This year saw Lights Lights Lights biggest contribution to The Block, teaming up with the wonderful Kim and Chris after they won a consultation with our very own lighting designer Danielle Mastro. As well as this, we provided lighting solutions throughout the common areas and challenge apartment.
We were lucky enough to be featured in the latest edition of The Block Magazine, where Danielle shared her experience on the award-winning reality television show and her expert lighting tips for your home:
Experienced renovators know that there’s more to lighting than choosing the perfect statement pendant or designer downlight. Before you even think about shopping for fittings, it’s important to be switched on to the all-important lighting basics, from positioning – of the lights and switches – to required light source and safety issues. Remember Karlie and Will’s “potty light” in their main bathroom? This small recessed light on the wall by the toilet was designed to save turning on the main overhead lights. What a bright idea! And Chris and Kim’s LED strip lights in their shower niches were seriously flash. It’s these little details that make a huge difference to the look and feel of a home. We asked illumination expert, and supplier to The Block, Danielle Mastro from boutique Melbourne lighting retailer Lights Lights Lights some burning questions.
Q: There are lots of different bathroom designs. Some have skylights, some have a window and some don’t. But are there any basic tips to light a bathroom?
Danielle: Every room is positioned differently and every user functions differently in each room. Understanding the needs of the architecture is as vital as understanding the needs of the user. The best tip is to layer the lighting to offer function and ambience. Consider the beam angles of fittings and introduce intensity at the surfaces so reflection is possible and shadows are reduced. Create ambience at the tub, where life slows down and relaxation is the goal. Switch the fittings separately so task lighting and glare-free ambient lighting can be used independently, and ensure that colour temperature is considered to suit the area.
Q: Say you’ve got a bathroom with a wall, a vanity and a single mirror. Which lights would you choose to put with the mirror?
Danielle: Is it a powder room or an ensuite? Do you need light for function or is it about drama in the room? There are so many questions, but the truth is there isn’t one answer. Backlight the mirror to have it float it off the wall, uplight above the vanity to create the illusion of height and warmth without glare, drop one single dramatic pendant beside the basin for a decorative touch. The beauty of lighting design is that the options are endless, but the needs of the architecture and the user are paramount to the selection.
Q: Would you use cool or warm globes in a bathroom and why?
Danielle: Many women will attest to the fact that a cool light (5000 Kelvin) in the bathroom is her best friend when applying make-up, but they’ll also say it can be their enemy. Cooler colour temperatures offer a little more intensity and have less red in their spectrum so the light is sharp and clear, but it is also harsh and unforgiving. I prefer to suggest fittings from 2700 to 3000 Kelvin with a CRI (Colour Rendering Index) of no less than 90. (CRI basically determines how accurate a light source is when compared to natural daylight.) This offers warmth without colour distortion and is the BFF of anybody grooming in front of the mirror!
Q: What are the safety issues with lighting in a wet space?
Danielle: Moisture and electricity are not ideal partners. The electrical standards in Australia (AS/NZS 3000) dictate very strict regulations to protect users from the risks of electricity and water mixing. Bathrooms are divided into different safety zones which identify the exposure to water or moisture. When selecting lights in a wet area these zones dictate fitting selection. The IP rating (Ingress Protection) and voltage of the light source must be considered.
Q: How about lighting for relaxation, if you’re taking a bubble bath?
Danielle: The last thing I want to see when I am in the tub is glare! Whether the fitting is hidden in the architecture, or decorative by nature, offer some lighting control with a dimmer so the user can create the mood.
BLOCKHEAD BATHROOM | KIM AND CHRIS
Danielle assisted Blockheads Kim and Chris with their redo bathroom, and planned the lighting in their room by dividing the space into three areas:
1 | VANITY
The vanity is the task-oriented area of the bathroom, where grooming and finite activity takes place. “We installed a recessed downlight placed carefully above each porcelain basin in an effort to direct light to the reflective surface and bounce it in an upward motion,” Danielle says.
