homes, especially on Lanier thanks to its proximity to the foothills of the Appalachians. After all, who wouldn’t love a mountain lake home Hardwoods not only convey that ambiance and add value to your home, but they are durable and attractive. When incorporating hardwoods in your lake home, stick to areas where moisture should be at a minimum, such as foyers, dining rooms, hallways, and bedrooms. Avoid using solid hardwoods in wet areas like laundry rooms, bathrooms, and basements. Engineered hardwood flooring that has a solid veneer with multiple layers of wood underneath is the wood of choice for walk-out basements or areas with fluctuating humidity.  Since each layer is positioned in alternating directions, warping and bowing are prevented and still gives the appearance of solid wood that can even be refinished several times depending on the veneer’s thickness.
 
• Carpet – There’s no harm in having carpet in areas such as bedrooms, living rooms, or upstairs in your lake home. But you’ll need to accept the reality that carpet absorbs moisture, dust, pollen, and other environmental elements thus must be maintained accordingly. Avoid using it in high-traffic, ground floor areas where wet, muddy feet might be.
 
• Bamboo – More eco-friendly and tougher than hardwood flooring, Bamboo is another option that resists infrequent water. It is not a water-proof material though and is prone to cracking when there are drastic humidity changes. Solid, stranded bamboo wins out over other types for strength, durability, and ability to refinish. Lighter colors are less susceptible to scratching and UV discoloration.
Definitely avoid these options in any below grade (beneath ground level) rooms in your home. Because these areas are more prone to flooding and lingering moisture, it is best to avoid any type of flooring that is prone to water damage.
 
Of course, preventing as much moisture and dripping on your floors, to begin with, is the ideal scenario in any lake home. To accomplish this, consider a back entrance or a “wet room” that’s directly accessible from the lake. If this isn’t feasible, a separate bathroom close to the entrance near the lake can work great. 
 
While these entrances can be utilized regularly by you and family members, they’ll be especially beneficial when it comes to guests who are coming inside still wet and need a convenient place to change. If you use the correct flooring options, of course!

July 2020 column

Small projects can have big impacts

Most people have a mental list of “if money weren’t an issue” renovations they would tackle throughout their homes. However, just because most of us are not winning the lottery any time soon doesn’t mean we can’t do any improvements to make our homes more customized for our living. 

Many times, small projects on small budgets can make a huge impact and will make your house feel more your home. If you don’t personally have the skills to do some of these small home improvement projects yourself, consider hiring a handyman to cross some of these items off of your “Honey-Do” List. The following are five small projects that can be accomplished in a few days with, or some without, the help of a handyman:
 
1. Paint: Few projects can transform a house as dramatically and inexpensively as paint.  Whether you paint your front door or the trim in your entire house, the change can be dramatic. Even if you’re considering selling your home, paint is one of the top recommendations to freshen up your space and give you a good return on investment. In addition, the right color of paint can really make your space look larger and spacious, smaller and cozier, or even give the illusion of a flawless interior/exterior without having to break down walls or rearrange furniture. Although painting is a relatively simple task, for those tall, two-story entryways or second floor exterior work, it may be safer to hire a handyman with proper insurance.
 
2. Trim & Moulding: Although it looks like a simple task, installing trim and moulding is very tedious and takes a lot of precision to do well. If you want to add a little bit of flair to your dining room, consider adding a chair rail or wainscoting. Crown moulding often adds height to rooms.  Beadboard in master bathrooms or half baths can add charm and texture. If you aren’t a perfectionist with lots of patience – you definitely want to leave the installation to a pro.
 
3. Flooring: A new floor can lend a fresh vitality to any room.  For the bathroom specifically, using today’s cost-effective resilient luxury vinyl plank or vinyl tile offers an attractive option for a high-end appearance, but without the high-end price tag. It comes with the latest styles and patterns in a wide array of colors, designs, and textures. For other areas of the house, hardwood floors could be a good solution, adding warmth and comfort with the benefit of easy cleaning and the option to refinish in the future. If you have any irregularly shaped rooms, it might be better to hire a handyman. Uneven or improperly installed flooring can not only detract from your home’s value but can also be a safety hazard.
 
4. Lighting & Ceiling Fans: Lighting is an integral part of the general layout and character of your home and should be used as an extension of the overall style of your home. Ceiling fan/light combos are great for bedrooms or living areas to get a little extra circulation going to keep your air conditioning bills lower. Recessed, or can, lights are a great way to brighten up a space with a low profile, simple look. Installing both options can be tricky for the average DIYer, because often times both electrical and drywall work is involved, so it’s best to leave these tasks to a professional.
 
5. Green Features: In addition to the above projects, services that improve the “green” aspect of your home will also make a huge impact on its value and on your wallet.  For example, some easy-to-install, energy efficient faucets feature a flow-optimized, water-saving aerator, which uses 30 percent less water, without sacrificing performance. Dual flush toilets are also popular as a water saving feature.  Switching to energy-efficient appliances can also cut down significantly on energy usage, as well as switching to LED bulbs in light fixtures.
 
When it comes to remodeling, your project does not have to involve huge budgets and whole-home transformations. Instead, simple upgrades and installations can revitalize any room in your home without stress and without going into debt. Although these smaller projects may seem minor, the impact that they have on your household is significant.  Regardless of the types of remodeling projects you want to implement, it is important to carefully consider your situation, time frame, skills, and budget before you dive in. In many cases, you can still get huge benefits from doing minor upgrades until you have the time and budget for that major overhaul you dream of. 
 

June 2020 column

 

Expand your living space with an outdoor kitchen & bar

With most of us having spent more time at home over the past several months due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve likely thought a lot about getting out of the house. And not that any of us want to see another pandemic in our lifetimes, but this situation also has more people thinking about opportunities for “getting out” of the house while staying home.
 
Updating outdoor living spaces has gained popularity in recent years, but these updates vary widely in scope and cost. While expanding and upgrading decks and patios are common home improvement projects, many homeowners are taking it to the next level by building outdoor kitchens and bars.
 
These additions represent a true expansion into outdoor living and entertaining. After all, if you’re constantly having to return inside for another beverage or to prep the burgers for grilling, you’re missing out on time to relax or interact with your guests. 
 
Think beyond the grill
Many homeowners consider a grill – or two – as essential components of any patio or backyard space. If you’ve perused a home improvement store or website, you know there are options for every taste and budget. And while the appliances themselves are important, think bigger. Asking yourself some key questions about layout and materials at the outset should help guide the design process and ensure your space is both beautiful and functional.
 
Outdoor kitchens should be designed with indoor kitchen principles in mind. The main differences between the two are typically the materials used (durability to withstand exposure to elements) and shelter considerations. You still need to consider the location and the preferred/allowable space for your new kitchen (L, U, galley, 1 wall/row), proper flow, where you want to do your prep, which areas will need plumbing and electrical/gas connections as well as your actual cooking and dining locations and components.
 
While retailers do sell outdoor kitchen units that range from a simple bar cart to more elaborate configurations, many homeowners prefer custom-built spaces using brick or stone. When selecting materials for countertops, natural stones or stainless steel are great for outdoor spaces. For flooring, pick materials with a matte or honed finish and some texture to avoid slips. Porcelain tile, stone or brick pavers or even concrete are good options. Teak or stainless steel work well for cabinets/storage areas. 
 
Don’t forget indoor amenities
If you truly want to get the most out of your investment in outdoor living, don’t skimp on the amenities that often keep us inside – lighting, heating/cooling and entertainment options. Many homes incorporate an open floor plan, which means those doing the cooking and meal prep indoors are often interacting with friends and family in the living room. You may want to think of your outdoor space with a similar floor plan in mind.
 
Consider features that protect you from the elements and keep you comfortable most times of the year. Awnings or other overhead coverings can keep you dry during rainy seasons. Ceiling fans, fire pits and propane heaters can help you forget what season it is by regulating the temperature. Just keep in mind proper venting for your cooking/fireplace areas. Cooktops/venting should never be beneath trees.
 
Whether you’re looking for utilitarian options that help you see while you prep and cook, or ambient lighting for your guests, don’t get left in the dark. After all, you’ve invested in your new space, so make sure you can show it off at any time of the day – or night! Just be sure to include wet-rated options – even if much of your new outdoor space is covered, moisture is an inescapable part of life outdoors in the South, especially near the lake.
 
Incorporating speakers and TVs during the design process can save you the hassle of adding those items later, even if they seem like afterthoughts in the beginning. Keep in mind your television will need to be secured, protected from the elements and positioned in a spot that doesn’t prevent it from being seen on a sunny day.
 