2 | BATH
“We created ambience with the warmth of a low-voltage pendant cluster suspended above the corner of the bath,” explains Danielle. “The eye is led to the corner of the room and the ceiling height is accentuated with their long drop.”
3 | SHOWER
Danielle and the Lights Lights Lights team backlit the niche with a weatherproof LED strip, so there would be no glare in this area of the bathroom, but function is still possible.
THE DINING ROOM
Q: Advice planning dining room lighting? How did you design the lighting in Kim and Chris’s dining area?
Danielle: Dining rooms are a fabulous opportunity to suspend a decorative pendant. When dropped to eye level – about 1.7 to 1.8m from floor level – they offer a sense of presence in the room and an ambience perfect for a glass of wine with friends. The fitting selection in this space is very important to telling the story of the build, the people and the life of the home. The problem, however, is that buying what is available on the market doesn’t always fit the story of the build so it’s necessary to be lateral in your thinking. When constructing an outfit, we generally select simple materials and layer them to create texture and dimension. I like to look at lighting a little the same: pick a fitting, simple in its form, and layer its installation on the ceiling. Pair it, group it, run it in symmetry to its surrounding. Whatever you do, choose a fitting and add a personal touch to the way it is installed. Kim and Chris were fortunate to have high ceilings so the selection of a grand dining room pendant seemed the obvious choice. The exposed brick and organic styling of the couple led us to a product made in Italy with a great deal of love and craftsmanship. The multi-armed pendant is formed from iron and dropped low over the table, producing directional light with little glare. Its long arms feature in the room and stretch out along the table, filling the area.
Q: What are your top tips when lighting a kitchen? What was the idea behind Kim and Chris’s kitchen lighting?
Danielle: It’s all about the surfaces! Light needs to hit the benchtops, not the floor. The kitchen is the hub of the home, but it is also a high-function area that requires clear and crisp lighting. Having lit Kim and Chris’s dining room with such a creative feature, we applied restraint to the lighting design in the kitchen. We wanted to offer the illusion of space and highlight the vast length of them benchtop, so we recessed a channel into the ceiling and paired surface-mounted LED cylinders in the recess. We successfully created movement in the ceiling without deterring from the decorative nature of the other areas.
Q: What was the plan in Kim and Chris’s bedroom?
Danielle: Bedrooms should express the personality of the occupier. The lighting is merely one component of the design but it should partner with the furnishings and the architecture to represent “The Story”. Kim and Chris’s brief in Master Bedroom week was to create a hotel vibe. It was to be luxurious and lavish and a haven for adult escape. In our approach, we dropped two modern LED pendants bedside, and the sitting nooks were fitted with the warmth of carbon filament bulbs on the wall. The walk-in robe sparkles with a ceiling-mounted track and the artwork is featured with directional fittings. The Hollywood-esque glam of this room is accentuated by the lights and, although it is opulent, it remains warm and cosy.
“By nature downlights are recessed fittings, so they offer the possibility of light without impacting the ceiling line,” Danielle says. “When correctly positioned (G,H), they are the ideal solution to light a surface, however, they are often overused and incorrectly placed.” Downlights produce a beam of light designed to hit a surface, create a reflection and bounce light in the direction of the user. “They are not designed for general illumination where pools of light appear on the floor and shadows appear on the walls,” she adds.
COOL VS WARM LIGHT
Cool light is stark and clinical and not reminiscent of the warmth required in a family home, and residential lighting design needs to fill the home with personality and movement and life. “Provided the light source has a high CRI (Colour Rendering Index) and there is no visible colour distortion, I feel that fittings between 2700 and 3000 Kelvin are the perfect solution,” she says.
“In the past, the dim ability of a bulb or a fitting was never questioned because halogen and incandescent lighting presented no limitations,” Danielle explains. “However, there is a significant push to use LED products for increased sustainability and it’s important to know that not all LED light sources are supplied with dimmable componentry.” She says it’s important to find out whether the LED is dimmable and determine what is the best control system that will dim the fitting to zero.