Outdoor kitchen & bar checklist
Use our handy checklist to ensure you don’t forget to plan for each component you want/need in your new living space.
 
  • Location – Will your kitchen/bar be attached or detached from the house? Will it be under a covered porch or pergola?
  • Non-cooking spaces – Prep space (including small refrigerator), serving space, eating/sitting space
  • Grilling stations – What type/size grill(s)? Need space for a Big Green Egg? Pizza oven?
  • Storage/cabinets
  • Countertops
  • Sinks/Clean-up areas
  • Beverage cooler/beer taps/ice maker
  • Ceiling Fans 
  • Electrical outlets
  • Fireplace or firepits (wood-burning, gas or infrared)
  • Furniture – Bar seating or tables? Sofas/chairs?
  • TVs, speakers
     
Just like indoor kitchen space, the options for your outdoor kitchen and bar are almost endless. 
 


May 202 column

Home lighting types and trends

One of the most important aspects of interior design, in my opinion, is lighting. Lighting can set the tone, both literally and figuratively, for a room. Lighting can add style and function to your space.
 
There are three main categories of lighting when it comes to home design: ambient, task, and accent lighting. Ambient lighting refers to soft, natural lighting that allows you to see in a room but is not quite enough for tasks that require extra focus or precision. Ambient lighting is also known as “mood lighting.” Task lighting is more focused, bright lighting that is used in areas where more attention is required, like a kitchen. Accent lighting is used in a space to help illuminate corners or otherwise shadowed areas or accent specific features in a home; because it doesn’t offer a lot of natural or task lighting, accent lighting can also sometimes be used purely for design or decoration.
 
Ambient lighting can be used in areas all throughout your home, and offers a warmer, more natural light. Chandeliers, pendant lighting, recessed lighting, ceiling and wall-mounted lights can all be considered sources of ambient lighting. Dimmers are often added to these fixtures so that the ambience of the room can be adjusted, as needed. Think about your kitchen for a moment. The ambient lighting would include the pendants over your island, a center ceiling fixture, or even recessed/can lighting.  Although these fixtures help add a design element and natural light to the space, they are not ideal for reading a recipe or food labels.
 
Task lighting, on the other hand, does give you the light you need to read those nutrition labels or Blue Apron instructions. Task lighting is bright light that really illuminates your space, allowing you to read and work easily. Task lighting can include recessed lighting, under-cabinet lighting, vanity lights, swing lamps, and track lighting.  Swing lamps and track lighting can be angled to brighten a specific area in which you are working, and under-cabinet lighting adds visibility to your countertop work area.
 
Accent lighting is more focused light that draws your eye to a particular area of a room or wall. Accent lighting is the type of lighting used in museums to highlight display cases or artwork. In your home, accent lighting can be used the same way, in bookcases or cabinets, over wall art, or in a reading nook. Accent lights include lamps, wall sconces or spotlights, recessed lighting and track lighting. Accent lighting, as mentioned previously, can also be used as decoration or to enhance your home’s style. That may include a handblown glass ceiling fixture that’s more of a piece of art or a unique floor or desk lamp that helps give your room a unique focal point.
 
Lighting plays one of the most important roles in the design of each room of your home. While it’s important to have both ambient and task lighting in areas like a kitchen or bathroom, you primarily will only need ambient and/or accent lighting in your bedrooms and living room where you want to create a feeling of calmness and relaxation. Recessed lighting is one of the most versatile types of lighting, as you can tell since it falls into all categories of lighting. As mentioned before, recessed lighting on a dimmer switch can be turned up to create task lighting or down to create mood lighting. There are also eyeball and small-sized recessed lights for more focused light in accent areas.
 
In design, we see a major trend of clients wanting to add recessed lighting throughout their home for the versatility. Even in bathrooms, a recessed light can add much needed light over a shower or bathtub, or other poorly lit areas.  Recessed lighting in a kitchen gives you more evenly dispersed lights, as opposed to just one centrally located fixture. While recessed lighting is a great addition to nearly any home, it’s also still crucial to balance these out with hanging and wall-mounted fixtures and lamps to bring personal style and design to a space.
 
It’s important to have a plan when placing lighting throughout your home to make sure you are getting the benefit of the best light in the right places. Working with a professional to create a lighting plan for your new home or even to replace old, dated fixtures in your existing home is an important step in a remodel. Lighting can make or break a space, so it’s important to get it just right!
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